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Mom's Time Out

The lighter side of homeschooling

Mary Angel

(10/2013) As a lot of you know I am one month into homeschooling three of my four children, or am I. This month my whole purpose in writing this article is to bring some comedic relief to my school day and maybe to yours. I am going to spell out for you the trials and tribulations that have occurred in my first four weeks of homeshooling. Let me just say homeschooling two elementary students and one very social middle schooler had not lacked in comedy nor has it lacked in adjustments, bickering, or drama!

Before I started this home school year, unlike last year, I was super organized. I researched, photo copied and wrote lesson plans until I thought I would burst. I also organized the classroom and my newest experiment…workboxes! I spent all of August and a good portion of July preparing. I realized many times last year that I had not planned ahead enough and it was our downfall on several occasions. This year, I wasn’t going to let lack of planning and organization derail us, not even for a day or two. If we were going to be derailed it was going to be for something much more fun than my lack of organizational skills.

Then suddenly it was the first day of school (for us that was still in August). I had made it clear to the homeschoolers that when their 9th grade brother left the house for the first time to go to high school, that would be the first day of the homeschool career. Our fist day of homeschooling was a blessing and a curse. I could not believe how well the workbox system worked for us. Three children (second, fourth, and seventh grade) were finished all of the days work by noon. We started earlier than I had expected, since I was home from dropping off at the high school and they were ready to start by eight a.m. In four hours we they had each completed; social studies, science, reading, writing, spelling/voacb., Spanish, math, penmanship, and health. I was in awe of how motivated the workboxes kept them. It was absolutely magical. Until about 2:00.

By about that time my son was bored to tears and my daughters were bickering with such vigor that I was sure one of them would not survive. I was also beginning to realize that what I loved about homeschooling my older son in then previous year was not going to be seen in the elementary curriculum. I had loved reading and discussing all of the books and short stories. I had enjoyed the advanced math and reading his creative writing assignments. Now suddenly I was trapped in a world of basic facts and stories with little to no creativity at all. That is when it suddenly hit me, something so simple and obvious that I felt stupid taking so long to come to the realization…elementary school is all about repetition. Every day, several times a day you can hear me ask (or my youngest ask) “what is 9 plus 2”, “what is 9 plus 2”, “what is 9 plus 2”, “what is 9 plus 2”. I would hear these basic facts in my head at night until I thought I would go crazy.

Then, it was day two and we were on track to finish early. By about ten in the morning my son came to me and wanted to talk. He had a rather serious tone in his voice to we went into the other room for some privacy. “What if I have changed my mind? What if I want to go back?” He started the conversation that would take much prayer, debate and talking with my husband. Ultimately, we decided to let him go back. But not before he understood realistically what that meant. We reminded him of all the positives and the negatives he had experienced last year, not to scare him into staying homeschooled, but instead to make sure he understood the reality of his decision. He returned to school on Friday of the first week of school.

It was half way through the second week and every couple days since then that he insists he has changed his mind and requests (or demands, depending on the circumstance) to be homeschooled again. One of the stipulations of returning to public school without having given homeschool a thorough try was that he wasn’t aloud to jump ship again. His return to public school caused a few issues with the homeschool classroom as well. The girls were suddenly under the impression that they could also jump ship whenever they wanted. So, on a daily basis I would get comments like, “maybe I will go back in November” or “when is that play coming to the school? I want to go back in time for that” or my favorite line from the first grader, “If my kindergarten teacher returns from Tennessee, and teaches first grade, I will be going back.” This attitude lead to a homeschool meeting between the girls and I. We sat down and I asked them on a scale of one to ten (one being the worst day ever and ten being a day at Disney) how would they rate their homeschool experience. The fourth grader gave homeschool a 7/8 (she has a hard time committing) and the first grader gave it a 9. When I asked why a 9, she explained that in her mind the only way to get a 10 would be to homeschool at Disney! From that day on we have agreed to make this the best homeschool year ever and when something isn’t working for any of us we will talk it out and make a change if we can.

Last week was the best week so far and yes every week is getting better and better. I have found many creative ways to practice the repetitive stuff and we have been on 2 field trips already! I know there will be plenty of drama (both with homeschool and with public school) but we will work through it the best we can, just like we do every year.

Read other articles by Mary Angel