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. Bowditch. Crying. 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.