School

    It is quiet and tidy at home today.  The fall décor beautiful and undisturbed.  The only sounds are the soft hum of the ceiling fan working to distribute the stove warmth against the encroaching dampness of the chilly outdoors. It is three in the afternoon. No noisy children will come bursting through the porch door yelling. “Where’s mom?”
      I am still getting used to this quiet. I will never forget the hours of prodding that went into school in the early years.  I sincerely rejoice that the children have grown beyond the dilly-dallying with school work. They actually enjoy it sometimes now.
     And we still have room for improvement. Just now Brad needs to learn how to get beyond the rough draft. He’s good at rough drafting; but he doesn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole beyond that. I am considering having him take some of his material, edit and rewrite it this winter for  our language skills subject. He is considering running away. Not really, but you understand.
     School days are precious and transient and gone… so quickly.
     A mom of school children complained lately how they just aren’t getting school done decently…that some of the children simply will not work without supervision.  She confessed dealing with guilt and frustration. She said and I quote, “We are failing.” Heartbreaking!  I believe that every mother of school children whether or not she homeschools will experience feelings of failure.  It is part of the agenda of the enemy to instill guilt and defeatism, to minimize joy. 
      I know we had bad times, too. But, I  have more memories of the good times. Those piles of books, notebooks, undone chores and messy rooms are only a colorful back drop for the treasures that come to mind when I look back.  For instance, we read aloud most days after lunch especially the first years when we had our children in the schoolroom at the same time. I think the children enjoyed those times as much as I did. Our little school room faded while we helped the Kopcheck’s make a new home in a strange village, or sailed with Mr. Bowditch on the sea.  We learned real life stuff during those read-times.
    It takes effort to have work time and play time AND school time. Again I don’t think it makes much difference whether you are home schooling or sending them off to school. (I honestly didn’t get any less work done after we started homeschooling than I did before. While the children were in school I hurried with my housework and read books, to be honest.  After they came home for school, I was obliged to spend my book reading time with them in their books. It was a happy trade off, however.) The only way that I know to get work/play/school done decently is to have the children indispensably involved in all three activities every day. I was told by the homeschool gurus who had been there/done that, to turn all of the household chores over to the children. I was to delegate myself out of the job.They assured me that I would still have more than enough to do with shopping, organizing, teaching, and being a good wife. Since we didn’t have farm chores, we were able to do some of this. The children wanted to play just as badly as I did; so they were happy to team up with me for the work. We liked to make lists and check off each item completed. It was fun for me at least. I’d be happy to hear what they think about it looking back. Even so,I did a lot of dishes while they studied and I always did the laundry and most of the meal prep.  But they did the daily cleanup and weekly cleaning.
   The one most important thing to obtain is the cooperation and obedience of the children. To have them WANT to be part of the team to make the machinery of the home run smoothly is also a must-have reality. Children like order and quiet just as much as we do. Let THEM help to simplify and arrange life for the best fit for the family. Teach them to be prompt and let them teach how to get back to basics.
    Another thing I would say to the “failing” mom is to simplify homemaking.  Cull the excess possessions from dishes to wall-hangings. It is much easier to clean a room that has only the things you really need in it. Go ahead and box up the extras and put them in storage or give them away.  Keep and use true treasures. If you can’t decide what to cull, imagine that you have to pack up and temporarily spend five days of every week for a few months in a different smaller house. We found out one such winter that a large percentage of what we lived and worked around: furniture, clothing, dishes, toys, knick-knacks, and the numerous oddments found in all homes were completely dispensable to comfortable living. What a clearing of the house AND mind!
     It is important to simplify the school work, as well. In Wisconsin we are expected to teach these five subjects: Math, English, Science, Social Studies, and Health.  We have always added Bible and sometimes Music, and Home Economics just happens every day. This list appears to be daunting and far from simple. Since every mom knows what her children can practically tackle and learn, it is up to her to make this list within reach of each child’s ability. Not easy to do. Add guilt and a few poorly reached goals and you have this conclusion: “We are failing.” It takes a very courageous mom/teacher indeed, to back the expectations down to a place of actually learning and winning for each individual child. I assure you, nobody is going to criticize with the amount of ground getting covered if each child is busy learning and doing.
     It took a lot of courage for me to take away about half the fluff that comes with Abeka’s science and history curriculum. The guilt was intense. Our children enjoyed both subjects but we never figured out how to incorporate all the quizzes and tests that came with them. I tried to get it all in, with the only result of having them learn to dread and hate the whole business. We ended up opting for practicality and enjoyment by sticking with the text and the questions that were in it for daily work.
     We had one child out of seven who could do most of the available work in each grade. We also had children who could only successfully accomplish a fraction of those expectations. Of course this is a fluid situation. Sometimes I didn’t push hard enough (big time guilt), but always I knew that 20 long division problems is way over the top ridiculous in any case! I could feel guilty, though, even though I knew better. I can still go into a sweat if I think about how we should have pushed composition more, or spent more time in spelling. Some of them are horrible spellers. It is my fault, I’m sure. I don’t know how we could have done better. Still guilt there.  But we have children coping well in the adult world whether or not they could spell during school days.
     Count up the happy things…even the tiniest, little accomplishments each day. Make lists of them. Talk about them. Teach rejoicing by rejoicing. Push down the guilt and defeat every single day. Look what we did today! 

Comments

  1. Yup, story time was awesome. I still remember the time that Lance pulled the lever on the office chair that made the chair fall down. Suddenly. And it surprised you. Thoroughly. And you wouldn't finish reading story that day. And I got very mad at Lance. :)I the the two books I remember the most are The Wheel On The School, and the one about Mr. Bowditch... I can't remember what the name of that one was. I remember the one about the Kopchecks too, but not as well.

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  2. I remember resisting math heavily when my parents were trying to homeschool me many years ago. I'm not sure whether they felt like successes or failures, but I came out able to do what I needed to. For all the talk about failures--keep in mind that the highly trained professionals in the public schools still turn out a certain per centage of illiterate students.

    Tell Brad that professional writers will read over and edit a story as many as twenty times. That's the work in writing.

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