A little self assessment – good for the homeschool.

Here I am!

Yes, I fell off the face of the planet for a little while. We, and by we I really mean I, were in a bit of a sophomore slump with homeschooling. There might have been a few parent/child relationship issues and there might have been some illness issues. But let’s just say that life creeped up on me and the last thing I had the energy for was putting myself “out there.”  I suppose the fact that I’m writing this now means I’m starting to rebound a bit.

So…homeschooling sophomore slump. I’ve no idea if there really is such a thing but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out there is. Just about everything we tried last year worked so we kept it up, but somewhere along the way school became a struggle, too much like work.  There were daily arguments: “Mom, do I HAVE to do that?” and even, my worst nightmare: “MOM, I HATE SCHOOL!” Uh-oh, clearly it was time to face the music and figure out what needs to change.

I’ve begun to realize that I have been taking too much responsibility for EJ’s education and have not let him become responsible for himself. We do too much together. I ask him to do too little, and often the wrong things, by himself. The flip side is that I have to look at what my expectations are and try not to fit too much in each day. I don’t think I’m too far off the mark, but sometimes I feel like I’m rushing through things. I’ve noticed I have a tendency to talk too much. I say what comes to my mind often over-complicating a topic. I suspect that having EJ do more on his own will help solve both issues although undoubtedly it will bring up others. As I start planning for next year I’m trying out some small changes now to see if they feel like the right direction. So far there has been improvement so I’m optimistic.

Mr. Hamp recently asked me if I thought there might be a time we would put the boys back in school. He is on board with homeschooling 100% but he saw how frustrated we all were on one particular day. I have to consider this question thoughtfully and honestly with myself.  Certainly I could and would, if I had to, but truthfully my philosophy about education has changed to the point that I simply can’t see us ever going back to a traditional type education. It’s pretty obvious to me that I’m in this for the long run, so I need to constantly stay on my toes and remember my first rule of homeschooling:

“Be flexible and if it ain’t working, find a new way!”

I’m wondering about other homeschoolers? Maybe this never happens to you, but it seems unlikely. I imagine that everyone one of us has our difficult periods where homeschooling just doesn’t seem to be working. So how do you refresh and reset when you realize that you’ve lost your way?

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8 responses to “A little self assessment – good for the homeschool.

  1. I think we have the opposite problem sometimes, where I (and the kids even) begin to feel like we do too little. With unschooling, everything can be educational, but then sometimes you lose the lessons in all the hustle and bustle. So when that happens I try to reign things back in. Get some books out to read with the kids, make sure everyone gets to bed at a (relatively) decent hour, spend some time with each of them looking up or talking about something they are interested in. That reminds me to find the opportunities in everything we do and it gets better for a while. But then it falls off again. I think that’s o.k. too. People do learn all of the time, but if you keep the focus on constantly then it begins to feel too much like work and less like living 🙂

  2. I think we’re in a Sophomore Slump, too. Well, at least I am. After discovering last year that having a fairly strict schedule is important for my kids (especially the boy), I’m so BORED slogging through the same routine day after day, week after week. The kids seem to be putting up more resistance lately too. We’re taking a vacation next week, so hopefully that will perk us all up.

    • Not that I’m glad you feel like you’re in a slump, but I am glad that I’m not the only one. EJ and I definitely do better with a schedule, I’m not sure about little boy yet. Hope you get to mix it up a bit next week!

  3. This post is profoundly reassuring to me. Thanks, Dawn! I’m very much in the thick of assessing where Lily and I are at with our homeschooling. Some days are pretty darn hard, but like you, I feel that my philosophy of education is such that I wouldn’t consider sending her to school, and I also believe strongly in flexibility and finding new ways to do things if something’s awry. These days, for me, are entirely about pressing the Reset button. (Lily and I pretend to push each other’s Reset buttons when we get upset. It works surprisingly often.) The bigger Reset button is about daily structure. I’m trying to cut myself a lot of slack because of the tremendous amount of upheaval and transition (and even trauma) we’ve had for the past few years. I feel like this is a new beginning for us, now that we’ve been settling into our new home and I’ve resigned from my non-profit board work. I still wish I had way more figured out in terms of goals and strategies and all-around daily rhythms, but I guess I had to lay the other groundwork first so that we could attempt to be sane. There’s a lot I want to do now in terms of learning from other homeschooling parents, paying a lot of attention to my and Lily’s learning styles and inclinations, delving more into evaluating formal curricula and informal learning opportunities, etc.

    I’m also remembering that a great way to refresh/reset myself and Lily is to go for a walk in the woods. I’m really glad this seems to work for both of us! Today we walked around Puffer’s Pond in Amherst and it was literally a breath of fresh air. We talked and played, found some learning opportunities along the way (discussing water in its solid, liquid, and gas forms by observing little running streams, the frozen pond, and the water vapor in our breath), got some exercise, and wrapped up with some discussion about time management (I assured her this was also hard for grown-ups, let alone four-year-olds) and a promise to get her a wristwatch and focus more on teaching her to tell time (this last part was because she was sorely disappointed about having to leave at the end so that we could pick up Tom from work).

    I also find it refreshing to take frequent breaks for tea and snacks. 🙂 And to repeat to myself that there is time to figure things out. And that it is such a privilege to spend time with Lily.

  4. GREAT POST, Momma!
    I can relate to the slump.
    I can relate to taking on my child’s learning a bit too much. And
    I can relate to revisiting the “go to school” idea. Staying with home school!

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