Sunday, November 29, 2009

On the hard days....

Schooling is wonderful. I love it. It's wonderful and it's wonderfully challenging.

If you've been schooling at home you'll have had some really, really hard days. I find it's about this time of year that we start having some of those days again. The excitement of school is over, and the work starts feeling like same-old-work. I was just talking to a friend about this, it got me thinking about some ideas that have helped me to work with a boy who fought me tooth and nail over school.

One of the best things I've ever learned with schooling is not to engage your kids in conflict or argument during school. If you can avoid engaging, the conflict dies down. This was really good for me to hear. I used to think the kids should know how lucky they were to not be in public school...and I'd try and argue that with them. Anyhow, when I heard my son say 'I wish I could just be in public school' I'd answer "I'll bet you do" and then, "Ok, where were we?" When he'd say, "Just one more problem then I'm done for the day" I'd say..."Nice try." It diffuses the tension for awhile. Repeated, the complaints grew farther and farther apart.

Every situation, every child is not the same, but the concept of not engaging works. Addressing the attitude after school with dad in a civil conversation might help.

There are really hard days. Sometimes mama's having a hard day. Give yourself grace and let yourself have "easy days." Last week I had a hard, hard day (emotionally) so I just sat down while the boys were playing legos and read chapters and chapters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was great. I had NO guilt about "just reading" to my boys b/c I saved them from the potential of a grouchy-mama-school day and I just want to avoid those all I can.

One last thought- let your student take some ownership of her schooling. Let her help you with the planning. She has to get her work done, but what does she want to do first? What is her favorite schooly-fun thing to do? Go for a hike, bake cookies, help with the shopping list or grocery shopping? Let her put something fun on her school calendar for the week. Let her choose her reading materials, do the research on the topics she's studying to find books at the library. Letting her make some of the choices will help her take ownership and might make it more fun.

On the planning note, (I've just started mine for the week) doing it once a week works for me. Remembering that this is a full time job helps me think of it as a job...preparation time included. I do my prep work Sunday or Tuesday nights and carve a few hours out to do it. Grab a favorite cup of tea and chocolates and make it a pleasant ritual. I have some planning forms I've downloaded from (under free stuff) that I use to plan out our week. Going week by week helps me to switch things up or plan around events to keep it exciting.
So now peepers, you share? What is in your toolbox for those tough days? The days when you or your little ones are not enjoying school? Do tell!!

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