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#1 of 33 Old 04-01-2011, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't want to admit it.  Homeschooling is not working, I desperately want to find out how to change things or make things better.  

 

My two older daughters were in public school the last few years (they're 7 and 9 years).  They in general had a pretty positive experience overall, not perfect but they both were doing well academically and their teachers loved them.  We weren't as happy with one of their teachers last year (DD was reading far ahead of the other kids and she was pretty much being held back by the teacher).  The other daughter was doing well also.


The one thing I didn't really like is that my second DD was super social and I worried about some attitude that she was bringing home and behaviors I'd heard about.  The attitudes at the school seemed too grown up, there seemed to be a disconnect between home and school.  We also seemed to get sick *a lot*.  Which I hated.  

 

My friends who homeschool seemed to have such positive experiences, and I thought I would be able to do it. My girls were happy and receptive at the time so we wound up signing up for an online based public school.  

 

These are the problems we're having--

 

The kids are staying up way too late and getting up later.  A huge part of it was that we always depended on the bus to get us up early before (a reason to get up).  Now we don't get up until DH has to go to work, which is later than most--winds up being around 8:30.  You'd think it would be easy enough to get an alarm.  DH shuts it off!  He is a chronic snoozer.  I don't even hear it, it's so quiet.

 

The girls don't seem to really want to do school at all.  They're not really interested it.  They started off interested, but then they just sort of pulled back.  Now I have to push them so hard to get anything done at all.  It's really stressful and frustrating.

 

I have to teach them different things, even when I'm super on task and everything it seems like I'm teaching them for like 7hours a day (even if each kid is only doing like a few hours it's not the same).

 

Because they're staying up late, DH and I have pretty much no time for eachother.  He's really complained about it at times.  I have no time for me.  I can't remember the last time I got out of the house alone doing anything other than grocery shopping.

 

DH is also working a crazy amount of hours.  He's at the office around 65-70 hours a week. Sometimes he has worked more like 100+ hours.  And, his work involves travelling.  Sometimes he's gone for days at a time.  When he gets home he is still working on his blackberry and laptop.  :(

 

I have two younger children, one who is at the age who would be starting school next year. The other is a toddler who gets into everything.  It's incredibly hard to keep them occupied while the other kids are trying to do schoolwork.  My youngest is at that stage...he makes BIG messes.  It's awful.  And, he is smart enough he can undo the locks on drawers/fridges, etc.  

 

I am completely drained, wiped out.  I am trying to do everything.  As a result, everything is suffering.  The house is messier than ever.  I'm so wiped out I dread pretty much every day.  DH does practically no housework.   My older girls do a little to help out, but most things they need help with because they're too short of can only do part of the job themselves.

 

As I said.  I'm wiped out.  I just found grey hairs on my head this year.  I am 35 pounds heavier than I've ever been.  There have been times that I've been so stressed out I've felt physically ill.  I'm just not taking care of myself.  It just feels like there's just no time to do anything.  I wish I was kidding.  

 

I'm looking at this realistically.  I am having this horrible experience with two.  What happens when the next one has to go to school.  He has speech issues too, so will need to go to speech.  Which means somehow I'm going to have to drive him and all the kids with him over to speach a few times a week as it is if I homeschool again?!?!

 

I'm not gifted towards being an organized person to start with.  The only way I've been able to ever be organized (and I used to be I have pictures and videos to prove it) is to have fewer things and fewer things to do.  I don't do well with chaos, I don't do well with having a lot of things to do.  I'm a high energy/outgoing personality and I'm staying at home all the time with the kids.  This lifestyle does not fit my personality at all.  I am usually a happy outgoing person.  I feel like the life has been sucked out of me.  If you gave me a few hours right now to do whatever I wanted to relax I'm not even sure of what I'd do.  

 

And, yeah, I have a BIG family.  I do the mommy and birthing stuff well.  I natural birth/breastfeed until they wean/cosleep/keep them intact--you know all that wonderful natural parenting stuff.  To admit that this is not working, well it's just a horrible horrible thing for me.  I feel like an incredible failure.  Having a large family is a lot of work as it is.  Add all of this on top of that.  It's like I have a full time job and work two overtimes on top of it.

 

Honestly I can't see myself doing this for another decade or so.  This is just too hard.  I have friends who homeschool, but they have like 1 or 2 kids.  This is so completely different in my books from what they do.  They also have family support.  We have no local family at all, nobody to help out.  I talked to some homeschoolers, they always try to be positive...tell me oh, do this and this, get rid of the online school, homeschool is always better you don't want the crud in public school.  I don't even know where to go from here.  I feel hopeless.  

 

 

 

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#2 of 33 Old 04-01-2011, 06:06 PM
 
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I don't have any sage advice but I just wanted to offer a hug2.gif

It does sound like the curriculum isn't working for your older two.  Have you looked into or talked to anyone about alternate curricula?  Is there any kind of mother's helper or a girl who could be one in your area?  Would private schooling be an option?

 

 

 


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#3 of 33 Old 04-01-2011, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Honestly, I don't see how private school is going to be much better than Public.  The main reason why I wanted them at home was to keep them away from negative social influences, promote a greater sense of family unity and limit the amount of illness in the house.  And, I wish I was kidding, but it seemed like we were sick at least once a month!  We'd even had two hospitalizations as a result of the illness caught from school. 

 

But, both DH and I are more stressed out than ever.  It just feels like a giant ball of stress.  It seems to be way WORSE stress than when they were in school.  I thought about trying to do an alternate curriculum.  I was hoping the online school would work because it would keep me on track and organized.  I can't even imagine trying to plan a curriculum for three kids (next year there will be three) and my third will definitely need speech.  Some consonant blends he can't say.

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#4 of 33 Old 04-01-2011, 06:45 PM
 
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Sorry to hear of your struggle. Your letter looks like where I imagine myself possibly in a years time.....if that makes any sense.

 

My boys(7&9) are in Montessori and we love it. I also have a daughter(2).

 

We live in the Caribbean. Our next move may involve me homeschooling. I did it for a year before but I only had the boys then.I struggle now. No me time, ever. House a mess unless I constantly clean. No help/family. Husband works a lot. I spend my time putting out fires!

 

I will be interested to read suggestions.

 

All the best to you and your family

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#5 of 33 Old 04-01-2011, 06:52 PM
 
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just a little something that works for us.....

 

They are all in bed by 8pm, always. In school holidays I would let them stay up late but it just robbed us of our evenings. On weekends/holidays when the boys wake up they are to stay in their room and do something quiet. I sometimes get an extra 20 mins!  but still.

 

I NEED those evening hours otherwise the day is never ending. I would set as many alarms as you need and make as much effort as possible to get your evenings back.


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#6 of 33 Old 04-01-2011, 07:05 PM
 
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Honestly I would take the issue of couple time apart from the homeschooling. Your husband works a lot of hours and also travels. Whatever schooling the kids were doing, you would have limited time. I would address that issue but probably not as it relates to homeschooling. If he absolutely cannot change his work schedule, then perhaps a date night every 2 weeks would be helpful to give you some time to recharge.

 

I don't think getting up at 8:30 is unreasonably late. I don't exactly understand the concern there. Is it just that you think they'd go to bed earlier if they got up earlier? My son is a night owl. He's 6. If it gets to a point that DH & I need time to talk or just hang together, we ask DS to do something quietly in his room. He's never had a problem with that. Maybe it would work for your girls to give you some downtime. 


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#7 of 33 Old 04-01-2011, 10:17 PM
 
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I am sorry you are struggling. It sounds really stressful.

 

I think the first year of homeschooling after leaving a school requires more of a mental shift for parents than kids to be honest. It can take a while to get into a groove.

I am not sure what kind of response you are looking for but here's what I would suggest

 

1) Make learning more of a family activity. Your girls are close enough in age that you can cover similar materials with them so you aren't teaching 7 hours a day. There's no reason they can't do almost all of their topics/subjects/projects together.  History, science, even math can be covered together and then have a different expectation for your oldest (if you are concerned about output/written work).   Let at least some of your learning be field trips, DVDs after dinner, board games, booktapes while heading out, co-ops and unit studies with friends etc.

 

2) Make exercise a family priority a couple of times a week. After lunch go for a hike. Do a family bike ride on the weekend. Go swimming as a family. Do yoga together in the morning.

 

3) Get used to the idea that your house is just getting more lived in than when you had kids in school. Put some systems in place to help with that - like the 5 minute tidy before every meal, and the 15 minute clean up before Dad gets home and before bed, a 2 hour top to bottom clean on Saturday - whatever works for you. Your older girls can help with chores. I highly recommend motivated moms as a good starting point if you need help with a system.

Also take the stress off - Simplify dinners - use a crockpot. make multiples of meals and freeze,

 

4) Get up earlier for time with your husband or time for yourself to do something that feeds you. Walk, journal, yoga, craft, whatever works.

 

It does get easier.

I promise!

Karen

 


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#8 of 33 Old 04-01-2011, 11:30 PM
 
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Hi Subchaos,

 

I am sorry you are having such a rough first year of homeschooling!  Maybe incorporating some of Karen's ideas might help you feel less stressed.  You spending 7 hours a day teaching, with two younger children in the home also, is a lot to ask/expect of yourself!

 

Some other ideas: ditch this curriculum, find something more enjoyable for you and your children.  Especially in the elementary school years, there are so many great ways to learn without a formal curriculum.  History and science could be you reading aloud from good books, not text books (and even books on tape if you're taking your 3rd child to speech therapy next year).  Go on nature walks & try to identify birds, trees, plants, etc.  Math can be done through measuring in cooking recipes, maybe something like Math U See if you want something more formal.  I know it seems like there are so many great curricula and they can be hard to resist!  But if it doesn't work for your dc, then it's not worth the fight.

 

Have you read anything about relaxed homeschooling/unschooling?  That might work better for the stage your family is currently in.  I'm reading a book about that right now called A Little Way of Homeschooling by Suzie Andres, which has a lot of stories from veteran homeschooling moms, and it is very encouraging about learning through the family's life together, not by being tied down to a curriculum. 

 

No matter what curriculum or style of homeschooling you choose, it should play to your strengths!  If being out and about is what makes you happy & sane, keep doing that!  Find all the cool museums, science centers, parks, etc to take your kids.  There isn't just one type of mom or one type of family that can successfully homeschool, so don't worry about comparing yourself to friends with smaller families.  It's great that you want to provide your kids a great education and foster strong family relationships.  You can do this!  Good luck!

 

 

 

 

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#9 of 33 Old 04-02-2011, 01:40 AM
 
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Did you have a period of de-schooling there for a bit?
If you planned to put the kids back in school, I can see kinda forcing them to keep up on some things.  If you're able to commit for at least a year or two to it to explore a few things, that may help a bit.  As in, you won't feel so rushed to get so much done and keep up with the school testing system so to speak.

 

I have a 7yo boy, almost 5yo boy, almost 3yo girl, and 13mo boy, if that helps give you an idea of how nuts my house can be. 
A few spirited children in there to boot, and my hubby works from home now, so I try (try!) to keep the screaming to a minimum during the day.  My house hasn't been super clean, well, ever.  At least since we moved in.  I can count on one hand the times I've cleaned the windows.  In seven years.  ;)  What I've been doing is a fellow hs'ing friend has watched the older three for me on days where I really need to get something done (paint the homeschool room for one), get a quick break, whatever.  That's usually a day or two about once a month anymore - she watched them more for me when the house was on the market and I didn't have hubby around at all. 
The 7yo and almost 5yo get more chores on their plate as they get older - mommy isn't a slave.  Besides, they need to know how to run their own household when they move out, no harm in starting them young.  If ours want to be part of the household, they'll contribute.  ;) 
Or maybe it's time to find a little extra in the budget for a mommy's helper or twice-a-month housecleaner (because really, the mess-making toddler? won't make cleaning any easier on you for a while, right?).  Especially if your hubby isn't/can't be around to help out.  My hubby was gone most of last year.  As in, from when I was 32+ weeks pregnant with #4 to when that babe was 7-8mo.  We saw him maybe 2-3 times a month on weekends, in a good month.  Our house was also on the market from when the babe was 3+mo - getting a house show-ready with kids, at least my kids, isn't my idea of a good time.  Yet we somehow managed to stumble along, and survived it.  Barely, but we survived.  ;)

If you're open to trying a new curriculum for a little bit, you could check out Ambleside Online (for a freebie plan) or Sonlight or whatever else out there is similar.  Combine the two children with history/geography/read-alouds (which mommy needs to be in on I bet), and have age-appropriate math and english/language arts and whatever else as need be.  My very, very active 7yo begs to do school.  He sees it as fun, and so do his younger siblings.  Sometimes I have to distract the younger two elsewhere since they tend to be the squealers, but still.  Hands on activities where there's enough for them all to do something are very, very popular around here.  I use Sonlight, fwiw, and so far really like it to where I'm ordering the next year's goodies this weekend.  Not sure how I'm going to have it play out in the next few years (as in which kids will do the same core at the same time), but I'll muddle along and figure it out. 


Waking up - we're the same.  Here's my bad mommy moment for posterity... I was up and showered by 8:30 yesterday, despite still being really sick with the crud that got all six of us - the babe had woken me up at 6am (after I got to sleep at 4am), and I couldn't get back to sleep.  I show up downstairs after the morning diaper rituals, and my 7yo says "Mommy, what are you doing up so early?!?" said with shock and amazement.  Um, yeah.  It's been a rough year for me.  Sometimes I end up doing some school/read-alouds at night after I get the younger 2-3 down for bed, and we do it as bedtime stories.  Sometimes we read during the day.  Sometimes we just look up termites on my netbook or they build the leaning tower of Pisa with popsicle sticks or a combine out of Tinkertoys or draw a strawberry plant.  Sometimes I've had it that day, and the boys go to bed with some books to "read" by themselves via camp lantern for however long until they're tired.  As long as they're quiet-ish, not giggling too loudly, and away from the mommy that needs a break, I call it good.


Your IRL homeschooling friends, what are their ideas?  They likely see you more day-in day-out than we get snippets of online here. 
I honestly would probably be just as frustrated and at the end of my rope if I were using K12 (through the local schools or whatever) like a friend of mine.  The assignments - which my 7yo hates since he's not a trained monkey - would drive us all batty and there would be fights about it.  Same with tests.  I just know that.  Which is why that wasn't so much of an option for me/our family - doesn't fit our personalities.  A different kid who loves that kind of routine and taking tests and worksheets and stuff may love it and fly right through all the material.  Mine need the time to process ideas, figure out how it relates to other stuff, and usually it involves playing and building (sense a theme here in my house?) or just randomly blowing us away in conversation.  Which, I have to say, is entirely cool.  Especially when it happens to the almost-but-not-quite-skeptical MIL.  :D

 

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#10 of 33 Old 04-02-2011, 04:49 AM
 
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I would cut the school work to the basics that are required. If that does not help I would either try a different online school or actually homeschool. I always told my kids that an online school will have you working as long if mot longer than a public school. It can drain some kids quick.

 

Sounds like the kids need a set bedtime regardless of the day of the week. My dh is gone 3 weeks each month so I have my set rules. They get to stay up an hour longer on weekends and that is it.

 

 I have my kids in Montessori right now,and hope to hs again when they are ready to come back home. School isn't 100% great. Homeschooling wasn't either. And lol same goes for online charters.Public school we hated.We dh liked it,but he didn't really care what was going on there just as long as the kids were *in school*

 

 You just have to find the best fit for your family and tweak it.Also, don't be afraid to try various options if one thing is not working. When I put my kids in public school they hated it,but family wanted them to stay in public school. I finally just did what I thought was best.

 

I would want to make a room for schooling where the older kids can close the door and do their work.Set rules and goals that MUST be met.If the kids are slacking despite the tweaking then try another schooling option.

 

Get outside and walk when you can.Check your vitamin levels.My friend had a b12 shot and said she feels so much better.Pack up stuff.Try juicing.Hope you find something that works.

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#11 of 33 Old 04-02-2011, 10:45 AM
 
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Subchaos, breathe. First, homeschooling isn't for everyone. Second, finding the style of homeschooling that fits your family might be what you need.

 

We have been homeschooling two of our grandsons using the K-12 online program. For the 12 year old, it's been a good match. Last year there was a big learning curve. This year, he's working independently, with guidance, on his work. Last year there was a fair amount of moaning and groaning over what he didn't want to do. This year, he does the work with no complaining.

 

For his younger brother (almost 7) it's not working as well. He has mild Autism and Sensory Integration Disorder. Although he is doing well with the K-12 work academically, the love for learning wasn't there until I tried some new things. Those things showed me he would do better under a different program, so I'm going to switch next year to a program that has enough structure to keep me organized, but is more fluid and holistic in nature. I'm going to use an ecclectic curriculum that is better suited to our life. (I might add though, that even though we use the K-12 program, we are through his work in about 4- 4 1/2 hours, tops. Rylan, the 12 year old, takes longer, of course.) Next year, I plan to use Charlotte Mason without the Bible work. I will incorporate religions of the world in with history because I believe that any personal religous training is best left to his mom. I'll cover ethics and morals responsibility as part of natural learning. We've chosen a decent math program, but my husband is a retired math teacher. He will handle the math. I will also try to enrich the science, but that's just a personal choice. I'd suggest if you try something like Charlotte Mason that you do the first year as relaxed as possible.

 

If you decide to keep trying with homeschooling, these would be my suggestions for you:

 

1. Get yourself organized at the beginning of the year and make the record keeping work for you. Having been an executive secretary for year, I can assure you that once you train yourself to follow a daily plan for yourself, things will be easier.

 

2. Forgot those starting time "shoulds" and start your day when it works for you. Take time with hubby. Get the kids their breakfast, and don't worry if you don't have a start time until 9:00 or 9:30. I found that works best for my youngest grandson, so I get my organizational work done and let him play/watch TV until 9:30. He knows the TV goes off at that time, and that's the start of our day. Because of his Asperger's he needs routine that he can rely on, and he gets frustrated if we don't start on time, so I'm working with his personal needs there.

 

3. Have a strict rule of no TV or video games until the school day is over.

 

4. When you have to be busy with your youngest, make that a time that the others are doing independent reading or any independent work they can do, or give them break time.

 

5. Take them outside during the day for a nature walk, even if it's just to the back yard. Even your little one will enjoy that. While they are exploring for bugs or collecting leaves, use that time to relax youself. Just getting outside will make you feel better.

 

6. Instead of trying to force feed curriculum to them, read them interesting stories, or let them read their own with books at their level. Have them make some generic puppets and let them do puppet shows about the stories they read. Have your oldest read to the middle child, and your middle read stories to the youngest.

 

7. Give them reasonable chores, and insist that there will be no TV/video games or play with friends until those chores are completed. It's part of their school day. Better yet, make a game out of chores. Whoever gets through with theirs first gets to be "Chore-Master for the Day." Don't tie the chores to food or toys, although kids do like stickers. They do need to see that pitching in at home is part of sharing family responsibilities. You aren't honoring them if you don't teach them this.

 

8. Pick a reasonable bedtime for them, even if they just have the rule that at that time they have to be ready for bed and in their room with a quiet activity until time for sleep. Make that your time or time with your husband.

 

9. Take advantage of your support group, both on line and your friends and family. Take their ideas (including these) and use what works for you...toss the rest.

 

I know all this sounds easier than it is, but it can be accomplished. Your children are learning, and our learning as adults continues. Look at this as something you need to learn how to do so that you can have a calmer life. You are really stressed right now because you are carrying a huge load. It's not going to be an easy change to organize your life and family, but you can do this. Once they realize you are serious about it, and if you do it in a firm, loving way, they will be happier, too.

 

Good luck.

 

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#12 of 33 Old 04-02-2011, 12:25 PM
 
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You could consider a curriculum like Sonlight.  We are using that, and I believe there are many families that use the same level core with multiple children.  (One core is not really a grade level, but designed for a range of ages.)  It's essentially books-based, and you just share all the reading time with all children at once.   You only differentiate on things like math and the readers (the books they can read by themselves).  Maybe even the science curriculum you could share, with different children working together or each doing different things to their abilities.  I like Sonlight because like you, I have NO time to plan.  People can choose to use or ditch the religious part of the curriculum.  There are other curriculums like this one I'm sure, maybe someone else can pipe in with another example.

 

FWIW we don't have couple time either, but that's a separate issue.  DH goes to work late/gets home late too, so we are on the late/late schedule too.  But it works for us -- rather -- I make it work as best I can.

 

 


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#13 of 33 Old 04-02-2011, 10:03 PM
 
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We don't have couple's time either and we "only" have a 5 year old and a 2.5 year old. We've been on one date since our daughter was born...and the babysitter called us 45 minutes into it saying it wasn't working. My husband goes to bed the same time as the kids. Then I sit up on the computer until I'm tired. We used to let our son stay up as late as he wanted. I was pulling out my hair. Now the two kids and I lay down together around 8, they fall asleep, I get up and walk past my husband who is asleep on the couch. I miss my husband, but at least I get a breather.

 

We are on the unschooling spectrum and we are using the secular books off www.sonlight.com. We're not using their instructor's guides, just buying and reading the books. And the secular ones are fantastic. Even with a 2.5 year difference in our kids, I can see doing the same books with them at some point in the future.

 

The more I read about delayed academics, the more I believe in it. Personally, I don't think it would hurt your girls if they got to spend less time on formal schoolwork and more time exploring what interests them.

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#14 of 33 Old 04-02-2011, 10:14 PM
 
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I would drop the online program. Everyone I have heard from, at these ages..it just drags on and makes homeschooling a chore and a bore. Then have fun with it!

 

Oh the things I would do with 2 little girls that age! That is about how old my daughter was when we started homeschooling. She was interested in colonial days, which led to reading a lot on it. Of course, that meant she needs to grow a garden..to be like a colonial girl. Which led to her having to make an authentic colonial costume...as best as she could with what she had. In all this, she read everyone book at her level on colonial days. We learned so much about the Mayflower and the colonies and even what led to people coming then. Then came an interest in what names were popular back then. Then...well..our garden did not actually grow, we had bad soil at our old house, but we did manage to grow some herbs inside. So..this led to trying to cook some very colonial type meals. Which by this point, we even knew the maps of Plymouth and who the people were there. And what it was like to be a child in those days. Of course, we needed to try out old style education. Which..of course, led to.....

 

Well, you get the idea....we got so much botany and biology and cooking and history in all this..and reading. We dropped the regular reading curriculum because it got in the way of all the reading we were doing on the Colonial Days. 

 

I also loved that at some point, we learned how to make little fairy dolls out of a bead,pipe cleaner, fake flower...and embroidery yarn. Made several of those and gathered sticks to make fairy houses..which were placed in the garden that did not grow. Oh, and we made our own soap too. 

 

We still did math on the side. But I am sure I could have found a way to work math in to all that. But she really spurred herself through all that, I did not direct any of it. She loved doing her spelling on the chalkboard. I got a small one so it could be like how they did it in the colonial days. Those are cheap at Walmart or Target.

 

So the point is..you can recover this and have the best year possible!!! Just drop the online program and do this. Oh..and I took lots of pictures throughout the year and we scrap booked them. This really does a lot for writing skills and art and all that. I swear...these ages are the best.

 

Good luck!!!!

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#15 of 33 Old 04-02-2011, 10:17 PM
 
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Oh, and if you do not want to do speech, just skip it for a year. I had software for my daughter that replaced her speech. The school gave it to me saying that is what they would have done for her anyway. She came around. If your child has no improvement from you working with him, you can give the speech a try in another year. I know that where we used to go to for private speech has taken to not doing actual speech therapy but rather training the parents to do it. That is at a children's hospital. You could look in to something like that.

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#16 of 33 Old 04-02-2011, 10:40 PM
 
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I think you guys need to focus on getting yourselves back on track by taking care of yourselves first. I would stop the online schooling and try to get your house and health in order before you attempt to do lessons again. I would make a list of monthly goals for each person (including yourself and dh). You don't have to do everything everyday and you can read as a family or watch documentaries on the days that are extra stressful. I am guilty of doing too much and thinking that I should do it because I can do it better or quicker..delegate those chores and just let it go because that is what wears us out..I do it too. The speech therapy isn't that bad. My son had speech for 5 years.

 

Maybe your friends make homeschooling look easy , but they probably feel frazzled too. 

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#17 of 33 Old 04-04-2011, 06:32 AM
 
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I am thinking that you are working too hard at making that curriculum work for you, and not just doing what works best for your family.  There are thousands of curriculums, and many,more ways to learn without curriculum.  If I were going to make your situation work for me, I'd ditch the online curriculum, and just live for a few months and fix some of the unrelated-to-homeschool problems like kids bedtimes, exercise, better food plans, and then slowly add school-y or unschool-y things that work WITH your family back in.  Maybe that just starts with a little bit of read-aloud time after lunch, or a 3x-week math lesson, or just an educational DVD at the time you plan to do some "school" in the future. Whatever would be easily accepted by your girls, and maybe even something they could do together.  Just slowly (over the course of MONTHS) carve out a school pattern to your days, but that means for many people just doing 1-3 hrs per day-ish--maybe only 3-4 days per week.  Online school is way overkill.  As you see the way your family works in its natural form with some time to settle in, you'll also have a better idea of what kind of curriculum may work for you guys. Then try out that math curric that you've had time to learn about and plan how it will fit in.  Or the spelling that one kid is having troubles with--but not everything at once at the beginning. Too squashing to this new budding lifestyle.  

 

Before long, you'll start to see where school/learning fits naturally in your lives, and you'll also realize how much your kids are learning by not beating them over the head with it, and you'll see them open up to more natural learning.  They will start applying the things they know on their own and extrapolating and expanding.  But they WON'T be doing this much if at all if you're pounding them with an aggressive online, inflexible curriculum.

 

You can make this work, and you can love this lifestyle, but I don't thing you have yourself set up for success they way you're going at it.  Good luck!  This can still be great!

 

Stacy

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#18 of 33 Old 04-06-2011, 05:57 PM
 
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Seven hours a day of teaching sounds like a lot to me.  I would ditch the online school.  Maybe spend some time doing nothing, or try a curriculum like Ambleside which someone above suggested.  It has the advantage, besides being free, that a lot of it is reading that they are meant to do on their own.  Or just unschool for a while.

 

I would look into some resources for chores for kids.  A nine year old should be able to do a ton of stuff, and a seven year old a fair bit.  Not that they need to be loaded down, but I think kids are better off if they have a fair bit of household responsibility - the fact that homeschooling gives them time for that is one of its advantages.

 

I'd also have a set bed-time, especially for the seven year old.  I also find that getting a reasonably early start is an important issue, or nothing gets done - but at the moment the baby pretty much takes care of that.  But you might think about getting one of those alarm clocks that slowly brightens up the room before it goes off - some people who have trouble waking swear by them.


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#19 of 33 Old 04-06-2011, 09:33 PM
 
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I would have family meetings to collaboratively decide on priorities and brainstorm ways to come closer to achieving your top few priorities. This sounds like more than a homeschooling problem: it's a family that's grinding its gears, trying to make things work but without a real sense of where it is trying to go.

 

We had a chaotic year or two and if I recall correctly my eldest two were almost the age of your eldest two. I felt much like you do -- burned out, stressed by juggling all the kids, all the learning, all the out-of-home activities, all the cooking and laundry, all the emotional neediness. For a year or so we decided relationships had to come first. That ended up being our main priority and everything else moved to the back burner. We had to figure out how to be a family together so that each others' wishes were respected and needs were satisfied and so that we actually liked each other, liked being together. Only after that could we start to effectively deal with other things. The magic was that once our family relationships were functioning well almost all the other issues disappeared. Resistance to learning was really resistance to working with a stressed mama who had little creativity, little energy, little emotional resilience of her own. Kids have amazing radar; once I was no longer enjoying facilitating their learning, they picked up on that and they no longer felt like responding amicably. Once they were happy and enjoyed the time with me, once I was happy and enjoyed the time with them, everything was fine. Relationships First became my ongoing mantra. 

 

What are your priorities? How do they rank? Is academic progress important? More or less important than your happiness? Your kids' happiness? Is sticking with a reputable on-line schooling program a priority? Is the development of self-motivation important? Healthy sleep and activity habits? A sense of family collaboration and co-operation? Having an uncluttered calm home environment? Becoming more organized in allocating your time? Identify one or two fundamental priorities and as a family come up with some changes you can try for a week or two to move in the right direction. Let the other stuff slide. Re-evaluate after a week, decide whether you've made progress, opt to change tactics or adjust priorities as needed. Give yourselves a pat on the back if you've made progress, then pick something else to focus on next. If you don't feel like you've made progress, brainstorm new ideas now that you know some things that don't work.

 

I think it's normal to have to sort through a lot of this baggage with a bunch of kids around the ages of yours, and especially in your first year of homeschooling. Family homeschooling life is one big ball of wax. Working on the issues together is the only way to solve them, and the process of working together will be an incredibly potent life lesson. After all, if you can get along well with the people you love, you can get along with anyone!

 

Miranda

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#20 of 33 Old 04-08-2011, 09:06 AM
 
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We had to figure out how to be a family together so that each others' wishes were respected and needs were satisfied and so that we actually liked each other, liked being together. Only after that could we start to effectively deal with other things. The magic was that once our family relationships were functioning well almost all the other issues disappeared. Resistance to learning was really resistance to working with a stressed mama who had little creativity, little energy, little emotional resilience of her own. Kids have amazing radar; once I was no longer enjoying facilitating their learning, they picked up on that and they no longer felt like responding amicably. Once they were happy and enjoyed the time with me, once I was happy and enjoyed the time with them, everything was fine. Relationships First became my ongoing mantra. 

 

I love this post, Miranda. Sometimes "backing down" really is the best way forward....


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#21 of 33 Old 04-09-2011, 09:01 PM
 
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I am in a situation in which homeschooling our 8 yo is challenging with our 5 yo being who he is, and us keeping a very busy calendar of activities.  But it is very important to me to feel that I am meeting all of the requirements.  I will respond quickly with what I do:

 

  • Establish a set bedtime and stick to it.  Establish a set waking up time and stick to it, even if they are mad about getting up.  Have an efficient and non-negotiable morning routine.  Then get schoolwork done as early in the day as possible. 
  • Dump any curriculum that seems cumbersome and impossible.  For the 3Rs, go with materials that are open-and-go, get it done, no teacher's manual, teach-on-the-page workbooks, and affordable.  Personally I have resorted to buying Spectrum workbooks for our older son's grade level for math, phonics, language arts, and writing. They actually are not bad at all.  I also use Spelling Workout, Scholastic Daily Word Ladders, and some Evan Moor books (Language Fundamentals and Vocabulary Fundamentals) although I will be switching to Spectrum for these.  I also use Flash Forward Reading workbooks from Barnes and Noble - cheap and really great !  Not all of these every day; but enough variety to put together a nice packet of language arts work for every day that isn't always the same.  MCP Math also has good workbooks.  Singapore Math has good books for word problems.  Critical Thinking Company has some good books for brain puzzles and pre algebra (Balance Benders).
  • For history/social studies and science, buy materials that you can use to read aloud or together with both at the same time 1-2 days a week.  I am going with Story of the World for history, along with the history maps from Knowledge Quest to work some geography in, and Real Science 4 Kids and Magic School Bus books for science reading.  I am not getting into complicated projects in these areas with lots of craft activities or experiments.  Those are great, but will have to wait until things are less hectic.
  • Our state also requires PE/Health and Fine Arts.  PE and Health are met by participation in sports and a weekly gym class for homeschoolers, along with an occasional library book on a health topic.  Fine arts is violin lessons and practice.  I am working on collecting some books on famous paintings and poems for kids. 

 

This is a very basic, streamlined approach.  For me right now this is what is manageable.  It does not take more than a couple hours a day of focused work to keep making good progress in all subjects.  When it is time for him to work, I keep him on task.  Taking quick 5 minute breaks every 20 minutes or so really helps him chug along.  When he is done with the work I gave him or lessons with me, he is really done for the day.  We are not dragging school work out all day because that is totally exhausting and draining.  This way I have time to take care of all the other stuff I need to take care of, spend time with the 5 yo, and be out of the house for whatever the activity is for that day.  He is making good progress with this and staying on track.  We don't stop for summer so I'm fine with his school day being shorter since we get about 60 more days in per school year than our public school does. 

 

The other thing that helps me is tackling housework head on before others get up and keeping food simple.  I am usually doing something involving dishes, laundry, and garbage at 5:30 every morning.  If I don't get those three things under control, I feel overwhelmed by them.  But they are easy to make a big dent in very early in the morning.  I also don't spend much time on food preparation.  Our meals are very repetitive and boring most of the time. 

 

I hope some of this helps. 


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and 3 , in our happy secular
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#22 of 33 Old 04-10-2011, 12:15 PM
 
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Re: your 3rd DC's speech:

 

http://lester.rale.k12.wv.us/articulation%20norms.htm if he's only 5 there are lots of sounds that it's normal not to say clearly yet.

 

http://members.tripod.com/caroline_bowen/acquisition.html has even more details.

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#23 of 33 Old 04-10-2011, 04:19 PM
 
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laundrycrisis and I have a similar approach, though I only have 2 kids and they are pretty close in age so I have it easy.

 

Currently we are all in 2nd grade ish workbooks, as they can read, plus Rosetta Stone for Spanish which is on a laptop.

 

I can take everything on the go by grabbing workbooks, the pencil box and the laptop.  I like the Kumon series for math.  We are also using spelling and cursive workbooks, a change from printing out cursive sheets because the end of the year is always so crazy. 

 

This means any work not completed in a reasonable time in the morning, some child can easily take in the car on the way to an activity or do while waiting for a sibling to finish an activity.  Rosetta Stone is particularly good for the car (except often they need to skip the purely-speaking lessons and do them later, because of the road noise).  The first History of Us book plays in the car with my Audible app on my phone, but if you don't have that you could burn it on CD with no issue.  http://www.audible.com search for Joy Hakim.  I hope they are also recording her Story of Science series.   

 

Meals just need to be simple.  For dinner tonight my kids had cold ham, bread and asparagus.  I try to put multiple things in one side but it is basically what they are guarenteed in a meal is one side of usually a vegetable, or a fruit in the worst case scenario (as these are usually eaten more between meals and breakfast) and a protein source (meat, cheese, mac and cheese, peanut butter sandwich, etc.) 

 

 

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#24 of 33 Old 04-11-2011, 09:35 PM
 
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Wow, some really great advice here!  I just want to add my support to the idea of backing down from the school stuff and getting the rest of your life in order first.  Your girls are young enough that a couple of months won't matter in the long run.  Declare summer vacation and plan to start lessons again in the fall.  Use the summer to have some "visioning" sessions with your husband and after that, some family meetings with everyone to get input on how to implement the vision.  Try out some routines, and chore and meal planning strategies while you don't also have to be teaching.  Look into the various homeschooling options that have been suggested here and decide which one you will try first, second (if need be), etc.

 

You mention that you are not naturally very organized.  I am not either, so I understand!  What I have discovered about myself is that my natural inclination to not like schedules and structure are the reasons I *need* to have some schedules and structure!  When I'm working within a basic daily schedule, I am at my most productive while at the same time (rather counter-intuitively), I also find that I have more "free-time" than when I wing it.  I think this is because I spend a lot less time fretting about what I *should* be doing. 

 

Best of luck to you!  I think many people find the first year to be very hard!

 

 


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#25 of 33 Old 09-19-2012, 07:18 PM
 
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I know this is an old post and I don't know what you as a parent decided, but I wanted to respond as a mother who used to homeschool and has now stopped.

 

I have four children 4,6,8 and 10. So, my family is above average sized, too.  I homeschooled the eldest until she was 8 and I homeschooled the second eldest until she was 7.  Then they both started attended public school here in the burbs. I let my youngest attend Kindergarten in public school as well.  She was homeschooled throughout the daycare and preschool age.

 

I homeschooled because I lived in the city at the time and my neighborhood school was overcrowded and to me, subpar.  I had to take my eldest homeschooled child to the neighborhood school occasionally for evaluations and paperwork and would hear the teachers doing more disciplining than teaching. I worried about my children being bullied and overwhelmed or underwhelmed. 

 

The positives of homeschooling was that I can take pride in knowing that I taught my older children how to read, how to do basic arithmetic, and how to write their own names.  I enrolled them in Art and Cooking Classes.  They went with their Dad to work sometimes and did Yoga with me. I didn't have to buy school uniforms or school clothes. I didn't have to rush about.  I didn't have to follow a back to school supply list.  When my children didn't understand something, I could re-visit the subject or topic later and teach them all at their own pace. I knew my children's learning styles, likes, and dislikes so I could teach them traditionally or unconventionally (unschool) depending on each child's personalities and challenges. I developed a bond with my children and we all become very close.  We made hurricanes in a bottle, analyzed snow, went to a Native American powwow for a history lesson and did schoolwork after 9:00 a.m. when we wanted to.

 

Now, the negatives.  My kids were always around me. Number one, I am human.  I'm not perfect.  I can get cranky.  I can snap at my kids if I'm feeling stressed.  I have my own idiosyncrasies and so does my husband. My kids don't need to be around my husband and I all of the time.  Also, I feel I am a better mom when I can have regular breaks from my kids.  I am more refreshed for them, myself, and my husband when I can get a breather.  When I am not around them, I can exercise, I can prepare a nutritious meal for myself, I can engage in hobbies, take a bath without someone knocking on the door, pick up part time work, clean up a room and have it stay cleaned up for hours and - gasp! - be intimate with my husband. I can prepare a little extra homework for my children while alone to help in areas where they need more educational intervention.

 

The other negative is that in some areas I underestimated what was expected of them for school. Sure, there are plenty of success stories of homeschooled students winning National Spelling Bees, winning scholarships to Ivy League colleges and reading well above grade level. But there are just as many stories like mine, where when my kids did finally attend school, they were so behind that all three of them needed some form of Learning Support Services.  Granted, genetically, special needs runs in my family. Both of my brothers were assessed with learning disabilities while in public school.  But, I'm sure the staff at each of my children's IEP had plenty to say about me behind closed doors regarding homeschooling.

 

The biggest shocker was Kindergarten. I thought well my older two girls are behind but my youngest daughter will get a fresh start.  She hasn't been to pre-school or daycare but what's the big deal? She'll just be learning the alphabet, colors, shapes and how to count to 20 between coloring and storytime.  Right?  WRONG!  Kindergarten is now what 1st grade, even 2nd grade used to be when I was growing up.  My daughter was expected to count by 2's, 5's, recongnize 100, recognize coins, read clocks, read sight words, "kid write," do simple addition and subtraction - among other things.  She floundered and drowned and again she has to be in Learning Support after Kindergarten.

 

Having your child attend public school is not for everyone, but neither is homeschooling.  It's a full-time serious commitment and no one should guilt you into continuing if it's not working out.  You are not a failure for wanting to stop. It actually takes more courage to stop homeschooling and to go to a brick and mortar school and admit that you need help.  Great article, by the way!

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#26 of 33 Old 02-21-2013, 02:06 PM
 
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Hello Everyone:

I am new to this thread and I have been homeschooling for almost 15 years.  I am a homeschooling mother to 5 children ages 14, 12, 13, 10 and 8.  There's only one shocking thing that I honestly read that helped me---who are we hurrying up for? The reason that we're homeschooling in the first place is so that we're no longer in the "rat race" and the atmosphere is "relaxing".  It took me many years to finally understand this fact.  I was always rushing my kids through one class after another until one day I read this article on the internet and I said Oh my goodness she's right!!  So now what do I do?  Allow my children the opportunity to work at their own pace (s) and shockingly enough they get the work done....no time cards being punched in my house any longer Lol!!  Seriously, unless they are doing a curriculum where the work has to be in at a set time period, then they answer to no one except for yourself.  Oh and did I mention that I'm a single parent!!  My one son is classified as Autistic which according to them I broke him out of this classification.  My one daughter is classified as Cerebral Palsy which I worked her legs and she too is classified as being normal now.  My one son is a behavior problem which I continue to combat with humor and he's above grade level (their words).  One other thing I forgot to mention--they are all adopted and I'm doing it alone.

Anita 

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#27 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 06:02 PM
 
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The kids are staying up way too late and getting up later.  A huge part of it was that we always depended on the bus to get us up early before (a reason to get up).  Now we don't get up until DH has to go to work, which is later than most--winds up being around 8:30.  You'd think it would be easy enough to get an alarm.  DH shuts it off!  He is a chronic snoozer.  I don't even hear it, it's so quiet.


We're unschoolers so we don't do the whole school-at-home thing....so I've got no suggestions there....but with the alarm thing I suggest looking into an alarm app. I downloaded a free one on my phone and there are tons of different settings....you can even set it up so you can't snooze it or turn it off without answer a math problem!
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#28 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 08:15 PM
 
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Just a heads up that this thread is almost two years old and the original poster hasn't been on-line here at MDC since the day after she started this thread. 

 

Miranda


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#29 of 33 Old 03-12-2013, 03:33 PM
 
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Well I could of wrote this post myself. Except I don't care if my kids sleep in. I pray they sleep in. My husband is gone 80 hours a week and I am completely on my own. I never sent my kids to public school and keep them home for the same reasons as the original poster.
I really struggle with getting them to do school. All they want to do is play. They are 8 and 5 so the difference in age doesn't allow me teach them at the same time. The 5 year old needs constant attention and direction. Plus I have a crazy 3 year old who constantly interrupts. Plus I'm pregnant.
If I do school everything gets neglected. Laundry, house work, errands, etc. I'm only one person. Essentially I'm a single parent since my husband gets up leaves for work and doesn't get home until 11pm SIX days a week. I've been drowning in work and stress for years. I don't want to send my kids to public school but I don't want them never learning either. I've tried lots of stuff over the years and I'm still struggling.

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#30 of 33 Old 03-12-2013, 08:11 PM
 
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You can teach them at the same time. Bears are bears; anatomy is anatomy. Some topics work, regardless of age. Think outside the box. Post specific problems you would like help thinking of solutions.


Edited to ask that this cranky response be ignored. There's one I hope is better later.
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