Back to relaxed homeschooling

I wrote this post back in May, but never hit “publish”, for some reason….so, better late than never, right? 🙂  I’m predating it so it is posted in May on my site, but for those of you reading this because I just posted the link on FB in August, you now know why I posted this in August. 🙂

Homeschooling isn’t supposed to be ALL fun and games, and I think it’s unfortunate that so many bloggers do make it seem that way. But it also shouldn’t be a drag, or so stressful that it’s difficult to enjoy.

Our homeschooling had been more of a drag in recent months. I was trying hard to fit into a more traditional model of homeschooling…sticking to a schedule and using the various curriculum. But on the one hand, I suck at schedules/routines (just NOT gonna happen, no matter how much I will it!), and on the other hand, my kids were not enjoying the curriculum I chose for them.

Don’t get me wrong, the curriculum we were using is truly excellent.

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History Odyssey and Elemental Science are both really great resources! I highly recommend them to anyone that does well with a set, year-long curriculum!

But my kids weren’t digging it. It got to the point where I was putting off even saying it was time for lessons because they’d groan and hem and haw and just become little pills. Learning is supposed to be enjoyable!! Not every second of it, but most of it should be interesting and not horrible! Otherwise, not much is going to stick!

I’m not sure what it is about the curriculum that didn’t appeal to them…I think for my daughter at least, none of the topics were ones that she chose. It was all outlined by the curriculum. Sure, I could deviate, and I did, but there’s only so much deviation you can do before the curriculum itself becomes moot.

And I was constantly feeling like I was behind! No matter how much work we got done (which was never really that much), I was always stressed because we were behind where we were supposed to be for the year, to be able to be done with that level book at the end of the school year! Talk about pressure!

So I went and met with my ed coordinator at our homeschool charter (forgot I could do that! I’ve never actually needed advice like this in the 3 years we’ve been with ERCLC!) and we talked about how the kids weren’t enjoying our curriculum. She said to ditch the curriculum if it’s not working, and try a more relaxed approach, learning in ways the kids actually enjoy! So that is: nature walks, documentaries, educational tv, reading all kinds of things, more field trips…so this is what it’s looking more like now:

And I’m feeling MUCH more relaxed!

I’m finding that without a set curriculum that feels like it should be done by the end of the year, that we can just learn what we want, when we want. Now, I’m not fully embracing unschooling, mind you.  I know it works quite well for many families, but I am not entirely comfortable to just let the kids steer the way entirely.  I am still driving this boat, but I’m really paying attention to what they are interested in, and keeping their feelings in mind at all times. So when Maeven is fully immersed in a project (which is often the case), I let her be. But later, when she’s come up for air, I request a page of math be done (Math was the only curriculum I’ve stuck with…for whatever reason, it still seems to work for us if we just try to do a page a day or so), or a video be watched, or a book be listened to…

And I’m trying to do more field trips and activities outside the house that are educational. Tyren went to music camp during Spring Break (and LOVED it!), both kids took a cooking class, Tyren took a drumming class, and we’ve been doing nature trips with friends every couple of weeks. We also continue to watch The Amazing Race religiously, and have been catching episodes of Cosmos when we find the time. And I always sprinkle in educational videos I’ve found here and there…some short, some full documentaries.

But without an agenda, I’m actually feeling pretty good about how things are going now. Funny because before I had no agenda and was just floundering. Then I tried the opposite, trying to schedule and plan more, and that floundered. Now I’m back to going with the flow, and for some reason it seems to work now. Probably because it’s really more of a hybrid of no-agenda and having a bit of a plan…merged together nicely and constantly watching for more cool and interesting things to expose the kids to.

Also…and this is HUGE! I’ve discovered a new FABULOUS website! It’s Homeschooling Ideas, and while the site is very busy and normally I’d just not take the time to explore a site that looks like this, not knowing where to start…I’ve found that there are some fantabulous resources on there! One that is changing my life is this ebook: Stickability. It’s all about people like me that find it absolutely impossible to stick to a schedule! And it’s specific to homeschooling, so I’m actually learning a lot about ways to work with my tendency for bursts of activity instead of a predictable routine.

I swear she wrote this book directly to ME! Right down to my inability to keep plants alive! I’m learning that my way isn’t wrong, it’s just different, and there ARE ways to make it work with homeschooling….without going full unschooling mode. I love it!!

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