Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Kid's Activities Carousel--A Stop Gap Measure to Keep Homeschooling

I've stepped right into it now. For the last two years I've avoided any major time commitments when it comes to outside activities. One of the girls had dance class once or twice a week. Not this year. This year we've got soccer for each girl (2x-a-week practice and Saturday games), dance for each girl, a weekly park day, a weekly science course that I'm running, a girls' club that will be meeting at my house every other week, and a once-a-month nature class.

Why the sudden uptick in outside activities? Because my kids dislike homeschooling. Apparently my dream of sitting quietly around the classroom with my kids studiously working on their given lessons or listening attentively while I read to them is just my dream. Actually, they don't dislike homeschooling, they loathe it. If homeschooling were a piece of paper, they would crumple it, stomp on it, burn it, burn the ashes, step on those, drown them in water, dry them, and set them on fire again. My eldest is simply uninterested and sporadically motivated (although she's at least somewhat motivated). My youngest girl is fighting it every step of the way with all of the hellfire and brimstone she can muster (throwing things, hitting, ripping, tearing, scribbling). There is a load of effort that she puts into getting out of work that if she could just channel into doing work would probably make her a genius.

If it weren't for my husband's request that I explore my options further, they would already be in school. Which would be really embarrassing considering that my husband runs an astronomy course for homeschoolers and I have plans to have 10 homeschoolers over my house next week.

I am not surprised that neither of them adore homeschooling. Both of my children have had very positive experiences in their Montessori school and they couldn't imagine why sitting around with a bunch of other kids going to school is something we wouldn't choose for them. Their teachers were also infinitely patient (or if not, they could call in reserves). I am not infinitely patient. Especially not when trying to corral the baby while dealing with the needs of both kids. I have also not propagandized homeschooling for them. I'm not the parent talking about how great it is that we don't have to wait for the bus at 8:30 AM, how they aren't doing homework after dinner, how boring (or baffling) trying to learn along with 20 or 25 other students can be, or how the playground is like the Lord of the Flies. I try to explain why we choose to homeschool, but it generally goes right over their heads (final outcomes being 10 years away or so).

Mostly I think my eldest is lonely for the social interaction she'd have at school (NOT socialization) and my youngest girl is suffering from a case of feeling neglected (having to go to big sister's dance class while not having one of her own). So a few (or a lot) of activities may help me weather this year. That, a strict bedtime routine, and some bribery ought to help. Perhaps I'll remember to post an update. I'll certainly post if we're not homeschooling anymore!

Advice on the carrot part of 'carrot and the stick' (I've got the stick part down--as a friend of mine said 'I'm all stick') is more than welcome! Here is what I'm trying (apart from the activities so that each girl has something of her own): no more skipping recess, backing off and trying another approach when things start flying (literally), more learning games (though this is a lot more work for me--like making matching cards for learning spelling words and phonics lists for practicing digraphs--and a lot more personal involvement for my youngest school child), more reading aloud from me, more coloring or lapbooking-type activities (lord help me with all the prep that involves), incentive charts (5 days of 15 minutes spent reading and she can get a toy, same for days without temper tantrums). It makes me feel like I'm running a preschool. At least I'll be well-practiced for the littlest one when he gets to be three!


christinemm said...

Guess my family is not the only Connecticut homeschoolers having a less than perfect week.

Phew, what a relief.

Every year it takes considerable effort on my part to get the right amount of fun and social time in for my kids. It takes effort. Period. That is why I've schlepped off to park day once a week for years and years. That is why we do certain outside things that I'd prefer not to do. That is why my kids are in a once a week all day experiental science class.

Hey why don't you enroll your children in that same class?? Or are they already in it?

I don't always feel like doing all those things but it is necessary.

I also have 'been there done that' with doing a lot of 'one time' things that don't yield frienships but put us around groups of homeshcoolers. They are not good social outlets and they rarely end up giving a true friendship.

What we do is the outside classes that are worth it, don't break the bank, and allow for social time with friends. It is no good if the class is too structured and they cannot actually socialize with others.

I actually have as a main goal that my kids have a few close friends that they see regularly over years of time. I feel this is better than seeing gobs of kids they don't have relationships with. Some of these kids are neighbors, some go to private school, some are public schooled kids we know and others are homeschoolers. I think some homeschooling friends is important so they have that in common with a close friend.

Lastly my kids do Cub and Boy Scouts. Although those don't always yield a personal friend they see outside of the event they see the kids once a week or more over an entire year. Actually with Boy Scouts they have longer meetings and one campout a month plus the week at sleepover camp, so that is better for making deeper relationships.

Hang in there.

Now the challenge is to get whatever homeschooling basic lessons you have to do at home as they are not being met outside the home done in between the social time and fun times.

Alasandra said...

Sorry I can't offer any help. I used the threaten my kids with sending them back to public school. They loathed public school and loved homeschooling.

You have been nominated for Alasandra's HBA.

Kim said...

It is true that structured activities do not lead to friendship--only the possibility of meeting people. I think it will help to get out of the house, though. Even I can start to feel stir crazy. It's also nice to have a definite end of the school day (most days).

This are perking up a little. The girls had a great time at the park day, even though we got there late and left sooner than they would have liked (yeah--it was still light outside). That is a great way to meet people.