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HI all you homeschooling geniuses,

I hope you will read this loooong post and share some of your wisdom.

My 5yo dd goes to a lovely waldorf preschool where I feel the teachers are amazing, the ritual really fits her, they do some wonderful activities and there are some cool kids there too. She had a very rough 2004 (moving across the ocean, switching main languages, new tiny flat in big city with no yard and no space of her own, new baby brother) so has been pretty hypersensitive & emotionally unsettled, and when we sent her to the preschool in September it seemed to even things out somewhat, so she was going half days 4-5 days a week. Now that she's settled in there her behavior has taken a turn for the worse again - influenced by too many kids I think, especially one in particular who is rude and manipulative and sticks like glue to my dd. She's taking on these "fake" behaviors that don't reflect her inner self and speaking disrespectfully - hitting, kicking and swearing at us many times daily - constant power struggles. I've noticed that when I keep her home she is much more authentic and levelheaded and that after ANY time at school she goes through "deschooling" that afternoon, or the day after. Dd is the type to have 2 or 3 good friends and gets (emotionally) lost in a crowd. She hasn't made any good friends that she sees regularly here in our new home yet and it's been almost a year. Therefore giving her the social interaction at her preschool has seemed very important to us.

here are my worries about homeschooling her:

1) There are few homeschoolers here - it's not very accepted and is borderline illegal- and she'll be the weirdo when she meets regular kids. I am not so worried about this, but the fact is there aren't homeschooling activity groups like we'd find in the States so meeting friends will be harder, b/c it's hard to keep plans in the city, everyone lives spread out and doesn't have cars, and kids here get busy with school and activities and basically have no time for social life -- sadly, school is it. We do know one homeschooling family in town but they are often busy and months will go by where the girls don't see each other.

2) I need my time to myself and I don't get much of a break. I do 99% of childcare, cooking, shopping, housecleaning, etc. and also teach (yoga and toddler music classes) 3 days a week. My dh is at work from morning until usually past the kids' bedtime. (I will not be successful trying to elicit more help from him, nor any major input on homeschooling, so let's not even go there.) In the morning, let's say it'll take me a good 2 hours before I'm really aware and present to be with dd. And if I want to meditate and do yoga (if the 2.5 month old baby lets me) dd gets very impatient. She doesn't want to help me cook anymore or do chores, though I plan on implementing them more strongly. So I fear i will really go crazy if I never have a break. Grandma can take dd sometimes, but I'm just tired... I could easily waste an afternoon on the internet while dd plays dolls behind me on the couch (is there any educational value to dressing and undressing Barbies?).

3) In considering homeschooling, my ideas seem to fit into the unschooling way of things. But I'm not very ... thorough. For instance, I never think to offer arts & crafts stuff on our days at home, and our flat is so tiny there's not room to keep that stuff out to remind her (me!) to use it - though I will work on changing this. Or, as far as child-led interests go, every time dd sees the blacksmiths on the square she asks me about them and for 8 months now I've told her I'll take her to see how blacksmiths work... and I haven't done it. I have also noted that when I study something I tend to stop researching after I've gained a surface knowledge and it takes a lot of concentration and effort to dig deeper into the subject, even if it fascinates me. I don't want to pass this lax attitude of learning onto my dd.

4) I'm a bit of a homebody and I'm afraid I won't keep up with regular activities or social/cultural events. I'm afraid I will be too lax to keep any consistency with taking her to the library, galleries, music, etc. She does have one class she goes to (singing) and is interested in taking horseriding and a ballet class which we are going to arrange soon. If there's a scheduled time, I'm there. But when it's left up to me to think up cultural activities or even go with her ideas, I just flake. Months will go by when I've been meaning to do this or that.

I think this is long enough to give you a good picture of my concerns. Any advice would be much appreciated!
 

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Quote:
I could easily waste an afternoon on the internet while dd plays dolls behind me on the couch (is there any educational value to dressing and undressing Barbies?).
For this part, I would say that I do think that if she's home with you during the day it wouldn't be a good idea to spend an entire afternoon on the computer. I try to limit myself to half an hour on here, and then I get off and go either do things around the house or things with the kids. A 5 year old has different needs than a baby (who probably doesn't care if you're on the computer all day as long as you nurse her) and you'd have to be available.

For your #3, my advice would be to put it on your calender if you know that you won't remember otherwise. Then you get up in the morning and look and go, "Oh, today is painting day. I'll see if dd wants to paint." Or whatever artsy activity you've picked out for that day.

Quote:
Or, as far as child-led interests go, every time dd sees the blacksmiths on the square she asks me about them and for 8 months now I've told her I'll take her to see how blacksmiths work... and I haven't done it.
I guess this would be that self-discipline again. If you tell her that you're going to take her to do something, write it on your calender and go do it.
 

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My family unschools and I often sit at the computer for lengths of time while the kids are doing their own thing (reading, playing dolls or legos, cooking, watching TV, playing outside, or a video game) We see nothing wrong with that. As far as telling her you will take her somewhere and then not doing it, well that's not a good idea.(but you already know this lol) I think it's pretty important to try and keep your promises to her so she know she can trust you. She sounds like an interested little girl
 

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Well, all your concerns are valid. But it's certainly possible that you could do some restructuring with your life that would make most if not all of them irrelevant.

If I were you and really wanting to give unschooling a go, I'd first drop expectations of providing the perfect learning environment for your daughter, as well as expectations of yourself, and see if that helps you self-regulate to a way of being that you and she are happy with. Allow yourself to do what you really feel like, and try to be aware of when a behavior is life-affirming and when it is not (sometimes the most life-affirming thing *is* to spend time on the computer and play barbies, and sometimes it's just an unhealthy reaction to the "shoulds" that are placed on us by others.) Judge things *only* on this basis -- that'll help motivate you to seek out soulful activities for you and your daughter, and to let go of the rest. It might also then become easier for you to co-exist with your daughter and not lead you to need so much solitary time.

Keep looking for other homeschoolers, too. If homeschooling is as socially unacceptable as you say, they may just be underground, not easily findable. Homeschooling is very accepted where I am, and I have still had a heck of a time finding other homeschooling families to socialize with because there are no organizations that help us to meet. My kids do have other kids to play with, not frequently but maybe once a week. They do have contact with people of all ages, maybe two or three times a week. They are happy, and most importantly as far as the socialization issue goes, they can comfortably and appopriately interact with people. So I needed to ask myself and demand an answer: Why do they need to spend every day around lots of other kids? What positive effects will that have on them, that they won't get otherwise? I couldn't think of any, to be honest. Can you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all your answers - btw that was a theoretical 2 hours on the computer, i don't actually do that, it is more like 1/2 hour (though my dd IS obsessed with barbies), I guess my concern is just that i don't feel totally present & aware & I don't want to teach flakiness to my kids. I'm just soooo tired all the time. (Maybe it will get better as the baby grows older?) But i get all excited about the places we're going to go and things to see and then can't seem to get it together to get out of the house.

I guess I should buy a calendar, huh?! :LOL See - i would have never thought of that! Maybe I should get grandma to take her to some of those places too... it would take some of the stress off of me.

Quote:
I'd first drop expectations of providing the perfect learning environment for your daughter, as well as expectations of yourself, and see if that helps you self-regulate to a way of being that you and she are happy with.
blueviolet - thanks for reminding me of this. I tend to expect too much of myself.

I also appreciate the sentiments about not needing a lot of kids to play with. I really worry about that b/c my dd is very sociable, much more than me, and in our former home had 2 best friends within 2 blocks of us since she was a baby. One or both of them (one lived next door) came over literally every day and they played together wonderfully. She went from this kind of almost sibling companionship to none at all (the baby doesn't play yet) and she really craves a playmate. So in putting her in the group situation I've been trying to at least get some consistent exposure to the same kids, hoping one or two would become close friends, but this has not really worked and besides they can never play after school or on weekends.

I am a solitary person, I need a lot of time for myself just b/c I always have - it's not a reflection on or in opposition to my dd at all.

thanks again, more ideas appreciated!
 

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You sound a Lot like me!! i struggle with these things as well.
Is this is a permanent home? Do you have famil with little kids over there?
As far as the arts andcrafts, remember kids are happy with crayons paper scissors and glue. It DOES not have to be fancy at all!! Check out perpetualpreschool.com. Thye have tons of cool and easy ideas. Just try to do one a day. Even in the smallest apt, you can leave out glue, paper, crayons and scissors. Kids think hole punches are cool too.
OK, now RELAX!! You have a 2 month old baby!! Mohters are being fed such a load of crap that after the first month, life goes on as normal. You will not be able to do as much for quite a while. it is okay, it is normal. yes, some moms can, but you are not one of those moms, and she is not in one of the families. Be true to yourself, and to your famil unit. That is a gift to give her. Do yoga with her. My youngest is 3 1/2 and I am finally able to start looking at things in the bigger picture. We didnt do any kind of school until this year, and my oldest is 8. This year, it is half an huor to an hour a day.
YES there is educational value in dressing and undressing barbies!! Decision making skills, fine motor skills, color matching, social skills(knowing how to wear an outfit properly is a social skill) If she is happy playing by herself, then it is no big deal if you are on the computer. My boys will play for hours by themselves and together. Just make sure that at some parts of the day you are talking,playing and reading together. You dont have to be her playmate. I think that notion is relatively new in our society. If you look at less industrial societies, kids play alone or with frineds beside mom while she works. You ARE parallel playing with her.
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As far as activities, schedule a few. But dont overdo(I am learning that one myself!) Do you go to church? That is a great way for her to get involved with the same kids week after week. As your baby gets older, they will play together. But, if scheduling the activity gets it done, then do that. Sign up for story time at the library. That way you will go to the library weekly. If they dont have a story time, volunteer to be the reader
Singing horseback riding and ballet will fill the time nicely, I am sure!
Is there a la leche league over there? That is a good way to get friends for you and her.
And for the blacksmiths, just do it!! Write it down and do it(Note to self, call Oly Bikes and make appt to go do field trip that son has been asking for for months)

be kind to yourself!! She is only 5. there are plenty of years ahead of you, and the baby wont always be 2 months old
 

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I laughed when I read your rhetorical question about barbie. When my oldest was 2 and my second a newborn, I would watch the oldest endlessly fill and dump his garbage truck--or endlessly cut colored paper, or shave the hair off pompoms. I would just sit there drooling and nursing the baby. When the baby napped, I'd let him work happily at his odd little projects while I read at the kitchen table. I don't know if there is any inherent value in it. But he liked it, that counts for something. And who knows what was going on in that little head of his. Great and interesting thoughts, no doubt.
 
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