Friday, January 3, 2014

The Turtle VS The Hare

One of the reasons we chose to home school was that the kids could learn at their own pace. Sarah is a great reader and was bored last year. Violet likes complicated books and they weren't part of the curriculum. John likes to work really hard on one thing, then jump to another, and obviously that is not conducive to being in a traditional school. So we knew we'd love this aspect of being home.

In September, as we dug into math, I discovered that Sarah did not know place value - despite having 'learned' it last year, and Violet's math facts were dismal. When I saw this, I was able to turn right around, shove the books back into the bins, pull out games and manipulative's. For three days Violet worked on basic math facts through a variety of ways while Sarah used unifix cubes and marbles to create numbers in a place value grid. Once they had mastered these skills we moved on. I was happy, happy, happy. This, right here, was why I wanted to home school. If they'd been in public school they would have been left behind - as I was at their age- and chances are they would start to struggle in math as these basic skills were needed time and again. I was thrilled, they were pleased and we moved on.

Now it's January, and being able to slow down and stay with one skill until we've mastered it, while awesome, is freaking me out. And here's why:

In my head, I knew we'd need to slow down for a few things. But really, we'd be flying ahead of schedule because public school was just too slow, obviously.
Full of myself and my children's abilities, much? Little bit.

We haven't had to slow things down a whole lot, but enough so that at times I look at the calendar, then at the books and I have minor freak outs in my head.
"How many days have we done school? And what chapter are we on in math?  Sarah is 3 weeks ahead in reading, but we're just on target for the language/grammar parts. John is doing the same math as Sarah -  is he advanced or is she slow? Violet is doing more work on her own than I thought she would, so is she advanced or am I doing this all wrong?"

I ask other home school moms and I post questions on the home school pages on Facebook. Here is what I'm told: Stop. Relax. Are they learning? Are they enjoying this learning? Are they asking questions? Are they randomly giving you back what you've taught them?  You had to review math this year - don't you think public school did as well?  You're not doing public school. You're doing Violet, Sarah and John school. (The School of Kuhl, we call it.)

And they are ahead in some areas, on course in some and 'behind' in others. I have to learn to not think of us as 'behind' in anything. Because Violet needed more help with clauses today and didn't get the entire lesson done, does that make her 'behind'? No. It just means that she understands it and should groove tomorrow. I must concentrate on the fact that Sarah did an entire week of language/grammar today. She learned how to use a thesaurus. She finished her reading book three weeks ahead of schedule. I need to concentrate on John doing really, really well in math - he enjoys it and asks to do it every day. I should be focusing on the knowledge that Violet is working independently- and she couldn't do this in September. We're making progress. In reality, better progress than I thought we would. And I need to remember, to constantly remind myself, that this is our first year homeschooling. Every.single.day is new. We've never had to home school while getting ready for Christmas. We've never had a January 2nd before, so we don't know what it will be like coming back to school after fives days off.

Today, while talking with my psychiatrist (yes, I have one, see my posts on depression on the hows and whys of that, as well as why I talk about it, a lot.) She reminded me that  just like I had/have to be gentle on myself while getting healthy, I have to be gentle on myself with this. Learning to live again was a process. Learning to home school is going to be a process, too. And just like the process of waking up from the depression is never going to be over, neither will the process of learning this. Every year will change. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon - of the most awesome kind.