Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Confession



Do you ever feel like you are just not doing enough for your kids education? That somehow you are leaving them behind in the dust and that all other kids are getting a more meaningful, enlightened education that you are providing for your kids? This is my biggest fear. This is my first year to home-educate my kids and I feel that I am simply not doing enough so I pile on more work, than I feel I am overdoing it or there are not enough hours in the day to complete the work. I know this will sound insane to all you moms who have been home-schooling for years, but I simply did not think it was going to be THIS hard. Challenging yes, pulling teeth and hair out daily, no. I did my research for state laws and luckily I live in Texas and we are pretty simple here:

"Homeschools must be conducted in a bona fide manner, using a written curriculum consisting of reading, spelling, grammar, math and a course in good citizenship; no other requirements apply."

So I went out and I researched tons and tons of curriculum....my gosh there is a lot out there to choose from. Ok before I say all of this, keep in mind I started to research curriculum during the last school year when my daughter and son were going through a horrible time in public school. They were being bullied, they tried to expel my kids for bringing their Bible to read during free period, my son got vicious rumors spread through the school that he was having relations with a girl he was talking to about God and so on...VERY bad year. This was the year that broke the camels back. So I went to a home-school fair and wound up leaving with way, way too much. I loved the Total Language Plus Program, AWOA, Saxon Math, LOF Math, Building Christian English by Cathy Duffy, Mystery of History, Super Charged Science by Aurora, and a few more...I know overkill. Sadly I have been cramming ALL of this down my kids throats daily and expecting EXCELLENT grades, penmanship, grammar, etc....I found out quickly that the public school was not teaching them the things I felt they should know by now. My kids have no sense of sentence structure, complete thoughts, paragraph writing...and wow note taking was a joke. Now I feel I have to make up for their lack of knowledge all at what time. Sadly my kids made straight A's all through public school and I was so proud of them. They were commended on TAKS tests etc. Now I am left wondering what did they teach them?I am overly frustrated.  OK, this is NOT a rant on the PS system at all, so let me continue....

I work FT out of the home, I am a married, single mother (honoring marriage vows, but do not live together, praying for reconciliation) and I home-school at night. Those are the basics. My youngest son just turned 5 and luckily goes to a private christian daycare/school during the day. My 16 year old goes to High School. My step-son now lives with his mother, so its only my daughter I home-educate and my 5 year old. I really struggle with setting a schedule with my kids.Here is my dilemma: at first, I would give no work at all during the day and when I got home we would do everything together. They both LOVED this, but it kept me up till close to midnight every night and exhausted and accomplishing nothing I needed to do. I literally worked, schooled, cooked dinner when they were reading something, laundry and all else kept till weekend, but by then I was like a walking zombie. Since then I have tried to schedule book work during the day for English, Math, Science, Reading, Spelling and Note Taking, Foreign Language,Devotion and when I get home go over it and try to teach the next lesson. The problem here is she complains I give too much work to do while I am gone and then we argue over work to do when I get home, or she has not completed it and then I feel pushed behind and not on task. With my 5 year old, he spent all day at daycare and does not want to do school work at night. He wants his Wii and his dog and everything else under the son, so if I am luckily I get 30-45 minutes of work time in with him before he melts down.

Problems:
#1: Record Keeping,  Planning and Scheduling
I use to use just a written out daily planner to schedule and record everything, then I found  SkedTracker (http://www.homeschoolskedtrack.com/HomeSchool/displayLogin.do) to use and for record keeping and recently found Homeschool Tracker Plus (http://www.homeschooltracker.com/tracker_plus.aspx?), but its very confusing to me, to try and integrate too. So I am trying very hard to simplify and make life easier, but not very successfully. Plus, we don't have a printer at home which makes life challenging. I have to use the library or work when allowed. I am hoping to figure out how to upload blank assignments that we can use later on.

#2: Work Load 
 Trying to find the balance between what my kids want to learn, what I feel they need to know and trying to unschool myself from what the public school says they need to know. I want my kids to be strong in faith, languages, spelling ,math,  biology and sciences..outside of that I could care less if they know about history, wars, geography, diagramming sentences, etc. I want to teach them real life skills, but not really sure how to implement it into school work. My kids are learning internet navigation skills, office programs, and small business set up already. I just don't know how to get away from straight text book learning and into real life learning without skipping out on essentials they will need when they go to college. My daughter wants to be a chef, a AC repair tech or an animal rescuer. My son, a fireman or wrestler...for today.  How do I prepare them without using regular curriculum and still make sure they are getting the best education they deserve?

#3: Time
Who doesn't have this issue? I tried to set my work hour from 8:30 -3,but quickly realized that financially, that was not going to work at all. So I switched to 8:30-4 daily...this is still hard, but it gives me that extra hour to grab my son from daycare and be home by 5. Get the Wii going, start dinner and look over my daughters school work while dinner is cooking (sometimes). Hopefully by 6 dinner is done and we have eaten, sometimes its more like 6:30, then I try and let the kids play together for about an hour,since they have not seen each other all day and really love spending time together. By 7-7:30 we are sitting down for school work on most days. We start with Bible lesson (most impt in my book) then we go to math (my daughters favorite), then off to English and History and Science. Then we tackle AWOA. When we are lucky we are done by 11:30pm and I clean up and go to bed or download any TV shows I missed the day before that I want to watch first.  This obviously is not working. Any suggestions would be tremendously helpful here..

 
I thought my answer to this was to use a online learning system that would take away the stress for me, but I learned that hard way that was a no go too.  2 years ago I pulled my kids out of school and we did K12, it was a love/hate relationship. Loved the books, the resources, hated all the time restraints, paperwork, a lot of responsibility on the parent, etc. During the summer I got Time4 Learning  to try out, I thought my daughter loved it, but really did not want only computer work, but wanted me to teach her with real books. Go figure. So I am guessing the online in a no go. She wants self paced, free will learning...I am too much of a control freak to let that happen. I have to have structure, plans and daily agendas. Shes a free thinker, fly by the seat of your pants type...see my problem. She wants time limits to do work, but never accomplishes it than gets frustrated, but she doesn't accomplish it because she goofs off during the work time because no one is there. Vicious cycle, I know. I thought about a babysitter, but they are so expensive. I am lost at what to do. I took out PS as an option, so I don't even consider it. I knew this was going to be a challenge, but I also know God will provide. Right now I am leaning on Him and His wisdom to get me through this process. Knowing in time things will work themselves out and I will get my flow with all of this. It's only been 3 months of schooling and we all trying so what will be will be.






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