The first year of homeschooling I was excited. Like, ridiculously, can’t wait to see what my child can learn, over the moon, excited. I might have been too excited. My Kindergartner…not so excited. She just wanted to be left alone to do what she wanted to do. She was also a perfectionist which made her terrified to try anything too new. Combine her fear with my excitement and you have a clash of wills. It did not go well. The next homeschooling year, we were going to have a baby in November. I knew I couldn’t handle the battle of homeschooling and take care of a newborn. Something had to change.
I signed my first grader up for a local virtual school. It looked awesome. A years worth of Calvert curriculum and Singapore math were sent to my door…for free! That’s right, they were a public charter school so I got the curriculum for free. All I had to do was keep track of what we were doing and check off each assignment. Plus, the authority would be from someone else (not mom) so maybe my first grader would accept school? What could be better?
It did not take long to realize that Calvert was not going to solve all of our problems. I was still the hated task master. She still struggled with perfectionism. Although, now, she had a measure of perfect. Getting one answer wrong was so discouraging to her. “I Didn’t get 100%?..I am never doing math again!…I hate spelling!…I’ll never get it!”
No matter how much I taught effort over perfection–there was still that test to take at the end of every single chapter of every single subject. Math was even worse with “comprehension” questions after every lesson. I finally got to the point where I would casually ask her the comprehension questions while we were working. She almost always passed with flying colors without even knowing what I was doing. When she did get it wrong, there was no failure. We were just having a conversation, learning together. It’s okay to get things wrong when you are just talking. But put it on paper! That’s a whole different story.
By the end of the year, I was lying about what we were doing. “Yes Calvert, of course we did that chapter in science”. We were skipping more than half of the program (some with the “instructor’s” knowledge and some without). It didn’t feel right to be lying and I wanted the power to decide what we were doing and when.
Through all of the struggles, I did learn some really useful things about teaching my child:
* It’s alright if some standards aren’t covered or if she isn’t working to her “potential”. Pushing isn’t going to make it better and will probably make it much worse.
* Children learn better when the environment is happy and stress free. Something I already knew but I didn’t realize just how stressful taking a test would be.
* Children learn about things they care about much faster.
I once read advice from parents who pulled their kids from school to homeschool them:
Take a year to get to know each other.
I think this advice is also applicable to an ex-teacher. I had expectations of home looking like school. I got caught up in standards and checklists that, although I could see my daughter struggling, I refused to change. She needed to comply with my demands.
So, I am taking this year to learn about my children. We are going to do a light amount of school and I am going to watch carefully.
Our Curriculum K-2nd Grade
My 2nd grader loves books. In light of that, we will use the following:
Life of Fred
Activities I find and activities I create (I was a math teacher after all, I just can’t help myself)
Lightning Literature by Hewitt Homeschooling–We have done a few of the chapters from this and it has worked well. I am excited about being introduced to great children’s literature.
Books, books and more books. I am going to let her pick the subjects to study for science. I am going to introduce nature studies and nature notebooks. We are going to spend lots of time together, and get to know each other. We are going to focus on following a routine and doing chores cheerfully.
Are You Scared?
Yes! I am so worried that she is going to “fall behind” and people will tell me that I am a terrible mother. But when I don’t think about the outside world, when I just think about my little family, I feel fine. I know this is what our family needs. We will be able to move forward better afterwards. When she is all grown up, I will not regret taking a year to get to know each other. What else could matter more?
This is part of abc blogging visit Ben and Me for more O posts.
I am also linking up to ihomeschool network. Check out what everyone else is teaching this year!
Subscribe to learn how this all plays out: