Monday, October 05, 2009

Epiphany

I always know something is not quite right in Anita-land when even an ambien doesn't make the insomnia go away. And if I'm honest, it's been coming on for a few days. I think the arrival of autumn did it to me.

I started having a conversation with myself about the kids' education. Is this what I want to be doing? Is this what they want to be doing? If I could do it any way I wanted to, how would I do it? Now, what makes that "ideal" feel impossible again?

Lately I've felt like our older kids have been falling away from each other a bit. I suppose that's normal when they get older, but I'm not ready for it. I want them to remain best friends. Not that they are at each other's throat all the time. But there isn't as much kindness happening as I'm used to. That lack of kindness is slithering its way down to the second set of kids. I don't want them to follow in their big siblings' footsteps if those footsteps are lacking compassion and camaraderie!

I just felt "blah" all day. I couldn't pinpoint it. Something is off in Gillispie land and I think it needs to be fixed.

So when I lay my head on the pillow tonight and tried to go to sleep, thoughts of family and school kept going through my mind. I want the "school" in my home to be loving and fun, and also appropriately firm and expectant. Right now, the program the kids are in seems more about the goal (complete X% of lessons this month) than the experience. There are times when one child is very interested in the lesson of another child, but I have to shoo them away because they need to be working on their lessons. I don't want to do that anymore.

We're using K12 curriculum, which I think is a pretty decent curriculum. I don't have any gripes about that. But the Oklahoma Virtual School (public school at home) is proving not to fit with what I want for my children. The oversight is too much for me. It makes me feel stressed, which makes its way down to my children. Last week, as Samren had a 104 fever I was quizzing him on spelling words because we just HAD to do spelling that day or we would be behind. Poor kid kept falling alseep on me and I woke him back up. That is not the kids of educator I want to be, and more so, that is not the kind of mommy I want to be! That was an epiphany moment for me, even though I am only just realizing it on this sleepless night.

I wanted this program to work for my kids because it's easy in a lot of ways (not the schooling at home public school crud, but the actual teaching). Everything is planned out for us each day. There is nothing for me to plan. And the kids have gotten the hang of it. They get through their lessons every day. But there is little JOY in it. The public school's looming "goals" are always present, like the money we could have been saving with Geico! LOL!

After laying in bed for an hour thinking about all of this, I went up to talk to Taevy. She really is a kid who I can talk to. She has good insights and this was about her education. I asked her, if you could do anything different about your school situation what would it be?" She thought about it for a while and then said, "Mom, I know we learn a lot of stuff with K12, but I thought I was going to have more fun doing school together. I wish we were DOING stuff instead of on the computers so much." I said, "Exactly."

We also talked about how our family doesn't seem to be quite in sync right now. The sleeping situation upstairs isn't quite right. It might not fit into some social worker's box for "appropriate" but my 8 and 9 year old opposite gender children would still rather share a room if given a choice. And guess what? So would my 2 and 4 year old opposite gender children! So after all of this moving around we've done up there lately, it seems that Taevy and Samren will once again share a room, while Bright and Kendi will begin to share a room. That will leave a free room that we can turn into a library/reading/homeschool/play room.

I haven't talked to Eric about this yet because he's not one to wake up from a good sleep and endure one of my midnight revelations. But last week when I was talking about some frustrations with our school program he said, "Just quit." without any hesitation. It will be a pain to send back all of the free materials we were given, but oh well. There is no money in the budget to buy another "canned" program this year (at least not this semester) but oh well. We can do it. At the beginning of the year I was scared to put a piece-meal program together because of all the work it would be to plan every day. Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. I will simply have to make time for it. I have a feeling that, this way, I will look more forward to school with the kids as well. =-)

Whew! Feels good to get that off my chest! Now maybe I can sleep!

13 comments:

Kait 8:26 AM  

I don't know if your state requires certain things (like having a scheduled schooling program of some sort) but you can always piece together some sort of program without a ton of planning and money. There are a million resources on the internet for lessons and so what if you technically fall a semester behind. Your kids will learn more by building with blocks and coloring and counting M&M's inside of a happy family instead of following some crazy intense structured program that makes everyone miserable.

You are qualified to educate your children and if that means you take a semester of "Today we're going to explore the park in the name of science!" or "Today we're going to go conquer new lands like the explorers!" With my kids, I've found that healthy doses of imagination, creativity and curiosity have been the best tools for education. It's not like they are going off to college tomorrow. Piece it together until you find a curriculum you love and can afford, then start working on that.

Brown Eyed Blessings 9:27 AM  

We are using Heart of Dakota this year and just LOVE it! It is "open and go" so there's no prep work and the subjects are arranged in sections so that you can do them throughout the day or all together depending on your schedule. There are lots of activities, crafts, etc but they are easy ones done from things around the house with easy cleanup. There's a huge history emphasis too which is great. Oh, the best part of Heart of Dakota is that it covers ALL the bases and only takes 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours per day depending on the grade level. And, with your two oldest so close in age they can probably do the same program (what we're doing with the boys - it's great to have them learning together. We just make it a little more challenging for M and a little easier for J). If you'd like to hear more feel free to call or email me (this is Rachel from the B's group btw in case you don't recognize my new blogger ID).

I hope you find the right thing for your kids and for your family setup.

Michelle 10:23 AM  

I have been researching home school options and so many people say the same thing you say about K12...it is a great program if you are not in a virtual academy. VA's stink. So send it back! Some people even say that the virtual academies are working to undermine true, Christian homeschooling....You go girl!

Chrissy 11:01 AM  

Can I make a suggestion? We did K-12 through the pub school system in PA and I kept it about 2 months. I never was able to get a report in and I was fussing at the kids to get back on the computer! WHAT?! Before K-12 I fussed that they spent too much time on there!
Anyway... check into KONOS and Time4Learning.com the kids LOVED Time4Learning's math program... it was cartoon-like and self-paced and nothing for me to prepare.
As for Konos... its the fun homeschool stuff with activities, projects and awesome values. Its a Christian Character building all-in-one set that you can get on ebay for cheap. Just buy any of the volumes and dive in! It covers everything but Math and maybe handwriting - - but I just used their regular writing assignments as handwriting also - no reason to separate that out. Just my .02!

Sister Beta 11:02 AM  

Yay you! I don't know how I found your blog, but I've been following your adorable family. I was homeschooled and have a great relationship with my siblings and am so glad my mom put in the effort to school us. We had issues on occasion, but it got easier (we were brought home after being private and/or public schooled)Keep going...you can do it! I remember my younger sibs used Konos and they had a blast, did school together and learned a lot...just fyi. :)

Cora 1:25 PM  

Good for you, I hope you can sleep better now. Being able to choose and be flexible to best fit your family is the way to go. Good luck.

Mark and Charmaine 3:51 PM  

Anita, I have pieced things together with various curriculums and would be happy to send you all the things I'm using. There are used books out there as well! Good luck!

sue 5:14 PM  

Anita,

I buy the majority of our curriculum "gently" used. There are several sites that sell used curriculum and other school materials.

A great website for the younger ones is Starfall.com
The educational games are great and they really do learn from them. They also have pages to print out that correspond with the computer lessons/games. There is no cost, it is free! Gifty loves it.

If you want the links I have to the used curriculum sites, let me know.

It takes all new homeschoolers a while to figure out what is best for their family. We have all gone through it.

Sue~

Renee 6:59 PM  

((((Anita))))

You are such a good Mama :o). I know you will find a curriculum that you and your children will love. It is a process we all go through.

My children's hearts and relationships are so important to me too. When my eldest was in 1st grade I heard a speaker at a hs convention and he said (LOOSE paraphrase) when your children are kicking each other at the table while they are doing their math books it's time to shut the math books as there is a bigger lesson they need to learn. I always have that in the back of my mind.

Blessings as you begin a new chapter in your homeschool.

whenpigsfly 8:38 PM  

I know I wrote a comment earlier, but maybe I forgot to hit a button or something. ANYhow, upshot was that you are such a creative person, a curriculum that limits your creativity, no matter how good other wise, is not going to work for long for your family. Enjoy launching out into home school curriculum and finding what works for you!

Momto14 12:21 AM  

I think that if your going to home school the only way to do it is to take advantage of the flexibility to have the time to truly do FUN and EDUCATIONAL things together. That's the best part!
Hang in there :)
Hugs

Faith 8:32 PM  

You go girl! You are so creative and so willing to try anything new. You will have so much fun and the kids will learn so much when there isn't even "learning" scheduled on the agenda.

I'm sorry it didn't work out for you, but know that you'll make all the right decisions about your kids' education and it will be cool.

You can borrow any of my materials too. I think I still have some unused things for Taevy's grade.

Laurel 4:20 PM  

I think that is a GREAT decision for you and your family.

We have homeschooled for 19 years, and our children's relationships with each other and with us (the parents) is FAR more important than completing a spelling lesson on the day it is "due".

I think bringing Bright home is a good idea, also. Gotta stop those behavior issues asap ... don't wait. And, he and Kendi need their bonding time, too.

Also ... I agree with the bedroom switch. Don't worry about the boy/girl thing. They can all know how to close a door when they are changing. Several sets of our boys/girls are very BEST of friends. Truly a BLESSING.

Laurel
mama of 13