The Travails of Homeschooling

Homeschooling has been going pretty well. It’s my first year homeschooling two kids, so things have been a bit different. The biggest change has been the fact that it takes about an hour longer to get things done on a good day. On a not-so-good day, things can take several hours longer.

Alpha is doing really well. We had him tested through our school district last year to see how he was doing and how much his ADHD and Dyslexia were affecting him. The results showed that his dyslexia wasn’t affecting him at all. He was performing right at grade level in every subject except for writing. While he still had some issues with reversals and forming letters backwards, he did well even with decoding nonsense words. It’s a sure sign that switching up our phonics program in first grade worked.
His ADHD, on the other hand, was still hindering him. He tested as very distracted and would definitely need some interventions to help him manage his ADHD if he were in a classroom setting.

We gave him the option of going to school, but since he was exactly where he needed to be, we didn’t see the point in forcing the issue. He remains happily homeschooled and has insisted that he never wants to go to school. I told him that eventually he is going to have to go to school. He can’t stay home forever.

His favorite subject is history and this year we’re covering the modern times era, using history odyssey from pandia press. I love pandia press’ materials so much, I wonder why anyone would use anything else. Then I remember not everyone likes a very structured and detailed program that requires a lot of work. Not even me, at times.

Beta is a more reluctant homeschooler. She’s very social, but decided after being in school last year, she wanted to stay home this year. So we let her. But she quickly started complaining about how she wished she were in school. When she would get frustrated about her work, she would start complaining that she wished she were dead, she hated her life. All very dramatic.

I panicked and found myself wondering if she was suffering severe psychological damage from homeschooling or something. I was used to my son getting frustrated and yelling or throwing his work, but not this. So I had her tour a local montessori school to see if she wanted to go there. I was so sure she would that I had the paperwork printed and filled out before she toured it.

Afterwards, she said, “It wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” That was the most positive thing she had to say. Aside from that, she said she didn’t want to have be there five days a week and the days were too long. She would miss the homeschooling groups we go to and the art class.

I was surprised, but I slowly realized that her dramatic statements of self-hate was just her venting her frustrations, similar to how Alpha’s yelling and throwing his books were his. It’s not that she hates homeschooling or that I’m damaging her. It’s that she hates it when she doesn’t get things immediately. Since then, I’ve changed my tactics with her. When she declares herself stupid, I ask her why she thinks she’s stupid. I force her to question her statements until she reaches the conclusion that she doesn’t reaaaaaly mean them. She’s just frustrated.

So that’s getting easier.

Harder is the fact that she’s learning physics and modern times history in fourth grade when these subjects are basically too advanced for her. But I didn’t want to start off teaching two kids at two differen’t subjects and levels in history and science, which would make my day very complicated. So Beta is basically auditing Physics and Modern Times history. When she complains about it being too hard, I just remind her that this material is meant for an older child and next year, she’ll do Ancients 1 and Life (Biology 1) and things will be much easier for her.

Because I don’t have enough to do, I’ve decided to try and organize a science and history co-op so I can have other homeschoolers to hang out with and help teach these subjects to our mutual kids. In other words, friends. Unfortunately, I’m realizing this means I’m going to most of the work while the other people just show up. But that’s pretty much how all these things go. I’m trying to finagle it so that I’m only teaching one of the subjects and other parents do the other three. So I would teach, say, Biology 2 and then three other women would do Ancients I, Ancients II and Life. Or we would alternate which subjects we teach so everyone teaches or doesn’t teach based on how things work. I don’t know. It’s a work in progress.

But so far I’m the only doing anything, so I don’t know. And I want to make sure things are taught well, so there’s a distinct possibility i will be too much of a control freak to be able to hand over any of the control to anybody else and have a successful co-op.

We’ll see. We’re halfway through this year and we’re doing well and that makes me happy.

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A day of rest

Every time the kids have Finnish school, I make plans for what I’m going to do with my day off. These include some firm things I really must do (make food for the week ahead, clean out the chicken coop, go through the baby clothes) and things I would really like to do (take a bath! Exercise! Calisthenics! Thorough stretching! Foam rolling! Watch a movie! Write! Read a book!), but I rarely manage to adequately gauge the time available to the amount of things I aim to get done.

Today I:

  • Made 11 quarts of sausage stew
  • sanded the cubby holes in the boys’ room, which have been unsanded and unpainted since we installed them 6 years ago. So it’s probably time to finish that so we can cross it off our damn list.
  • Cleaned up the sanding mess.
  • cleaned out the chicken coop. It really needed it because I’ve been avoiding it like the plague during the horribly cold weather we’ve had since Christmas. My presence also forced the chickens out into the snow and I’m hoping their discovery of bare ground will encourage them to leave it more often. They’ve been staying in the coop since the first snow, the big wimps.
  • brought in Christmas lights that the snow finally melted enough to uncover. It’s a limited time opportunity since more snow is on the forecast.
  • Put away diapers.
  • Had lunch
  • Pumped. Omega went to Finnish school for the first time today, so this was necessary.
  • Watched more Anthony Bourdain on Netflix. I loved No Reservations. Parts Unknown is a bit different in tone. Less adventurous, less behind the scenes in front of the camera. More polished. I’m buying No Reservations so I can get more of that and forget that Tony has actually aged because it’s kind of bumming me out.
  • Showered. Sanding is an awful, awful activity and I was covered from head to toe.
  • Brought in the mail.

Then the rest of the family came home and I nursed Omega, who had drunken about half the bottle I sent with her. She was thrilled to see me, thrilled to be back home among her usual toys. With the kids home, I:

  • Started the laundry
  • Sorted through Omega’s clothes, getting rid of all the clothes under 6 months since they no longer fit.
  • Sat down on the couch and read. I’ve been on a reading kick this year and right now I’m reading Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher. She has a very distinct style.
  • Cleaned up the mess in the kitchen.
  • Front plank and side planks. Got to strengthen the core for my back pain.
  • Ate dinner.
  • Dealt with the kids
  • Made 5 lbs of taco meat for the week

The end. Now I’m chilling and I’m tired. I should probably have one Finnish school day were I don’t really do anything, but I enjoy getting things done too much. I like progress. I like crossing things off my list and there is almost an endless number of things on it that I could cross off if only I get around to doing them.

The Cycle of Gardening

Spring: We’re going to plant an awesome garden this year! We’ll get so many veggies and melons and tomatoes and herbs we won’t have to buy any produce! We’ll save so much money!

Fall: What a fucking waste of time! I’m a horrible gardener! I spent more money than I saved and I should have just gotten a damn job instead. I’m never gardening  again
Winter: Oooh a seed catalogue!

Rewriting “Frederick”

Have you read the book Frederick by Leo Lionni? If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the heartwarming tale of a group of field mice who are preparing for winter – all except Frederick, who is just sitting there collecting the sun and the warmth instead of nuts and grains to eat in the Winter. But this pays off because he warms the mice with his imagery and poetry once the food runs out in the bitter cold winter. It’s a commentary on how artists aren’t useless I guess – though I’ve often wondered why Frederick couldn’t collect the sunshine and warmth along with the nuts and grains, thus saving the field mice from starvation, but whatever. It’s not my heartwarming picture book.

Frederick

At any rate, I’ve been on a winter rodent killing spree. My main aim is rats, but those have proved either more elusive or less numerous than I thought. I’ve been mainly catching field mice.

So the new version of Frederick goes like this (bear in mind I’ve only read the German translation of the English, which I’m now returning to English and condensing):

In a stone wall next to a field lived a family of field mice who were busy gathering nuts and grains for the upcoming winter – all except for Frederick.

“Frederick, what are you doing?” asked the field mice.

“I’m gathering the sunshine and the warmth, the blue skies and the green grass, for the Winter is cold and grey.”
Whatever, the other field mice thought and went on gathering stores of food. Eventually, the weather turned colder and the field mice retreated into the stone wall. For a while, they had plenty of food and were merry. But after a while, the food stores ran out and the weather grew colder. “Frederick, what about your stores?”

Frederick gathered them around and warmed them with this visions of warm weather and blue skies and enthralled them with his poetry.

But as the winter wore on, they grew hungrier and eventually ventured out of their wall to the nearby farmhouse in search of food.

The farmer saw their tracks and placed traps by the wall. One by one, he picked off the field mice as they left in search for food. All except for Frederick, who starved to death.

The End.