Friday, July 23, 2010

Sweating Small Stuff, Organization, and Homeschool BurnOut

Pick the title you like best:
"Don't Sweat the Small Stuff in Homeschooling. Psst, it's all small stuff"
-OR- Homeschool Burn Out

It all sort of fits. Allow me to explain...

I hit a wall in homeschooling this summer. We finished books, we started new ones. And then I just stopped. I couldn't move one step forward. I questioned everything we were doing, and it all seemed pointless. Grammar? Dumb. Spelling? Futile. Reading -eh, kids read. Science? Too much work, too little interest. History? I loved history once, but we just read our assignment and promptly forgot about it. These were my attitudes. Add the kids' own strong feelings of "we hate school", and I was toast. I no longer had a reason to drag my kids through these subjects anymore. This was not my vision for homeschooling!

You'd think this naturally would lead to unschooling, right? So did I.
I dropped everything for a good solid few weeks. I refused to research, soul search, or search anything else for awhile. We went on vacation. We returned and I refused to pick up school books. Now I'm entertaining the idea of school again. And I don't think unschool is the answer for us. Now I'm leaning toward needing more structure (huh? you ask). The 9yo has entered a new phase in her life where she is able to plan ahead and work independently. She hates school, yes, but she understands the value in plowing through *first* and having free time later. The 7yo used to love school and now hates it. She's sleeping late, dragging thru school, and everything is full of bad attitudes. She really needs some structure, and she needs to see when things happen, and when they end. She needs to learn what the 9yo finally understands. And me? I need to know that there is a time for everything. I need to know that breakfast ends at 9am, and school starts by 9:30am, and school ends by 1pm (or whenever it is going to end). I need to know that I can pay bills and make phone calls later. I need to know that there is a time for house cleaning and taking breaks. I also need to know that our school year ends in 36 weeks. Having our school books drag on for 11-12 months out of a year, only to start the next one was really really depressing. *Insert picture here of Sisyphus rolling the rock up the hill in Hades*. I also need to know that we have some time to do fun stuff, like field trips or explore subjects we want to explore. And so, I am setting plans into motion for next year.

  • We will school for 36 weeks and then be DONE. We'll take a break. If we decide to pick up some math practice, or another subject of interest after a short break, so be it. But that will be determined after a 36 week school year and a break.
  • We are not doing everything in our books. The books will be tweaked. Pages will be skipped, half done, or done orally. If a book isn't finished in 36 weeks, so be it. It gets labeled and stored. We'll pick up the next level after our break.
  • I will organize and plan ahead the things that are important. Example: we can skip "shapes" in math, but "multi-digit division" is probably important for our school year.
  • Co-op class days will be counted as school days. No exceptions. Class time, team work, and the social skills are just as important as math and language arts.
  • Educational field trip days will be counted as school days.
  • We will count by the week, not by the number of days. We do plenty. End of story.
  • Education will naturally continue past the 36 week mark. It always does. It'll be OK.


Anonymous said...

yes, it will be okay.
you've done a splendid job w/ the girls so far.


melanie said...

Yay! Take back the control girl! The curriculum is there to help you, not to dominate you !

The best year we ever had was last year when i set an end date and we made. Sure to finish close to it. Its very life giving to our school to know that there will be breaks coming up that we can count on.

Good luck next year! It doesn't have to be perfect!