Monday, March 31, 2008

Home Education Week

I do plan on answering your burning questions to both my Emergency Preparedness post and Keeping The Home, but I must pause a minute to join Home Education Week that is sponsored by Principled Discovery. She has thrown out a topic for each day of the week and we can pick and choose when we want to join. It started yesterday with entries detailing why you chose to homeschool. That topic exhausts me because it was a long journey. It's all documented under Tink in the sidebar if anyone is interested. Today's topic is profiling the homeschooler, touching on what homeschool looks like at our house and what is considered normal for us.

I wish I could add pics to this but my camera is still plugged in through the scanner and both are useless to me. So what is a normal day for us and what does homeschooling look like around here?

Our homeschool is very scheduled. There isn't a thing about it that can be called unschooling. With Tinks sensory disorder unschooling is out! Unschooling would mean that Tink would never get past the first grade because Tink never picks up books to read on her own. So we are scheduled; we are either in school or out of school. The two do not overlap.

Oh I dream of children in sunny home libraries lost in good books while the shadows grow long into evening. I dream of the soft music of a violin being played in the evening under the apple trees. I dream of children working sums in their heads and putting together science experiments that will wow the crowd and bring home gold ribbons at the competitions.

Instead of that I have an 11 year old daughter who screeches her violin only when I demand that she practices and only after I have vowed that if she doesn't practice she cant go play with her friends. When its time to read the only thing she will pick up is a silly Hannah Montana book that she gleaned from a book fair back in her public school days.

Normal school to us is a day of cajoling and a day of tears, a day where my student prefers to sit under the table or curled in the fetal position in a darkened room, her books sprawled in front of her, the very sight of them making her tense and angry.

A normal day is repeating instructions over and over and knowing that Tink wont grasp the concept until two or three weeks down the road. It's knowing that I might only get two sentences out before she has shut down. Tomorrow I will repeat the same two instructions. Eventually she will learn the concept. One day I will hand Tink the same paper that we looked at weeks before, and every day since then and suddenly she will take the paper and say, "Oh, I know how to do this", and she'll work the problem. Those are golden moments brought about by her tears and great frustration and patience on my part.

What is normal to a mother homeschooling a child with a processing disorder and ODD looks far different than what is normal for a mother of children without disabilites. Yesterday I called my girlfriend who has homeshooled her three boys for 15 years. I was almost in tears. I asked her how she organized her homeschool day. Do you want to her hear answer? She said, "Oh the boys just get up in the morning and do their allotted assignment. They do a lesson in each book."

"Don't you have to teach them anything?" I asked incredulously. "No, she answered, "what is their to teach? The books are self explanatory. If they run into a new Math concept I tell them how to do it but it only takes five minutes at the most."

I thought of the five weeks it takes to get through one new concept with Tink. It hit me anew that my normal is not the homeschool normal. When I homeschool I am in the "classroom" from 9:30 to 2:30 after which Tink does independent work or goes to afternoon classes for homeschoolers.

I tutor two other little girls both with their own learning disabilities. The two girls come two days a week. They have learned to study around Tinks meltdowns. When she has to go in the hall to scream for sensory output, they will join her!! They're her little buddies in love and war. They put up with her amazingly well. Tuesday and Thursday I have 2 little boys come in the afternoon for Language Arts and Literature.

On Wednesdays Tink and one of my tutoring students are enrolled in homeschool classes at a nearby school.

I'm changing the face of things this coming fall. I am currently babysitting my 4 month old granddaughter. My seven year old son goes to a charter school 20 minutes from here. This all keeps me very busy! But next fall my daughter is expecting again! I will then be babysitting two babies; one a year old and one an infant. Where does Tink fit into all this? How can I take care of two babies, homeschool a child with learning disabilities and divide my time so that I can still participate in my sons school activities?

I have prayed and prayed and researched and sent out emails and poured over craigslist, and inquired on my yahoo homeschool groups. I had to find a solution. I've picked the brains of my homeschool friends. Ive had this formost on my mind since finding out Wendy was pregnant again. Through all my searching and all my prayers I think I finally have the answer for next year. Next year will look a lot different then this year. But there now, that is next Saturdays topic for Home Education Week. Tune in for my next years plans.

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