Homeschooling is no different. It seems we're always at a spot where there is "too much" of one thing and "not enough" of another. Introspectively, it seems that I am not very comfortable jumping entirely onto one end of the see-saw either. Perhaps it was the wildly swinging pendulum of my childhood that made me this way, but in any case, I often walk the line as close to the middle as I can.
This year, I started using a curriculum diligently for the first time. It's not the first time I've ever tried to direct my kids more, just the first time I did it on a daily basis. I don't regret it, but I do have my moments of frustration, as do the kids.
After about six weeks of working with this, I feel like ruminating over what is working and not working or just what is delightful and what is challenging:
- I love sitting down with the girls and doing art together, even though they very rarely try for too long to do the actual project. They've already had a taste of free learning are highly motivated to go their own way. My approach has been mostly to have the elder daughter (almost 5) pause for a minute or so, give the lesson a try, show her how it can be done, and then let her go, whether that leads her to following the project or letting her mind roam. It's usually the latter, and that's fine. Actually, it's good. I want my kids to be able to follow directions, but that is far from all I want for them. The youngest (3) is such a free spirit. I hope she does develop some discipline some day but not at the expense of her creativity ;)
- On the same note, I love cooking with my son and seeing what he comes up with in computer programming. These are the two activities he enjoys most, especially the cooking, and I am going to see if there is a way we can do more of it. Unfortunately, my time is so limited; it already feels as though I am squeezed dry like a sponge every day, to make every minute count.
- With fewer days on the run, I love to hear the kids get together to work on something or play together, especially the elder two (11 and almost 5). This is getting more common, and I love it. They used to fight constantly, or the older would pick, pick, pick on the younger. I believe that it is more related to some therapy than time at home (my eldest is my Aspie), but it's still wonderful that they have time to appreciate and enjoy each other. I have found myself delaying lesson time so that they can have their time together and not be interrupted because there is "stuff to do."
- Time, time, time. How am I ever supposed to get everything done and not feel so short on time??? Even when we were unschooling, I felt this way.
- Getting the kids to give new things and themselves a chance can be pretty difficult. It doesn't help that DH and I don't always see eye to eye on this. I'm usually willing to back off a bit and wait if the kids are really staunchly against something, but my husband states, "If you just keep making them do it, they get used to it, and it's no problem any more." And sometimes he's right. (Not that he would ever admit that he was wrong ;)). I'm grateful for the way he's been working with the kids to clean up after themselves more. Even the 3-year-old participates some now without much whining. Some may say wait until they're ready on their own, but for some of us, a messy house is so much more stressful, and if the kids don't help, you end up cleaning it up all yourself, being resentful, and not having any time to play with them. If they help out, there is more time for everyone, and things can be more relaxed and happy. Yes, there can be some initial resistance, but it seems to have been worth it in this case. Family harmony has been improved.
Well, this week has kind of been a catch-up week as I finish planning up a combo birthday party for the older two kids, and next week, we're taking a Fall Break on classwork. The week is starting out with an overnight field trip to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the Durbin Rocket train with Raw Learning. It should be enlightening and fun, but I'll be playing catch-up again when we return.