Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Picture the Learning

{Warning: several unflattering pictures of me to follow. Blame Tiny who likes to steal the phone while I am otherwise occupied with Littles.}

Next week, we are finishing out yet another semester of homeschooling. Thankfully, as our semester peters out, we have less and less work. I say thankfully, because we are all still blowing out buckets of snot, our main teacher (that's me) sounds like a cross between an operatic frog and a cross-dressing chain smoker, and our other main teacher (nope, still me) is running out of steam as her pregnancy draws to a close. None of us are completely sure how next semester will go with a new baby in the house, so this is probably a good time for a little retrospective. Next semester may go to the dogs.

Really this is going to be more of a picture post with explanatory captions. Enjoy.

This is my teacher's planning book. So I feel like a real homeschool teacher. And also so that I can convince myself that we're actually learning real things and making real progress. I have delusions of grandeur.

Most of the time, this is what school looks like in our house. We do a good portion of our work slumped back on the couch, with or without the laptop (that day was a research day--let's watch the moon landing, kids!), with or without half naked twins climbing over us, with or without partially folded laundry in the works, with or without lego towers.

We use the whiteboard a lot. But I have to hide the markers when they aren't in use because otherwise the twins wreak havoc. And do you know how hard it is to get dry erase marker out of clothing? Because I do. That day we were studying Venn Diagrams. Fun times. Especially when Venn Diagrams turns into an episode of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" (We know our bad guy is tall, wears glasses, and has a beard...)

Sometimes, though, school is outside--because if you can, why don't you? That was the beginning of our gratitude pumpkin--we don't normally homeschool accompanied by giant gourds. We do, however, occasionally take breaks to play football.

Since October, we've been working on cursive. It's been painful for all involved, but especially for me--my handwriting is notoriously horrendous. Littles has threatened multiple times to desert me for a better teacher (i.e. Nana or Aunt Jo). So far no one has abandoned ship, although my sanity has been taking a leave of absence for several weeks now.

I have tried really hard, as is evident by this super concentrated tongue effort. Things are still very ugly, but we're plowing through.

Even Tiny has gotten in on the game.

We've also had some really entertaining journal entries. Like when Littles wrote that "For Neni and Aki's visit, I liked wine..."

Although some of his were inspirational. All aspiring presidents could use the reminder not to be mean. Cough::we don't talk politics on this blog::cough cough.

And we had some exciting art lessons. This was the day we studied Jackson Pollock.  Thank goodness for water based paint.

I also found some great drawing books at the library that helped the boys with their animals. Tiny did an exquisite squid and quite an accomplished ant eater, but neither photographed well, so you're stuck with Little's sea turtle. I'm digging those ultra-stylized waves.

For P.E. we play football and take walks with the dog (and inevitably get home to discover that I still have a pen stuck in my hair that had to be quickly confiscated from Bruiser earlier in the day). The boys have also been turning our home into an American Ninja Warrior course. So far no one has died. Props to me.

And most mornings it's only Trigger hiding under the covers from the start of our school day, so...I'll take it.

I will say, though, that my homeschooling philosophy is shifting somewhat. Here's why: I'm starting to realize that I just can't do it all. I know. Shocker. The truth is that most days I feel pretty good about where Littles and Tiny are scholastically. I may not be the most organized or driven homeschool mom on the face of the planet, but we're getting it done (mainly because of my type A first child).

But every once in a while I talk to another mom who tells me what her kid is doing in school and I start to panic. My kid isn't doing that. I haven't taught that concept. We haven't gone over that together. It takes every ounce of self preservation not to a) completely scratch everything we are doing and revamp our system or b) enroll my kids in whatever school system was just discussed or c) resign myself to my child hating me forever for a lifetime of imbecility. After a few deep breaths though, I remember that I'm not in this "job" to teach my child everything under the sun--because that's impossible--I'm here to teach my child how to learn. Then he can go out on his own and learn whatever it is that he actually needs.

But sometimes, I just really wish I was better at all those cute little crafty things.

Related side note: The kids and I tried making cinnamon/applesauce/glue ornaments this week. Not only did two of them crumble into oblivion at the first touch, but I totally underestimated the effect it was going to have on my over heightened sense of smell (thank you, pregnancy) even while dealing with excess mucus issues. Lesson learned.

In closing, when I told the boys I was writing about homeschooling this week, Tiny said to tell all of you that his homeschooling advice is to read everything in the whole wide world. So...we're going to get  right on that. In the meantime, may we all continue to educate our children in whatever manner is most effective for them and for our own families. Vive la diffĂ©rence!


  1. You are making me relive my own childhood homeschooling days! You are doing a great job. Also, I made those applesauce/cinnamon/glue ornaments last year and it was a total flop! AND the kids ate the glue dough. So yeah. We'll stick to paper.

  2. Howdy darlin!I loved every bit if this and we are very similar. It was only til this year, when we changed to a january forward schedule (instead of aug/sept to mayish like most schools) that those feelings of inadequacy subsided. Id highly reccommend considering the change too. I was "tuned into it" by another hs mama who said "id much rather have school when its yucky outside and too cold or hot to really stay out long, SO we begin in january, take frequent breaks (of course), and then by aug-oct, somewhere in there, we are DONE for the year and are reviewing and can spend all of our holiday months cooking, baking, and making things for others. That way we enjoy the fall, when its nicest out, and get to enjoy our holiday instead of rushing. Then we begin about mid jan, when we feel rested, refreshed, and excited to begin, and we do it all over." It took 2 years of contemplation and planning, but finally, we are in this now. We take plenty of breaks and do half days all summer and since we are going to have a new tiny one too (and am thus planning 0 formal lessons for 6-8weeks), we are currently on half days through what would be vacation time from mid nov to jan. (The "down time" was the advuce of many other hs mamas who are more experienced than i. They simply said "youll go nuts if you try to rush back to schooling and its just as much learning to build the bond and live with a new tiny.) :) i love your planning! We have a printed day to say schedule- 8 possible "kinds" of days and then in my planner i write what we actually did and what color our day was, so i could add up our hours or frequency if the next state needs it. Please dont feel inadequate. In some areas we are student led, so we learn about the moon or newts or whatever strikes their fancy, to which my 6th grade teacher grandma stated "but thats 5th grade stuff! Isnt it too advanced?" Who decides WHEN things are taught? Id like to meet them. Frankly, i dont care about what "must" be learned when. If that kid wants to investigate species of trees all month, then why would i stiffle that? We still learn the basic things that most other kids do, i assume, by the state standards, BUT its gonna fit into our schedule. Really, i used to have a mild heart attack every aug and sept about "not doing enough" and then i began repeating, each time i felt unsure, "we are fostering a LIFE LONG LOVE of learning. This is home-school not school at home/public school at home." It helped about 1/2 way. Then we changed to jan forward and it got rid of the last 1/2 that doubted. Now, when people talk, i feel 0 need to keep on the same track because when theyre beginning, we are reviewing, and vice versa. YALL ARE DOING GREAT! most pinterest stuff doesnt work out. Keep trying for crafty but theyll live with wonky whales or sloppy pollocks and everyone will love it. In closing, i fully concur with tiny:read it all and theyll be just dandy. Its about the journey, after all! :)

  3. It has been a long time since I commented on your blogs. Sorry! It's not like I don't spend an abnormal amount of time on the computer, but usually I'm pretending to answer emails. Love your beautiful babies and sorry about the American Ninja Warrior course...I may have started that in CA while you and J were trusting me with your children.