Category Archives: Homeschooling

Ninth Grade Curriculum, Part II

Here are some pieces of our ninth grade curriculum. I’d be happy if anything I write helps you in your decision-making process for your own curriculum! I know I scour reviews and blog posts as I look for ways to teach.

Mathematics: Saxon’s Advanced Mathematics (Second Edition)

I selected the Second Edition of Saxon’s Advanced Mathematics because I want the program the way John Saxon designed it, with geometry integrated. Newer editions break away from integrating geometry.

Back in my school days, I used Saxon math from sixth grade Math 7/6 through senior calculus, and so I use my own positive Saxon experience to help teach. Art Reed’s valuable newsletters on his website also helped me tremendously: which books to select, how to address transcripts (You might find it interesting that my own high school transcript titled my year in the Advanced Mathematics book as “Trigonometry,” but when I read forums now, it is discouraged to call the class “trigonometry!”), how to handle bumps in the road using Saxon math, and other fascinating stories to get lost in!

Saxon’s math curriculum routinely defies all mass education norms, and his book Advanced Mathematics (second edition) is no exception:

  • It is not designed to fit neatly into a 180 day school year. (Was math designed for school–or school to teach math?) It is intended to take 3-4 semesters.
  • It mixes material from four different math classes: geometry, advanced algebra, trigonometry, and pre-calculus. (I did supplement geometry with a mix of some extra on-line materials I found for proofs and geometry terminology.)
  • It is incrementally and cumulatively taught such that material from the first lesson will be phased out and then brought back many lessons later for review. It’s not “learn and forget” with Saxon!
  • It continues to be graphically “boring.”
  • Its story problems contain advanced vocabulary and are quite humorous, if you get Saxon’s kind of humor.

My ninth grader seems to pick up math easily, and she has pushed through the Saxon books at a good pace, arriving at Advanced Mathematics. She does half a problem set one day and the other half the next. Since every student deserves a little autonomy (Ha! Such freedom!), she gets to pick if she does even problems one day and odds the next–or if she does problems 1-15 on the first day and then problems 16-30 on the second day.

In years past, since she grasped math quickly and fluently, I would selectively allow her to skip problems (which she knew how to do in her sleep while running from an axe murderer). However, when these old “easy” problems were brought back for review 15-20 lessons later, she had to do them to keep retention. Saxon discourages skipping problems, and I understand why.  This year, we have not skipped problems (and have even added in some extra geometry problems).

Composition: Time for Writing

We tried something different this year for writing, since I’m not a very good writing instructor. I tend to go a lit-tle crazy marking up my kids’ papers. They go a lit-tle crazy defending their work. It gets a lit-tle crazy around the house. (Best to find a new way, yes? Yes.)

We tried out two classes at Time for Writing, a program offering on-line writing classes. (I actually used it for two of my students this year.) How was it? I think that both students increased their writing skills, and I only had to put up with a lit-tle grief– instead of a lot!

  • Work was graded by a teacher, not me.
  • Concise, sequential lessons
  • Helpful deadlines
  • The classes are priced at $119 for 8 weeks, which divides out to be about $15 a week.
  • When I had to correspond with teachers, they were very helpful, kind, and seemed to like communicating with the students and their parents.
  • Actual grades were assigned.
  • Grading seems to be done on a rubric.
  • Variety of writing topics
  • Immediate start date
  • Can extend or pause a class a little bit if needed
  • Most of the actual work is paper writing. There is not much busy work, although there are reasonable on-line assignments and quizzes.

Now what about more of the cons?

Well, if you have a student who struggles with significant writing blocks, I do not suggest this program unless you have a writing tutor or the ability to work cooperatively with your student yourself. For a writer who is afraid to write (or who is motivated to start and has great ideas, but gets writer’s block as soon as she has to type, handwrite, or dictate words), this will still be a tough class and will not address that stumbling block.

However, if you have a student who has no problem getting started with the writing process when he or she puts his or her mind to it, but just doesn’t appreciate your awesome parental feedback or believe in your deadlines, then this certainly could be the program for you. It provides those things! It just doesn’t provide any help for writing block.

Speech

We used Institute for Excellence in Writing’s (IEW) Speech Bootcamp. Loved it! A small group of students met every Friday morning for one semester. The course comes with DVDs, a teacher’s workbook, and a student’s workbook. We followed the syllabus closely. It was clear and easy to follow. Very well designed and user-friendly! The videos were fun and painless to watch.

We added in extra, too: fun speech exercises; some psychology to think about that interferes with our ability to be ourselves in front of a crowd; watching and discussing some famous speeches and speakers; and a scientific presentation. Parents and siblings were invited to class to watch the students’ speeches.

This was a fun class. I liked the IEW Speech Bootcamp because it was so well planned and put together. As a teacher, I could have just followed the workbooks and videos without too much planning. Adding in more was super easy to do without interfering with the flow of what Andrew Pudewa (the Speech Bootcamp teacher) was trying to accomplish.

Closing

Ninth grade has been lots of fun, and it’s stimulating to see the teenage spunk and spirit culminating and exerting itself.

What I have written is not all-inclusive of what we read, do, or learn. We round out our curriculum with history, grammar, music, PE, and classes offered in our community.

Guess that’s all I have to say for today! If you have any questions on our use of Saxon math, Time for Writing, IEW Speech bootcamp, or anything else I’ve mentioned, ask below!

Take good care!

Ninth Grade Curriculum, Part I

De_Re_AnatomicaHere is what our ninth grade curriculum looks like. The ability to tailor education to the individual is by far one of the greatest strengths of homeschooling. Simply amazing!

I love to talk homeschooling and education, so if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I know it can be hard to decide which resources to use to educate your child. There are SOOOOO many out there!

Curriculum

Spanish: We use Spanish Honors Three with Señor Ray Leven via Pennsylvania : Great, intense, live on-line class which meets once a week for a year. During class, Spanish is spoken, and conversation is in Spanish. There is a lot of homework. Expect it. Students read Spanish literature, and they write papers in Spanish. Younger students may need to be coached on time management skills to ensure they keep up with Spanish and their other courses, especially if their other courses are a bit tough. Señor Ray Leven is an amazing teacher. He is honest, frank, and willing to work with you and your student to get them fluently speaking and writing Spanish; his expectations are high, so the student must be willing to give it all he or she has got. But his passion for teaching, Spanish, and student development is unparalleled. His classes are fun, interactive, and witty. If your student really loves Spanish, the financial investment in this class is exceptionally worthwhile.

Biology: We use Miller and Levine’s Biology curriculum. I bought the textbook, the worksheet book, the test book, and the lab manual. Sometimes I do not like the way the textbook presents things. There are gaps or the writing is not clear. When this happens, I supplement with the Campbell Biology book and the Preparing for the Biology AP Exam. I really like the Preparing for the Biology AP Exam book a lot. It takes everything that needs to be known and condenses it into outline form. I use this book to check myself as a teacher at the end of a Miller and Levine chapter/unit. Did I teach my student what was covered here? If not, do I need to? If I am not sure the depth to cover certain topics in, I try to find someone who might know. For example, I don’t like teaching about plants. I didn’t do much plant biology with my pharmacy and medical school background. So I found someone I knew who had a plant emphasis in her background and asked her. She kindly sent me her botany class notes so I would know what to hit well.

The Preparing for the Biology AP Exam book roughly follows the Miller and Levine topic sequence. It follows the Campbell Biology sequence even better, but the Campbell book is written at quite a high reading level and contains too much information.

I find the Miller and Levine worksheets very good, but my student gets bored if we do them for every chapter. So I mix it up. I find worksheets on-line for some chapters. I also use on-line videos and documentaries to try to keep biology interesting for her.

Lastly for this section, you may be wondering if my student will take the AP Biology test since I am using the AP Exam book I mentioned. I may suggest to her that she does this. However, I find the concept of AP classes and exams somewhat repulsive. I feel like it is a money-making scheme which boxes students in and squashes the creativity and fascination of learning. If my homeschooled students can do well on any AP exams, fine. But I feel like my whole 23 years of institutionalized education did nothing but make me a monkey who follows orders. I am hoping for better for my children.

Closing

I’ll get the rest of the curriculum up in posts which follow. I adore homeschooling, and I am super grateful that our country (the United States) allows it. I mean, it should allow it! But there are many countries in the world which I consider fine countries, countries which I love (or would love) to visit, which do NOT allow homeschooling AT ALL. But American independence and free-thought thrives, and I’m proud of that. Love to all. Be proud that your neighbor can have such radically different thoughts and opinions than you do. It is a neat thing! Go for curiosity, not animosity! Curious minds LEARN! Angry minds shut down.

Terri F.

Image attribution: De Re Anatomica is in the public domain. {PD-Art} {{PD-US-expired}}

How Long Does it Take to Teach a Fourth Grader?

Syllable notesA while back, a non-homeschooling mom friend was intrigued that my homeschooled, elementary-aged children were mostly done with “formal” school by lunch time.

To me, it was no big deal. It’s just the way it is with homeschooling. You move forward by capability rather than blocked off time and required busy work. But she thought it was fascinating, so I thought I would share how we get through a fourth grade school day in about 3-4 hours rather than 7-8.

We spend 20-30 minutes on math.

We spend 20-30 minutes on language arts (grammar, spelling, and writing).

Ten minutes on handwriting (cursive).

We spend about one hour on Spanish.

About 15-20 minutes on history and geography.

About 15-20 minutes on music.

We incorporate daily silent sustained reading.

We cycle through art, science, and poetry at different times of the year in different ways. Doing a sporting activity is important to our family, and we make sure the kids are exposed to and find a sport they enjoy.

That’s about three or four hours of school. A little more if you count the evening sports activities.

With the rest of the time, there are playdates, meal cooking, some laundry, plenty of giggling in the family, Lego building, and some technology time.

Not everyone would want to homeschool, but if you get the chance, it’s an amazing experience. If you love to learn, and you can share that with your child in such a way that sparks and inspires them, what a gift. I try to push my kids as far as they will allow me to, but pull back just before they burn out.

There are a couple of things that I’m really pleased with about our curriculum. I am really happy that we have time to teach cursive, which is being removed from the modern public curriculum. I really would like my kids to be able to read any old fascinating family letters and also historic, legal documents. (I would like my kids to be able to read the Constitution first-hand.)

I am also happy that my kids will be bilingual because we have started their Spanish instruction at such a young age. It does take the longest of all the subjects taught.

Lastly, although this post summary reflects the time it took my older kids when they were in fourth grade, too, it no longer reflects their current schedule. In addition to a fourth grader, I also homeschool a ninth grader and seventh grader (and a preschooler). The older kids’ work takes much longer.

Have a great day!

Stop the Homeschool Tears and Yelling, Part 2

Scathing words. Hard crystal eyes. “It’s your fault, Mom. You asked for it. If I was in school, we wouldn’t have this problem. If you can’t teach me, you shouldn’t have homeschooled.”

Well. Huh. This isn’t going well. Accusing responses build loudly, sounding like a jackhammer in my head. Somewhere in the house I hear doors softly close as siblings retreat out of the fray. Do I take the bait? I know this path. It’s easy to follow.

Nope. Not this time. I’m done with that. I make a mental HARD STOP. Immediately. I am not a fish! I do not jump on dirty worms hiding nasty barbed hooks. It is my job to bring out the best in my four children. It is my job to bring out the best in myself as I bring out the best in my children. (So help me, God. Because I am going to need it.)

I have been homeschooling for ten years, and I love it. And I’ll tell you what! My kids do, too. We have had our moments, months, or even years. There have been maybe two or three times when I finally broke down, couldn’t think of another thing to try, and offered to send a child to school for classes. (It is my full intention to homeschool all four of my kids through high school, but I am not here to ruin my children’s lives. I am here to help them thrive, learn, and be the best they can be, inside and out.)

However, my children have always turned me down in the end. They decided they liked the homeschooling education and opportunities, and they wanted to find a way to work together. I know I am the adult here. I know I can find a way to understand the dynamics. I was gifted these human beings. In today’s post and in the last post, I explain some important thoughts that I consider to keep me from antagonizing my children.

The Reflection of Me I Refuse to See

I am consistently beginning to notice that when my kids irritate me as I teach them, it’s because I am looking at (often subdued) pieces of myself. Every time tears glisten in my children’s eyes, there’s a good chance I have provoked them because “Big Terri” (that’s me) is reliving “Little Terri’s” life and school inadequacies. I’m not teaching math or grammar anymore! I’m covertly “teaching” my child what I had to squash out of me (or call forth out of me) in order to “succeed” in school.

Be quiet. Sit down. Do math faster. Lose math facts chalkboard races again. Quit counting on your fingers; you’re too old for that. Stop talking. No whining. Pay attention. You’re a good reader, but not good enough for that class. That’s bad handwriting; look at Melanie’s. Be number one or nobody will care or notice. How can you be so smart and not be able to add fractions? You talk too much. You’re trying to learn German, and we’re working on spelling. We’ll spank you because strong enough to be an example.

These are voice loops from my school experience. (And the paragraph got way too long, so I took half of it out! Laugh till you cry! And I was a good student! What kind of voices do non-conforming adults carry in their school memories?) Anyhow, I see an awful realization:

My teachers and lessons have become my kids’ teachers and lessons nearly thirty years later!

So often, whatever it is that I am losing my temper about is really about me. I am looking at a piece of me or my life somehow. It can take me months to see that I am so angry because my child is:

  • doing something I do,
  • doing something I have done,
  • doing something I have been reprimanded for or embarrassed over,
  • or showing me a trait of mine that I have squashed down so deep in me that I don’t even know the struggle is there anymore.

When I finally do see how it is not my child that I am punishing, but me, I’m dumbfounded. It takes courage and curiosity to see it. I have asked my friends sometimes about traits that I see in my children and if I have any of that in me. “Hmm. Never seen that in you, Terri. You’re perfect.” Thank you, dear friends. I know perfection surrounds itself with good company.

I must see that I’m judging myself when I judge them.

Stuff a sock in your thoughts and compliment your child.

Kids thrive on accurate, TRUE praise. I have very high standards, so I begrudgingly compliment my kids about their schoolwork. It’s expected work. But I KNOW that my kids do better when I tell them, “Great job!” Or, “You’re really good in multiplication.” The hard thing is, compared to all that is stuffed in my brain, they’re, uh, well, honestly, they’re not good at reading, writing, and math.

Whoa. I know. It sounds horrible to read. But I subconsciously base my evaluation of my kids on my brain after successful completion of thirteen years of public school, five years of pharmacy school, four years of medical school, and a medical residency. Plus living over forty years.

So, yeah, stuff a sock in your thoughts, Terri. I have to consciously tell myself that I need to encourage and compliment my children each day in each area. Sometimes it feels fake and like flattery, but I know that’s because I am thinking about it from a brain that has been educated already.

I must compliment more.

Sit with them.

This is the hardest for me, actually. Strangely, it’s even harder than all the others! And it requires nothing.

Sit. (That’s hard.)

Sit. Quietly. (Oh, just give me a kidney stone already.)

I’ve got lunch to make and supper to plan. Laundry to fold. Bills to pay. Mom’s birthday coming up. Other kids’ lessons to teach. A four year old to pull away from the TV.

I don’t have time to sit here for thirty minutes, mostly in silence, just waiting for my child to move forward somehow. What sixty minutes now? What? Two hours? Are you kidding me? She has accomplished nothing and brought me down with her.

No! This won’t work! I need to show my student how to her work, hurry her along to show me she’s got it, and then move on. Check-box marked.

But homeschooling doesn’t work that way. When there are struggles, especially coming out in anger and tears, I have learned that I must sit quietly with my kids as they work. I must not ask inflammatory questions or hastily push them along. I must be there to help. Not degrade. When they’re mad at me and trying to explain themselves, I must not interrupt. I must not even interrupt their silence! I must sit in silence as they formulate their words, sometimes requiring long, long tens-of-minutes of silence. I must sit next to them as they struggle through math, keeping my voice and thoughts calm and focused on them.

I must sit in silence.

School is an Option

When I’ve exhausted everything, every opportunity, and I still feel like what I’m doing is making us both worse people, then, I ask the hard question. “Do you think you need to go to school to learn this? Would you and I be better together if you took this class, and others if it leads to that, at a school?”

There has come a point in which I knew my parent-child relationship was deteriorating due to homeschooling interactions. I knew that in a particular area in homeschooling, I was letting a child down. I knew that even though I was trying my best, I wasn’t doing a good job! And I told my child exactly this. I think because of my exceptional honesty, my child decided that whereas she had been unwilling to budge before, she wanted to try it again with both us trying even harder.

I must be willing to let go if I have to.

You Should Have Made Me Do It

When I meet resistance in my children, I usually stop and assess the situation. I make some tweaks and changes in what we’re doing to coax them along. I don’t usually just plow through and make them do things “because I said so.” I’m a very strong-willed person, and this is a sure-fire way to lose me; therefore, I am cautious to treat my children how I would like to be treated.

I recently was in combat with one of my older children who was pointing out that I had let her slide through a school subject in her younger years. (I had tried everything throughout the years, and it only created resentment and anger. So I put it off till I could put it off no longer.) I asked her now that she could look back, what should I have done? She said, “You should have just made me do it.” Sigh. Easy for her to say.

At select times, I must be willing to push my child past the point she thinks she’s capable of.

Conclusion

And there you have it. Since they were born, I see my children as PEOPLE with futures. I just got lucky enough that these people got put in my arms to tend. When yelling and tears happen, I step back and take inventory. WHAT can we do here? WHAT is REALLY happening here? WHAT am I missing? God gave me these people. Their His people. What does He want me to know about them? What does He want ME to know about ME?

Best wishes to you! Find a way!

Terri F

Stop the Homeschool Tears and Yelling, Part 1

Listen. I love my kids so much. We all do. I mean mine are the best. Shine like stars. Thanks for loving them, too.

Okay. Kidding.

We all love our own kids immensely. We want the best for them. If you homeschool, you’ve decided that your home is the best place for them to learn their academics. But sometimes, there’s a kid who always makes you yell, even if you just won a million dollars, tax-free.

There’s one who you always make cry. You tell her she’s pretty in a harsh voice and she tears up. And you tell her she stinks in a soft, loving voice and she glows. Kids are crazy.

We have tears and yelling sometimes in our homeschool. It happens. Some years more frequently than others. Some school topics more frequently than others. Some kids more frequently than others. We have had tears or yelling over:

  • Where to put the apostrophe in English contractions
  • Whether to add or subtract numbers in elementary school story problems and pre-algebra problems (Example: Solve for X when X-357 =120)
  • Writing thoughts down on paper to construct paragraphs or essays
  • Failed crafts
  • The feeling that too much school work has been assigned
  • My voice
  • Their voice
  • Their eyes
  • My eyes
  • Critical remarks from on-line teachers
  • Not fitting in anywhere

Yep. We’ve had tears and yelling. Yelling and tears, to me, mean something is wrong. Something is not right. It does not mean my child is defiant. It means something is wrong, and the buck stops with me.

I’m going to assume if you’re reading this that you have tried the take-a -break, go-get- coffee, hold-hands-and-pray posts. You’ve learned all that. You’ve remembered to use your resources and identify learning styles. All that jazz.

Today and the next post, I want to point out a few ideas that I have internalized which have helped me through our trying homeschooling experiences, so we can stop the tears and yelling. I could write an e-book on this one day, I think. 🙂 But I’ll keep it somewhat short.

When I have to repeat myself, we’re heading for trouble.

From tricky (to the kids) math concepts to writing expository essays, when I hear myself explaining things I’ve explained before, I can tell you one of us will come to tears, exasperated words, or yelling. Whether it’s explaining something repeatedly in four different ways over the course of ten minutes or explaining it in thirty seconds reminders repeatedly over the last month, if they can’t remember important information or processes, I get testy.

The condescending questions start insidiously, “Why aren’t you getting this?” and “Why is this difficult for you?” They’re asked innocently enough, but they are the START flag to the race. My kids commence looking down at their papers, doodling, looking away from me. In their own ways, they’re trying to avert this situation, too, although it’s usually counterproductive.

So when I see myself explaining something multiple times, I know I’m on thin ice and I have to make sure I’m using every single adult neuron in my brain. I know if I don’t change my past behaviors, we will not move forward in any way, shape, or form. And that’s not okay. When the sign says, “Bridge out.” It means the bridge is out! When the signs say, “argument coming.” That’s what they mean!

Evaluate the fear in the situation.

Why do I deteriorate as a teacher and parent when my kids aren’t “getting it?” I have tried my hardest! My kid (yes, whether I believe it or not) has tried her hardest (as she perceives it). Why are we both so frustrated that she’s not getting it?

FEAR. And it is said that fear leads to anger, and anger leads to hate. Whether it’s hating me, hating our homeschool, or hating writing, I don’t want my child to have anything to do with hating anything!

What fears do we have?

Mom’s fears:

  • My child is getting behind and is not keeping up with her peers.
  • Grandma and Grandpa are keeping tabs on our education, and here is another example for them to say I’m not doing a good job homeschooling.
  • My child won’t perform well on standardized tests (and college admission tests).
  • My child might have a learning disorder.
  • My child will never get this!
  • I can’t think of any more ways to teach this!
  • My child does not listen well and is going to grow up to be an absent-minded or insolent adult.
  • I must be a bad teacher.
  • My child does not try and will be lazy and not get a job in the real world.
  • My child will not be prepared for college.
  • I’m running out of time to get lunch made.
  • I’m running out of time to help brother and sisters with their homeschool topics.
  • I’m running out of time before we have to make this appointment.

Student’s fears:

  • I’m letting mom down.
  • I’ll never get this stuff. I’m not smart enough.
  • I really can’t remember what I’m told.
  • Mom is mad at me.
  • I won’t make it in college.
  • I will do badly on standardized tests.
  • I won’t have time to play with my friends if I have to do all this stuff.
  • Mom is going to give me more homework if I can’t figure this out.
  • Mom is disappointed in me.
  • Mom and Dad won’t love me if I can’t do school right.
  • I’m not as smart as my parents or brothers and sisters.
  • I’m going to have a late lunch because we’re working on this, and I’m so hungry.

That’s a lot of fear going around! Once I identify the fears, I come from a place of compassion for myself and my child–and not anger. That’s a healthier place to parent and teach from.

Conclusion

To summarize today’s post: 1) If you have homeschool tears and yelling, well, join the club! 2) Try the usual suggested things to head them off. (Take a break, change curriculum, find a friend to teach your kid, modify the environment, etc.) 3) Know you are responsible for finding a peaceful way through this homeschooling dilemma. 4) Identify the signs that pop up every time you have homeschool tears and yelling and heed them! 5) Give words to the fears behind the tears and yelling!

Kids are amazing. And so are you. Figure it out! You can do it!

Part 2 on Monday!

Terri

 

Why Can’t I Do Both?

Lazy and lame. Someone scathingly wrote to me that I was lazy and lame because I quit working as a medical doctor and instead chose to stay home with my four kids and homeschool. The words stung a little, but it’s nothing my own mind hasn’t wrestled with over the last seven years since staying home. I mean, there ARE moms who actually do BOTH homeschooling and doctoring! I know it IS possible. I’m a pretty capable woman, so I have often wondered why I “couldn’t” do both! In my life, I have confidence that I can handle most challenges thrown at me. In fact, a sure-fire way to guarantee I do something is to tell me I can’t!

Why, then, could I not “handle” work and homeschooling simultaneously? I mean, deep inside, I romanticize about being the mom who runs kids, always has extra kids around, has fresh meals on the table, volunteers in the community, is always there for her friends, desires her husband each night, pays the bills, exercises, keeps a neat house, attends social functions, reads good books, and is loved at the workplace. Other women say they do it successfully and happily!

No Satisfaction in Both

I know I’m not “other women,” but I curiously, deeply wondered what it is about me that prevented satisfaction when I did both. (Because I can sure tell you there was NO satisfaction or good humor when I did both, despite the fact that I LOVED doing EACH!) I just can’t be that, and I have to keep forging a life that keeps me true to my inner core. (I think that’s a unique thing in life. To step INTO yourself and say, “Yes, I feel really good. THIS fits me.” And to find a way to make that work for you, your family, and society.)

Back to my meanie accuser. I realized that this person and I may never see eye to eye because we simply do not have the same wiring, the same mother board, the same values. I am not here to tell moms to quit their jobs. I have a best friend who I told to get back in the work force—get back in there! Go for partnership. This woman needs to work or she’ll drive herself (and me) crazy. Work keeps her grounded and focused, even though she has four kids at home.

But not me. I pondered this now that time has passed and softened the emotions surrounding the transition from practicing medical doctor to being a stay-at-home mom. What is it about my wiring and my mother board that won’t allow me to peacefully work and homeschool?

Run Back to the Convent

My mom must have sensed something strange about me, because she used to tell me I should be a nun. “You’re running the wrong way, Maria,” I would have screamed as The Sound of Music‘s heroine danced and sang herself back to the Von Trapp home. “You’re running towards chaos! Go back to PEACE and ORDER! Go back to the convent, I say! When they tried to solve a problem like Maria, the nuns must have subtracted wrong. They got the wrong answer! You’re doomed! Return to the inner sanctity of order and quiet!”

No. Kidding. I didn’t really need to be a nun, but there definitely is something appealing about those quiet stone halls and methodical rituals! I love being a mom and teaching my four daughters. They’re bright. Loving. Talented. Kind. And I get to teach them every day! We can run into a lot of chaos homeschooling, but introspection has taught me that at the end of the day, I must have–or be moving towards– peace and order in each area of my life:

  • my kitchen
  • my stack of bills
  • my laundry room
  • my purse
  • my relationship with my husband
  • my relationships with my kids
  • my relationships with my friends
  • my relationship with God
  • my teaching
  • my health
  • my schedule
  • my text message and e-mail in-boxes

I’ve been called a perfectionist before, which I see now is somewhat of an error! I see how I and others could confuse them. For me, it’s not perfectionism, but it’s the pursuit of peace and order which makes me feel good inside. The house doesn’t need dusted as long as it’s picked up! I’ve been called controlling before, too. Again, maybe. But not really. “Honey, you didn’t put the garlic press back where it goes. It’s out of order…”

When I Was Working and Homeschooling

Anyhow, when I was working at the hospital as a medical doctor, I came home exhausted. I hadn’t lunched, supped, peed, or pooped. I carried two pagers (the code pager and the on-call pager) and the “house” phone. I was busy. I ran to codes, sick patients in the ICU, and had 5-7 patients waiting to be admitted to the hospital from the ER. It was fun. It was hard. But when I came home, my core value need could not be overridden. I needed order and peace.

Instead, I was greeted by sticky hands full of love. Couch cushions on the floor and blankets draping the chairs to create imaginative tents. And mail partly opened and tossed haphazardly on the counter for me to organize. Once, I even came home to find that tiny, nimble fingers had moved my great-grandmother’s fine china dinnerware all around from its protective nook.

School was expected to run on my days off, yet I hadn’t had time to organize my lessons. Get art supplies. Run through a craft or activity to see if it would work the way Pinterest said it would. My child didn’t do school the way I wanted. We (are supposed to) start at the left and we work to the right. We (are supposed to) fold our papers in the middle. And we don’t scribble-scrabble all over them!

PEACE. ORDER. Those are intrinsic needs for me and drive how I interact with life, my environment, and my people. No matter how many different things I tried, I couldn’t align my deep needs for peace and order with working and homeschooling simultaneously. Since family and education are other values that I cannot compromise, fully embracing motherhood and homeschooling and forfeiting professional goals (which don’t seem to drive me as much as peace and order, family, and education) felt much more comfortable and fulfilling. I do not regret my decision.

Conclusion

I hope you know that what you do is important. How you do it is important. How you feel when you do it is important. Strive to find out what makes you tick, and create a wonderful life which fulfills you and makes a difference where you want to make a difference at! If you’re struggling and you can change your mindset and that takes care of it, go for it! But if you try different routes, different techniques, and your mindset just won’t budge, maybe you should have been a nun. No. Kidding. Maybe you need to find out exactly what it is that’s not able to compromise deep within you and honor it.

How about you? Do you have greater needs for peace and order than other people? Does this need affect your work-home relationship? Do you fervently seek peace and order in all areas, including your own head? What happens when you have to be exposed to too much disorder and chaos? How does it make your body feel? How about your head?

May good blessings fall upon you today!

Terri F.

Image attribution: St. Lucas altarpiece, Andrea Mantegna, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrea_Mantegna_019.jpg

 

 

My Biggest Homeschooling Challenge

The other day, someone wrote to ask me about my biggest homeschooling challenge. I referred to it in a post I wrote about five years ago: Why We Homeschool. I thought my response to Barb might resonate with other passionate, intense homeschooling women who frequently fight their high expectations, so I wanted to share it here. The image at left is meant to be humorous and NOT indicative of our homeschooling days!

 

Dear Barb,

Hello! Thanks for reading! I had to go back and read that post from five years ago–and that’s what took me so long! (Finding time is a big challenge!) I hope you’re doing well, as is your family! And homeschooling is thriving! You asked about my “biggest” challenge.

My biggest challenge. Yes! My biggest challenge is overcoming myself. Homeschooling forces me to overcome MYSELF. My inherent tendencies. My little hang-ups. My natural (and developed) habits. These children are people, and they’re amazing! But (at least mine) they weren’t born neat and tidy. They weren’t born quiet. They weren’t born believing that mom is right. They weren’t born wanting to do their work. Mine weren’t born knowing how to express themselves. And so on and so forth.

And I feel like I WAS born to be neat and tidy. I WAS born to be tranquil. I do think I’m always right (ha!). I was born a worker. I’m super expressive and make friends easily. I’m sure I wasn’t born this way (Haha! Right!? Or was I?…), but it sure feels like it now! I am a perfectionist set in my ways who likes to succeed. (Oh, my. That sounds horrible.) So forcing myself to step back patiently, yet persistently, to reach our goals without squashing who each child-person was (is)—was (is) super hard! I want to jump in like a Tasmanian devil homeschooling mommy and whip them all into the little beings that they are to be. But, alas, I know in my heart that’s not possible or desirable.

Learning to cut myself out of the picture, while still pushing the children so they could (can) bloom, grow, and succeed in the future all alone without me (and my husband), was (is) really hard. Dealing with the chaos. Noise. Mess. Stubbornness.  Lazy bone-ness. The inability to be able to share what’s on their minds/hearts because they’re still learning feelings and words for them. Accepting the mundaneness that sets in when the thrill of all the new learning and teaching is over. (Because homeschooling is exciting at first, with all the new things to learn and ways to get your child to learn. But then after a time, 90% of the day, you kind of go on cruise control. You’ve got it mostly figured out– how the day needs to go and how your children learn. Then, it gets a little mundane. And you kind of question what you’re doing.) Are you really making a difference in the world like you meant to back when you were 20?

And there are other hectic, frenetic days. Where nothing goes right at all. And nothing happens the way it’s supposed to. And this goes on for a week or two (or more). And panic sets in because there’s no “good” school. And I feel mad and angry and controlling. Learning to rein that in with love and compassion and a heavy dose of reality checking. (I mean, seriously. In public school, there are tons of days where classes are not structured and linear. Snow days. Holidays. Fire drill days. Teacher institute days. Picture days. Substitute teacher days.)

So my challenge is ME. That is it. That is my challenge. It’s not an exciting challenge. It’s not anything risqué or mysterious. But it’s my biggest homeschooling challenge. Controlling me, my fears, my perfectionism, and my expectations! Letting my children become amazing adults on their own terms and not mine, while still educating them according to the standards I think they’ll need to have a job they excel at and enjoy one day. (So I can finally sit around and eat bon bons.)

Hope you have a great weekend and that you love homeschooling as much as I do!

Terri F

Written:
11/9/2018
Image attribution: Hans Holbein [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Page: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koerperstrafe-_MA_Birkenrute.png