Friday, September 13, 2013

Homeschooling an Extrovert

Iain is an extrovert. From what I can tell, his sisters are introverts. While I have seasons of life where I am more or less introverted, this is most definitely an introverted season. I'm peopled-out by the 24/7 responsibility of motherhood. The idea of socializing beyond that is exhausting. Having people over for dinner gives me anxiety attacks (No joke. Ask my husband).

For a variety of reasons, Mark and I decided to give homeschooling a try. The school part is going really well. I think this is largely due to the fact that I started Iain in "kindergarten-lite" last year, so he's already up-to-speed on what a lot of kindergarteners are doing (I think). On the other hand, the gleam in his eye whenever he realizes he's going to see other people, other kids, is undeniable.

I've tried to plan the year so he does things 1-2x a week with other kids. He's part of the Good Shepherd program at our church, we're part of a homeschool co-op, he's involved in the Kindergarten program with the community we're part of, etc. ...and yet, part of me still feels guilty, every time I see that gleam in his eye, that he's not in a daily Kindergarten program.

I guess when I thought of homeschooling and the ridiculous comments, "But what about socialization?" I only thought about it as avoiding turning your child into one of those homeschooled kids, you know the socially awkward ones. I don't think Iain is going to have that problem. And yet, here I sit, asking myself "But what about socialization?" Not because I fear he'll be awkward, but because I can see that he craves it. He needs people.

And then there are my own fears. I know, I'm a mom. I'm bound to have fears for my children. Some real, some imaginary.

Iain is a child with a lot of labels. We all are, but his are perhaps more obvious: Catholic, Redhead, Multiple Allergies, [partial] Lefty.  To him, these things are part of who he is, and as unexceptional to him as being a boy, or an oldest child. As "tolerant" as our society likes to think it is, labels invite teasing and bullying. And Iain's an extrovert. My heart weeps at the thought of this people-loving child opening wide his heart to "All these friends!" only to have a small number of them make him wish he'd never done that.

I know I can't protect him forever, and doing so is not a service to him. My role as a mother isn't to shelter him from the world, but to teach him how to interact with it. So here I am, hoping that by starting him out in the shallow-end of the wide world of people, I can introduce him slowly, as he (and I) can handle it. There are bound to be disappointments, even in the shallow end, and as much as I hate to say this, I hope there are so that we can navigate them together. And he will discover that he has labels and that they make him who he is. And my hope is that he will learn to embrace them, rather than learning to be ashamed of them, so he will grow to be a confident, kind, extroverted young man: Catholic, Redhead, Multiple Allergies, [partial] Lefty and more!

So right now, for this and many other reasons, we're homeschooling. Perhaps this will be a short-lived venture with Iain, or perhaps not. We'll see...

Please feel free to share any insights on any of the above. I'm an eager learner.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Homeschooling Week 2: Still Not Enough Chocolate

...but this time I know it's my fault.

It was a day of too much. From the moment the kiddos begged to splash in the wading pool in the 55 degree morning sunshine, I suspected it might be. They did splash in the wading pool. I believe the temp was up at 65 by that point. It was blissfully peaceful for about 30 minutes, but then it was showers and getting dressed and lunch time and...GET IN THE VAN, WE'RE GOING TO BE LATE (although in actual fact, we arrived right on time!)

Our first official Homeschool Field Trip was on the calendar for 1 pm down at our local Nature Center (I highly recommend having one close by; they're amazing!) Every month they pick a topic and for 2 hours on a Thursday afternoon they present it to the local Homeschool kids and their families. Today's topic: Bee Ecology.

Things I learned (Iain apparently learned nothing, as he claimed he forgot it all when I asked him to tell Daddy about his day)
- Apiary: Where the beehives are
- the bee eggs are laid in the bottom part of the hives while honey is collected in the upper part of the hive. I was relieved to learn this, as I'd been imagining eating honeycomb, larvae and all. Yuck.
- Don't take all 4 of your children to Bee Ecology. It's a handful and the "sheds" (where you stand behind screens to watch the beekeeper) aren't exactly stroller-friendly.
- Lucy is apparently already at the age where she prefers to nap at home, rather than being lugged around during naptime. 6:30 pm and she's still trying to recover from this assault on her preferences.
- It was brilliant of me to pack an applesauce pouch for myself, as well as for the 3 kiddos, so that when I was trying to explain sweetly to one of my children what "Mommy's about to lose it" meant, I knew I had a sugar-boost just 50 feet away.

Did you notice how that began as interesting bee information and then morphed into mom lessons? Yeah, that was the afternoon.

After that we visited Mark at the office.

Three times between the end of Bee Ecology and arriving home, I tried to nurse a screaming baby. She refused to eat, but screamed enough for a dramatic let-down. TMI? You're welcome. She later filled her pants, twice, so I'm guessing that was what the fuss was about.

I nearly lost it again when we arrived home and my very kind, sensitive oldest said, "Mommy, I told you that I'm going to have a toast and honey snack. Right?" ...which I had said he could have as an after breakfast snack. Not a 30 min before dinner snack. (And how exactly is that asking, anyway?!) So he started crying and went to his room to take a nap. I went to try to feed a screaming baby [semi-fail], eat chocolate in the family room, and reheat leftovers for dinner. After which Iain did eat "toast on honey."

And we didn't even get any school done. But mommy learned a lot today.

And Daddy is a saint. He's out with the older 3, playing disc golf, while I stay here putting our house back together and listen to a screaming baby who is refusing to nurse, again.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

So You Think You Want to Homeschool? There might not be enough chocolate for that.

At the end of the first day I sat on the couch downstairs, hiding from the kiddos, wondering what I would do when I got to the end of the chocolate bar I was eating. Eat another? Cry?

It wasn't the school part that was the problem. No. My lesson plan was great. Iain did really well. We even managed to accomplish almost everything I had planned. I didn't plan for it to take 5 hours, but nonetheless, it was done.

It was the girls, ages 4 and 2. I hadn't anticipated them being so...needy. I don't recall a day where they have so absolutely, non-negotiably insisted upon 100% of my attention. The whining, the tantrums, the insisting on being with me, if not on me, all. the. time.

It must be a new-to-homeshooling/life-has-changed-and-I'm-insecure thing. Right? Please tell me "this too shall pass."

I need some advice. What do I do on days like this this? How do you handle the needy younger siblings who are preventing you from getting any school done?