We finished our first week of homeschool. The anticipation and excitement has faded and now all that is left is the realization that we will be doing this every day. I thought I would share my top four revelations of the week.
I never realized how much stress is added to my house during the school year until it was gone. Lucy and I had developed a nasty habit of fighting every single morning of school. It was a constant stream of me nagging her to get dressed, brush her teeth, brush her hair, get her clothes on, eat her breakfast, don’t forget her lunch, etc, etc. Most mornings we were left with the bitterness of anger in both of our mouths as we started our days. That is gone. Vanished. No more. And it is a welcome respite. In addition, was this intense pressure at night to hurry up and do homework, take showers, pack lunches and get in bed because school starts in the morning. Although this didn’t always spill out onto the kids it ate away at me, this constant cloud of “they have to get enough sleep, did you sign everything? Pack everything?” The kids still need to wake up and get dressed and we start school at around 9:00 but since we are the ones in charge there is no bell to answer. If we happen to start at 8:45 (which we did on Monday) then fine and if we start at 9:30 (like we did on Thursday) well that is okay too.
2.) Easier Than It Looks
This first week was pretty easy and with a little planning was not hard. Most days we finished our school work by 1:00-2:00. The kids had an agenda and worked pretty quickly through what they needed to get done. Don’t get me wrong, we had arguments. Max had to write lines this week and Lucy got sent to her room on two separate occasions, but overall it wasn’t difficult to get them through handwriting, math and science without even blinking. Unlike regular school we have so many more creative options. Max woke up Tuesday not feeling well and so elected to watch a 1 hour documentary on the Mars rover (thank you AppleTV and Netflix) and built his own version of the rover out of Lego. Once he had perked up we went on to do math and his other more structured lessons. Without the confines of a school the kids really take the lead in their own education. Once we started our unit on outer space they came up with their own lesson ideas and activities. Next thing I knew we were building alien landscapes, Lucy was creating a powerpoint presentation on the planets and we were searching for directions on how to make Mars sand.
3.) The Problems Are Obvious
As a parent you have suspicions regarding your child’s educational strengths and weaknesses, but unless you are in the classroom there is no real way of knowing. In a week I’ve learned more about my kid’s strengths and weaknesses than I have the last three years combined. The struggling that I knew Max was experiencing is actually far more challenging than I suspected. However, his strengths in math and science were impressive and I was glad to see he has an area of confidence from which we can build. To see how much he is still struggling in writing, reading and comprehension really reinforced the importance of our decision to keep him home. Lucy is working at lightening speed and although I knew she was bright even I was not prepared for the speed in which she can quickly work through a lesson. I had this idea that certain subjects I would be able to teach them together, but fundamentally I don’t think that is going to work. Although Lucy is academically strong she has developed HORRIBLE study habits and we will definitely be working on fixing those this school year.
4.) The Reward
I love being a teacher and have found it to be an incredibly rewarding career. It never occurred to me that I might find teaching my own children even more rewarding. As a teacher you live for those “light bulb moments” – the moment a student looks at you and says “I get it!” I can live off of those moments for days, sucking every last drip of professional contentment out of them. I never expected that if I combined that moment with the love I have for my own children that that moment could actually be made better. The highlight of my week was overhearing Lucy from the kitchen yelling, “MAX! DID YOU KNOW THAT IT IS 365 DEGREES ON NEPTUNE? I’D HAVE TO TAKE ALL MY CLOTHES OFF AND SHAVE ALL MY HAIR JUST TO STAY COOL!” or hearing my kids discuss which letters they like to write while finishing their handwriting practice. Wow, that’s pretty awesome.
I’m sketching out the lesson plans for the next couple of weeks and as of now I could not be happier with our decision. I know that challenging times still lay ahead for us but I feel confident that we can manage them since we control our own educational destiny.