Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dealing With Stuff

Welcome back to my series about how homeschool isn't always pretty!

I was fairly confident going in to homeschooling that I could do the teaching part. I had taught for years in public schools. Second grade didn't seem like that big of deal. It was the teaching while doing housework and taking care of a 3 year old and paying the bills and running errands and fixing meals that seemed hard. (I was right.)

For years I worked under the assumption that everyone else was being terribly successful in their homeschool endeavors and I was the only one having struggles. I'm not sure why this is. I certainly heard my fellow homeschool moms talk about their struggles at park days and play days. I heard them, but it's really hard to imagine other moms at home actually homeschooling. Since we are all in our individual homes, we don't get to see each other in action, so to speak. All we know is what we read on blogs (complete with cropped pictures!) and what we imagine in our heads.

The first struggle we had was with math. Sweetheart had gone to private school using ABeka curriculum in 1st grade. When we began our homeschool journey, I stuck with ABeka that first year. We were used to it. It was solid. It was Christian-based. At first that was fine. Throughout that first year I learned about other curriculum I wanted to try and dabbled in unit studies and lapbooks. The next year, third grade, I was ready to branch out. But since the ABeka arithmetic book was still working, I stuck with that.

Well, about 1/2 way through 3rd grade, we were both in tears during math time. Sweetheart hadn't really gained a very solid foundation in her 3 years of prior schooling. ABeka moved FAST. And we were drowning. We threw away the book, ordered a new curriculum, which started off marvelous, and it was easy enough to blame all of these struggles on 2 things:
1. her former school experiences
2. the curriculum

So I wasn't too shaken up.

Fast forward to this last school year (7th grade). Guess what? We are STILL struggling in math! It has become obvious over the years that we can't just lay blame and shrug it off. I've had to come to grips with the facts. In my mind they were:

1. She's not too good at math
2. I must really stink at teaching math

And then you hear about so-and-so's Kindergarten student who is working through a 3rd grade curriculum and CRIES when his mom says "no more math today." I NEVER wake up to children who are happily doing math worksheets before breakfast just because they want to. What's wrong with us?

The thing is: in public school everyone is kept in the same place. The smart kids might get to go to G/T classes and do extra projects and the slower kids might go for remedial tutoring, but really, you aren't allowed to stay back or move on outside of your grade level very often.

However in homeschooling, there are no limits like that. We ignore grade levels if we want to. And I think that's great as long as you're talking about my 3rd grader doing 4th grade work or above. But it's not so pretty or comforting to think about my 7th grader doing 6th grade work or below. That's nothing to brag about. And I was all "better late than early" in my happy Snow White voice for awhile there. Then it hit me that if we didn't get to moving, she wouldn't actually finish high school on time.

And I was pretty sure that no one else's kids were really grade levels behind. Oh sure, they might struggle, but surely they aren't years behind where they should be! Why are we always so sure it's only us?

So my first point on Homeschooling for the Rest of Us is this:

not everyone's kids are on grade level

And if yours aren't, you are not alone. Now you know.

(I'll talk more about what we are doing in math later!)


  1. I am actually crying as I finished reading this.

    My guilt is a tremendous burdon on me right now.I have been at this for many years with 5 kids and I have two who are not even close to grade level one in reading and one in math.I so often wonder what if they should have been sent to public school.

    How will I catch them up we keep trying but sometimes with very little progress. My other three are at and above grade level.My oldest child was and is just easy he loves to learn and exceles always.I often say he was a dirty little trick to make me think I could do this.


  2. This is why I don't read any of those "helpful" blogs. Most people only put the good "edited" stuff on there for you to read. I have enough doubts and anxieties without comparing myself to someone who appears to have it all together all the time! I usually walk away feeling like I'm doing something wrong in my marriage, or how I keep my home, or homeschooling. I only want to read about people who are real about their lives. The good and the bad! But it takes courage to put it out there that your life isn't as perfect as you would like everyone to think it is--so go Brenda!

    I'd also like to plug homeschool conventions. Talk about people being real about homeschooling. You'll find dozens of people willing to tell you exactly how far behind they are and what works for them or doesn't work. Something about the environment of a convention makes people open up more than they do even at park days. Plus you have the opportunity to listen to parents who have dealt with this and get some good practical information about what might work better for your family. I went to a mini one this past weekend and walked away with some great information for the middle/highschool years! It was awesome!

  3. Just wanted to let you know that you have a Canadian HS lurker... I have been for years... and I so appreciate whenever you have a chance to write! Love this latest 'real' life look at what homeschooling is for most of us :)

  4. Thank you, everyone, for the comments! (And texts and emails!) I'm glad I touched a nerve with this one and I have a lot more to say! (Shocked?)

  5. Thanks for linking! There is a new no-swear-words version of my post up now. Share away! (It's linked at the bottom of the original "Cropping" post.)

  6. I'm a little late to the party, but am enjoying this series. I found that when a had a high schooler to homeschool, is when I got crazy about this stuff. Homeschooling info about high school is scary and intimidating! Well let me confess, my kid has barely made it through algebra and chemistry, didn't take any foreign language, will not be taking calculus (she is taking business math instead) or physics, and there is a chance it may take her 5 years to complete high school. Whew! Feels good to just "say that outloud". :)


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)