Is it supposed to be this hard? (rant, vent... or something...) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 09-12-2012, 09:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm feeling overwhelmed. I think I mostly just need to get all these thoughts out of my head.

I was homeschooled from Kindergarten until I went to college. I thought this was going to be way easier. Maybe I'm expecting too much. 

My daughter just turned 6 a few weeks ago. If she was in public school, she would be attending kindergarten because she missed the cutoff deadline by 4 days. 

I was planning on starting official homeschool last year, but I was seriously ill with my pregnancy, and decided to wait until this year. 

She is mostly at a beginning 1st grade level for Math and reading. Somehow I feel like she is behind, even though if she were in public school she would only be starting kindergarten.

I got a reading curriculum, a math curriculum, and now a writing curriculum. I never found a history, geography, or science curriculum I really liked, so I decided to just wing it with library books and such.

I felt that reading, writing and math are the most important to learn, and decided to do them every day. Science, health, geography and history I set to 2-3 times a week with no more than 5 subjects a day including the math, reading and writing. I had a whole schedule and everything. 

I wanted to be pretty lose, and flexible, so I just had a list of 4-5 things to do for the day (2 pages of math, 1 lesson in reading, 1 page of handwriting, 2 pages of history, etc.) I asked my daughter what she wanted to do next, and we took breaks if she seemed like she needed it. She seemed to enjoy it.

It was just too much. My 4 year old son wants to do school too, but his level and learning style are so drastically different than his sister's, I just can't make it work. I have a 5 month old too, and she's pretty needy. I ended up spending the entire day from breakfast until dinner schooling my children. If I wasn't directly teaching (or taking care of the baby or another child's needs) I was studying, reading up on the next lesson, and getting ready for schooling. It was too much for me.

I dropped all the school activities I was doing with my 4 yr old DS, and dropped everything but Math, writing, reading, health, and basic US history for my daughter (she adores US history) and now it seems manageable, but I worry if it's enough. Today she told me that she was bored. I don't want her to be bored. I want learning to be fun, but I barely have time to do what I am currently doing, so how can I make it more fun and engaging? My other 2 children need me, I have meals to make, laundry, basic cleaning, and I'm still trying to get my health back from being so ill while I was pregnant.  I think I was over preparing because I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing. 

I don't know what speed we should be going or if we need to do school every day, or how often we should do history, or what. I find that small breaks of a day or so in specific subjects help when she gets stuck with reading, or math, but any longer, and she seems to forget and regress, so I want to be careful of that. 

I like planning, I like having a course of action, even if it's only just a simple "Let the child choose" kind of thing. I just want to have a plan. I don't want to let my daughter (or my son) down.

I think I would feel a lot more secure with an all inclusive curriculum, but I really wanted the flexibility and freedom of a pick and choose approach. It seemed to fit our family's teaching philosophy better.

 

I feel caught between fear that I am trying to do too much, thereby squashing the love of learning out of my child, or risking burnout and fear that I am not doing enough and she will end up with a seriously lacking education. 

 

Am I just over thinking this, and making it harder than it needs to be?  

I fear that I will not be able to teach her right, and I will fail her. I think that is my biggest fear. I don't want to fail, because it's not about me, it's about THEM. 

This is way harder than I thought it would be!

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#2 of 15 Old 09-12-2012, 10:35 PM
 
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I was and sometimes still am where you are. I think your expectations for her are too big and you have too much going on right now. I home school my 3rd grader and I am doing prek for my 5 year old (her birthday is past the cut off date). Some days I just want to send them across the street to the public school, but others aren't so bad.

 

Something that helps me is I use an on line program (time4learning) and it helps me feel like I am on track and what's next. I will look ahead and plan other things I can expand on or skip over if I don't feel its important. When she was evaluated this past year, everything was right on track as to where she "should" be. I like that it takes some of the pressure off and I just supplement the rest.

 

Something else I learned, was to take it easy if I needed to. When I was trying to do 5 subjects a day we were doing school work all day long. Literally, it was like 6-8 hours. That is exhausting for everyone involved. So now we've cut back and spaced out subjects and it takes about 2-3 hours a day. We get the luxury of schooling all year though, so I don't feel like I have 180 days to teach her everything. We do a little everyday, taking breaks when needed and it really works for us.


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#3 of 15 Old 09-12-2012, 10:52 PM
 
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Ma'am you need to speak education-ese ;).  If your DD loves history then read history books.  Learn to read using history materials.  Don't break all the subjects up. COMBINE them.  Use history sentences for copy work or writing.    Let DD run at the library, get out as many books as you can.  Kindy (and the early grades) are really about reading, writing and simple math.   

Hook up with a good childrens librarian and find some math books in the childrens department and read those. 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Cheerios-Count-100-Justine-Fontes/dp/0439773598/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1347515164&sr=8-3&keywords=cheerios+counting+book

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Hersheys-Kisses-Addition-Book/dp/0439241731/ref=pd_sim_b_4

 

http://www.amazon.com/Reeses-Pieces-Count-By-Fives/dp/0439135206/ref=pd_sim_b_7

 

http://www.amazon.com/Apple-Fractions-Jerry-Pallotta/dp/0439389011/ref=pd_sim_b_5

 

http://www.amazon.com/How-Big-Foot-Rolf-Myller/dp/0440404959/ref=pd_sim_b_15

 

http://www.amazon.com/Math-Fables-Lessons-That-Count/dp/0439754984/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1347515266&sr=1-9&keywords=greg+tang+math+books

 

here are some history books my kiddo loved

http://www.amazon.com/America-Patriotic-Primer-Lynne-Cheney/dp/0689851928/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1347515294&sr=1-1&keywords=lynne+cheney

 

http://www.amazon.com/Our-50-States-Adventure-America/dp/0689867174/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1347515294&sr=1-2&keywords=lynne+cheney

 

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Star-Spangled-Banner-Patricia-Pingry/dp/0824965671/ref=pd_sim_b_12

 

http://www.amazon.com/Cant-Make-Them-Behave-George/dp/0698114027/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1347515364&sr=1-1&keywords=king+george+make+them+behave  (anything in this series)

 

General Kindy type books

http://www.amazon.com/Chicka-Boom-Anniversary/dp/1416990917/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1347515424&sr=1-1&keywords=chicka+chicka+boom+boom

 

http://www.amazon.com/Chicka-Boom/dp/0689858817/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_y

 

Anything by Eric Carle, Mercer Mayer, I SPY, Curious George, Bernstain Bears, etc.

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#4 of 15 Old 09-13-2012, 01:56 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kungfumoose View Post

I'm feeling overwhelmed. I think I mostly just need to get all these thoughts out of my head.

I was homeschooled from Kindergarten until I went to college. I thought this was going to be way easier. Maybe I'm expecting too much. 

My daughter just turned 6 a few weeks ago. If she was in public school, she would be attending kindergarten because she missed the cutoff deadline by 4 days. 

I was planning on starting official homeschool last year, but I was seriously ill with my pregnancy, and decided to wait until this year. 

She is mostly at a beginning 1st grade level for Math and reading. Somehow I feel like she is behind, even though if she were in public school she would only be starting kindergarten.

I got a reading curriculum, a math curriculum, and now a writing curriculum. I never found a history, geography, or science curriculum I really liked, so I decided to just wing it with library books and such.

I felt that reading, writing and math are the most important to learn, and decided to do them every day. Science, health, geography and history I set to 2-3 times a week with no more than 5 subjects a day including the math, reading and writing. I had a whole schedule and everything. 

I wanted to be pretty lose, and flexible, so I just had a list of 4-5 things to do for the day (2 pages of math, 1 lesson in reading, 1 page of handwriting, 2 pages of history, etc.) I asked my daughter what she wanted to do next, and we took breaks if she seemed like she needed it. She seemed to enjoy it.

It was just too much. My 4 year old son wants to do school too, but his level and learning style are so drastically different than his sister's, I just can't make it work. I have a 5 month old too, and she's pretty needy. I ended up spending the entire day from breakfast until dinner schooling my children. If I wasn't directly teaching (or taking care of the baby or another child's needs) I was studying, reading up on the next lesson, and getting ready for schooling. It was too much for me.

I dropped all the school activities I was doing with my 4 yr old DS, and dropped everything but Math, writing, reading, health, and basic US history for my daughter (she adores US history) and now it seems manageable, but I worry if it's enough. Today she told me that she was bored. I don't want her to be bored. I want learning to be fun, but I barely have time to do what I am currently doing, so how can I make it more fun and engaging? My other 2 children need me, I have meals to make, laundry, basic cleaning, and I'm still trying to get my health back from being so ill while I was pregnant.  I think I was over preparing because I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing. 

I don't know what speed we should be going or if we need to do school every day, or how often we should do history, or what. I find that small breaks of a day or so in specific subjects help when she gets stuck with reading, or math, but any longer, and she seems to forget and regress, so I want to be careful of that. 

I like planning, I like having a course of action, even if it's only just a simple "Let the child choose" kind of thing. I just want to have a plan. I don't want to let my daughter (or my son) down.

I think I would feel a lot more secure with an all inclusive curriculum, but I really wanted the flexibility and freedom of a pick and choose approach. It seemed to fit our family's teaching philosophy better.

 

I feel caught between fear that I am trying to do too much, thereby squashing the love of learning out of my child, or risking burnout and fear that I am not doing enough and she will end up with a seriously lacking education. 

 

Am I just over thinking this, and making it harder than it needs to be?  

I fear that I will not be able to teach her right, and I will fail her. I think that is my biggest fear. I don't want to fail, because it's not about me, it's about THEM. 

This is way harder than I thought it would be!

 

Hugs Mama, you sound overwhelmed and we all have those days!  You are right when you said the most important skills at this stage of your daughter's development is reading, math and writing.  That is all I would do if I were you.  The rest (science, history, geography, health etc) is something you can give to her indirectly.  Are you TV free? If not, documentaries are an amazing resource.  Do you have an ipad (iphone)? There are great apps out there for Math. We also subscribe to readingeggs.com and I can not say enough good things about it.  My son (who is also six) is learning reading using it and it is fabulous.  As for writing, in addition to the worksheets that come with the Reading Eggs lessons, he enjoys writing notes and random sentences (nothing planned, just stuff worked into his play -- he is into maps right now and he labels his maps).

 

We also do audio books (currently, we are doing the Magic Tree House books) and my son loves those and I think it is great that he is developing his auditory skills. We love the Magic School Bus shows around here and there is a lot of science in them. Scheduled teaching at my house takes an hour and half max. and I think it is enough for first grade, at least for now.  In In November, I plan to reassess.  Then in January, I plan to reassess again.  I will do this periodically not just to ensure that we are on track but also to make myself feel better about my own anxieties of where we are.  

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#5 of 15 Old 09-13-2012, 09:24 AM
 
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Don't take her comments about boredom personally.  

 

Also, I wouldn't dive in so fully with a baby in tow.  I think history at this age can be covered by curling up on the couch and reading good books.  There are fabulous, fun books that are not dry in the least: George Washington's Teeth, Make Them Behave, King George!, President Stuck in the Bathtub (I think that's the name).  Recently we read a book about Old Crump, the ox that faithfully carried their pioneer family over the desert to the San Joaquin valley, Don't Forget Winona, a light book about an Oklahoma family traveling to California during the Great Depression, stories that center around Native Americans, their past and present.......

 

For science, we just explore.  So, it is pretty heavy on nature.  (I have 2 girls--7.5 and nearly six.  They are roughly 2nd grade and 1st grade.)  Besides just exploration, they watch a fair amount of videos, like Bill Nye.  Right now they are watching a 3-part series on Madagascar.  DD2 loves her pile of field guides and science books, which I've written about in other threads.  We keep binoculars, magnifying glasses, measuring tape--anything remotely "science-y" at hands reach.  Yesterday we found a grand fir cone on the ground (unusual--they usually fall apart or are torn apart by squirrels).  We raise chickens (showed 2 at our first fair in August).

 

They are starting to want to actually do the experiments on Bill Nye, and have ideas for other projects that take more planning.  So, I write the experiment/project idea on a 5x7 index card and stick it to the fridge.  If I need to, I write the things we need for it.  One only requires a 2-liter pop bottle.  (We'll get around to them some day :)

 

For science and history, pretty much everything, we don't touch on a concept and move to the next thing.  This is the 10th time they've been through this Madagascar series, and they like repeating experiments over and over when we do them.  Read the books over and over.  Because we do what we do every day, we don't have the need to keep moving on to the next thing.  It is very relaxed.  

 

We do a lot of games and puzzles and puzzle books.  Rolling the di and counting the total is a great way to learn addition.  Battleship teaches coordinates.  Yesterday we did some secret code with a graph, because they got a little puzzle on their gymnastics handout.  We made more of our own, based on the same graph.  Weekly allowances (very small) teach money counting, value, etc.

 

Really, the only thing that has been tricky has been writing, and that is in part because dd1 had some difficulty with her muscles.  She is now writing lists of her farm animals for her Future Farm.  I'd say she's a little behind the curve there, but dd2 has no troubles wanting to write.  They just don't get as much practice as school kids do, because there is not as much need to write when we work one-on-one.  (DD2 loves tracing words in books with her feather quills ala Harry Potter.)

 

I've worded things closest to the experience of other HSers, but really we are unschoolers--I must reveal my biases!  For us, at this age, kids learning to deal with boredom is one of the best "lessons" they get.   My job is more to keep up with them than to stay ahead.  It could be a sign that your dd is weary of the specific materials you are using, needs more time to run around.  Maybe--just pay attention to when she complains and over what.  However, my girls have all the time in the world, and they still occasionally (some days frequently) complain of boredom.  So, like I said, don't take her boredom personally.  I would argue that it is not your job to keep her engaged at every moment.

 

Lastly, we work with all kinds of materials at all different levels.  Both still enjoy reading baby board books by themselves, and they both enjoy perusing and reading books that are far, far beyond their current level.  It doesn't bother dd1 that she can't read every word in her horse books.  She just asks for help.  It doesn't bother dd2 that she can't read her piles and piles of science books.  Frankly, books that "teach" reading and other concepts can frequently seem a bit (yawn!) dull.

 

I lied..... NOW, finally...... keep track of the other things your kids do in the day.  If you read together, count that as reading time.  Write it down.  If your dd asks a great question in the car about how the earth was made and you answered it (or tried!), write it down because that was science.  If you discovered a new caterpillar and looked it up online or in a book, that's science, too.  If she figured out that she needed to move 10 spaces when she rolled a 6 and a 4, that's math.  Write it down.  Record the learning that takes place outside of your sit-down time, and you might see places where you can back off the stuff that takes up more of your energy.  Do this until you have more confidence that you don't need to take responsibility for every kernel of knowledge she needs to pick up.

 

I'm not talking you into unschooling or anything else, but hoping these ideas from our experience help to take the load off.  

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#6 of 15 Old 09-13-2012, 06:58 PM
 
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I have a bunch of activities that my children can grab and do.. Paper with learn to draw books (my oldest LOVES to draw), lacing beads and cards for my middle, pattern cards, file folder games (basically "games" that are premade/no supervision needed the kids can just grab and run with), lots of art supplies etc. If Im not available then they can pick something to do.

 

I do have a 3yo (as well as a 5yo and a 1 yo) that can't do nearly as much as her sister. I found it helped if I have "group" activities such as read aloud time, science, social studies etc then have a "table time" where I do math and reading with them. They basically rotate between doing a worksheet (usually drawing, mazes or coloring) and a lesson with me.. My 3yo loves to learn what her sister is learning and my oldest would be really upset if her sister was "neglected" so I do it on a way slower pace for my middle child. For example, my oldest has learned the sounds and letter names of 10 different letters so far, my middle has learned 2.. I go at their pace so I know they are learning it


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#7 of 15 Old 09-15-2012, 01:40 PM
 
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Hugs to you!

 

I have a 6.75 year old and a 2 month old, so our 1st grade is a little crazy too.  We are Waldorf-inspired so that helps me calm down a bit.  Actually my dd (the 6 yo) had already aced the entire Waldorf 1st grade curriculum last year in kindy, so that makes me relax a little this year, which is good because it is so hard homeschooling with a baby in tow (and ours is a rotten napper!).  We do a circle time for our homeschooling that has songs/dancing, poetry, as well as handwork and lessons.  What I'm doing this year is have everything open and go, with no planning.  For the academic work we're doing a language arts workbook and math workbook from The Critical Thinking Company (love these!).  Our handwork is anything from drawing/coloring, to logic games (like Think Fun's games, origami, Set), to clay modeling, to intro to piano.  One thing, nothing takes more than 15-30 mins to do, and by relying on the workbooks I feel like we're keeping up with the basics.  My goals for this year are also simple--inspire a love of reading (she's currently reading The Magic Treehouse books), learn basic 1st grade math and spelling/grammar via workbooks, and practice her writing and fine motor skills via handwork and copywork.  

 

Maybe just simplify and keep to the basics for now.  Your mental health is more important than a history lesson!


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#8 of 15 Old 09-15-2012, 09:00 PM
 
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For science, we just explore.  So, it is pretty heavy on nature.  (I have 2 girls--7.5 and nearly six.  They are roughly 2nd grade and 1st grade.)  Besides just exploration, they watch a fair amount of videos, like Bill Nye.

 

We just got Bill Nye for my kiddo here and my 6 year old is obsessed!  He loves, LOVES this show.  I am very pleased we decided to try it. SweetSilver, thank you for mentioning it.  Op,  I highly recommend trying some episodes!

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#9 of 15 Old 09-16-2012, 10:20 AM
 
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My eldest reached school-age the year I had a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. She too had just missed a cut-off, and was precocious, so I thought of her more like a 1st-grader. I'd like to say I remember what it was like, but really, it was all a blur. I do know that I felt really overwhelmed just by daily life. Diapers, laundry, clutter, toys, needy busy younger silbings, meals to make, all that.

 

Rather than suggesting a bunch of resources that we found fun and easy to use -- which I think will just add to your sense of feeling overwhelmed and missing out on great possibilities -- I'm going to suggest spending a couple of weeks just being a family without any concern about homeschooling. During that time, try to respond to your children's needs and requests as best you can, but accept that you won't be able to do it all. Here's the important part, though: Set up your parental observation antennae and try to notice the things that work well. Those will be your clues as to what to do more of, how to build a rhythm to your daily family life that suits you. If there's a moment when your eldest is blissfully immersed in something of her own, make a note of that. If you go for a walk as a family and come back happy, mentally satiated and with your younger children physically tired, make a note. If your 4-year-old keeps gravitating to helping in the kitchen, or playing Lego, or if your baby settles for a long well-timed nap after a certain kind of morning, or your 6-year-old is constantly angling for more historical fiction, notice these things. 

 

After a couple of weeks you can begin being more intentional about capitalizing on the things that are working well. I'm quite sure you don't simply need more/different curriculum, more/different structure, more hours in your day and more parenting hands. You simply need to discover the rhythm and flow and natural learning that is already working well for you as a family and just do more of that. I think this is very much in line with what zebra15 suggested above: don't try to cram all those subjects into your eldest's day, instead use what she loves (US history) and trust that by doing more of that her learning will extend into other areas quite naturally. 

 

There's a name for this sort of approach in Organizational Behavioral circles: it's called Appreciative Inquiry, or AI. Even when everything seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, there's bound to be some little nugget somewhere that's working okay. Ask yourself what that is. Find it. Figure out why it's working well. And then .... do more of that sort of thing. Apply it to other areas. That, in my experience, is how you gradually move towards a healthy way of living and learning and organizing the needs in your specific situation, with your particular collection of unique children. 

 

Miranda

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#10 of 15 Old 09-17-2012, 08:53 AM
 
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Seriously, Miranda ... when are you going to write a book?  

 

OP:  You've been given lots of advice and tips, so I'll hold off on adding to it (especially because my children are not school aged), but I did want to say that it's okay for children to be bored.  "Bored" is just a word with a bad reputation to describe a stunningly necessary and oft-times glorious state of mind.  I try to never use the word myself, because I believe it is a false construct.  But I don't get into semantics with my kids.  When children in my life say "I'm bored" I often say something like, "You have nothing that needs doing and nowhere to be?  What a great time to flop on the couch and daydream, or muck around and find something neat to do.  Cool!"   


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#11 of 15 Old 09-17-2012, 09:37 AM
 
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Miranda said it so well.

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#12 of 15 Old 10-07-2012, 11:48 AM
 
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Hi! I just wanted to chime in and say I am right there with you! I have a 6, 4 (almost 5), 3 year old, and am 8 months pregnant. There are days I feel like I've lost my sanity. My secret to surviving - take days off or easy days. You might be surprised at what your 6 year old retains even though you don't think she is. Some days are just mindless days where something we have done almost every day for the last month suddenly becomes difficult for her. Other times she surprises me with something we briefly discussed last year. I try to have activities in mind for the three year old and try to think of ways to incorporate the 4 year old into what I am doing with the 6 but at another level. Then when the 4 gets bored I let her go on and do her own thing. Also if the 6 is bored with the school stuff maybe a change in approach is worth looking at. What exactly is she bored with? The paperwork? The lack of work? Mine tends to say she's bored when I make her write stuff so I've started making ridiculous sentences for her to write. I've heard far less complaints.

 

I started blogging a month ago mostly to keep myself organized. I sit down on the weekend and list the things I want to accomplish this week. What we get to, we get to, what we don't goes onto the next week's list. It's not the end of the world if we're behind. There will be days when we have a grand time and school all day long with everyone in a happy place and we get mostly caught up. Those days are rare :p but just because you get behind doesn't mean you'll stay that way.

 

Get the kids to help with the cleaning! It doesn't have to be perfect, it helps them feel productive (not bored) and it frees your hands to deal with the 5 month old! I have the nice outfits that I hang up otherwise I make a pile and tell each kid to go put it in their drawers. They love to clean windows. They do the basics picking up which leaves me with sweep/mop and cleaning bathrooms.

 

Turn cooking into history/science/math lesson time. No organization or preperation needed and they learn things. You can tell them anything you know about the ingrediants you are using. Talk about herbs, where they come from, why they were important in creating the US (it doesn't have to be in depth, just a passing note).  Fraction time when measuring ingrediants, pull out your kitchen scale and teach them how to use it.

 

I cannot stress I honestly believe the difference for me was realizing and accepting when a day is just not going to reach expectations and learning to be okay with that.

 

Good luck hun!


attached to DH superhero.gif 10/03, DD1 blahblah.gif 8/06, DD2 bouncy.gif 12/07, DD3 energy.gif 5/09, DD4 slinggirl.gif 11/12

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#13 of 15 Old 10-07-2012, 04:28 PM
 
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I'm there, too.. I just think I'm doing even less.  I have daily hand-writing print-offs, spelling, and math for my 1st grader (though, she's a bit ahead), and anything over that I consider "gravy".  We bought SOTW, so we're doing stuff on egyptians right now, and sometimes watching documentaries or whatever.  Sometimes my kids feel like writing a story, and then they do.  My Kindergartener ONLY has handwriting as his "MUST DO EVERY DAY", though he likes to watch science documentaries and he is interested in the egypt stuff.  Tomorrow we'll read "encounter" by jane yolen as our coverage of columbus.  Over the weekend we went to a thing that was all about fire safety.

 

Most of the stuff we "do" just happens to be conversations we have at the dinner table or some other time.  For instance, the other night Dh went through the basics of the respiratory system because the kids were interested... just came up in conversation.  That kind of thing.  I write those things down and suddenly it becomes clear how much we're *ACTUALLY* doing, you know?


Jenna ~ mommy to Sophia Elise idea.gif  (1/06), Oliver Matthew  blahblah.gif (7/07) and Avery Michael fly-by-nursing1.gif(3/10)

 

dizzy.gif Wading slowly and nervously into this homeschooling thing.

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#14 of 15 Old 10-07-2012, 04:44 PM
 
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I had my 'ah-ha' this year. I always had my son do his own writing, because 'how else will he learn how?', even he learned to read while I was reading to him. Well, he got me to help him with a creative writing project where he had too many characters in mind to handle. I agreed, and we had a marvelous time, and the idea snowballed. In August he told me learned so much about writing from that project. And I hadn't been trying to teach a thing!
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#15 of 15 Old 10-09-2012, 07:14 PM
 
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