Monday, March 3, 2008

Frustration

I must be doing something wrong. By the end of each weekend, I feel beat up, tense, exhausted, and demoralized. I will have spent every free hour – that means, any hour that I’m not grocery shopping, running errands, cleaning the house, cooking, or attending church – preparing for homeschool: writing tests, skimming next week’s health material, scheduling Biology reading and labs, figuring out Global History reading assignments, and determining English work. I spend a ridiculous amount of time on planning, learning at least some of the material and creating the table of times, topics, and due dates.

And any week night, you’ll find me reading – reading literature classics or books about history so that I can have an intelligent discussion with my son about the assignments I give from these books – and frankly, so that I can give an intelligent assignment in the first place.

I have no life, no time to myself. Rather, studying and scheduling is my life. And the worst part is that my son perpetually complains about all the work. When he was in public school, he didn’t complain much about his workload; he just did it. But now that I’m in charge of the work, he wears down my nerves with his grumbling and protests. Oh, he does the work, but he’s perpetually behind. Am I really overbooking him? But he won’t cover the required material by the end of the year if I let up. And he’s let me know he doesn’t want to study all summer. Frankly, I don’t want to go through this all summer either.

When I go back to work on Monday, it’s a reprieve. A rest.

Only five more years of this, if I homeschool the girls…

4 comments:

Georg Monrand said...

First off, I just found your site. On starting to homeschool, good for you!

Wow, that's quite a schedule! Just a few comments (not intended as criticism, and
mostly based on my personal experience/thoughts)...
First, 20 minutes for lunch, and that's supposed to include studying? 20 minutes is barely enough to eat! Personally I like to read while I eat but that's more a matter of personal taste, and generally I prefer more casual reading than studying for a test -- history or fiction, for example. But some people prefer to take a bit of a break and relax during lunch, especially with an otherwise fully-scheduled day...

11:20-11:50 health: this includes a test AND a chapter of material packed into 30
minutes? As well as reading 5 pages? Does that work? Or does some of it by necessity have to be done later?

You allot one hour for reading 42 pages of a history book. Some people read that quickly, but does your son? Personally I read fairly slowly and think through things carefully as I read... would take me about 2 hours to read that much. Maybe your son reads quickly, and if so, great, or maybe you just mean for the rest of it to spill into the evening time for today and tomorrow ("two days to do this"), but it's something to consider...

Starting to homeschool is not easy for either the parent or the students, especially when the student has been attending public (or private) schools for most of his life. 8-5 (9 hours) with only a 20 minute break does seem like a pretty packed schedule, and for most kids that's an hour and a half (or so) longer than they spend at public school. Not to say this is a bad schedule, just that it might be difficult to get used to (and obviously this is just one day -- I don't know what your other days are like). It looks like a lot of time is spent in one subject (3 hours for geometry), but I'm sure you have a reason for that, or maybe you focus on different subjects on different days. Still, I can see how it would seem excessive to him. Not to say it IS excessive, but from his perspective...

You seem to spend a lot of time coming up with detailed, hour-by-hour schedules. I guess the way to judge that is to consider whether it's necessary, in your particular case. For some kids that may be the best way to do it, for others maybe not, so you have to consider individually what's best for your son (as I'm sure you are) and assess how well it's working. Listen to him and see if he has any realistic suggestions about how to do things better, that he's willing to keep up with... but keep in mind that he may not be right, of course...

I'm sure you've considered most of these things already, and I confess I haven't read everything else on your weblog yet, but you did ask for comments :)

The Reluctant Homeschooler said...

Georg,
Thanks for your comments. I realized later that this schedule seems rather bizarre with Jacob's learning time scheduled into the evening. Mondays and Wednesday he goes to a homeschooling center where a teacher instructs a group of seven kids in Geometry. The driving time takes a while, thus stretching out the perceived time allotted to Geometry. Normally his day officially ends around 2:30 to 3:30. Any work he hasn't completed, he is expected to do in the evening. And I do want him to have homework. His sisters do and he did in public school. When he's idle, he gets bored or aches to get on the computer and waste time.

And Health - yep, I overscheduled that one, and he had to run some of that into the evening and even next day.

The Global History reading is over two days, giving him an hour to read 20 pages, which is about his reading rate. This book also has photos, thus decreasing the amount of reading he actually has to do. This book he often takes to bed and reads at night, a habit I encourage and will continue to do so through homeschooling. He NEVER EVER took a book to bed before last month! Because I push him, he has to do so, and frankly, it's a habit that my husband and I both have and want to encourage in all our kids (though we don't have to with our daughters; they're already avid readers).

The hour-by-hour schedule is not something I enjoy coming up with. I'd rather leave the times open, and I did in the beginning. But if you read my "Violated" post from last month, you'd find that Jacob got in a lot of trouble when he didn't stick to doing his schoolwork and decided to surf the 'Net and download something to my computer. I've banished him from the Internet without my physical presence now, but it was then that I tried to pressure him to stick to some sort of schedule by coming up with times. I want him to do work in the morning, not daydream. But then I was still working full-time on-site at my company; now I'm home half days and keeping my eye on Jacob.

I'm still a novice at this, and with time either I'll get better at it or I'll become slack because I'll be worn out!

Craig, Taryn and our blessings said...

Hi there - thanks for leaving a comment on my blog post (www.hayesfamily.co.za) your husband's analogy is very apt.

I haven't read beyong this post of yours, so I'm not sure what you've researched in terms of curricula - but have you considered getting a programme that has done all the scheduling for you? We use Sonlight (okay, not quite comparitive to high school - we're only in K at the moment!) but the pleasure of not having to prepare hectically, schedule stuff etc takes a huge load off my shoulders - so the formal part of school does not consume all of our lives. I used to be a high school teacher, so I know how much time can be consumed in preparation and how much of an emotional and physical toll that can take. Homeschooling is more about home than school and I believe kids learn so much more from the life experiences given to them at home than from school. So, just an idea - why not investigate some of the curriculums that suit your and your son's learning goals that have done all the prep for you?

Valerie said...

I feel like I've found my twin! I had a blog entitled The Reluctant Homeschooler (I ended up changing the name when I switched hosting companies) and I am a former tech writer. I also taught HS English for 3 years and the prep was a killer. I have a 2nd grader that we've homeschooled since the beginning and a 4-year-old that has joined us this school year with her own work. Since I hate doing a lot of curriculum research and prep, we use the full A Beka curriculum which has everything *very* structured for you. Some people think it's too "school-like", but it's working well for us. One benefit is that my oldest doesn't complain about all the work because I'm not the one assigning it - A Beka does. Many of my friends use the Sonlight curriculum which is more literature-based.

Also next year, your oldest ought to be able to take dual-enrollment classes at a nearby college, taking some of the pressure off you. It's something to look into.

I'm glad I found your blog and I'm looking forward to keeping up with it!

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)