My husband and I have had a tumultuous 4 years, where, in the end, he was diagnosed bipolar and had a drug addiction. He's on meds now and kicked the drugs. For the past 4 years, we were separated about 2.5 years. Just moved back in with each other about a year ago.
During those 4 years, the kids and I moved several times, I was caught up in the legal system, and his girlfriend who helped him obtain pills wanted my kids (she got him to go for sole custody, which he didn't get... she would get the kids every weekend though, and care for them while hubby was high)
It was a crazy time as you can imagine. I got away from my AP lifestyle, and my oldest went to public school. When my hubby got help, and life settled down, we eventually moved (he was fired 2x in those 4 years and was homeless, living either in a motel or with his family. I would not allow him to live with us.)
When he got a new job out of town I decided to reconcile with him, and we all moved together. DD was in 2nd grade at that time, and in public school. Unfortunately, her teacher was not a good fit for DD and the school's curriculum was not great... DD hated school, she said she was 'dumb' and hated reading. She usually had 2 hours of homework per night, as well. There were time we would stay up until 10 pm doing homework, and times I had to write notes on DD's spelling tests telling the teacher SHE misspelled a word (DD started to ask, "Do I spell it the right way or the Mrs. Jones way, Mom")
So here we are homeschooling 3rd grade. Partially because I want to "circle the wagons" and heal the family unit after a bad few years, and partially because the school DD was in was not what I wanted for her education.
I have put her in a ton of activities, which she loves, and we are doing Saxon Math, violin, Classical Conversations, lapbooks, workbooks, etc.
I have a 4.5 year old son, too. He is a firecracker, and will only sit still for a bit. I have not really started much schooling with him.
Hubby wants them both to go back to public school next year (he HATES homeschooling and tells me DD will be far behind when she goes back)
I just want to feel more settled. I think the constant activities are getting to me. BUT, DD loves them ALL. My favorite days are spent at home learning.... The BEST day was when we made a mummy out of her doll and studied Ancient Egypt. That was a 6 hour homeschool day. We read together, we learn together.
I don't know what Im trying to say, Im just asking for some help from anyone whos been in a similar situation. Im stressed, feel like im not giving the kids a good education, feel pulled in a million directions, BUT I feel like homeschool is really needed in this house.
I just want to do better!
I definitely understand your need to feel settled. It is very stressful to constantly worry whether or not you are doing the right thing. Remember that you do not have to work with your child on all things. Let her do her own stuff. She can take responsibility for a majority of her learning. Get simple, straight forward materials -- my son does Singapore math and he is able to do it all on his own, involving me only to ask questions when he doesn't understand what the textbook is trying to tell him. He just finished his 2nd grade and we will start his 3rd grade set in March. In the mean time, he will be exploring math in the forms of word problems, puzzles and games.
We also do no LA instruction whatsoever. I helped him learn to read and that was a big step but once he took off, that was the end of it. My job now is limited to lining up books for him and every time I get the sense he is fluent in a particular level, increase the complexity of the books a bit more. That is it. Nowadays even the question of level is disappearing as his fluency shoots up; which will mean I'll just be vetting content from here on out.
Writing has been a challenge for him but he has a strong desire to tackle it so we agreed at the beginning of the school year to work on that and we do that in a variety of ways including worksheets, notes to each other, etc. Overall, he spends about 30- 45 min a day on math and writing stuff.
Your 8 year old can read well, yes? My son's reading library is pretty diverse. Historical fiction books are popular with him but so are books like the 100 Cupboard trilogy. I highly recommend the My America and Dear America series (higher reading level than the other one) which my son is reading now. He is really enjoying it and he is picking up history. Up after that is the 13 volume series Lemony Snicket's (A Series of Unfortunate events.)
For science, we watched Bill Nye the Science guy. My kids gobbled it up and your daughter might too. THe Magic School Bus is good fun. There are tons of great youtube channels. The Spangler Effect for example does some awesome experiments. Discovery Channel has quiet a few good shows. For American history we also enjoyed Liberty's kids. My son now knows more American history than I do and he loved watching the series. We also watch CyberChase on Youtube -- a math show both my kids enjoy although the concepts are more accessible for my son who is 7.5 years old. We listen to audio books. Libirovox is a wonderful resource for audio books. I just downloaded all the oz books and my son is listening to them over and over (as he likes to do.) Khan Academy is great for math.
If you see yourself more of a facilitator/guide/coach than her teacher, focus on the big picture and cheer her on, that may help you feel better about her education and reduce your overall stress. I think it is important to remember that kids learn in a variety of ways - videos, games, books, play, household chores, cooking, nature walks, audio books, random endless conversations with mom/dad, sitting in adult conversation, being bord etc. Kids pick up stuff every single day from all sorts of experiences. Actually paying attention to how much my kids were picking stuff up really helped me get completely past my own nervousness. Also, reading this board, including the unschooling posts gave me a chance to learn from other, more experienced mamas who are generous with their replies. I hope you get to your sweet spot soon. Once you get there, it is really awesome!
I'm not sure this is what you want to hear but I'm going to say it anyway.
This may not be your dd's most successful academic year. And you know what that's okay...in fact, I say, this might be the right step forward. First off, you can't have a little girl walking through life thinking she's dumb...what is this 1986? Second, you are feeling scattered and moving around a bit and home life has probably left her feeling...unsettled as well. This year should about her psychological recuperation. Last year she probably wasn't able to give her best. This year should be about regaining the confidence to go get 'em.
This isn't to say that you shouldn't be challenging her academically...but you know this.
About her falling behind...she was poised to do that already. Homeschooling this year doesn't have to mean homeschooling next year.
And about too many activities out of the house...
1. Remember you too are starting to take new steps. Living with someone in recovery is not easy...sigh...I think it's annoying and tests limits...whether they were there or not. Please be fair to you too and if you are going out too much pull back.
2. She may need more time at home too and not know it.
About your 4.5 yr old. Right now modeling good academic roles is important, reading books, books on cd, books on YouTube or so on...TedEd is a great thing to get hooked on and happens in small bits. We used large foam letters puzzle tiles (walk from A to Z), nemans own alphabet crackers (tell me the sound this letter makes and eat the cookie), and a small bucket of learning resources shapes (patterns, shapes, counting, sorting). Also a large set of blocks (build a road with 5 turns but makes a loop) or using this coat hanger and two yogurt containers how many Legos does Spider-Man weigh? You know stuff like that...I also ask questions like: Billy's dad came home from work and said he's getting a new truck. What kinds of jobs might Billy's dad have?
Making a 4 year old do too much table work won't be best in the long run...IMHO. ^_^
I hope the best for your family. I hope whatever happens you and your children walk out stronger.
I hope this helps more than annoys. ^_^
My life in emoticon...oh, I've said too much
Oh, I forgot to say something about your 4.5 year old. You said you have not started schooling him which is actually great. He doesn't need to be schooled right now. It can wait. If he is interested, then great but don't try to make him sit down to do learning stuff. My youngest, who is 5.5, spends her days drawing, playing on the ipad, talking to her brother, attempting to read, painting, playing outside, acting, singing, and dancing. She still doesn't know all her letters or letter sounds. Her counting is pretty spotty. But holy cow, can she draw and for a long time too!
Since she is my second child and since I have had a go with my first, I am not worried about her at all. I know we can start to work on reading when both she and I are ready. I am not worried at her about her being behind (as she definitely is by American standards.) She will catch up with her peers in no time once she gets in the zone, so to speak. Take your time with your oldest and help her establish her rhythm then your son will get his turn.
I am sorry for your struggles. I know what it is like to live with someone with bipolar. Not easy. While I think homeschooling is wonderful, I would be inclined to keep up some academics in case school is in her future again. You can make it fun and engaging. Bipolar is a roller coaster even when they are medicated, and since he already is against homeschooling, going back to school may become an issue again.
Lisa, mom to 7.
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