Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why the teacher is always learning too..

I'll tell ya, this homeschooling thing isn't as bad as I thought it was (last year).

Yes, I gave up on K5 last year. I hated to admit it. But I did. And now, I am so thrilled that I did. I had a newborn, a family crisis and too much invested in what my peers where doing.

Granted, all the HS'ing veterans tried to warn me: "don't become a slave to the curriculum," or "don't beat yourself up about having to do it a certain way," and my favorite one to ignore, "You don't have to go out and buy all the fancy curriculum to teach them what they need to know. It's kindergarten."

Well I totally failed. I went and bought the fancy curriculum and tried to put so much on my poor child that it burnt us both out. It wasn't fun. It wasn't sinking in for him and on top of that I had to put Eva in MDO because I couldn't even focus through one session.

So fast forward to today. I have all the kids at home and am able to successfully get through a 1st grade school day (which lasts about an hour for Reading, Bible and Math). And I feel much better about it and actually LOVE it and so does Jorge. We are into week two and he is still waking up in the mornings saying, "Mommy, we are going to do school today, right?"
(he has also said while doing math, "mommy can you get a pillow for my head, this is making me tired.").

So what changed in a year?

1. I no longer put stock in what my peers are doing. If you got something that you love, I'd love to hear about how great it's working for you. But if you sell it to me as, "your kid has got to get this _________ (curriculum, concept, etc)" I immediately tune you out. I am all too easily swayed to peer pressure. And not the kind that involves drugs. But the comparison dance. The one where I go back and forth in my head about all the ways someone else is doing it better than me. Well I hate that dance, and I no longer buy the music. I try to recognize the song when it comes on and turn it off. This has helped me so much in paying attention to: the learning style of the kid I'm teaching, what he/she likes to do, and their own rate of learning. If we spend a week on one Bob book and two days on the next.. that is JOY to my heart and I'm not worried that your kid just read the entire set in one sitting. Hello, Freedom! Goodbye, Pressure.

2. I am honing in on the art of distraction. Homeschooling is the easy part. It's the younger siblings that can make a momma loose her ever.loving.mind. So I have to spend equal time figuring out how to get the younger three occupied (if they are deciding they don't want to do school with me and Jorge) with something entertaining or fun for them. So far Eva and Alex want to "do school" which includes a modified version of whatever we are doing, whilst they are coloring or playing with counting cubes. And Isaac, he either wanders around destroying the house or in his pack n play contained with toys. For me, I had to realize that it takes creativity to include the younger ones or even to keep them busy. And some days this works better than others.

3. I've learned the difference between routine and schedule. I LOVE a good routine. A schedule, is of the devil. (I jest, sort of). There can be so much more grace with a routine. And flexibility too. It also frees us up to do fun things. I used to be a stickler for the clock. Now I can tell what time it is by what we are doing.. and not stressed that it's 30 minutes later than when we did it the day before. My kids get dressed on their own after breakfast, because that's the routine. but there isn't a mandatory time that that is supposed to happen by.

4. I stop when the fun stops. This is huge for me. Obviously, in learning there are times where it isn't our favorite thing to do, so we persevere. But when mommy starts getting frustrated that little Jorge's 3's look like a number of evil (I don't know what that means exactly) we take a break. Mommy needs to move on. Mommy needs to remember that little Jorge is just now learning this stuff and he won't go to college writing his 3's like an alien. "Mommy move on." That's what I keep saying in my head.

I tell ya.. the growth has to happen in me. I hear people say all the time, "I could never teach my kids." And I won't pretend I don't know what you are talking about. It is definitely hard work. The patience that has to come is painstaking. But the joy I get when I see the hard work pay off, it's unreal. It's not all, bake days and fun outside. It's hard. It's long hours and lots of worrying, "will they ever write their 3's so we can recognize it?" And the answer is yes. And the process of what I am learning is just as priceless as seeing them persevere too.

I'm looking forward to growing more and more each year and becoming a better teacher than I was the year before.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. We live in the country and I feel a lack of resources. Although through a breastfeeding peer and my sister, Lisa Squires, I have support. I am meeting up with my bf friend this week and a friend of hers to get more ideas of how this is all going to work out. I love the part in there about moving on when you are frustrated. I may put that up in our school room, which is still the den. ;) Jessica Hawkins

Rachael said...

AMAZING post,Rach!!!