One Year Down, Ready for Year Number Two

JC and I have managed to successfully complete our first year of homeschooling.  I was really nervous about it at the beginning of last school year, with her going into first grade and me never having planned to homeschool in the first place. I had all of the questions that a first time homeschooler has:

  • Am I doing the right thing?
  • Will I be able to teach her all of the things that she needs to learn?
  • Will she still be well-rounded and (ugh, the S-word) well-socialized child?
  • Will she be happy being at home with me all of the time instead of in school with her friends?
  • Will I have the patience to do this?
  • Am I going to screw my kid up completely?

But, you know what? It all turned out ok. Sure, I kept having questions all through the year. Questions like whether or not I was pushing her too hard or being too easy on her.  Was it ok that I didn’t make her do some of the things the math book suggested when she already understood the concept and it seemed a waste of time? She wasn’t writing in her journal all of the time, oh no, was that awful? But meh, it’s ok.  She finished her math books with time to spare and knew everything taught in that book without having to think twice about it.  She can answer all of the questions about grammar that a 1st grader should know and a lot of what a 2nd grader should know.  She reads on a 5th grade reading level, spells on a similar level, and has a current semi-obsession with ancient egypt and carnivorous plants. She doesn’t write much in her journal, but she does write letters, and stories, and put on plays for us.  She choreographs her own dances, practices her technique on her own, and loves to sing. I think she’s turned out pretty well.

As for next school year, which will be starting in less than a month, I think we’re ready.  We’re actually about to start working on the science book we picked out, since it has a lot of hands-on learning that requires prep and clean-up time. It’s a bit easier to do science on a day not filled with other things, since it takes so much time.  And yes, I did say “we picked out”. It isn’t like I took her to barnes and noble and let her choose the shiniest prettiest science book out there, though we do encourage her to choose books about things she’s interested in.  I did a great deal of research on the program we should use, and once I found the set I wanted to go with (R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey by Pandia Press) JC was able to choose which course of study she wanted for the year. My little geology-loving child unsurprisingly chose Earth Science over life science, biology, and chemistry (age appropriate ones, mind you). She’s extremely excited over the book and the kit with bought with it and ready to get started.

Other changes for this year will include participating in the homeschool classes offered at the Kroc Center. They have Art, PE, and Music classes, and I just found out that the amazing Kindermusik teacher JC loved so much is going to be offering piano lessons at the same facility. She’s penciled us in for Wednesdays, since that’s the day we’ll be there anyway, and I don’t want to have to drive the ½ hour there more than once a week if I can help it. I’m really excited about it, and JC will be as soon as she hears about it (as she’s with my parents right now). I’ve been hoping her teacher would get back into teaching by the time I was ready for JC to start piano, and it’s working out just perfectly!  I guess that means we need to invest in, at least, a decent keyboard for JC to practice.

So, anyway, prepping and planning for a new school year, and looking forward to doing it all over again. I never though I would be a homeschooling mom, that’s for sure, but I’m so glad to find that it suits us both very well.


Is It Just My Kid? (No, it isn’t…)

I know I’m not the only one that asks questions like “Is my kid the only one that…?” My question of today, though would be “Is my kid the only one that whines if we’re doing a job and I walk away for a moment because, horror of horrors, she suddenly thinks she’s doing so much more work than I am?” Today’s event went something like this:

We’re folding laundry, one of the chores she’s supposed to do or help me with once a week, and I am, of course, folding things at a speed of three or so items to one. I finish up on the basket we were working on, just leaving a few of her pajamas for her to fold and head to the kitchen to empty and reload the dishwasher. She hears the dryer buzzer go off and helpfully gets the next load out of the dryer and brings it into the bedroom where we were folding.

I stay in the kitchen to finish what I’m doing and a few minutes later she comes into the kitchen, hands on her hips, looking quite peeved. “I finished at least twelve things and you aren’t in there helping me!”she declared in a voice I know she learned from me. OK, so my first instinct was to point out that it took her forever to do that small pile of things because she had decided, on her own, that she should roll her towels instead of folding them, but that was after she’d taken the time to fold them. Instead, I let her know that I’ll join her again in as soon as I’m done with the dishes. This, apparently, was not acceptable.“But I don’t want to do it all by myself! I did all of that in there on my own!” was her response.

I take a deep breath, follow her into the bedroom, and see where she’s pointing. I note that she hadn’t finished folding the few things I’d left out for her, and that the twelve things she’d folded included the ones she’d done while I was in the working. I turn to go back to the kitchen, again promising to return soon, and she becomes more agitated, muttering, “but I shouldn’t have to do it all by myself, that isn’t fair!” Cue the impulse to point out that I do it by myself most of the time and a successful quashing of said impulse. “Joc,” I say, mostly calmly, “You haven’t even finished what I left for you. I’ll be back in a minute to work on this next load, I just want to finish the dishes quickly. I’ll be back before you’re even done, I bet.” I didn’t wait for a response, but instead went back to the kitchen. She stayed and finished up the pile, but, as I figured, not before I returned to help out.

From there, things were fine for a bit. I folded most of the new load, only adding a few of her own clothes to her small pile. (She’s 6, it’s easier to let her fold the small clothes that don’t require clearing off the entire bed to spread them out.) As we finish up, I ask her to put her things in a basket so she could put them away, and could she please take the hand-towels and washcloths for her bathroom and put them away as well. Insert another unhappy pout and whiny “But why do I have to do it? Don’t you usually do that?” I should note, for anyone that hasn’t been to my home, that her bathroom is maybe 10 feet down the hall from her room, but both her bedroom and bathroom are on the other end of the house from where we were folding laundry. “Yes, I do usually put them away, but it’s only a handful of things that need to go into one drawer. You’re already carrying your basket that way, you can do it.” This was followed by more whining, because that isn’t one of her jobs, blah blah…

OK, seriously? It isn’t like my kid is a brat; she really isn’t. She, like every other child I know, just has this but it isn’t fair! voice in her head that drives me crazy. You know the one, the one that causes them to scream when two kids have a treat but one has a millimeter more than the other? Or when one child has to go to bed but her friend across the street is still outside playing? Yeah, that voice. I hate that voice. It too often leaves me feeling like I’ve behaved like a child in trying to counter the argument, and leaves me extremely frustrated.

I could go on. And on. And on. All of the “is it just my kid” questions, but, well, I’m pretty sure it isn’t. And I’m pretty sure I’ll be asking them at some other point anyway. Why spoil the fun?

A Little Truth

Here’s a truth that I haven’t really admitted out loud before, but here goes: I’m terrified about homeschooling. Don’t get me wrong, I really do think this is the right decision for JC, and I know that I’m fully capable of teaching a bright little girl all of the things she needs to learn as a first grader, but I’m still terrified. I’m working my way through it. I’m trying to do as much as I can to prepare myself, and my family, for this new adventure, but, yes, it’s scary. Here are a few of my concerns and how I’m trying to cope:

We are so very much alike that it might turn into a power struggle. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t like that at home normally, because she knows who’s in charge and such, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know how to push my buttons. She really is a mini-me, to be honest, so she has every bit of my attitude and most of my personality. We’re working on it, though. We’re trying to get through some of our clashing issues, and deep down I mostly feel that it’s going to be alright… but I also know that we’ll have moments, or hours, or days where we just need to take lots of breaks. That’s what quiet reading and journaling will be for, right?

What if I don’t teach her everything she needs to learn? I mean really, isn’t this every new homeschooler’s worry? Especially if we find that homeschooling isn’t the right thing for us and she wants to go back to school the following year? I keep reminding myself that she’s a bright little girl, and that I’ve done the research. I’ve chosen the curriculum that will best cover all of the things she should learn for the first grade and let her do it in a way that works best for her. I know that we may get a little into it and find that something isn’t working, but we’ll just have to fix it along the way. I know that she’s honestly not far from being ready for the 2nd grade already in her knowledge levels, so how badly can I screw it up, really? (Plus, it helps that my mom teaches 2nd grade, as she’s helped out so much. I really am so very very grateful, more than I could really ever say. Thanks Mom!!

Am I over-doing it with all of the things that I want to cover? I know I’m not the only one that is worried about this, as one of my friends that’s also new to homeschooling has the same concern. On one hand, I do worry about this, because I don’t want to overwhelm Joc. On the other hand, if she gets through most of her traditional subjects (Math, Science, Social Studies, English, and Reading) as quickly as I expect her to do, we’ll have plenty of time for art and music and maybe even French. We’re going to start the year out with the basics set as our definites and see how we can add in the extras as we go. It may be art once a week or we may find that she enjoys doing it every day after she finishes the not as much fun subjects. We’ll see how it goes.

What if JC doesn’t get to spend enough time with kids her age? OK, I’ll admit that this is more of the question from most people the moment that they find out my social butterfly is going to be homeschooled. “What about socialization?” people ask. I’ve been asked that question so many times that I’ve promised to punch the next person that asks. Well, I won’t really do it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be tempted. The thing is, Joc isn’t going to just be with me all day every day. At the absolute minimum, she’ll be doing dance three days a week, and she has some pretty amazing friends there, including a couple that are also homeschooled. Depending on how the scheduling works out, I’m going to try to fit in art or music outside of the home, but as she says dance is the first priority, we need to see how that works out first. Once we know the dance schedule we can add on other things around that. Also, we are going to do our best to keep her in touch with the friends she made at W.A. last year, as she loves them all so very much. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!

There are lots of other issues that concern me, like how am I going to get things done around the house, or out of it? How am I, a person that needs quiet time, going to survive having her with me all day every day? (Thank goodness Nana and Pop live nearby!) All sorts of other things. Plus, the questions I listed are still big concerns, these are just the ways I’m trying to work myself into not freaking out about them. It will be ok. We will be ok. In the end, I do think we can do this, but I can’t promise the house will ever be neat and tidy. Let’s be honest, though… it never is anyway!