Seriously. This couldn't be more true this week. But I don't want to scare you off from homeschooling, so please understand these three things before you continue to read this post:
- I didn't choose to homeschool because it was easy
- Homeschooling is as rewarding as mothering; to me, they are one in the same (but still, not easy)
- See number 1
I have been homeschooling for about seven years. My first five years were solely focused on one child. A girl eager to learn and loved filling out workbooks. Once she was able to fly through the workbooks, we moved onto something more challenging and hands on.
Now I have five children, ranging in age from 11 down to 2. Homeschooling isn't all that simple anymore. My second oldest, a boy, is not as easy going about structured lessons as my first born, a girl.
Throw an eager and active Kindergartner, a spirited and fierce preschooler, and a toddler (who needs no other introduction) into the mix, and you have the family circus.
I have come to a place in my homeschooling where I just feel like I've hit rock bottom and can't seem to float back to the top. My biggest efforts go into trying to get everyone in the same place, at the same time, with the same focus. I've tried the one-room-schoolhouse idea and it just doesn't work--or I can't get it to work for us.
It's easier to homeschool then it is to try to coordinate everyone to actually sit down and homeschool. Good days are not as consistent as the hard days. Sometimes I wonder how we get anything done at all.
Read Aloud Time
One of my biggest struggles and pet peeves is read aloud time. I love read aloud time with my children. It's just that, as soon as I want to sit down and read to my older children, my two youngest get into a squabble and at least one starts crying loud enough to reach over my voice. I have tried different things to keep them occupied, but the attention span of a toddler and a spirited 4-year old is not very long, I'm afraid.
Math and Initiative
And if I say the word math out loud, the house fills with groanings beyond comprehension. Some days they'll fly through their lessons, most days, though, it's a battle. It doesn't matter that we do the same thing just about everyday.
Without me telling my children what they are supposed to be doing, it won't get done. Even if it's written down for them. My youngest children (under 8), I can understand. Especially because they're boys. They need direction a little longer. But my 11-year old daughter also still struggles with this, and honestly, this is probably more my fault then hers.
Other than a chastisement for not doing her lessons, she hasn't been disciplined for skirting away from her responsibilities unnoticed--until I learn it later in the day when I ask to see her work. As the parent, it's my responsibility to teach her responsibility by holding her responsible for being irresponsible.
So yes, perhaps part of our homeschooling issues are actually my fault. And this is why I love writing/blogging--writing this out helps me organize the issues to see them more clearly.
Small Children and Details
What it comes down to is simply that I have a lot of young children still and it makes getting through our lessons super challenging. I have to keep a consistent amount of interesting activities at hand for the littlest ones so I can get through formal lessons with my eldest ones.
At the end of some days, I realize we forgot to do some of the things we should have done--and I'm an organized person! Which leads to my next imperfection...
...I spend hours planning and I really struggle when we have to constantly throw away the plans because someone gets sick or we never made it to the library to pick up our books to go with our lessons.
And there's attitudes--theirs and mine; there's structure that I feel is always getting interrupted with "I'm hungry!"
Not all of our homeschooling consists of structured and formal lessons. That's probably only 1/3 of our homeschool. But it's these times I find most difficult getting through--not because of learning styles or methods, but because of the reality of sin nature, personal agendas, and immature attention spans.
Despite the hard days and the feelings of will my kids leave my house knowing anything syndrome, they are learning.
My now six-year old began reading at age 5, full fledged chapter books, too--and I never sat him down with a formal phonics curriculum--or any phonics curriculum. He picked up on what I taught his older brother.
I currently have three readers and they all love to read.
Homeschooling is messy business--and I don't just mean the crafts. A schedule looks great on paper, but in reality, it's not that pretty. One day I'll blog a day in the life of our homeschool -- or maybe a week, to give you a more realistic picture, and you can see for yourself.
But I don't homeschool because it's easy -- even though there are days I just want to quit. I homeschool because it's the best option for our children. It is something God has equipped me to do, even if I feel completely inadequate.
The fruit of homeschooling may not always be evident right away. But being able to witness my child learn to read right before my eyes encourages and empowers me to keep pressing on.