More or Less Homeschooling & Home-making Adventure

I am a work in progress. I am striving to be an encouraging wife, a fun and loving homeschool mother, to learn to homestead, organize, and adapt. I desire to see life more like Jesus and less like the world's view of what's important. I praise God that I am saved by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone! Cuz' I CAN'T DO IT ON MY OWN!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A real life, not so great, homeschool day

I read so many blogs about homeschooling. Most of the are homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way. They always seem to have the perfect day. The scene is so sweet. The activities were fun. The kids were excited. The day was great. Well, I'm here to share a real day in our homeschool life that was not this picture. I think it's nice to see both sides of the experience.

Today, our day started out late. This is more common than not since I have emails to check each morning for our business and I tend to allow myself to get caught up on this computer. It's a habit that I need to beak. Ms. Mason would not be proud of me there.

Anyway, my sweet children did a great job getting their chores done on their own and get their books to the table to start school. I came in and made everyone toast and juice and sat down to start reading. All was going well. We read the New Testament for 10 minutes. We read Polite Moments and talked about the character trait of having a good name and how that is more important than riches. We reviewed our CM Motto. We're memorizing this motto this year and we discuss a little more about it's meaning each week.

So far, so good!!

I pick up our American History book and ask "so, what happened last week in American History?" Normally my kids can spout off so much information that I'm left speechless. Today, NOTHING! Not one word. No one had a clue. I knew it was because last week during the reading, they were all very deep in thought about the stars wars scene they were each drawing while I was reading. I try not to get discouraged. The lesson was about James Robertson and I didn't know who he was until last week. It hasn't affected my life up to now to not know who he was and what he did for our country. (I'm not trying to say he wasn't important - just that it's not a battle I'm ready to go to war over.) I start to remind them a little about it and we discuss why no one can remember the details. They understand that they are usually better at remembering than this and that we need to try harder this week to focus.

I proceed with the reading and my daughter begins to be very disruptive. I warn her that she needs to come back to school and stop goofing around. She's trying to make her brothers laugh. I finally tell her that she is not welcome in school if she is going to be disrespectful to me while I'm reading and to her brothers who are trying to listen. She is excused to her room until further notice.

I pick up the book again (at this point, I've read 2 chapters). Now Peter Pan has to go to the bathroom but he doesn't want to call it that because he REALLY has to go. I get the idea and send him off. Daniel Boone and I are left at the table to wait. I decide to take the opportunity to make a Presidential Time Line that I've wanted to make for them for awhile. We're still in the American Revolution and we're about to move on so this is a perfect place to prepare our time line. PP finally comes back. Tinkerbell is ready to apologize and wants permission to come back to school. I tell her I forgive her and she is welcome. She asks can we carve our pumpkins now? (We haven't had time to do that yet.) I tell her no that we are in school now but maybe later today. She gets very sad and comes to the table with puppy eyes that could cut through a steel door. I am getting frustrated at the mean looks and sniffles from my left while I'm trying to continue reading. I tell her that until she can get her emotions under control she needs to stay in her room. Now, she's crying again and the boys and I are left to do History alone AGAIN!

The phone rings and it's a business call that I have to take. So, I'm off to the office for 15-20 minutes. As I leave the room, TB comes our to apologize and wants to return to school. I hug her, forgive her, explain that she can't disrupt school but she's welcome to come back. We're all smiles as we sit to pick up the same book we've been trying to read for 2 hours now. It's almost lunch time and we're all hungry.

I read the last 3 paragraphs. We're finally finished with this book for today! They narrate decently but not great which is understandable considering all the interruptions through it.

We do a small activity and then we sit down to read Seaman. This is their favorite book. The chapters are very long so we try to read a little each day in order to get through all I planned for the week. Each time I stop to have them narrate they get a bit crazy. They are goofy, laughing, making funny eyes. I'm trying to take it in stride because we need to laugh and enjoy school. But I'm getting frustrated each time I look at the clock and we've barely started school.

I finally get to the end of that section and ask for a narration. DB is quick to volunteer as usual. He begins with a VERY goofy narration that is funny but starts to get off course. I do not allow them to add to the narration in order to make the story better. They have to stick to the story and narrate what they heard. I remind him of this and he proceeds to act it out. TB joins in and it's getting very loud in the kitchen. I patiently watch through the whole thing. They did actually listen and they are telling me the story in their own way. But we're getting out of control and they are about to step over the line. I decide to stop it before we cross that line. I ask them to all sit down and be quiet for a minute. They look at me like "boy, we've done it now." They wait quietly and when I ask them to continue with what they heard, it's all over. They can't resist anymore! They are rolling in the floor laughing.

I tell them, this is a good time for a lesson in why we do things Mom's way. I tell DB to get out his dictation, we're going to have his test now. Fear is all over his face. I tell the other 2 to start their copywork. DB brings me his Spelling Wisdom book and prepares his paper and pencil. He's very careful to write neatly because he knows I'm frustrated with them. The other 2 are working very quietly now.

DB can't spell his words. I ask him if he studied them and he says yes. I know otherwise and decide to teach him a lesson here. I ask him to get me his card that I made him that shows him how to study his lesson. He gets it and is thankful he knows where it is. We had that discussion last week. I read it. Number 1 read through the lesson and study the words. "Did you do that?" "Yes" "so you picked up this book and read the lesson today?" "No" "Number 2, close your eyes and picture each word as a picture. Did you do this?" "No"

I'm not going on from here. I explain how it took me 4 days to make his cards that teach him to learn his words in his learning style. I continue explaining that when he doesn't use the cards, he's stealing my time and making it a waste of my time. I tear up the card and tell him if he's not going to use it, there is no need to have it. He has tears in his eyes now. I tell him that he may close up his books and clean his side of the table. I tell the other 2 the same. Their teacher has quit and DB is no longer welcome in the school since he is just going to steal from me and that I don't have time to do things over and over for him. I make sure the other 2 understand that they are only welcome in our school so long as they are ready to work. But for now, school is closed and the lessons will be done on Saturday when they were planning on going hunting with Dad. Now the tears are flowing. I'm not yelling but I do proceed to lecture about how it hurts my feelings to have them tell me how much they don't like school when I work so hard for them to have fun activities to do and fun books to read. I heard this complaint twice right before the last reading. I tell DB that he needs to tell Dad that he's been expelled from school and that he can do 4th grade all over again next year.

I do at this time decide maybe I'm over reacting. I tell DB that if he wants to be readmitted into our school then he needs to write me a paper of why he wants to come to school. I send the other 2 out to work with out neighbor in the yard and I head straight to the kitchen cabinet for my "Happy Pill". I realize that I must be PMSing to be so frustrated at them. I realize that I haven't taken my Evening Primrose all month and that I must really need it! I call this little herb my "Happy Pill". So does everyone else around me! :)

So, the day was not a total failure until I picked up my CM book "Parents and Children". I'm reading Chapter 7 this with an online group. Here is what I read:

"Education is a Discipline. Where his parents fail, the poor soul has one further chance in the discipline of life; but we must remember that, while it is the nature of the child to submit to discipline, it is the nature of the undisciplined man to run his head in passionate wilfulness against the circumstances that are for his training; so that the parent who wilfully chooses to leave his child to be 'broken in' by the schoolmaster or by life leaves him to a fight in which all the odds are against him. The physique, the temper, the disposition, the career, the affections, the aspirations of a man are all, more or less, the outcome of the discipline his parents have brought him under, or of the lawlessness they have allowed.
Discipline is not Punishment––What is discipline? Look at the word; there is no hint of punishment in it. A disciple is a follower, and discipline is the state of the follower; the learner, imitator. Mothers and fathers do not well to forget that their children are, by the very order of Nature,
Vol 2 pg 67
their disciples. Now no man sets himself up for a following of disciples who does not wish to indoctrinate these with certain principles, or at the least, maxims, rules of life. So should the parent have at heart notions of life and duty which he labours without pause to instill into his children.
How Disciples are Lured––He who would draw disciples does not trust to force; but to these three things––to the attraction of his doctrine, to the persuasion of his presentation, to the enthusiasm of his disciples; so the parent has teachings of the perfect life which he knows how to present continually with winning force until the children are quickened with such zeal for virtue and holiness as carries them forward with leaps and bounds.
Steady Progress on a Careful Plan––Again, the teacher does not indoctrinate his pupils all at once, but here a little and there a little, steady progress on a careful plan; so the parent who would have his child a partaker of the Divine nature has a scheme, an ascending scale of virtues, in which he is diligent to practise his young disciple. He adds to the faith with which the child is so richly dowered, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control. Having practised his child in self-control, he trains him in patience; and to patience he adds godliness; and to godliness, kindness; and to kindness, love. These, and such as these, wise parents cultivate as systematically and with as definite results as if they were teaching the 'three R's.'"

OK, so now I'm the worst CM homeschool mother on the planet. I put the book down and just have to laugh. I walk into DB's bedroom and he's struggling with the dictionary to spell his 7th word on the page. That's as far as he's gotten in 30 minutes. 7 words. Poor soul! I sit down with him and we have a heart to heart.

So, he's back in school. Mom should be better in a few days. Things may get better yet. But for now, there's a real life look into a not so great homeschool day.


  1. I loved this post! Thanks for your refreshing honesty. Another hs'ing friend of mine and I often bemoan the fact that "everybody else" seems to have these glorious, gilded days full of sunshine and smiley faces, while we seem to slog through. (Not that we don't have good days, it's just that perfect days seem to elude us.) I know intellectually that other hs'ers struggle as I do, but there also seems to be a fear in admitting it. Let's keep it real, girls, and encourage each other in our adventures!

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I appreciate how candid you were, and reading this really did my heart good. I too have certainly had a few of those days, but if we stick it out, it's going to be so worth it in the end. Sometimes I just have to keep telling myself that, lol.

  3. I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time, but the way you describe your day really made me laugh. I could relate to a lot of it! I have to confess that my blog posts are nearly all about the things (yes, that's things, not whole days!) that went well - which is probably why there have only ever been a maximum of 3 posts per month so far!!

  4. You need to enter this one into the CM blog carnival! lol! We all need to know that other's days aren't perfect either! What a relief. I'm so glad you're human!

  5. Thank you for your honesty. It is very refreshing!

  6. What an insight to homeschooling, I have read so many positive stories of an organized day and wondered if it really was always so organized. Sounds like you hand the day very well though and sounds like your children did as well! Good for you for working together so well!