Saturday, August 27, 2011

First Week of Kindergarten 2011- Hello Reality!

Wow- what a first week. If I'm being completely honest, it didn't go at all as I had planned or expected. In some ways I knew that there would be some adjustments that would have to be made, I just had no idea they would be so drastic. I'll tell you right now that the first part of this post is a bit of a rant, but it gets better at the end, and its filled with honest homeschooling mama confessions, so stick with me!

For starters, the school room that I have been so vigorously planning and working on is still not finished. A sprained ankle sidelined The Carpenter (my hubby) for a day last week which took a huge chunk out of his available time to work on the desk he is building for us. I think once he gets it finished I will fairly quickly be able to organize everything and finally get the room to the unchaotic state that I have been planning on, it just hasn't happen yet. And let me tell you, I will be really glad when we are done trying to accomplish school on a tiny card table!

So after the schoolroom hurdles came scheduling snafoos. I ended up having to run errands for our business first thing in the morning on our first day of school, which put a serious kink in my day- REALLY not the way I wanted to get our school year started! So two hours behind we finally managed to get sat down and start things rolling. And this is where some of the good stuff comes in- Rhythm was so excited and he put forth so much effort, more than I have ever seen him put forth before. I can honestly say that he was making his absolute best effort and I was just so surprised, proud and delighted!

Despite our late start, our school time on Monday ended up turning into such a sweet time with both my children, fully focusing on them. Lion Cub shocked us all by really getting into his Tot School activities and keeping happily and unmischieviously occupied the ENTIRE time (which I will go into more in my Tot School post for the week) and Rhythm and I were able to really work together to get through his core subjects. We were even able to go set up his play tent in the yard and read together while Lion Cub took his nap in the afternoon- what a priceless memory to mark the beginning of our school year with. That alone truly made the day feel redeemed!

However, (back to one of those unexpected hurdles I hadn't planned for and really probably should of) I quickly found out that once we made it through Calendar time, Bible, Math and Reading, Rhythm really started to check out and he has every day since. He has never had to sit and concentrate for this long and it was obviously becoming too much for this active little boy. One morning he was so distracted right from the get go that I made him go out in the yard and run laps until he was good and worn out and ready to sit and concentrate. It wasn't his best day but those laps definitely helped!

So, as a result of this realization, each day I have done it a little differently, but basically I have started planning in a break right after we finish those 3 core subjects- recess, essentially. One day we went for a walk. Another day the boys wrestled and played with trucks while I got dinner in the crockpot. So far it seems that that break ends up falling about the time that they are getting hungry for lunch, so I have moved our lunchtime up to about 11:30ish. It seems to work best if I go ahead and just let him have his independent play time until after I get Lion Cub down for his nap and then we can resume again, just the two of us, to work on all the fun stuff I have planned. Ya know, the stuff I spent countless hours mapping out for the entire year!

It has become dramatically apparent that I have definitely expected too much and my plans are far loftier than he is capable of handling at this point. But ya know, I am also more okay with it than I would expect from myself, especially considering all that work! I think that I feel more grateful than anything that we are homeschooling so that I can pick up on his cues and really create an environment and timing that he can work best in. As I discussed it with The Carpenter this evening he expressed the same thankfulness that our incredibly active little boy isn't being forced to sit at a desk for an entire morning and end up totally checking out (and likely getting in trouble) wasting away these precious learning years.

Now, I won't lie and say that it hasn't been a bit discouraging as well. I have such fun stuff planned! But as I saw with the plaster homemade globe we attempted to make this week that ended up turning into a 100% mommy project in about 2 minutes, what I think is fun may not be as fun for him, so I really have to taylor what I'm planning to him and respond to how he is doing with the projects I present to him. however, I do have to say that he did enjoy the painting of it (he just really didn't like having the plaster on his hands!).

In all honesty there have been times this week that I have considered completely postponing our geography, science and history plans (which are a combined unit study) until next year when he may be more up for it, but I still haven't come to any real conclusions on this. For right now I think we will forge ahead but just not be afraid to cut out the things that he isn't ready for. There is so much wonderful literature included in what we are studying and beautiful opportunities to learn about God's creation and everyone's need to learn about Him, that I hope to still be able to make a lot of it work. The key will just be to not burn either of us out and try to come at it in a more relaxed way. And really, like I said, I'm pretty amazed that I haven't had a nervous breakdown because things are so not how I prepared for- it absolutely cannot be me. I truly feel that God has given me an extra measure of grace, patience and flexibility this week because if it had all been me, well, let's just say it wouldn't be pretty and we would all most likely already hate homeschooling by now!

So thank you Jesus for answering prayers, giving guidance and most of all giving me a little boy who is eager to learn combined with affording us the priceless opportunity to still let him very much be a five year old boy!

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