Summer Homeschool

190-fountain2The plan was to continue doing a lighter schedule of homeschool through the summer. Here we are, more than a week into July, and that hasn't panned out so well. Where does the time go? The local public schools will be headed back in about 5-6 weeks! It's time to sit down and get those lighter plans together so we can still get something accomplished before summer is over. I had all these great reasons why we would do this, but I will say that it's hard to break the habit of just taking the summer off. Maybe even more for me than for the boys! Of course, there are always so many projects and tasks I'd like to accomplish while we're out for summer break, but if we're working with a somewhat light schedule, I can still get to some of them.

I'm not sure why I don't really blog much about homeschooling here. I've been doing it for the past five years. Well, I probably do know why. Because I don't think I'm doing a very good job. I'm not disciplined and structured enough to stay on track (lost on a bunny trail or something) and the last thing I usually want to do is point out my shortcomings. Especially to the whole world. Especially when it comes to parenting/homeschooling.

Reading other HS blogs can be an encouragement, but it can also be intimidating and make me feel even worse about what I do...or don't do. We have the homeschoolers whose children have learning disabilities, so that's a completely different category, of which I'm not a part. Then we have the The Perfect Homeschool Family.

The Perfect Homeschool Family has anywhere from three to ten children and they have it all together. Or so it seems. They live out in the country and the kids get up the crack o'dawn, do chores, have their devotions, help prepare a delicious and nutritious homemade breakfast, and then clean up. This delicious and nutritious homeschool breakfast consists of fresh-baked bread (Mom gets up an hour before the crack o'dawn to grind her wheat and bake it) and butter (churned the day before by the young 'uns), scrambled eggs (plucked bright & early that morning from beneath the hens), bacon (cured last winter from the hogs they raised), and milk (straight from the cow out in the barn, thankyouverymuch, Pa).

Following this delicious and nutritious breakfast, they get themselves clean, dressed, and ready for the school day. And all of that happens before 8:00 a.m.

My boys don't often roll out of bed until 9:00 a.m. Even with my nagging, harassing, and shaking gently waking them from their slumber. Yes, they're teenagers. Yes, they need adequate sleep to function well. Yes, they have alarm clocks that are sometimes used and mostly ignored.

Then the PH Family digs into their lessons for the day. By lunchtime, they've accomplished the following:

  • taken turns reading Shakespeare aloud (except the baby whose vocabulary hasn't quite advanced enough)
  • dissected worms, frogs, and cow's eyes (obtained from their own property) and sketched incredibly accurate drawings of each
  • discussed world politics, written (or drawn) a compare and contrast paper on the various worldviews
  • completed a chapter in trigonometry, geometry, or algebra - depending on the individual child, probably out on the patio in the gorgeous morning sunshine
  • practiced handwriting by completing a grammatically correct letter in cursive to either their Compassion child, state representative, or missionaries in Africa
My kids have had a sugary lovely breakfast of chocolate (antioxidants) cereal in a bowl with 1% milk (none of that high-fat stuff) that came from a store. Although it is hormone free and in a recyclable jug.

They get dressed . . . after asking me where their clean clothes are, since the drawers are empty. They brush their teeth . . . after I've harped sweetly reminded them. Did I mention they are teens? I do random teeth inspections. They think they can get away without brushing. Scum and yellow give them away.

At last, my boys have arrived at the table to begin the school day . . . promptly at 10:18. Or maybe lunchtime.

We pray, read God's word, and then have a lively discussion about life application they listen to me tell them what I think God is telling me they should know and do. Oh, don't get me wrong, I do try and engage them in discussion. It's just that they're teenage boys. Discussion usually sound like this:

Me: So what do you think about the way he responded to God's request and how does that apply to you?

One of my two boys: That I should obey.

Other boy shakes his head in agreement in case I look at him.

It's very stimulating, I tell you.

When we're done with Bible, we pray. I seem to be the only one praying for God's word to be rooted deep into our hearts and lived out in our lives. But that's okay. I'm modeling for them, right?

Then we move to the couch for read-aloud time. Yep, you heard it right. My teenage boys still like me to read to them. So we hoist out War & Peace, er, The Door Within. No, I doubt that it makes any high school reading list. But it's fun and engaging to read. And there's the more than one book. They appreciate a series. I still do voices for all the characters. They like it that way.

By now, we probably need to have some lunch. Wow - that was quite an educational morning!


Okay, I really shouldn't complete this comparison. For one, it would make my blog post INSANELY long. Although I may already have surpassed that point. Two, I think it would just depress me. And I think I've made my point:

EVERYONE else has a happy, successful homeschool with happy, successful children. Everyone, except me. One of my children just wants the school day to be over. As quickly as possible. Not even because he severely dislikes school, he just wants to do something else. Like play video games. Of course, some days I want to do something else. Like play on Photoshop, Facebook, or Twitter.

One of my sons hates to read. He absolutely, positively will not do it unless forced. There's no reading for entertainment going on in his life. Unless it's Calvin & Hobbes.

Although I know how to do Algebra perfectly well, I have a son who can't learn it from me. So we battled for quite some time. Now, I have to send him to the Khan Academy videos to learn. But he still doesn't want to have to spend any more than 15-20 minutes on Algebra. And writing out his work? Ha! Ha! Ha! His hand and the pen (pencils are so passe) are like two magnets with the north ends together - they strongly repel one another.

Oops. I said I wasn't going to continue. So I'm done. For now. And there really are successes and positive sides to our homeschool. I guess I'll have to share that in another post for more fair and balanced reporting.

My children are not disabled. They're not dumb. They're also not just about to graduate from college at ages 15 & 16. They're just in between. Could they do better? Probably. Do they want to? It's probably not an issue to them. Are they motivated toward higher education and a future career? Not so much.

Could I do a better job of homeschooling (and parenting)? Of course. Am I the worst mom ever? I'm pretty sure that I'm not, although lately I've been telling one of my sons that I'm working hard on that award this year! I have my moments of brilliance and others that are selfish or lazy.

But here's what I DO know (yes, I really will wrap this up . . . eventually):

God gave me these boys to raise, nurture, disciple, train, and educate. And most of all, to love.

He called me to homeschool them. That includes the fun and blessed times; the battles and frustrations; the monotony, mediocre, and laziness. But He will be with me (and us) through all of it. He promises to never leave nor forsake us and that He is our helper. (Hebrews 13:5-6). He knew that we would be precisely where we are. He also knows exactly where He wants us to be in the future and how it will all turn out. His plans are for our good and His glory. In this I am truly encouraged.

And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1


Michelle said...

My goodness! Where is that perfect home school family so I can send MY children there! Lol

Seriously, i know exactly how you feel which is why I don't write much about our home school. Sometimes I feel like we have more failures than successes, right down to the great intentions to home school during the summer!

His Grace is sufficient for both of us, Diane. The best we can do is continually move forward and do our best to His glory!

Just for the record, me dost thinketh that Shakespeare is overated-eth!

Tracy said...

This journey is long and hard, BUT worth it!

How about books on TAPE/CD or MP3 for your Calvin and Hobbes boy?

Sounds like you need a summer off!

Anonymous said...

I find it easy to compare myself to others, rather than just focusing on the homeschooling at hand...like you said, these kids are for me to teach, and to nurture, but mostly to love. I think we do a good job at that...in our own ways.

Amber@ClassicHousewife said...

My goodness, Dianne!
Firstly - I sure hope I don't come across as one of those PERFECT homeschooling families! It's just that I prefer to blog the more positive things, and I suspect I'm not the only one... I suspect that some of those perfect homeschoolers are actually normal homeschoolers in perfect clothing. =P

Also, I know how you feel!!! School is a struggle here. Today was a total flop. My girls did math.
Yup. Just math.

They also watched "Inkheart," watched "Aliens in the Attic" (twice,) cleaned up some garbage outside, ate their Sonic ice cream treats that hubs brought home as their reward/payment for cleaning for him, played with legos with their younger brother (a lot - in fact I found the 10yo there at least 5 times when she was supposed to be doing math,) ate Hot Pockets for lunch - yeah, microwave lunch!, argued about taking showers before bed time and getting in bed on time.. and all of this was punctuated by regular outbursts of whining, fighting, bickering and sassing.

Does this sound more familiar? My point: You are not alone!!
Did you see the post I wrote recently about "How Your Child IS Smart" by Dawna Markova? Michelle Pendergrass recommended it to me. I LOVED IT. It may or may not, but maybe it might help with some of the difference in teaching/learning style issues, etc. It was a fast and easy read, your library might even have it. Worth a shot!

But don't beat yourself up too much. Really! (Now I'm off to read the happy post.) =P

The dB family said...

So you just wrapped up my homeschooling experiences in one post. We're real. We're human. I appreciate your honesty. Your post made me smile because I feel the exact same way.


jayayceeblog said...

It's all subjective and it's very personalized to your own situation. I am so impressed with anyone who chooses the homeschool route -- what a major commitment. Don't compare yourself. Reading those "perfect" blogs is probably like getting the Christmas newsletters from "perfect" families whose kids are juvenile delinquents in real life but clean up nice for the family photo. =)

Jenni said...

Welcome to my world! You know, my boys would do great things with words and numbers if they could shoot the answers! I have my seasons of "Where's the fruit?" too often, but I trust that God is going to equip them for life in spite of me. Be encouraged - you really are not alone! We can all cry together! NO, no...just kidding. Be faithful with those prayers...God will fill in the gaps. Meanwhile, ever heard of project-led learning? If not, Google it and see if it might fit.

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