Thursday, March 3, 2011

Weeks 21-22: Ongoing Questions!

This week I'm going to post about some of my ongoing/current questions and concerns. Just to demonstrate that homeschooling is not always a flawless, trouble-free journey with smiles all around every day. Let's do this child by child...

Harry, 3rd Grade:

My biggest concerns with Harry is that we are just not getting enough done every day. We are a generally slow-moving family, and I always have the boys do their music practicing before schoolwork. This means that Harry is starting his actual school work between 9:30 and 10 a.m. He usually gets a couple of hours in before lunch, then he has an hour to read (a combination of assigned and free reading from books I give him), then he usually works another hour and a half after that until about 3:30 p.m. I suppose if you count the amount of time a typical public school student is in school, it's pretty similar. But still, I can't shake the feeling that we are not doing enough, but nor can I imagine doing any more time-wise! As he gets older and has more schoolwork, I will have to figure out ways to be more efficient to fit more in!

Academically, I think about the people who told me before we started homeschooling that he would jump way ahead in certain subjects, like math. This has not happened for us! We are in Singapore Math 2B, taking our time with the mental math in adding and subtracting multiple-digit numbers. I think he is pretty much right where most of his classmates would be in the 3rd grade. And I'm totally fine with it, so long as he is learning and retaining the concepts.

Lastly...we haven't done nearly as many science experiments as we are supposed to, it is the subject I let slide the most, but it's the subject that when we do, Harry enjoys. So I really need to be better at doing all those projects and be better prepared to make them happen!

Ron, Kindergarten:

Ron tries to keep his head still while practicing!
As for Ron, I have kept it SO simple for him this year. He starts out his day practicing his violin, then I'm happy if we do the three Rs--reading, writing, arithmetic--and if we fit anything else in, I consider it a bonus. We try to keep up with the Kindergarten curriculum with My Father's World, but there are many days we don't get to all of it. Ron also joins in with some of our geography activities, so he is learning on that front. But I will confess that Harry gets most of my attention and time, and Ron much less so. That's something I definitely struggle with, and I wonder how things will go next year when Ron is 1st grade-aged! I will have to balance things out much more.

But in terms of the "moving ahead" potential, Ron has just finished Singapore Earlybird, so we can start Singapore 1A this year! Harry had not even done 1A until after 1st grade, as we went back through the program from the beginning to solidify his basic math facts which were suspect after his start in public school. But Ron will have the benefit of being able to start the program earlier, which will be fun to see. I'm looking forward to it!

And he is successfully writing cursive, as he has been so motivated to follow Harry and learn how to write this way. I wonder, though, if I should be doing some print with him as well so that he can write that way, too. I also am thinking I need to start spelling with him soon. So much to do, so little time!

Dobby, 3 years old:

If I spend less time with Ron, then I spend even less with Dobby! Somehow, though, he has picked up all his letters and numbers. We do spend time each day on a variety of skills--cutting, pasting, printing, coloring. Nothing formal or structured, I just try to make sure he is continuing to have opportunities to practice these skills on a regular basis. I feel badly, though, that I don't read to him enough, although he does listen in whenever we are doing read-alouds at home. He is on the waiting list to go to preschool in the fall, which I think would be a good experience for him, and I'm hoping it will also give me a little more freedom to focus on the two older boys in the morning, especially Ron. Of course, having to transport Dobby on those school days will also complicate our lives as well! We'll see how it all goes. Mainly, he loves to just tag along with his brothers and do whatever they do!

30 degrees in Chicagoland? Not too cold for recess!

Me, 40-something!

For myself, I constantly struggle with feeling as though I need to be a much more encouraging, gracious teacher. I think the kids enjoy being at home sometimes too much, and I don't always think they take schoolwork as seriously as I would like them to. I'm always lecturing about doing their best work, with their best attitude. I feel like I'm being grouchy, grumpy mom way more than I am being positive, smiley mom. This is something I really want to work on, and praying for more wisdom and patience to make this happen. I'd appreciate your prayers on this front as well! There are times I wonder, "Lord, would it be better for a real teacher to teach them, given all my flaws???" Yet despite those flaws, my eldest will still tell me regularly, "Mom, you're the best teacher in the world." How forgiving and gracious our kids are with us! Sometimes I feel I don't deserve that kind of grace, and I need to offer WAY more of it in our homeschool experience.

Fun photos:

And to end the post with something random, here are some photos that Harry took of his most special toy companion, which he has had ever since birth. Actually, each of our boys has one of these, but they are all unique and special to each child. We have spent way more time than we care to admit looking for someone's "Mr. Bear" before nap times or bedtimes, but at the same time I can't imagine their childhoods without them. Anyway, here is Harry's little photo essay of a day in the life of his Mr. Bear . Enjoy!

"Boy, I need a drink!"

"Nice story, Harry!"

"Umm, Harry? Are you ever going to finish piano time???"

Thanks for stopping by! =)


  1. Honestly, I think you're managing your day just fine. Number of years homeschooling doesn't seem to make the time-management problem go away. I still struggle with this...9 years later. I think it is the number one difficulty with homeschooling for me. I guess, over time, I have learned some valuable lessons and have gotten better. This is just hard work. My girls practice piano at night. This makes my day longer since it stretches it out, but it does allow us to concentrate on our subjects during the day. We take a long lunch break and this re-energizes me too! Hope this helps a little...
    I love Harry's pictures at the end! My girls would love those!

  2. I don't think the struggles ever end! I've learned to just go with it. I've been stressing a little lately since my dd will be in Middle School next year, but all is well. =) Loved the pics at the end!

  3. I love the Mr. Bear photos. I still have my Uncle Bear who is 30 years old. He doesn't do a whole lot now except make monthly appearances in photos with Claudia.

  4. It seems to me that people have different priorities, and that's OK. Obviously, in your family, playing a musical instrument is a very high priority. Maybe as a result, you let some other things go.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with that. In my family, German is a top priority. We have to let other things go because we spend so much time on German.

    The ability to prioritize what you think is most important educationally is one of the beauties of homeschooling!

  5. That looks like a lovely set-up to me. I think that the chicken-on-the-head is about the funniest thing! As for doing enough, I suspect that we are all our harshest critic, and that this is an area where homeschool moms are most hard on ourselves. But really, it sounds like a respectable schedule to me!

  6. The questions never end, because each child is his own little person and that little person grows and changes.

    I know what you mean about the teacher mom and smiling, loving mommy. To help with balance I try to make sure that the smiling, loving mommy says good morning and good night with hugs and kisses. At these points in the day the teacher mom should be off the clock. With your comment about looking for Mr. Bear I suspect that you know this and already do it. ;-)

  7. Wow, everyone! I have been out of town and just had a chance to check the website. Thank you for your comments! I really appreciate all the great insights and encouragements, especially from you veteran homeschooling moms!!! It's very reassuring and helpful! THanks so much for visiting!