Monday, November 5, 2012

Another school year is in full swing...

Which is why it has taken me so long to blog about it. :) I'm actually glad I didn't get around to it in the very beginning because it would not have been very positive. Just like last year I was once again very overwhelmed with the start of the school year. Unlike last year I had even more to squeeze into one day and I seriously thought I was going to break. I was fantasizing about putting my kids into a Waldorf school, except we can't afford it. It even crossed my mind a couple times that I might not care anymore if they were to go to public school... except I do. So I bawled hard at the end of the first week, door closed, head under covers, big gulping sobs... Then I got up and took a shower, cried some more, a little less intensely, and then I got dress and went and made dinner. And that was that. I changed the schedule around a few times and by the end of week two I felt a whole lot better. :) 
In all honestly this year is way harder with a first grader and two kindergarteners that are on totally different levels/learning styles. Plus two kids to do preschool with, my littlest plus the kid I nanny for. Oh and then there is the puppy. What was I thinking!?! Some times we are doing schoolwork up until bed time just to get it all in! But those are the hard days, and thankfully they seem to be few and far between. Most day the boys are done by about 3:30 pm. {Although I do more preschool with the little ones after our pm snack for about 20-30 minutes} I've given up my mid day break and we do school work through the little ones quiet time. So we usually start around 8:30am and I work with the kids one on one and in pairs until about 11 or 11:30am. Then we break for out door playtime {most days, unless it's way too nasty out} and I start cleaning and making lunch. I'm trying to get lunch on the table by noon and then it's quiet time. During that time I do school work with the three older ones. Then we all do afternoon chores together and have a snack. And there you have it, if all went well we are done... if not we start up again around 4:30  and work some more. So all told it's about 6 hours of teaching time  a  day for me {give or take}. 6 hours less for me to get done what I use to do, and I thought I had no time then... Life is funny that way. 
I have come to realize that I can squeeze school in at different times, and do it in a way that suits us best. It doesn't have to be a rigid schedule. When I began to allow for this the stress level went way down. I wanted to follow the curriculum program to a tee, but even the program guide says that you can custom fit to suit your family. So for example I can do read aloud portions while they are eating at breakfast or lunch time {or even dinner if need be}. We can read ahead if the kids are really into a certain subject or chapter book. This gives us a little more wiggle room on other days. We can get caught up on subject on the weekend if need be. I don't have to stress out if Atty can't stay at the same level as Spike in the workbooks, they can each have their own pace. And the biggest help of all, I don't have to do school work in the school area, I can move it to the dinning room table if need be. :) That way I can help them and work in the the kitchen when they don't need as much help, plus there are less distractions from the other kids. For some reason I was so stuck on all the school work being done in a certain area that it took me a moment to realize that this truly wasn't necessary. Spike flies through his school work, even when I give him extra, so he usually gets more play time then the rest of them. Atty has less of an overall work load, he does a much simpler program, but some days it takes a while to get it done. If he is struggling too much I just end on a good note and we finish the subject the next day. No since in beating our heads against a brick wall, and I find that when I do this he rapidly understands the next day what he couldn't grasp before. Bubu by far has the longest school day, which he really isn't fond of. He would much rather play or color, or even clean, then do school work. Unless I'm reading to him, then he's all ears. History for example is mostly sitting and listening to stories and looking at pictures, and having discussions, and that he loves. :) 

 So once again Bubu is my challenge. Simply because he takes forever to do his work! He is the only kid I'm doing school with until bed time. I have such a hard time being patient with him! He's just such a dreamer. If he were in public school he would have been labeled with ADD for sure by now! It was really, really bad in the beginning of the year. Markably worse then last year. It's been steadily getting worse with him, so much so that people were commenting on it and the hubby and I were getting worried. So on his last doctors visit I brought it up, and told his {wonderful} doctor that we were thinking about putting Bubu on the GAPS diet for awhile. To see if the diet would help with a few things, the attention issue included, and all his allergies. He gave the go ahead, so Bubu has been on the GAPS diet {with a few exception here and there} for the last month. And it really has made a difference! So now that we have cleared everything out I'm going to reintroduce a few things gradually to try and figure out what foods are the culprit. Once again I am amazed by the power of food, the good and the bad. I'm amazed by how seemingly good food can cause such problems for some people. I have a sneaking suspicion that dairy is the problem for him. But only time, and a food journal, and a little bit more of my sanity will tell. ;) 
Any ways the last few weeks have been a lot easier with Bubu and he seems a lot happier because of it. :) That's what was bothering me the most, he knew he was having a hard time concentrating, but didn't seem to be able to really do anything about it! So frustrating for both of us. He would break down in tears a lot. Which would break my heart, and make me feel bad for getting frustrated with him when he was so obviously frustrated with himself. Vicious cycle. He's a lot more positive about learning now, which is great. That's not to say he doesn't still have melt downs sometimes during reading, but lots of kids do when learning to read, so that's not too unusual. The rest of the subjects are mostly a breeze. I still don't quite get why reading is such a struggle for him, I guess I assumed since he has always loved being read to {since he was a tiny baby} that he would pick up on reading easily. But for Bubu the two definitely do not go together. I absolutely adore reading, so I hope there comes a day {soon} where I can see him curled up with a good book and a smile on his face.

 Part of me wanted to organize these shelves before taking a picture, but the reality is that we are busy home schoolers and the shelves often look like this. :) I also have to get use to the various science projects scattered around my house. And the paper clutter, Oh My! I am thankful that the kids love to color, and cut, and glue, and tape, and be crafty is so many different ways, but wow does it make a never ending mess. :) Homeschooling in general is a never ending mess. My playroom, oh my goodness after a morning of school work, the kids not doing work manage to tear the playroom a part bit by bit while I am distracted! And the amount of house work I get behind on now, it's just sickening. My husband has been trying to help a bit more, but when he is working really long days it's hard for him to help like I need him to, so there is a lot that gets left undone. The things that I can't neglect often get done late at night or early in the morning {or on the weekends} so that I have barely a moment to myself. But such is life and it just makes me get creative in order to etch a little bit of me time out now and again. And wow do I treasure those moments. :) Life might not always be so full like it is right now, and that might not necessarily be a good thing. So I will enjoy the craziness and make the best of it.  

Our little reading nook. The kids love it. :)

One other thing I have to figure out this year is what to do with Spike. He is crazy smart. More on a first grade level then Kindergarten. I've already started him in the first grade reading program and now I'm thinking about having him skip into the first grade math, because he often answer the questions faster then Bubu! He seems bored with the math program his doing with Atty. Atty is definitely not ready to move up, so I'm thinking I might start teaching Bubu and Spike at the same level and keep Atty where he is at. I don't want to push Spike to hard, but I also don't want to hold him back if he wants to move forward. Right now I feel like I'm holding him back, and that's no good... The part I like the most about homeschooling is being able to make the work fit for each child. With Atty I am using a completely different reading program that is working wonders. He is much slower in his handwriting book and that's okay, at least he is forming letters! It shows me that all that preprinting practice I did with him last year paid off! He needs lots of one on one, but for some one who has gone through so much he amazes me! He has special needs, but I feel like because of that learning at home is by far the best for him. Because I can make it all work at the level he's at and make him feel good about it. I might look into some extra additional help for him next year, but for now he is rapidly learning and I'm excited about it! He showed no interest at all last year, so I though I was in for a serious struggle! He's really surprised me this year with his eagerness for learning and the effort he is putting into it. :)

One last really cool thing about homeschooling is that I can declare a half day just because the sun is shining, or we can take the day off at random times just because. Those surprise breaks make me a hero in the eyes of my children... ;) We don't have early release for parent teacher conferences, or all the other days off that the public schools have for various reasons, so I don't feel the least bit bad about it. I love the freedom of it all. Plus if my kids got behind we would just work into the summer until it was done, the idea of that keeps me on top of their work, because I like my summer breaks. ;)

1 comment:

Kat said...

You are so awesome. I don't know how you do it all. Seriously. Wow. And I LOVE your schoolroom. It is just perfect! And that reading nook! I want one! And those shelves DO look organized! I mean, you are homeschooling 5 kids! Sheesh! You rock!

It is amazing to think of how food affects us. Food and sleep. I listen to people complain about their kids' behavior and then I watch them drinking soda, eating candy and chips, and learn that they go to bed at 11 at night. What do you expect, people?

Still, you're kids are SO LUCKY that you are so tuned into their behavior that you can sense when a food might not be agreeing with them. You are like a superhero or something! :)

By the way, I added a few more picks to my bird post (I finally captured a red-breasted nuthatch on camera!) in case Atty wants to take a look. :)