Monday, April 2, 2012

Notes from a Homeschooling Wannabe

I have gone back and forth (and forth and back, and around again) on the topic of homeschooling. It's mostly that - I have a strong desire to do it, I get all amped up with my research and reasoning, and then when I bring it up to my hubs again, he gives me all the reasons why it's not a good idea and I end up completely losing my resolve. I guess you could say that my ease in giving it up is a sign that I shouldn't do it, but the truth is - his reasonings are all very valid and logical, and it's really hard to not see things his way. Since I kind of half-way do to begin with, anyway.

Last year I'd decided to do an informal home-preschool with Luke. I thought it would be nice to spend an hour a day doing fun stuff with him while incorporating some learning. He was adjusting to having a sibling after having me to himself for 2.5 years - it was supposed to be special for him.

The problem was - he couldn't handle it. He couldn't be constrained to his room for the time I'd set aside each day, and he couldn't stay on task. He was overwhelmed by being given safety scissors, and he pretty much just wanted to cut up every project into little tiny shreds. He had a hard time seeing me as anything but "Mom", too. He's kind of a difficult little man overall, so this was just not an easy thing for him.

It sucks, because I'd drawn up 3 weeks worth of lesson plans, went out and bought more craft supplies (we have an overflowing bin now, I should probably stop it), and even made this big "to do" out of our first day. We went out for donuts on our "first day of school" and drove around on a school bus hunt. This was nice, because Luke & I got to interact (and he got all excited about the plethora of school buses!), and Henry slept comfortably in his car seat to the hum of our van's motor. When we got home, I had him go on a little treasure hunt guided by paper arrows to find his very own pencil box full of "school supplies". Ya know, crayons, pencils, glue stick, OMGSAFETYSCISSORS!

We did complete our first week of "school" - it was an A/Apple/Red theme (how original, huh), but it was painful. Keeping him on task was just - ugh, horrid. My conclusions were - a) he's probably slightly too young for this kind of structure (he wasn't yet 3) and b) holy crap, I can't do this with Henry being so little. As much as I would have liked to push through more of it, Henry spent the hour screaming for Matt (while Matt worked hard at maintaining composure), and we'd only have a month of his help anyway before he returned to work. So even though I still carried out some of our holiday crafts (and will always), I kind of just let it go. As Henry came to life more and more, doing much of ANYTHING was a struggle, so I was eventually glad with this decision.

However, it's coming back around again, because Henry is now more agreeable (and manageable), Luke is a little easier to reason with (A LITTLE), his obsession with safety scissors has faded to a slight preoccupation, and he's over 3. I've been going back and forth on whether I should try again in the fall, send him to "real" preschool, or do nothing.

I know, what? Do nothing?

It's just that.....sigh. He is already excelling at the things he "should" know or be doing. He is a very smart, bright, imaginative & creative dude. I am not concerned with him needing the academic/intellectual benefits of preschool. He would do fine waiting until he's old enough for universal Pre-K (he'll be 4.5 at that point). I absolutely want to get him into that program, because it's free, and will give us all exposure to the school system he'll eventually be in. But the decision is on the impending 3-year-old year. Do we really need to pay for that? I'm not saying he wouldn't get something out of it - I know he would. But they concentrate so heavily on "smarts" - that's not what he needs. He needs an extreme social overhaul. Unless we can find an affordable nearby preschool that has an alternative method (like montessori, for example) - it'll just be a preview to what he'll get next year. For A LOT of money. I'm not saying he won't get social advantages from a run-of-the-mill preschool. Any interaction with other adults of authority (his personal WORST ability) and other children is going to help him. It's just not going to have the full impact I would wish for him. And if that's the case, should I bother? He'll spend so very many years in school as it is...I want him to, ya know, keep up with his peers - but I want him to have a long, happy, childhood, too. So if he stays home, I probably should enact some sort of home preschool so that he stays at his current level of intelligence.

So many decisions!

Right now, until we figure everything out, I'm taking a bit of an "unschooling" approach. This method fits my personality, but not in a successful way. If that makes sense. It's very easy for me to be an "unschooler"...but we would only excel in a structured environment. Get it? Well, I do. :) My approach, right now, is to keep up with a few lessons, skills, and tasks that I'd like to work on with Luke, find projects, books, and activities to fit them - and schedule a couple in each day - at whatever time works out.  Picking a specific time is too difficult, still. It'll have to be on a whim, when Henry is napping, when we have time between lunch & nap, when we have plans that got canceled, when we catch up on our to do list faster than expected - those extra moments we find throughout the day. I've heard this referred to as Mommy School, so let's go with that.

Current Skills/Lessons:

  • Potty Training
  • Easter
  • Pre-handwriting
  • Gardening/Outdoors/Environment
  • Uppercase vs Lowercase
  • Spelling his own name

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