After a pretty good Term 1 I thought I had it sussed. This term has proved to me that unless I am more organised than I have been, certain things just don’t happen around here.
I actually planned for this term to involve far more independent work from my boys, because I was hoping to focus more on the science and baby signing classes I want to run as a business. In retrospect, the boys just weren’t ready for such autonomy. Perhaps I also need more insight into their motivations (which are definitely not the same as mine). In addition to (or perhaps because of) my added workload, I have been very tired a lot of the term. Without my physical presence next to them while doing the work, the boys just haven’t been completing as much academic work as I had hoped they would, and they certainly haven’t been contributing as much to household chores as I would like.
I don’t want to be a nag. I also don’t want to depend on external rewards and punishments for them to do their work. But simply saying, “Things can’t carry on like this” doesn’t mean much to them. In the absence of some awful consequence like no screen time for the whole term, or (gasp) sending them back to school, things do carry on like this, and the only one who feels punished is me.
I can’t be completely negative about this term. If I look back at my weekly checklists and scribbled notes, what stands out is that we have found the right maths curriculum for Pokemon Boy, and they have both been very happy doing their separate artistic ventures (choir for Drama King and guerilla art for Pokemon Boy). A further check on the list of changes I had written at the end of Term 1 reveals that more time on creative arts was one of my priorities for Term 2. I am happy we achieved that goal. Our new nanny is wonderful and I really enjoy having her around one day a week. However, she has the same difficulties as I do with motivating the boys to get going.
Furthermore, interest in Life of Fred has really dried up. Exercise has become non-existent. Handwriting, English and project work haven’t been too successful so far.
I just had an evening out with my dear man and spent most of it grumbling about how badly the homeschooling is going. I suppose what I’m unhappy about is: the amount of time I seem to spend travelling from one activity to another; feeling I have to nag the children to get anything done (including simply getting out of the house); the lack of motivation from the two older boys in starting or completing their chores and their academic work; the lack of time ‘to myself’; the amount of money I seem to be paying to other people in order to achieve very little.
I don’t want to send them back to school. I still think, even if we don’t have my ‘ideal’ homeschool yet, it’s better than their last school. But what can I do to turn our homeschooling back towards my ideals, and how much will I put up with, before school becomes a viable option?
I think one of the issues here is that they have not been homeschooled from the start and they are not necessarily ready for autonomous learning. I can’t expect them to jump from a school timetable straight to creating their own timetable. I need to put in time to help them to develop learning skills and I also want to work out what their motivations are.
Another issue is definitely that I am not a natural organiser and I am extremely bad at setting up good habits or routines, even for myself, let alone a whole family with four children. (I have a draft post all about routines which I keep coming back to but haven’t yet posted.) My man thinks that we do too many things and should streamline our days so that they all follow the same pattern. At least, that’s what he would do if he were the ‘teacher’. I’m not the same as him, and I feel that we can’t take advantage of all the classes and activities on offer if we are too rigid about following routines. Look at my write-up from Term 1: four of my highlights were one-off events and not necessarily linked to anything we were ‘studying’ at home. I love the fact that homeschooling offers the flexibility to go on daytrips more often than once a term, without having to provide curriculum links, do risk assessments and get 30 sets of parents or carers to sign excursion forms. And we have the flexibility to take a day off when we are all tired and run down, without having to sign a form saying it’s a sick day.
As usual, I expect the solution will come from somewhere between the two approaches. I grudgingly admit that I could make our days simpler. I am going to try to set aside a block of time each day to sit down and work with the two older boys. I am letting go, for now, of running organised science clubs and signing classes. I am still going to expect them to do their household chores and I might even ask them to do more. I’m hoping to carry on with the project-based homeschooling and when we find what motivates each child I’ll let you know!