Calling Homeschooling Moms…

…Help! O.k., so, this is just my second year at this, and I think perhaps I could still use some guidance, advice, etc. from some veterans! At the beginning of this school year, I was somewhat concerned about my 4 yr. old son. All last year, it was “like pulling teeth” to get him to do anything. Kerry hadn’t been showing any interest in learning whatsoever. However, just in the past week or two (since he’s turned 4), he has suddenly become very interested in learning! I have just been extremely pleased with Kerry’s change in attitude, and I have been giving him a lot of encouragement.

However, now that little Kerry’s showing more interest, Sarah (my 6 yr. old) is showing less! She seems to be getting jealous of Kerry–jealous of the praise I’m giving him, etc. Even though I continue to praise Sarah too, it doesn’t seem to make a difference! Also, Sarah seems to be having more trouble getting her work done, because she’s too “busy” trying to see what Kerry’s doing! Often she wants to “take over,” and help her brother. I don’t mind Sarah helping teach her brother some, and I frequently let her do so, but Kerry doesn’t always like it!

At one time, it was working better for me to alternate working with each child. For example, while I would be helping Sarah, little Kerry would be on the computer, watching T.V., etc. However, now each child seems to want my undivided attention at the same time, and that is obviously impossible to do! So, I am working at doing more activities that include both children, but of course, the gist of their work has to be on different levels.

We’re also just having some problems in general with scheduling, organization, etc. We have “a ton” of various workbooks and resources this year, many of which have been given to us, and I’m very thankful. At the same time, I feel as if I could be covered over by an avalanche of books at any moment, never to be seen again!! I’m also having a hard time keeping any kind of consistent schedule.

I want the kids to still be involved in activities, but I haven’t seemed to be able to find the right balance yet. When I do more at church, and I sign up for our homeschool group functions and local sports, I end up exhausted and frustrated. We also have more trouble staying on track with our schoolwork. However, when we stay at home more, we all start feeling isolated, lonely, bored, etc.

O.k., so I admit it. I need some help and encouragement!! I’m not ready to give up, but I am struggling! Am I making this too hard?!

Anyway, I know I’ve done a lot of rambling, so here’s some specific questions for you:

(1) When teaching children on different grade/skill levels, what strategies do you use?

(2) Do you have a general time-frame to complete tasks each day, a specific schedule, or no schedule at all?

(3) In what part of the house do you have school? How do you organize all your school materials and where do you store them?

(4) Are you involved with a local homeschool group? Do your children have outside activities, and if so, what kinds, and how often?

(5) Have you ever felt totally frustrated, overwhelmed, smothered, and/or unmotivated? If so, how have you been able to cope with these feelings?

_____________________________________________________________________

If you’re a homeschooling mom who’s found something that works well, please leave me a comment on any or all of the above questions. Also, if you would just like to tell me that “it does get better,” I would appreciate that too! (Somewhere down-deep I know it will, but I still wouldn’t mind some affirmation.) Your prayers would also be appreciated…

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3 Responses

  1. [Over at Daily Provision a homeschooling mom is Calling aHomeschooling Moms. She’s feeling a little swamped and needs some advice and support. I figured my response would be a little long so I choose to do it here rather than her comments section.]

    I responded over on my blog. 🙂

  2. Janet,

    I can empathize with everything you said. I will try to answer in order you asked.

    1. I try to schedule time for each child individually . . . try being the operative word. I have a 9 and a 7 year old that are on the same level for quite a bit, but each has their own needs too. Then, I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old. The 4 yo is learning to read and write her letters and sound out small words. That requires concentrated time with her also. The 2 yo thinks she’s doing school with everyone, so I have to be sure she’s not actually damaging anything. I try to schedule an activity or something that we can all do together – sometimes an art activity, a lot of times music or a game. In the summer, I staple pages to my picnic table, give them paint and brushes and let them go to town!! When we can’t be outside, we do a bit less messy things. What I’m trying to say is that I TRY to give each one both individual and group attention. I try to recruit my older kids into helping with the younger, also. The best thing about homeschooling is that everyone in the family gets involved WITH each other, instead of each going their own way for the day. A main focus is that we are building relationships.

    2. I’ve tried having no schedule, and while there are great things about it, it makes it really hard for me to focus. SO, this year we are trying out scheduling. Right now the kids have until 10am to get up, do chores, eat, brush teeth, and play outside. Then we do school until noon. From 12 to 2 we eat, clean up, they can play for a while. Then from 2 to 4 (or until work is done) we do school again. Each has their assignments. They can do them in whatever order they want. They ask questions as needed, etc. It’s been working pretty well. I used to try to marathon it, from morning until done – nose to grindstone, etc. I think allowing “recess” and bringing fun into it really help everyone (me included) to be able to focus in the afternoon. Sometimes while we are making lunch, we play praise music and “dance like crazy.” Yesterday, we played Alphabet God while we ate – think of an attribute, or something about God, for every letter of the alphabet. My kids love it.

    3. We do school in the kitchen. I have a bookshelf right in the kitchen that I, again TRY, to keep all things organized on. Each child has a backpack there also, with their workbooks, reading books, etc. Basically whatever they are regularly working out of. I found this works great so that if we need to GO somewhere, everyone can grab their bag and work in the car or at grandma’s or wherever. My house is NOT organized, although, like most we are trying. So, keep in mind, there are usually school books on the table, or the counter at all times.

    4. We are not involved with a local homeschool group. We’ve tried a few times, but schedules have not worked out. I will continue to check into it, but not stressing about it. The kids each have one outside activity. They all chose Tae Kwon Do, so it worked out that 2 of them are in the same class – WONDERFUL!! They have it on Mon & Wed evenings. My daughter also chose it, although her group is “Little Ninjas”, over gymnastics. She is just old enough this year, but she watched her brothers for a year before she started, so she knew some of it already. She’s on Wed’s only. I’ve told them all, they can each only ever have one thing going on at a time. So far that has worked. We also do things with church fairly regularly, but none of it is on a set schedule other than Sunday’s.

    5. Frustrated – YES, Overwhelmed – YES, Smothered -YES, Unmotivated – YES, YES, YES. Also, unappreciated, overworked, exhausted, isolated, underprepared, and more. However, when my 4 year old daughter read her first word (only two letters) this last week, I was elated. When I just took a break from writing this message because my 2 year old daughter wanted to put lotion on my hands, I was awed by her spirit. When my 9 year old tells me about the book he’s reading (Eragon) and is so enthusiastic about reading I love seeing his excitement about reading. When my 7 year old, who tends to have trouble focusing on his work, for the first time ever, completed all his work for the day by noon – I was overjoyed. When I’m in a low point, I try to remember the high points. I also try to remember WHY I’m doing this. Just this week, I spent a long time (for me anyway) praying about it all. I pray every day, but this week, there was a lot more going on, and I really felt the need to pray more.

    Also, I did the professional, executive career at one time. I can tell you from my own experience, while I really liked my career, I felt those same bad things at times also. There is good and bad in everything. However, while I really liked my career, and at times it made me feel important . . . it never made me feel loved. I didn’t have children interrupting me ALL THE TIME which can be so very frustrating, but . . . . I also didn’t get to snuggle my daughter to sleep for her nap. I didn’t get to have my 2 yo rub lotion on my hands. I didn’t get to have my 7 yo make me chips and cheese for lunch because he wanted to show me that he could cook (he did a great job!!). I didn’t have my 4 yo daughter singing me songs she made up and wanting me to sing her ones I made up.

    It wasn’t something I ever planned on doing. When I left the working world, it was an extremely difficult transition for me. I was leary of homeschooling in regards to my ability, but also in regards to my willingness to give up my time. My husband wanted the kids homeschooled. When he told me, my response was why would I homeschool when the school I went to, and enjoyed going to, is less than one mile down the road. When I could have (what I thought would be) glorious free time while they were in school. I did a LOT of research and reading before I agreed to homeschooling, but now, I can’t picture (even on the really bad days) doing anything else. Because I know that there will be bad days whether I homeschool or not. I’m not saying I never entertain the idea of public school on those bad days, just that entertain is as far as it goes, because when I know it’s not homeschooling that is causing the bad moment or bad day . . . . ups and downs will happen whether I’m at home with the kids or working in a career. I just remind myself that when I have a bad day at home, I know I’m doing the best thing and I’m with my family. When I had a bad day at work, I came home thinking of all that I missed out by not being with my kids all day.

    The benefits far outweigh the negatives. I enjoy not being tied to anyone’s schedule but my own. I rejoice in knowing that my children are being taught from a christian worldview . . . or at least that’s what I’m trying to do. It is the best option for me and for my kids.

    All those negatives feelings you asked about – we all feel them at times. Even if you didn’t homeschool, you’d feel them at times. My nephews go to public school and my brother is overwhelmed with the schedule, getting everyone to the right school building, different schedules for starting and stopping, getting to work, going to after school sports events, doing laundry, helping with homework, etc. You are not alone with those feelings. When you feel overwhelmed, put on some praise music — the more you feel like it’s not what you want to do, the more you should do it. It can really turn your “frown upside down.” The frustrations will still be there, but you’ll know you’re not alone in it.

    I look forward to reading other replies.

    God Bless.

  3. You just don’t know what your reply has meant to me–I mean, REALLY… I can see myself referring back to this one.

    Thanks so much!
    Blessings,
    Janet

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