Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hands-on or Hands-off Homeschooling

One of the most difficult things I find about homeschooling is trying to judge how involved my role as a teacher goes.

When the big boys were little, of course there was no question of a more hands-on approach. I prepared manipulatives, created fun worksheets, helped with lapbooks, went through each math lesson, directed handwriting, took them outside for fun geography lessons and so on. Some times I look back in disbelief of what a fun Mom I tried to be!

 As they have grown, however, it becomes more difficult in figuring it out. One would hope the 9th grader would take a lot less hand-holding than the 5th grader. Although at times reality does not follow the ideal!

There are different schools of thought in homeschooling as in anything else. And different subjects require different amounts of involvement. And I am sadly, easily confused. I read an article that talks about how good it is to just let kids experience reading and not worry about literary analysis. And it makes good sense.

But then I think about Latin, which requires me to work with the boys every day, at least to some degree. That is a subject of real discipline ("CONSTANT VIGILANCE!"). Just reading it for the love of it won't work.

In the end, each subject can require something a bit different from the rest.
So, it still leaves me scratching my head some days - Was I involved enough?  Did I hover? Am I encouraging independence or enabling my motivationally-challenged child to wallow in procrastination?

There is the Dream Homeschool Me and the Real Homeschool Me.

Here is how it goes, ideally:

1) I meet with each boy individually once a week, to discuss where they are in each subject, to map out their work for that week and to discuss any issues or problems they are facing.
2) The boys follow their schedule, meeting with me for various subjects from time-to-time (we do Michael Clay Thompson's language arts program together)
3) When they boys have a quiz, a test or work for me to check, they place them in a manilla envelope hanging on the bulletin board.
4) Every evening, I check the turn-in envelope and grade. The next day we review any work that needs reviewing.

Some weeks the above even happens! Happyhappyjoyjoy! But for the other weeks:

1) I meet with each boy on Monday and realize we forgot one whole subject the previous week. Or rather, I forgot one whole subject and they did not remind me!
2) As I work with each boy, I find out one has not done Latin in two weeks ("I forgot"), one has spent four weeks on the science lesson that should have taken two, and one read his whole book for literature but cannot sum up the plot at all.
3) I realize I have not checked the turn-in folder for days. I reach my hand in to find a) a large sheaf of papers that could only make a bureaucrat happy OR b) nothing. Either one is bad.
4) I lay my head down on the desk and cry.

But I am not alone. Cartoonist Todd Wilson reminds me every time I see one of his panels.  

I am not alone.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Back Again, Really!

So, I took a little blogging break . . .

Okay, it was a rather big blogging break.

It just felt right to stop for a few months. Probably because I was up to my eyeballs in robots.

Storm System returns to the FLL North Texas Regional Championships a third time . . .

. . . and pulls out our first Championship trophy win - for project presentation!

Now I am just up to my eyeballs in everything else.

 The Monkey is playing video games (bad momma, I know!). The older two boys are somewhere in the house, doing some kind of school work. Romeo is still asleep. A typical morning.

Last week, I instituted the use of a daily "Work Log" for the oldest two. We typically have a fairly relaxed method of homeschooling. I set out their general schedule, they do their work, I check work, they work with me to do recitation and review and all should be well. But it isn't. I have found a growing number of instances of missed work, of "whoops, I forgot to do that".

Momma is not happy.

So, the oldest two must log their work and time spend on each subject every day. At least it is giving me a clearer idea of what is going on. Which I know I should be aware of anyway.

Some days I feel that the whole experience of learning is enough, that the boys are growing and benefiting from learning (and failing) at such lessons as time management, self-motivation and independent work.

Other days I am mad-woman crazy, tearing my hair out, crying at the drop of a hat, laying awake at night, my heart pounding, because The Young Adult wrote that the meaning of the stem "circum" is "circle", when the lessons has it as "around" and clearly stated that the student is to learn the meaning of the word in the lesson - no substitutions - and how will he every be successful in life if he hears "no substitutions" and still answers "circle" instead of "around" and I am such a failure as a homeschooler and mother and teacher and my life has no meaning.

Yeah, my husband is never really sure which wife will be there when he gets home.

Gotta keep him on his toes!