Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Homeschooling FAIL

I recently read a homeschooling blog about a mom who feels like she is failing at her job. She feels inadequate compared to the "perfect" homeschooling moms who take their kids on countless field trips and do lots of hands-on experiments. Well, let me share how I feel. As THAT mom who loves to take the kids on field trips and loves to do hands-on experiments (but definitely NOT perfect), I feel inadequate compared to the mom who can get all of the seat work that she has planned for the week done. Every homeschooling mom has a different style and every kid learns differently. Let me share my own "inadequacies" and how I have gotten over them.

  1. I use field trips as an excuse to NOT do seat work. You heard me... sometimes I use field trips so that I don't have to do the stuff that I find boring and monotonous. You know what though? I have seen my son and daughter learn so much from field trips, that I really feel that its ok and a good break. Sometimes, my field trips are walks to the park so that we can use our senses to discover the world around us, the store to learn about how to spend lots of money, the pet store to talk about the animals we see, and sometimes they are trips to the children's museum or the zoo. The point is to get out of the freakin' house!! I am not a homebody and cannot stand to "home" school every day of the week. I wish I could be okay with spending more time at home working on seat work. I have high expectations for myself and for what Ben needs to finish in this year and I sometimes feel like a failure because not everything that I set for him will be done. Of course, he has more than achieved most of the original life/learning goals I set for him, but that stupid math book won't be finished! Let it go, let it go....
  2. I do hands-on experiments to teach about science because I am too tired/unmotivated to make a lesson plan that follows the text. Maybe it is my teacher education coming out, but I would much much rather have my kids work with me in the garden for 20 minutes than read about gardening for 20 minutes. Plus, I decided to watch, "Grey's Anatomy" or "The Big Bang Theory" last night instead of doing a lesson plan. I need to fit science in somehow... let's plant some seeds, put water on them, and watch what happens... oh and draw pictures about them in our observation notebook. I glance at the textbook, see "learn how plants grow" and "learn parts of the plants" and then shoo my kids outside to go look at trees in our backyard.
  3. I sometimes use candy as counters for math because my son HATES math and would rather be doing something else. Add some M&Ms, and voila! he does his math. Yes, it is bribery, but who cares? I ENVY the mom who hands their child the math worksheet only to have it completed within ten minutes. Neither one of my sons is that way and sometimes it takes me hours to get them to do their work. 
  4. I deliberately rent thematic educational documentaries from Netflix for the mornings that I am just too tired or unmotivated to get going. Yes, even us "super hands-on moms" don't want to do anything sometimes. However, I am my son's primary teacher right now, so I need to make sure that the activities that he is doing count for something. For us, seat work is not an independent activity, but watching TV most definitely is. Watch a documentary on penguins or lions or dinosaur excavations and it counts as science.
  5. I use computer games to teach subjects that I HATE teaching. For instance, spelling. I love to spell and am a natural speller. Benjamin hates spelling even though he is decent at it. I get easily frustrated teaching him how to spell and hate the traditional spelling list method. Enter "Hooked on Spelling" and it is no longer in my hands, but he is still learning how to spell. It's fun and thus he asks to play it every single day...not to mention the promised reward for finishing all of the lessons on the first CD by the end of the school year. 
  6. I use sensory play/fine motor activities when I need a break....but it still counts as "school" time because his fine motor skills are being greatly improved. I use playdoh, the rice bin, piano time, ball squishing, and gymnastics to work on his fine/gross motor and sensory system. However, I can just let him direct the play and as long as he stays on task, I can kick back, relax, and drink some iced tea.
  7. I can't WAIT until it is enrichment time during the week. I should really look at it as my son branching out and learning life, social, and educational skills in a different environment than home and learning how to be part of and fit into a larger group. I am not saying that all of that is not true, but when I am dropping him off at enrichment, all that I can think of is where I am going to go in my precious "kid-free" time. 
  8. I sometimes allow my son to push off school in the morning because he is in a bad mood. I will make it up in the afternoon or evening (and sometimes even late at night if he is up), but I sometimes feel like he would be better served playing with his toys in the morning or watching an extra episode on the Disney channel than fighting with me on learning all morning. I really wish that I had a neat and organized little schedule that I could follow every day without fail, but that just isn't the way that he learns best. And, really, will he actually learn ANYTHING if I spend all morning getting frustrated with him?
So, for the scheduled, "finish the curriculum in its entirety" moms who I envy dearly, I say, hats off to you. And, also, "the grass is always greener" (or for you Disney fans, "the seaweed is always greener in somebody else's lake"). We're both doing amazing things for our kids and sometimes we need a break from that amazingness. My way is with hands-on activities or field trips and I automatically default to that. Your way is with seat work and you automatically default to that. BOTH of those ways are valuable learning tools for our children. 

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