Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Making Homeschooling Work

Things have gotten a lot more difficult for us on the homeschooling front since I began to get sick with the joint pain and related issues, but even more so once I was pregnant again and had to stop taking my ADHD medication. This medication had made homeschooling possible for us! Trying to get along without it has been a real challenge. I'm confronting an issue that every homeschooler, and probably every parent, has to deal with: how to reconcile ideals with reality. I was pretty happy with the Mother of Divine Grace syllabi that we had chosen and were using, and I was very happy with their overall methodology and "plan" for school from kindergarten through highschool. We'd made some adaptations, but for the most part I did think that many of their ideas were "right" in terms of being a thorough and insightful education. However, most of these practices were highly teacher intensive, and required set aside one on one quiet time with each child. That was very difficult managing with a four year old and a toddler constantly getting in the way. Math was one of our best subjects, precisely because I could introduce the work, make sure they seemed to "get" it, but then simply be near and monitor their work in the workbook without having to be constantly, directly teaching them. This made it much easier to respond to the needs of the nonschooling little ones.

So, we replaced much of our other work with workbooks. I don't feel like this is an "ideal" solution but it is at least making homeschool work doable at this time. The main benefit to me is that it is easier for me to switch my attention away to the littles or to other things that need doing, because I don't need to be spending a large chunk of uninterrupted time working with each kid. I can be in the kitchen washing dishes or simply hanging out and still be able to help which ever of the boys may need help, and can still make sure that they're staying on task. Really, I don't think that this is as thought-provoking and education as reading lots of things aloud, and having the kids dictate "retellings" of what they've read for me to write down, or other more reflective things that the MODG curriculum had us do, but it is much easier to fit workbooks into life with constantly interrupting littles, especially when everyone in the family has a short attention span and is easily distracted.

Although, now this has me thinking about what we'll be doing next year. (Isn't it always more fun plan next year's curriculum than to implement this years?) I'm looking again at lesson plans that use more workbooks and textbooks, as that just seems to be much easier for me. I do really like having lesson plans as a spine to work from, though I'm almost certainly going to make changes of one kind or another. And I haven't found curriculum that I love in any subject except math, where Math Mammoth is still working out very well for us. We've got things that will work for this year, but I'm looking to try new ideas for next, when I'll be juggling a newborn along with a toddler and three school age kids.