Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Trial Period Has Expired

These first two weeks were meant to be a "trial period" to see how this was all going to work - one ADHD six-year-old, nine subjects (math, language, reading, phonics/spelling, Bible, history, science, art/music appreciation, Spanish), one very busy two year old, an increasingly demanding one year old, one mommy who so badly wants to be able to schedule her day down to the letter...anyone else see trouble written on the wall? At the end of this two weeks and I am not sure where to go from here. I don't even know what this post will end up like. I am hoping that typing it out will give me some clarity!

Here's what I feel good about after the first two weeks:
  • Thatcher has enjoyed being back in a routine. He never argues or fusses when I announce it's time to start school, and honestly he never has! I know the day may come but am thankful it's not here yet. That's not to say that I don't at times get a little attitude during some of our lessons but it's not a feeling that pervades the day.
  • Horizons is a hit again this year. Thatcher loves math and still says it's his favorite subject. Even without reviewing flash cards all summer it just took a few days of review to be back where we left off at the end of the year.
  • Teaching our Family Rules to Thatcher has been a great thing. He memorized all ten rules last week and we used them as our first copywork this week. It's not as if we did not have rules in our home before but having them "officially" written out has been so helpful...not only for a little boy who sees the world in black and white but especially for his mommy who can tend to make a big deal out of every little thing. Now I try to focus on these ten things and let other things slide a little more.
  • We are enjoying Wisdom and the Millers tremendously. I have recommended these books to so many people - homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike. It's so wonderful to have literary role models for our children. Thatcher has really connected with the Miller children and talks about Peter (the oldest of the Miller children) as if he were a friend. It has dove-tailed beautifully with our discussion of family rules as well.
  • Writing our daily assignments on the white board has been great too. Thatch is very visual and seeing him progress his way down the list is very gratifying for him. On the other hand, it's a little stressful for me when I don't feel like it's all getting done!
Things to think about:
  • Beckett is extremely intolerant of my leaving him - period - for me to use the restroom, answer the phone, or especially to help Thatcher. Granted he has been sick most of these first two weeks but it is something that was happening with increasing frequency prior to his illnesses. We are trying to do as much school as possible during his two naps but Thatcher is pretty wiped out by the afternoon one. I need to be certain we are getting everything except history or science done before this time.
  • Haddon adores being a part of Thatcher's school. He wants to be in the room as much as possible and just beams the entire time. It's a hard thing though because Thatch is so easily distracted and little brother just adds one more thing he has to tune out. Is is fair to Thatcher to have one more distraction? Is it fair to Haddon to be excluded because brother can't concentrate? Don't know what the right answer is here - just thinking "out loud."
  • We are struggling to get everything done and we haven't even added history, science, Spanish, language and art/music appreciation. Yikes! Thatcher truly needs me beside him all day long to stay on task. No matter how motivated he is, how easy, interesting, or hard the subject matter is - once I walk away he is off-task almost instantly. Timers sometimes work but more often he fixates on them and watches the time tick away. I am considering waking him up at 6:00 am each morning which would give us an hour to work before his brothers wake up. This would make Thatcher's require an earlier bedtime but it may be worth the trade-off??? It is so frustrating to have a little guy whose brain is so incredibly capable - beyond his years in many subjects - yet who is too often unable to reach his potential because of that very same brain!
  • To help with the "distraction factor" I am starting a ticket-reward system next week. Thatcher will earn tickets for completing assignments in a given amount of time and will have tickets taken away for getting off-task. The tickets can be spent at our school store once a week - or he can save up for bigger prizes. Some of the things I already have purchased for our school store - glo-sticks, Schleich dinosaurs, a yo-yo, Star Wars Legos I found on clearance, matchbox cars, small gum and candies, coupons for: a McDonald's ice cream with mommy or daddy/ game-time with mommy or daddy/stay up and watch a video after brothers go to sleep/extra computer or Leapster time/mommy to read an extra chapter during read-a-loud time and so on. I will buy some larger prizes to provide an incentive for him to work toward something bigger, too.
  • I have hesitated making a daily schedule because of my fear I would get obsessive about it. I am now thinking that making this type of a schedule is a must; we simply have too much to accomplish in a day for me to keep it all in my head! I just have to remember that I am the "master" and it is "slave" (sorry for the non-pc descriptions) to our needs/wants/desires - not the other way around.
Well, I still am not sure where I am going from here but once again, it helps just to get it all out. Anyone out there have any suggestions or ideas?


Koinonia Academt est. 1995 said...

(((Hi Jennifer))), these ( ) are email hugs! Just want to pipe in and say I think you are doing a great job!

Its first grade.... May I suggest focus on core things and then add in as time permits? Maybe schedule quarterly? History one quarter, science the next? Only suggestions....

These first few years are for basics and skills to be mastered, so he will then be able to apply them. You can add in the other things as you settle into a routine.... again... just suggestions....

I’m cheering and rooting for you!


Jenny in Ca said...


sounds like the normal homeschool mom things to deal with...I hope that helps you not feel like you are failing.

I am so schedule challenged...and I know what you mean about not getting things done, despite not having the other subjects even added in yet! I told my husband last night that I was a failure at
'summer'..we are not even homeschooling yet!!

the ticket idea is great..I might steal, uh borrow that.

I am cheering for you too!! Keep us updated!

Sheryl in GA said...

You are such a brave and courageous woman to attempt all those subjects! Here's what I'm doing and I'm a rookie so take it for what its worth.

My dd Hope is five and in Kindergarten also a Haddon (after Charles Haddon Spurgeon) has just turned three.

Hope does Saxon Math 1, Sing Spell Read Write Level 1 , and SOTW Ancients. I try to do these three things four days a week leaving Friday open for catch up , more time for history project or just a day off! Science I hit really heavy last year with a self made group called Discovery this year science is simply me reading aloud to her three nights a week in some great science books I ordered. We are on the human body right now. Bible I passed on to my hubby who has the seminary degree after all. He will be picking this up at the end of August and will do her Awana with her and some memory work on the westminster catechism for kids. I think I'll put spanish off til 2nd grade so I can focus on the basics these first three years. The hard part is my three year old who is way more of a whiner than his sister was. I tried your painters tape road idea and he just begged for someone to play with him. I spend Hope's chore time playing with him before school starts and this helps a bit. So our loose schedule is get Hope up by 8:00. Breakfast..chores for Hope and play with her brother. Start Math which Hugh Haddon can do along with us. Hope work on worksheet idepen. while I give little Bro some more attention. Check mathwork...turn over and give back of worksheet to little brother.He wants it. Break and Snack if needed. If not go straight into phonics. History I save for when brother is napping and Hope has had some down time or we all do it together if he is on a no napping day of the week. It's all trial and error at this point but we survived the first two weeks..God has been faithful and is teaching me patience. He will fit me for the task He has laid out for me...He will He will He will...I tell this to myself alot lately as I sit up dog tired at night planning or cleaning. And tonight is a date night so I am actually going to look like a young woman in her early thirties..YIPEEE.

Thanks for sharing your story and journey, Sheryl In GA

Heidi said...

Oh, do I feel your pain. :) I'm guessing that will sound much like us come September. No advice. Just hugs (( ))!

I was also trying to imagine what my day would look like if I was getting *everything* done that I needed to. It was too much for my brain to handle. :) I'm a visual person, so getting a 'schedule' written down on paper was helpful. Even just for me to 'let it go.'

I do hope to work up to something similar to the schedule I wrote down, but want it to feel more like a routine than things that have to happen at a specific time. I get too stressed when unexpected things come up if I expect to maintain a schedule, but I need something visible/tangible to work toward or nothing will happen. :)

I agree that it is important to get to the core subjects and let other things go if need be. I'm guessing your boys get a lot of learning done informally.

Anna said...

I love the Miller books. We are going to be using Missionary Stories with the Millers this year!