Friday, September 01, 2006

The Homeschool Week in Review

As I close my first week of homeschooling Joey, there is only one word to describe me: exhausted.

I am left wondering, how do people do this with more than one child at home? My hat goes off to all of you multiple-children homeschoolers out there, because this is a lot of work, both physical and mental, and I can't imagine multiplying it over several children, grade levels, subjects and curriculum.

Physically, it is about 5 hours perched next to my son's desk since he is currently unable to complete even a little work without me sitting next to him every second. (We are going to work on independent study, pronto!) In addition, it is about an hour and a half each evening preparing the next day's lesson plans and materials.

But it isn't the physical part that is so exhausting. (I figured the physical part would be about like this, at least at first.) It is the mental part that leaves me begging for a nap each afternoon shortly after lunch. The mental strain is not the course work itself--after all, this is 3rd grade. Rather, it is figuring out how to encourage, motivate, correct, push and ultimately be solely responsible for my child's education, all while building his self-esteem. Whoa. This is heavy stuff.

An example: spelling did not go well this week. My dilemma: how do I show my child, who really practiced his words throughout the week, that he got only 8 out of 20 correct on his test and present this in an encouraging, positive manner that makes him want to get right back on the horse? Especially since he missed most of them by one letter only and I was so proud of how close he came! A dilemma indeed, since any 3rd grader knows 8 out of 20 is a dismal performance. And this is just the beginning, because as soon as this is navigated I must look at my curriculum, my teaching style and all the work we did all week to see where I went wrong and how I must fix it and fast! It is like shooting darts in the dark, praying that you pop a few balloons.

Overall, though, a lot went well this week. We got through the work we were supposed to, and without too much struggle. All lesson assessments were passed easily (except for spelling of course) and the one math lesson Joey had trouble grasping ended up with his lightbulb going on at the end, which was incredibly rewarding to me. I can already see how happy he is to be home and I absolutely believe that it was the right decision to do this.

So why am I so tired? Where is that energy borne of conviction and determination that a homeschooling mom is entitled to? Anytime it decides to take up residence in me, I welcome it.


Anonymous said...

I'm not trying to critisize (your son can probably spell better than me) you homeschooling your son but as a student myself (I'm 17)I wanted to let you know that interacting with other students is an important part of school.

Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

I agree completely. That is why he remains active in cub scouts and has play dates several times a week. Friends spend the night, he goes to birthday parties, all the usual 8 year old stuff. Plus, with 4 other kids in the family, he has no shortage of socialization, believe me!

Thanks for your comment.

Annie Bizzi said...

Good for you, Suzanne and great job, Joey! It is so wonderful to hear your excitement with knowing you did the right thing. It sounds like overall, homeschooling is such a welcomed change for Joey-- and as a very intelligent boy, I wouldn't worry too much about a few spelling words. His strengths in other areas and accomplishments throughout the week are to be commended! You both are in my prayers!

nutmeg said...

Hey Suzanne,
I can empathize! My 3rd grader had an abysmal time with spelling last year, but once he worked with the words all week (3x each, sentence for each, pre-test Thurs evening) he would usually score high 80, low 90's.... This was when he was in school.

This year we are doing Writing Road to Reading, b/c I wanted him to be able to spell words he knew using rules and phonics as well as memorizing the way the letters make up the word. Right now we are working on the sounds, and soon will be on to the lists of words. I'll let you know how it goes...

5 hours? Wow. We usually spend 3 hours, and that's with all the kids doing different things all at once.

Yes, I am crying for a nap by lunchtime!

Prayers, and hang in there!

antonia said...

God Bless you & good luck!!

I wish I had more practical advise, but I will pray to Mary and ask for her intercession for you.

God Bless

Michelle said...

Suzanne, I really think 5 hours of schoolwork for your child (and you) and another hour plus of prep is TOO MUCH. I don't spend that much time for all my kids, and I probably spend a few hours PER WEEK on prep. I don't know what else to tell you, but I'm afraid that you will both be burnt out by Halloween at that rate.

One suggestion for spelling: day one: do a preliminary test of his list. As you go along, correct him immediately if he makes mistakes. Day 2: using only the missed words, have him write sentences or whatever. Day 3: another test, with corrections as you go along. Day 4: more work on the missed words. Day 5: test the list and correct as you go along. Next week, continue with the missed words and add the new list (or a fraction of it, if he has too many continued words). Remember, the point is not to get through the 30 lists of spelling words this year, but to have a child who really knows how to spell.

Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

Thanks for the comments. I know it is going to get easier as we go along. I am encouraged that the days will get shorter for us as we get used to the routine.

The thing I was most worried about was him being unwilling to do the work (as we experienced repeatedly during homework time last year--a single worksheet could take several hours). So far, that has not been the case, so I am happy to spend the time needed to help him through his work, as long as he is willing to do it! A little perspective goes a long way, huh?