Monday, September 8, 2014

Put Your Behind in the Past

We have made it through our first week of home schooling for the 2014/2015 school year.  While there certainly was enough excitement about the launch of a new year, this was a surprisingly rough week some of us.  Mostly me.

Two of my children are suffering from reality.  The reality that sometimes work isn't easy.  That sometimes it feels tedious.  That attitude can get in your way when your trying to learn.  As their mom I hate that reality too.  One of the great privileges in home schooling is that in general you get to make topics exciting, teach to your students passions, strengths and change things up often to keep that spark of interest.  Unfortunately before you can be wild and free in your teaching style, you have to still teach the basics that are much less exciting.

One of my strugglers* has some significant challenges with multiplication and division.  We've played board games, downloaded more computer and iPad apps than I care to count, made tables and flash cards and it still is a struggle for this one.  I have reached the hard to acknowledge place where I know we have to do plain old drill and practice for part of our time to get those skills learned. Until there is a better understanding of these skills we are kind of stalled out.

The other of my strugglers* is a reluctant reader.  The assumption made by this child was that reading would be easy and effortless, which has sadly not been the case.  I'm not worried, to be honest, I believe that it will all fall into place in its time and we'll just have to muddle through until then. At the same time when you struggle to read its hard to do much of anything else in school because you have to be able to read to understand directions, read lessons and even really be an effective writer. That is hard for a student who wishes for independence.  It makes for lots of togetherness, even when neither of us really appreciate that extra time together.

These issues, among other life changes and challenges, have left me in more than a bit of a funk for the past week.  Then today had the nerve to be a Monday on top of it all and there just wasn't enough coffee anywhere.  I was wondering what business I thought I had teaching my kids, it was that bad.  I was able to keep going because today was also the day one of our clubs met and I knew I'd get some precious moments with other home school moms.  I was hopeful to find some encouragement and new energy among my poor, unsuspecting friends.  One friend made the mistake of standing still too long and I told her, just a little, of our challenges.  I used words like "behind" as I explained my students struggles and my frustration with my seeming inability to reach them.

My sweet friend then looked at me and said that in home schooling is that there is no 'behind'.  She reminded me that I had until they were in 12th grade to get them where they needed to be and if our path didn't look like every one else's, thats OK.  Beautiful words. True words.

Its hard when my background is in education and your teaching smart but very intense children not to fall into the habit of creating school at home.  I don't want to do school at home, I want to be free to follow a tangent, do creative projects that leave life long impressions on my kids, I want to love learning with my kids instead of dreading the battle.

So tomorrow, we'll spend some time working on those basic skills.  There will be some drill and practice. But then we will move on and do the fun projects, dig deep into subjects we are passionate about and take breaks to enjoy real life as it happens around us.

To my friend: Thank you for the gentle reminder of why we do this home school thing. - from all the students at Clarkson Academy, present and future, who are benifiting from your wisdom.

*Struggler is not meant as a permanent description or a derogatory term.  It simply means that at this time, in one area, this child is having a hard time.

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