Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Spelling = D+A+D

What a difference a fairly small change can make in one's life. In this case, I am talking about removing spelling as a distinct subject from my homeschooling day.

Obviously, Joey needs to learn spelling. But over the course of the first semester of our homeschooling adventure it has become more and more evident that I am not the best one to teach him this particular subject.

Without intending to congratulate myself too much (because I still experience plenty of bumps in the road and have many concerns about the details of my eldest son's overall learning), I have to say that we have come a long way so far this school year. I have grown as a teacher and he has settled nicely into being a homeschooled student. He is excelling in Math, Science and History, and is getting stronger and stronger with reading. I truly enjoy teaching him most of the time and he seems to enjoy me being his teacher. It is good time for us both, and he is most definitely a happier and more confident child than he was a year ago, maybe ever.

All this good comes to a complete halt, however, when spelling time arrives. I don't know what happened or where I went wrong, but our otherwise fairly pleasant day turns into a snarling mess that usually involves tears (which one of us depends on the day), raised voices and sometimes even a thrown book (again, which one of us depends on the day, I am ashamed to admit).

Jay, who now works mostly from home and is a witness to the ebbs and flows of the homeschool day, offered some friendly suggestions as to how these 20 minutes or so per day might be improved. Without recalling EXACTLY how this went, I can generalize that this frustrated and hormonal mom did not receive this constructive and well-intended criticism well, and before we both knew it, Joey had a new spelling teacher.

God bless my husband! He agreed to take on this single subject as his very own and can be seen at random times during the day clutching Joey's spelling list and drilling him while, for instance, preparing his lunch or accompanying the dog out for a potty training session. Joey, who absolutely adores his dad, complies more easily on this hated subject for Jay, and Jay has a fresh perspective and keeps it positive. In the meantime, my subjects have shuffled around in such a way that I am done at least half an hour earlier and both Joey and I are happy and calm through most of the day. Every subject has become easier for us because we are not dreading the inevitable spelling blow up.

For me, Jay's involvement signifies something even more important: his complete acceptance of the very idea of homeschoooling Joey. At first, he understandably questioned whether or not bringing him home was a good idea. He supported my decision, but it was ultimately my decision, not his. After seeing the good this has done for not just Joey but the entire family, he now believes it was the absolute right decision and is willing to contribute toward making it work. This pleases me immensely.

So, I have a new puppy I didn't want, and Jay is a spelling teacher when he'd prefer not to be. And you know what? We're somehow glad to make these sacrifices for eachother (though we reserve the right to complain about them occasionally). Now THAT's a happy marriage!


Michelle said...


4andcounting said...

Yay Dad! And yay you for giving this task to him, without worrying if it will be done right or whatever. No small task for a mom. Good luck to everyone!

nutmeg said...

That's great, Suzanne!

It's good to hear that books go flying at your home too... must be some sort of physics phenomenon with 9 year olds.


Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

Thank you, Nutmeg, for admitting to the occasional thrown book. You don't know how much better your comment has made me feel! :-)

4andcounting, you are correct that it is sometimes hard to give up control over something like this. We mothers like to have our fingers on the pulse of all aspects of our children's lives. But Jay's condition for taking this on was that I give it to him completely and without comment or judgement. I agreed, and thereby gave up all right to interject (so hard, so hard!)

So, I give him the list on Monday and review the test on Friday. I say nothing at all about spelling on Tues, Wed and Thurs. I am bound by our agreement. Jay was wise to request this and saves us both a lot of grief by recognizing why this might be necessary. Does he know me, or what?!