Thursday, October 3, 2013

Homeschooling - for real

"Homeschooling is an extremely sanctifying experience." -Louise Bettelli
(on facebook wall 9/30/13, in case you want to use that quote, I wanted to give you the original source)
Sanctifying is the process of making holy or pure.
Homeschooling is a process, no doubt.
And it is going to make me more like Christ whether I like it or not.
I am forced to be more patient than I ever have.
Yes, I have three small children that I stay home with.
And yes I have been mothering for 6 years.
And yes, this homeschooling job has definitely pushed my patience to the limits more than anything, ever.
I would say the most difficult part is trying to tend to the younger Bettelli's while teaching George.
I try to plan the most important/hardest subjects during naptime, but anyone with little kids knows that naps are not a given . . . especially timing them as an exact science.
Now I am not writing this as a cry for helpful tips.
I just want to give anyone who wants to know what it is really like a picture of our crazy school time.
We usually get up around 7:30.  I try to get them dressed and fed within the first hour.
I let them watch one show on tv, so I can get dishes washed and one load of laundry in the machine.
I would love to say I also use this time to dress myself and maybe even get wild and brush my teeth, but in the spirit of transparency I usually don't.  
George's teacher is usually in pajamas until lunchtime.
Tim said I am going to be sent to the principal's office for not wearing a bra to school.
9:00 is the official school start time.  The first bell, if you will.
The "start" goes something like this . . . 
Me:  "George, go grab your journal and start writing while I spank Ethan for hitting Lexi."
George:  "Why do we always have to start with journaling and how many subjects are we doing today?"
If you don't call that starting out on the right foot, then you don't know what starting out on the right foot is.
Around 9:15 we actually start putting pencil to paper.
At 9:30 he starts Bible and I have to read the passages to him for the curriculum, which is impossible with Lexi's "talking" and Ethan's craziness.
So I decide to try nap #1 for Lexi and preschool for Ethan.
If you are imagining a crazy lady running back and forth between boys who are both yelling, "mom, I need your help," simultaneously, then you are imagining exactly what my life is like.
9:45 We finally get to Bible for George.
Then comes Math.
George asks how long Math is going to take because P.E. and snacktime are after Math, and those are his favorite subjects.
While Lexi is still asleep, we go outside on our front driveway for PE to run laps around the cars and write with sidewalk chalk.
Don't worry, at this point I do put on a bra . . . still under my pajamas, but who is going to be looking at the mom in her pajamas sitting on a lawn chair on the driveway when there are children doing laps around the cars like crazy people?
We have no backyard in this house, and because Lexi is asleep there is no leaving for a park - so the driveway is pretty much it.
Snacktime is another pleasant time.
They don't like what I make them (by make I mean like unwrap a cheese stick - don't let anyone tell you the Bettelli's aren't gourmet), so we argue about who is in charge and then I give in and change it.
Around 11 Lexi wakes up . . . just in time for school to start again.
Time for phonics and reading.
I encourage/bribe Ethan to go in his room and play legos.  
He wants Lexi to play too, which is a recipe for disaster . . . but I think to myself, "one of these days he won't bother her and they will play nice.  Why can't that day be today?" . . . so I let her in there.
5 minutes into George's excellent reading of Tiptoes I hear wild screaming in the bedroom.
Then I hear Ethan yelling, "Mom, Lexi's ok.  Her ok."
Now would you go check or leave it be?
I won't tell you what I do, because I don't want you to think I am a bad mom.
We finish phonics and reading, which is a bonding time of "mom, I already know this.  Why do I have to keep doing it over and over again?"
"Because that is what the Abeka lesson plans tell us we have to do.  And I wouldn't be a very good teacher if I didn't follow the lesson plans, now would I?"
Blank stare.
Somehow we finish (only by God's grace), and then it is lunchtime.
Repeat snacktime woes except with even more food they hate love.
Then Ethan gets his much-needed rest from abusing playing with Lexi with a nice long nap.
I will give Ethan props for naptime.
(since I threw him under the bus quite a few times in my honesty about our morning)
He goes right down when I say it is naptime, and his usual nap is 3-4 hours.
Now, this may be because he doesn't fall asleep until after 11 o'clock at night, which may or may not be because of the aforementioned 3-4 hour nap.
But mama needs Ethan's naptime, so we continue to take naptime and praise Jesus that Daddy is home to deal with bedtime every night.
The afternoon wouldn't be too bad except everyone knows that kids and adults alike are at their best first thing in the morning, so you can imagine what our last 3 or 4 subjects are like with George.
I do try to throw in a fun science experiment or art project from my very ambitious pinterest board once in a while, but for some odd reason they don't usually turn out the same as the ones in the pictures.
And that is our day.
5 days a week.
A few "for real" tips if you are thinking about taking this road:
1.  Separate the homeschool area from the "busy" areas of the house.
I know a lot of families homeschool at the dining room table, but I have a very smart and focused child who has a hard time paying attention when his siblings are all about.
We do not have a enough space for a separate room in our current living situation, but I plan to school George in my bedroom with a desk.
It isn't ideal, but it keeps him from the loud noises that I can't keep the other two from making.
2.  Play worship music constantly (except when you are actually teaching).
The music and songs will just relieve so much of the stress.
I love to just make my mind concentrate on the words instead of all the things I did wrong that day.
It is also a great way to start a dance party with the kids - and I challenge you to tell me one thing that a dance party can't make better?
3.  Make the schooling as independent as possible.
George is only in 1st grade, but he is an excellent reader.
This makes my life a whole lot easier because after I teach the new material he can read all the directions and do any worksheets or tests on his own.
4.  Go to bed early (you and the kids)
Everyone knows that well-rested people are less-cranky people.
5.  Enlist the help of your husband.
Homeschooling is a family commitment, not just a mommy commitment.
If you have a super rough day, pass off some school duties to daddy.
He does work all day, but so do we.
6.  Simplify the rest of your duties.
I used to plan somewhat elaborate meals for my family and do a lot of menu planning.
Now I just look for meals that we can use as leftovers the next night on Pinterest because that is what keeps me sane.
On a serious note . . . I am 100% certain that this is what I am supposed to be doing this year.
If I wasn't more than sure, I would not be doing it.
It isn't for the faint of heart . . . or the mother with more than one child.
It is a lot of work and a huge responsibility.
But I know that George and I are forming a stronger bond than we would ever have had if I didn't take the chance to teach him.
I don't think I will be a life-long homeschooler because I do see some real advantages of school (real ones, not things like me not having to fight over snack foods - although that is a very big deal).
But I am going to embrace the right now.
And embrace the sanctification process for all it's worth.

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