Category Archives: homeschooling

Don’t Try This At Home

Do not, under any circumstances, mix homeschooling some of your children and sending some of your children to educational institutions.

You will not be able to avail yourself of the somewhat lovely and bohemian lifestyle allowed by homeschooling – like not having to get up at a truly undesirable hour of the day. Rise, prepare breakfasts, pack lunches, and oversee the washing the dressing of two of your charges. Make sure they possess the litany of items needed for a day away from home and the masses of papers that are shuttled back and forth. Books, tissues…did we pack lunches?

You’ll need to assure that one kid get on the bus on time and that you transport one kid yourself…to the school….on time. Oh yeah, that reminds me. Do not pick the same schools for the two children attending school. I mean, that would just be easy and boring. It is even less boring for you if one attends a private school with a certain culture, rules and ways of doing things and the other a public school that does things totally differently. Then, keep them straight from one another.

Now, for the two children who are benefiting from home education – do not have them close in age. Make sure they are years apart so that you cannot arrange for any activities for them that overlap. Do not have them share learning styles. Again – booooorrrrring. You don’t want boring – you want challenging 🙂

This will also allow for some other situations that will really keep you bringing your “A Game”. When you have your ‘homeschooling’ clan out and about, make sure you can be home in time for school pick up and the bus drop off. Also, be sure that after a nice long day of homeschooling, you are able to help the child, whose school does not have the ‘no homework’ policy that the other kid’s school has, with homework.

This all works best when you have four boys, who share no virtually no interests, have radically different needs, and all have ‘things’ that make each of them incredibly challenging in their own right, but a force to be reckoned with as a pack.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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The bookends

 

Something New

We knew that change was on the horizon.

So, there were inquiries and phone calls, conversations, debates and paperwork. Next, there was a tour and a talk, a physical and a shot, and piles of more paperwork. Finally, there were meetings and signatures and a paper grid of boxes with words like ‘Phys. Ed’ and ‘Social Studies’ in them.

In the end, Mikey was all set to go to school. But it’s not the end – it’s actually the beginning of a new adventure.

School clothes and name brand sneakers (so sue me) have been procured. A new hoodie, a backpack a lunchbox were selected and a three-ring notebook full of loose leaf was added.

We even covered a textbook in brown paper.

DSC04758After all the appointments and hardwork, there was very little fanfare. He looked like every other kid walking up to the school – except he was shooing away his mother’s camera. As it was time to go, he was shooing me away too and ducked away from an attempted kiss. We would never have sent him if he was not going to be ‘fine’. He was fine.

I wish I could say the same for me.

What’ Hard?

People often ask me if homeschooling is hard. I always answer in the negative. It is not hard for me or my kids. It is not hard because it has been an excellent fit with our life, goals, intentions and how my kids have learned and functioned best. When those things line up – it makes things easier – not hard at all.

We came by homeschooling very organically. It made perfect sense. It flowed out of natural paths that our family was already walking.

I’ll tell you what is hard.

It is hard when you notice a change. When late at night, you begin to entertain the information that your chosen educational model might not be optimal for a child. It is hard to sort doubt from concrete concerns. But you sort.

It is hard to take out a notebook and make an inventory of what you see and what you suspect would be a good fit for your child. It is hard to be brutally honest about strengths and challenges and look at them realistically.

Yours and his.

It is hard when you begin to suspect that what would be an ideal amount of structure and predictability does not line up with how your family’s days unfold. When you begin recognize the benefit of more direct instruction, in a more formal environmental – your notes spur more notes. It is hard when what might meet your child’s needs and desires conflicts with what you imagined would work out just fine.

We are under no delusions. This is not our first rodeo. We have been tireless advocates for Ethan’s educational needs. We are aware of the struggles included in that process, but can tell you that it is all worth it for him. Our principles have not changed, and we are acutely aware of parts of ‘the system’ that will be challenging for our family – but challenge has been our constant companion.

I have watched families who utilize school in a conscientious way. I have watched people make it work – I know ‘unschooly’ public schoolers and homeschoolers who a super-‘schooly’. The line is not as firm as it seems. I refuse to be afraid of an entire system and the ‘what ifs’ before we have even tried to tweak the situation to the best of our ability for one of our children.

What is harder than homeschooling?

Not acknowledging these things and allowing it all to go unchecked and unquestioned. A hallmark of my approach in life has been to question everything. Everything. Here I am again.

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”
~ Wayne Gretzky 

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What If?

DSC04562What if I want to spend my whole day crocheting?

I did not know this could happen to me when I picked up a crochet hook a year ago. Now that I have been through the basics, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to improve my skills and take this hobby to the next level.

What if this book is igniting a stitching passion?

The way Erika Knight talks about yarn has inspired the least-artsy person around? I even visited a ‘real’ yarn store and I am really starting to ‘get it’. I am working through this gorgeous book and loving every minute of it.

What if a dishcloth can be ridiculously beautiful, completely meditative and very satisfying? It can even dry the dishes.

DSC04565What if my New Year’s resolutions are on an actual piece of paper, pinned to the kitchen wall, and were edited by my friends and family and I am now very attached to it?

DSC04566I wrote it for myself and mistakenly took it out of my drawer during our annual New Year’s Eve party. I wanted to look at one entry and accidentally left it on the counter. Not only did I expose my secrets and silly wishes – but left them open to being altered.

What if I want to do them all? Stay tuned.

What if I am beginning to suspect that something I hold really near and dear – a holy cow of sorts – a way of life, even – was suddenly or not so suddenly working for one of my kids?

What if what *I* want does not line up with something that one of my beloved, little cherubs might need?

What if even putting one foot in front of the other, while investigating the possible ways to mitigate the things that are not working, is terribly uncomfortable?

What if…

What’s Up?

‘Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.’ ~ Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride

So, what’s up?

~ Hockey Season is over at Greenbrook Hockey Club. That frees up weekend time to find some weekend fun in the coming weeks. Museums, NYC and state park events are just calling us. I can make a nice, long ‘honey-do’ list for Dennis. Despite my complaining about the sheer amount of time Dennis devotes to the league, it is a fantastic place that has provided the boys with a great sport and awesome friends.

~ Homeschooling in November, for me, is always a strange place to be. Things that are not working become clear and we ditch them. Seriously – what’s better than that? Switching my brain to searching for ‘indoor’ type of field trips is a hard one – but I’m working on it now. I dream of filling these crappy, cold months with good books, great documentaries and brain-changing games. A quick trip to the basement has revealed that we have many, unopened ‘science’-types kits that are begging to be tinkered with.

~ This is the beginning of when I need to grasp tightly to a self-enforced set of routines that keep me putting one foot in front of the other. I have struggled with SAD for the last several years, with last year being particularly bad. I use multiple modalities to deal with it. My little lamp, super good vitamins, lists that keep me honest and the dreams about this place 🙂 Maybe there is an encore in store for us?

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I obsess over this scene. I don’t think it’s normal – at all.

~ I am working hard on getting some serious, ‘life-planning’ issues in order. I don’t know what is prompting this strong feeling, but when I feel like this, I need to take action. I would like for us to review our long-term, financial goals and revamp or life insurance policies. It is extra important for us having a child with special needs. Every one in a while, we question whether moving is an option for our family. We are in a spot where we need to do some serious fact-finding. Bring it on.

~ We are experimenting with having some help with house cleaning every few weeks. If you would have ever told me that someday we could squeeze that into the budget and that it would freak me out and cause me stress, I would have seriously protested. But it’s true. I am uncomfortable and as nice as she is, I hide from the cleaning lady at all costs – I just pack everyone up and leave. Is this totally weird? I am not ungrateful, though.

Strange, anxious, cold (as in chilly), and busy – but not ungrateful.

(Sunday Scenes was preempted by this because I forgot to take pictures on Sunday – because I’m like that.)