Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sometimes Things Go Well

Oddly, the start of our new homeschooling year seems to be going smoothly. Knock on wood.

The children vary between excited and accepting of our work and routine instead of the all out mutiny I expected.  The smooth transition from summer to fall probably comes from a variety of things.

First, my kids are older.  Maturity makes a huge difference.  Actually, Theo's maturity makes a huge difference. A few days into our new schedule, he confided in me that this year he plans to do all of his work by the end of the year.  Apparently over the summer something happened in Theo's brain that made doing his work a priority. And since Rosie imitates 90% of what he does, she's into doing her work as well.

Second, I'm confident keeping a summer schedule prevented the usual shock of entering back into a full school year routine.  The kids' summer work list stood more as a place holder than an engine for getting lots of learning done, but it helped.  Each morning we were in town they did morning routine, chores, practiced guitar, did a 15 minutes clean-up of the house and worked in their handwriting workbooks - about an hour and a half of work.

Of course, figuring out to do light schooling over the summer points to another reason for these easy first few weeks: more expereince on my part.  We're beginning our official 4th year of homeschooling, and we did years of neurological growth programs before then.  I guess I've been mucking out how to make an agenda-packed day run smoothly with my kids for about 8 years now. Over the course of time the most important lesson I've internalized is the metaphor of the marathon.  The work I'm doing with my kids blossoms years from now.  Getting every detail and lesson just perfect right now looks good in the short sprint of the day, but if I make us all crazy and exhausted now how will I ever teach our life goals of peace, ease, connection and love of learning? In short, I'm becoming flexible with an eye to the long term.

Finally, a great trick I learned from the Neufeld course: steer into the skid.  If I know my kid is going to hate something, whine, scream and complain about it, I announce that to them before presenting the offending work. While it sounded at first like crazy manipulation, somehow it seems to magically give my children permission to feel their feelings, be known by me and let most of the drama pass.

It sounds like this, "Honey, next I am going to ask you to do something I know is usually hard for you, and you don't like.  And to make it worse, I'm going to ask you to do MORE of it than I did this summer.  I'm guessing you're going to feel really angry and want to scream and yell at me, and that's okay with me."  I assign the handwriting task and the response is, "Oh darn it Mommy.  That's going to be hard.  Where's my pencil?"  Weird but true. Of course, one should always be prepared to accept the angry shouting if that comes about, too.

Now that I've shared about our lovely first weeks and my guesses as to what made them so, I'm off to make copious sacrifices to both the parenting and homeschool gods in hopes of preventing serious retaliatory disasters next week!

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