Not the most ideal first-day-of-school ever

For this, our seventh year of homeschooling, I wanted to start school on the 18th, but I didn’t have my act together, nor all the curriculum ordered.  So, I set my sights on the 25th, today. 

I still didn’t have my act together, and I still didn’t have all the curriculum I needed, but I am motivated to get in at least a solid six weeks of school before the Baby Fiala is born, some time in October.

So, in advance, I had decided that today, we would ease into school, spending most of the day reading… hanging out together…  I had visions of us all, cozily sitting on the couch, enjoying a read-aloud novel together.

What the day ended up being was three boys, highly resistant to me on virtually everything, squabbling, copping attitudes, being disrespectful, and not willingly participating in even a simple conversation, and me, fairly disappointed and discouraged.

My 11yo, who, last week, was asked by the optometrist to do near-far-focus eye exercises because he’s SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME READING (and it’s making his eye muscles act like he’s nearsighted, though he’s actually not), seriously started crying when I told him that he would need to “work” for most of the morning reading Carry On, Mr. BowditchCrying.  Why?  Because it’s not his favorite book, and because I’d be asking him comprehension questions about it.  Because it’s not just reading, it’s reading with accountability.  I was patient with him for about five minutes, but when the tears were still flowing, and the attitude was worsening, I basically told him to suck it up and start reading.

I found myself wishing that they all had the opportunity to spend at least a week in a regular school, so that they could be aware of just how good they have it.  When I poured out my disappointments to my husband over the phone, as he kindly inquired about our first day of school, what did he say?  “I wish they could have an opportunity to spend a few days in a regular school just to they could know how good they have it.”  Hehehe.  At least we’re thinking in unity.  He clarified to let me know that he does not (as I do not) actually want them in a regular school, he just wishes (as I do) that we could slap them in the face with reality a bit, so they quit whining about their really, really good life.

Martin also shored up my own dreamy attitude about schooling.  “It’s really my heart that school be fun, and that we all enjoy it…”  to which he responded, “Well, it sounds like what they really need is some discipline and some character-building.  Sometimes, school isn’t fun, and they just need to learn to apply themselves and be faithful.”  

Although the boys each daily do 30 to 90 minutes of chores a day, and a mandatory quiet time of 90 minutes in the afternoon, and we had swimming lessons and a vacation thrown in there, they have had ten weeks of doing pretty much whatever they wanted.  I mean, within reason.  I really limit their TV, and they each only get 20 minutes of computer time a day.  But, the rest of the days were spent playing, playing, playing.  And, here comes Mean Ol’ Mom, with the plan to — GASP!! — put a halt to all that playing.  Or, a third of it.  Or something like that.  Even though they knew it was coming, they all dug in their heels.

So, Martin was telling me that, no matter how pleasant school is (and he doesn’t even see making school “pleasant” to really be a priority!), to our boys, it’s still not going to be prefereable to days of doing essentially nothing.

I’m not discouraged about homeschooling in general.  It’s just that my dream of our first day, and its reality, bore absolutely no resemblance to each other.

I keep thinking that, someday, an absolute love to learn is going to kick in with them.  I loved to learn.  I still do.  When I was a kid, I know I would have absolutely adored what we do.  I would have eaten it up.  Um… they don’t.  ~sigh~  They don’t hate school, usually, but I have this undying hope and partial expectation that some kind of learning maturity is going to blossom in them (or at least ONE of them!) and they’ll stop fighting me over school issues.  It hasn’t yet happened, and if today is any indication, it’s not going to happen any time in the near future.  

(Although… as I write that last paragraph, it comes to mind that, in particular, my 9yo middle son has been giving FITS to Martin and me about basic obedience in pretty much every area for the last few months, so it shouldn’t surprise me that it has extended to school, nor should I blame his resistance on “school.”  Hope that makes sense.)

Don’t get me wrong:  There is SO much about homeschooling that I adore, and I am very motivated to continue (thanks, Melanie, for the indirect encouragement to do so!!!).  One bad day is simply not going to make me lose heart or focus.  But, I do wish today went better.

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on August 25, 2008, in Homeschooling, Motherhood, Parenting, The Dear Hubby, The Kids, Whining. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. It sounds like you’re doing great – teaching boys to do chores and having a quiet time every day are real accomplishments. Try to lay your head on the pillow tonight with those thoughts and not what went wrong.

  2. Probably the worst day of your homeschool is more efficient and a better learning enviroment than the best day at the average public school.

    Tomorrow will be a better day. 🙂

  3. I feel you on the boys digging your heels in. We started again a couple of weeks ago, and oh boy the resistance from my boys.
    It’s nice to see that there are other moms out there who are experiencing similar things and handle them similarly (with grace, with exasperation, with frustration, with sadness, with quiet patience)

  4. I am glad to hear that someone has problems too! I look at other families where their kids seem to love it and I get discouraged.
    I have had thoughts of putting my kids in public school too, just to wake them up.

    My 10yo has also been trying us severely. I enjoy your blog and your honesty. It sure made my day and encouraged me to continue to pursue too!

  5. Debbie ~ Thank you. Although, what you mention doesn’t seem like an accomplishment, b/c the quiet time we’ve been doing forever (as soon as someone is too old for a nap, they’re old enough for quiet time)… and chores we’ve been doing regularly for more than a year. You’re right, though, it’s not like I’m totally failing, and neither are my kids. 🙂 And, lay my head on my pillow, I did!! I slept 10 hours last night, going to bed before my hubby, which I never do!!

    Daja ~ Thank you for the reminder! And, guess what?? Today was MUCH better. Much better.

    SpiralOwl ~ Thanks for the comment! I hope it’s OK that I edited it to include your blog addy. I enjoyed reading it! We’re both g.f. homeschooling moms… and we even both used to work at McD’s!! 😀

    Christy ~ Thanks, too, for the comment! I visited your blog — your family is precious! Your oldest daughter is just lovely. What a smile. With the clues in your blog, I did a little investigating; I was hoping you lived in Tulsa (b/c my best friend lives there), but it appears you’re in OK City. MomLovesBeingAtHome is there, too… on my blogroll on the right.

  6. Hey, so send them to school and have 7 hours to yourself for the first time in 11 years, time to linger at our church’s prayer room, to eat lunch with a girlfriend, to knit and clean to my heart’s content…but deal with homework pressures and stressed out kids when they come home from Lutheran school. The expectations are high, the memory work (biblical) alot. I am hoping we survive, if we do, they will be better for it and might appreciate our much more laid back approach at home. I think I was way too easy on my kids, the teachers are not. Good luck this year… the grass is always greener…

  7. Lisa ~ I sometimes get tempted, but I’m so aware that it’s a case of greener grass that probably isn’t so green, for the reasons you mention, plus many others. Just thinking about setting up 504 plans for both Grant (for his learning disability) and Wesley (for his peanut & other food issues) is enough to keep me away. Plus, pretty much every parent I know has to help their child with 1-3 hours of homework every night. Um… Tack on an hour or two more, and it’s called… HOMESCHOOLING!! And, I really don’t like the idea of trying to mesh my family’s schedule around the school’s schedule, and managing relationships with all the different teachers. Ugh. Sending them to school seems like MORE work to me, not less. Maybe it would be different if I didn’t also have young ones at home… But, if I’m gonna be home with the babies anyways, I may as well keep the olders at home and school them.

    NOT that I’m trying to convince you to bring your kids back home — every family (and every mother, in particular) has different needs and priorities, and I’m not trying to foist mine upon you. I’m just (wordily) trying to say that I’ve considered the other side of the fence, and at least for right now, it’s so not worth it.

  8. We had the foot dragging last week, too, Karen. I hope this week is going better.

    I think Martin and my dh would get along quite well. They seem to share the same opinion about what a day of homeschooling should be like for the student, and that fun and pleasant aren’t necessarily high on the list of priorities, unlike discipline and character.

    One of my kids took driver’s ed this summer. It was through a driving school, but the actual class was held in a high school classroom. The instructors ran a tight ship, probably tighter than a regular class, and boy was he glad to be done with that! He has been working without me leaning on him to git ‘er done. I’m really glad that class came along! 🙂

  1. Pingback: Today was better than yesterday « Only Sometimes Clever

  2. Pingback: Fourth day of school, and we’re DONE with spelling for the year!! « Only Sometimes Clever

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