Completed: first year of Homeschooling-2018

It’s been about a year now. We will finally have finished one year of homeschooling after my daughter’s recital June 10th. What have I learned? Homeschooling is hard, and not for the faint of heart. I make mistakes. Often. I have friends who genuinely don’t really like spending tons of time with their kids. Homeschooling would NOT be for them. I have friends who go to work to escape their kids. Homeschooling would NOT be for them, either. Homeschooling is intense. Its personal. It involves the whole family, working together as a team. It really is seeing your kids, their different learning styles and trying to grab onto those 5 second interests to get them excited about learning more.

I realized right away, that homeschooling doesn’t need to look like, nor should I try to make it ANYTHING like regular school. I used to be a high school special education and transition teacher. I made the mistake of trying to do school at home, like I did in public school. The thing is, the biggest reason public school fails our kids, is making school a one-size shoe box to fit all learners. This is not how people learn. This is not how my kids learn. Homeschooling should NOT look like public school. It should be learning in our pjs, letting them eat a snack and drink hot cocoa. Allowing kids the opportunity to listen to their own bodies, recognize their own needs to get food, use the bathroom, or take a brain break and not have it dictated to them when they can eat, pee, or pause from learning. The classroom needs to look like real life…in the kitchen, in the car, at the dentist office, out in nature. It should look like whatever makes them comfortable while learning something new, and finding that subject that they are fascinated by to help inspire them to want to learn more.

Want to know what worked the best for us this year? Gameschooling. Yep, you heard that right. Game- schooling. (If you are interested in knowing more about gameschooling, go to THIS site. It is eye opening!) We play games. My kids learn more playing games than anything, because right now their interest levels, attention span, and desire for fun are at the gaming level. Plus, it helps my kids see their dad and I play board and card games frequently and so they want to play like us. My 4 year old knows the 50 states and about half the capitals or state nicknames right now. At 4!! My 7 year old has mastered addition with games and her reading skills just took off. Even my 2 year old has picked up on counting to three, as well as some color recognition, and knows about five states because of gameschooling. Mostly my daughter is the one we were homeschooling this past year, but the benefits have already really paid off with her siblings as well.

Another factor we struggled with, was making sure my daughter, who is very social, got her social interaction she wanted. We had a lot of hit and miss with people not showing up for play dates and such in the fall. But it turned out that our joining some coops was all we needed to make things work. Now we do a Tuesday Adventures Ahead group that is very good at meeting regularly for 2 hours (though we personally have failed the last 2 weeks with illnesses that turned out to be just allergies, sigh). We have a Thursday general music class with Tacoma Area Homeschool Band. The kids have a science class at the Tacoma Nature Center they have equally loved. I have found that we all do better, when we are out and about. My kids have always been active and busy. We do better as a family when we are outdoors and active. When I say “do better,” I mean less yelling and bickering and fighting amongst eachother when we are home.

What plans do I hope to change and make for next school year? Well… I hope to make our homeschool, more informally year round. I mean, we are all constantly learning! I plan to have us stay active by having the weekly coops. We will have a PE class next year and adding a full day coop of classes, but it will also be important to incorporate down time. We will need this because I am also due with our fourth and final kid in December. I will be one tired mama. I plan to do a lot of gameschooling. I hope to have my older two kids doing some Raddish Kids cooking classes, and still do Tacoma Nature Center Science classes. I hope to have a better “afternoon” homeschooling structure since that is when the youngest naps, and the perfect amount of time for homeschool work. But this is also the time I crash and pass out as well… so I will need to finagle this a bit. I also realize that my daughter learns equally as well at night, as she does during the day. If not better. She is a night owl like her daddy, and this may be the time where her dad could help with the math portion of homeschooling and have some one on one time that she so desperately wants with him.

I want to add, emphasis on “I hope” because… plans change. Life happens. We will go with the flow and learn as we go. They will only be in kindergarten and 2nd grade. They don’t need to know everything and I want them to still just be kids. There is a lot going on in the world today. I want them to stay young for as long as they can. I have to give myself some grace with homeschooling as well.

I have learned a lot this year, obviously. I am still learning as I go. I will share my “Why we homeschool” post and “The Games We Love” post in the near future.

The Home-School Adventure Begins

School has begun. The school lists were sent out. Supplies were bought. But this year is different. Everyone started school today; everyone else but our family. We are at our favorite place on the planet, Orcas Island.

We are enjoying the first few days of un-schooling, or the back-to-school rush, by just being a family and figuring out what this all means. Going down to the beach to explore crabs and jellyfish? Yep. Watching Orcas off the beach teach their young to hunt? Yep. Having our kids work on cooking skills? Yep. The best place for our kids to learn, is with us.

I have been asked my reasons for homeschooling. I have been asked with a inquisitive side glance, after stating we are homeschooling, “You are homeschooling? Wow. You are brave. Why are you doing it?” Is it really brave? Should homeschooling be this daunting task? Or should it be something that just comes naturally? We want our kids to be happy and healthy, but also be successful. So my plan is to teach my kids to be successful, so that if they wish to learn something new they can do so on their own. I want to instill in them a passion for learning, so that they can always be curious and seek to understand the world and people around them.

Generally, the questions posed are, “Why?” Why home school? Why take on the huge burden of my kids education? Why, when there are teachers that can do it? That “Why” is a huge loaded question that cannot be easily answered. When people try looking up homeschooling and how to start homeschooling, that “Why” is actually what weighs most on a parent’s heart. Each family has their own reasons. Each family knows that there just is something missing from their kids education, and know that whatever it is that is missing, its important enough to pursue the option of homeschooling that more and more people are coming to find as the right solution for them.

The first thing for a family who chooses to homeschool should do, is to create a mission statement. Mission statement? Why one of those? I’m not a cooperation or nonprofit. Our homeschool isn’t serving anyone else but our own family. The Mission statement will serve as a reminder as to “WHY” you are choosing to homeschool. It is something that you can look at and return to over and over again, especially in those moments where you question “Why the hell am I doing this?” Let’s be honest here…. those moments will come. I am not kidding myself. I know that my patience will run low, I will question why we are doing this. I will wonder if I am doing the right thing. But this mission statement will remind me over and over again the very personal “Why” reasons our family has chosen this path to education.

So, I will be sharing our homeschool journey on this page. We are just starting this new adventure and I will share our mission statement, our mock schedules, curriculum we chose, what works for us, and what does not. Most importantly, I will share what sites I have gone to for support and backup.

Have you considered homeschooling? What is holding you back? If you are homeschooling already, what were your reasons?

Terrific Tuesdays! Why I love them!

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I love to read. I also love to watch movies. Tuesdays are the days that new releases in both literature and film are available to the general public. I love this day!

Especially today! I am a huge fan of Michelle Sagara West. She writes my favorite fantasy series, Chronicles of Elantra. If you ever want to read a story that contains different fictional species with a myriad of different histories, suspense, mysteries, and an interesting and very human heroine, then Kaylin Neya in the Chronicles is the book series for you. The most recent book has come out today and I am chomping at the bit to get my hands on Cast in Flame!

I am supposed to wait until my vacation to read this book, but I already see that I will be reading it for the 2nd time when that vacation occurs. So, once I have finished this book, I will be writing a review here. Check back and see!!!

There and back again….

Yeah, yeah. I am not a hobbit, nor I am elfin or dwarf…. but there are days I wish I were.

It has been some time since I wrote last, or had much to say for that matter. I am now, not only a mother to a precocious 3 year old but also to an almost 1 year old little boy who is equally just as active. There are days I wish I didn’t have to get out of bed. There are days where I would just like to do nothing. I am a mother…. so this never happens. Even on mother’s day.

My son really has a hard time letting me do much…. he wants to be held a lot. And if he is not held he screams. I can not stand the scream crying. It is too much for me. So, I am holding Smiley. A lot. Thus cooking is difficult and so is getting around to typing on my blog much. But, here I am. Trying to write while he is asleep on my lap.

I still struggle with depression and anxiety, but I have managed to do okay in most areas of my life. Patience, at times, is not one of those areas. There are days where I wish I could be a better, and more patient mother to my daughter. She is so much like me in so many ways that it is scary. I want so much more for my kids then to have to struggle with anxiety. My anxiety and lack of patience is higher with lack of sleep. I want to continue to use attachment parenting, but there are many areas in which I have just had to stop, or change tactics when trying to parent my highly passionate daughter. Have I mentioned that my daughter is a MASTER negotiator? She is even using the phrases “lets make a deal” or “lets compomize mama.” She wants something and she wants it 10 seconds ago, but she will use her impressive vocabulary to say why she wants something and try to negotiate how to get it.

You know that t-shirt that says ” I am a co-sleeping, breast feeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, blah blah blah, attached mama”? I am still officially a breast feeding mama. My daughter quit 2 days before my son was born. I was all prepared to tandem nurse, but even after Smiley was born, Sunshine tried some pumped milk and just didn’t want it. I am still nursing my son and he just chows down a lot at night. Yes, we are still a co-sleeping family. My daughter finally moved into her own room, but she struggles with nightmares and anxiety. We would have her stay in our room but she actually sleeps worse when she is in there. Smiley still resides with us though. He is the better sleeper between the two. Otherwise, Sunshine sleeps from 7 p.m. to 7- 8 a.m.  I am still a “sometimes” baby wearing mother. Smiley prefers to be held, but he is outgrowing the ergo just a bit. Now, cloth diapering I save for swimming diapers. Regular cloth diapers just became too much. I am finding I need to really clean house. Get rid of a lot of clothes and items…. perhaps with kid #3 or #4 I will have time to launder such items… but babies make a lot of poop. And my kids especially. So, cloth diapers are out for now. I feel terrible about the earth and the ecosystem… but I can only do so much with the limited brain power and high stress levels I already struggle with.

I guess I am starting over. It is quite a journey; motherhood. I may not always be patient, but I am being more patient with myself. I am not perfect, but I love my family perfectly. So, I guess I will share what I know, what I don’t know, and what I am still learning; As a mother, as a woman, as a human being.

And another new beginning….

I apologize for being on hiatus for so long…. I found that I just needed to focus on my daughter and on myself. Now that I am writing again, (I still plan to focus on my daughter as she gets into EVERYTHING), but writing is for me.

I don’t care much what my blog looks like, as long as its accessible. I want anyone who needs to, be able to navigate without issues around the site.  So, thus I changed it around again. Plus, I like change. I don’t like things to become static because then I also become static. For some reason when there is not change, I begin to lose some of my creative edge and thought processes. Its like the longer you sit on the couch in one spot, the harder it is to get up cause you have permanently indented the cushion. No. That is not me. I like to move, I like to read new things, and be doing a new project. So, while I am mommy and still incredibly love to spend time with my daughter, I am also a person who loves to be needed and to use my knowledge and education that I have worked so hard to earn.

With that, I am putting ideas and thought into motion. I am now applying for some part-time positions. (I could not do full-time as that would totally take away from the fun I have with Sunshine and I so love to see her grow). I also acknowledge that when working full-time I become ill. My anxiety worsens and then proceeds to make my other mental illness just as worse. I find working part-time is wonderful and I get the best of both worlds and remain healthier, emotionally and mentally. There are not, however, that many part-time positions in my field right now. Just full-time. I fully acknowledge that a full-time job is NOT worth it to me. I don’t even need the bene’s. I would just like the opportunity to NOT have to pay back my RSA scholarship that paid for my Masters and stipulates that as long as I work for a nonprofit or government agency for the next 5 years, I won’t have to pay for my Masters.

So, as I said, there are not many part-time positions out there for me at this time. What am I doing in the mean while?  I am starting a foundation. Just getting my feet started on the steps of at least starting the support groups.  What I plan to do is form a Resource and Peer Support program for Mothers that have Mental Illness. I am not excluding those who have Postpartum depression, but I am focusing on the women who had diagnosis prior to pregnancy and there mental illness is not related to said pregnancy after.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some mental health issues that come along with just having a kid that some people do fall into…. this can be directly correlated to lack of sleep, inappropriate diet or lack thereof of healthy food, and no real self-care. This is an area that I, myself, am trying to alleviate.  (Will post more on that later).  The real issues are that many women who have a significant mental illness (like Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective disorder, Dissociative disorders) become pregnant and don’t have the resources to really be the best mom that we can be. That is what we all ultimately want, right??!! To be the best parent we can be. Our mental wellness, or lack thereof can get in the way of this. On top of this, because we have children, the previous resources or avenues to seek peer support or help are closed to us because children are not welcome at such places.  Thus, the need for a place that women can go with their kids to receive assistance and peer support.

So while I am not working, I am working on something. It can be difficult for me to get my head wrapped about this, and I do have my daughter going with me in everything I do. That is the point…. She is my reason for being a better mom, and for trying to support and help other moms in this same quest.

For now, I must sign off, as my kid is currently pulling out all the dog bones out of the drawer again, and I need to protect her from the dog.  But let me know what you guys think and which direction I should move on this now (Aside from developing a pamphlet, contacting a local church to set up a first meeting, and contacting all the mental health agencies and hospitals in the area to let them know we will be up and running soon….)

Blessings to all and don’t forget to giggle!!