Monthly Archives: May 2014

Homeschool Blogging – Writing to Distraction

I don’t know how other bloggers write. I imagine sitting in a quiet nook, alone, pondering homeschool moments and writing out my thoughts. As reality has it, I am now writing at my kitchen table, which is covered with books, pottery, seed packets, headbands, writing utensils, water bottles, Legos, workbooks and a cribbage board, while my homeschoolers are at work close by. In the last few minutes I have stopped writing to find a screwdriver, look for D batteries, listened to a food-related complaint and been introduced to a new creation – a DJ mixing table made with Legos.

Finding some typos? Because while I edited this post I simultaneously refereed an argument, yelled at ‘someone’ to get the baseball bat out of the house, drank my breakfast (no alcohol, just bananas and blueberries!), Googled the oldest living humans and checked emails.

When you read a homeschool blog it’s important to cut the writer some slack. Expect a smattering of brain-cramp related peculiarities…

Just stopped now for a consultation on the porch:

Kid: Can I nail holes here?

Me: Why?

Kid: I want to blockade the windows with this sheet so I can set up an automatic pitcher.

Me: O.K. (?!?)

…and bursts of confusion (“Mom! Look it’s done!” Followed immediately by a five minute detailed description). If any part of this blog post is even vaguely coherent, I consider it a success.

Mom, is there mercury in the toaster?”

Sigh.

 

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Will increasing test-taking skills improve your chances of getting into MIT?

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When I read this week that Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School successfully raised their grade from an F to a C during the past year, I felt relief for the students and staff at the school. It couldn’t have been easy to have your school graded in such a public, callous way and then rise above and find ways to improve. The two methods used to up their grade were supplying plentiful snacks before testing time and spending more class time learning test-taking strategies. It is this latter part that saddens me. Our public school kids and teachers are required to spend more time on better test-taking – and less time experiencing science, arts, math and everything else.

I have a 12-year-old who wants to go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT). Since he is dyslexic and homeschooled, you can bet your bottom dollar I have already reviewed the application process. Many things come to mind as I look ahead for his application to one of the worlds most prestigious places of learning. And getting good at testing is not one of them. MIT has specific recommendations for homeschooled applicants including exhibiting entrepreneurial spirit, taking advanced classes during high school, participating in extra curricular activities, taking collaborative summer programs and having varied recommendations. No where does it suggest increasing test-taking skills. As MIT so aptly puts it in the admissions information on their website, “Standardized tests are required for any freshman application to MIT. However, they are not the only factor, or even the most important factor…We admit people not numbers”.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

(The photo above shows my son watching a 3D printer in action at the UMaine Engineering Expo in March of 2014)

http://mitadmissions.org/apply/prepare/homeschool

Battling Homeschool Burnout

If you’ve experienced one or more of these symptoms, you may be battling Homeschool Burnout!

  1. It’s nighttime and you’re finally laying your head down to sleep. You find this is the first opportunity you’ve had all day to wipe the sleep from your eyes. From the previous night.
  2. Within the last week you have, at least once, blurted out a threat to send your children to school.
  3. Your house is starting to feel like Alcatraz; “Let me outta here!” feelings are bubbling up.
  4. After three or more days of not brushing your hair, you realize that dreads are forming.

As May creeps into June, homeschools all over are probably feeling many of the same pressures of school teachers. The school year is almost out and I still need to teach this, this and that and my kids just want to be outside. I have been thinking about this a lot the last few weeks as I’ve faced my own burnout. I will share with you my thoughts and some tips I have thought of to help.

Turn it to the kids. Sit down and have a discussion. We have six more weeks left of school, what would you like to accomplish? Then hope and pray it’s not ‘dissect a hissing cock roach’.

Go outside. We all know now that movement enhances learning. Kids and parents in Northern areas, having been cooped up much of the winter, need to get outside and play. If my kids run outside after breakfast and start playing a game they made up with tennis balls, a tape measure and lacrosse sticks, I would have to be an insane person to make them come in and do math at the table. They need this. I need this. While they are playing, I start planting and they later join to help. What about planting seeds ¼ inch thick, 2 inches apart, in rows 3 feet apart does NOT involve math?

Search for what brings you joy and do it. Even if it’s 10 minutes a day, do what you love. Be it dancing, playing a musical instrument, meditating, or whatever, you must find the time to make your heart sing.

Try the “One Small Thing Rule” when it comes to housework. Obviously, when you have a houseful of children, who do not leave for school every day, housework can be a pretty overwhelming prospect. Just getting the basics done is often challenging. So when spring rolls around and all these projects you want to get done come to mind, frustration can often set in when reality hits – there is only so much time in the day. So I like to try and do “one small thing” each day. Not including the bare basics you have to do. It’s more like something a little special. Even if it’s just cleaning out the crack in the kitchen table, a 45-second, extremely satisfying experience. It may not seem like much, but you took a little effort and made your home a little nicer. That’s a good feeling.

Take a break from improving. Parents are notorious for this and homeschoolers are just as guilty. Every day, week to week, most of us are asking, “What can I do to improve my parenting and teaching skills? ” or “What can I do to make the homeschool better?” Try to relax a bit; know that you’ve worked hard and will continue to do so, but that you don’t need to keep up with the latest and greatest next new thing, and your kids will be fine. In TED Talks video, whose link is below, there is a compelling argument for parents to lighten up a bit and go easy on themselves.  http://www.ted.com/talks/jennifer_senior_for_parents_happiness_is_a_very_high_bar

Have you ever experienced Homeschool Burnout? What helped you get through?