Saturday, May 28, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal 28 May (a long one)

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…
This week was still dragging due to my allergies but I have been picking up my attitude to the work that needs to be done.  I really don't know how those mums with severe illnesses do it.  I find it way too easy to make excuses and it is Not Good.

In our homeschool this week…
I have still been doing computer school but I am really over it.  I think the kids are learning but I don't think I am showing the right attitude to the work that needs to be done no matter how we all Feel.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Woodwork lessons are going well.  The boys are getting down to the end bits of softening edges etc on their swords.   My youngest goes to gymnastics on Wednesday morning and he is enjoying it.  I like all my boys to do gymnastics for their first activity.  It is a great all round exercise.  I do wonder though that if we still had the playgrounds around from my childhood that it wouldn't be necessary to do gymnastics.

My favorite thing this week was…
I made some bread by hand this last week and I think that it will be a good habit to continue.  An upper body workout without the gym fees.  I also loved getting myself 2 "new to me" lounges for only $120.  They are my favourite dark blue and have good strong arms for boys to sit on.  The 3 seater replaces our old lounge in our TV/school room that had a cover that was needing fixing and the 2 seater has been put in the room where our fireplace is so those of us who don't want to watch TV have somewhere to sit and read.  My 9 and 6 year olds will love that.

What’s working/not working for us…
What is not working is Mama just getting over it and getting on with it.  What is working is getting the boys more involved in doing some of the chores that I let slide when I am too tired to notice.  Also on looking through my eldest's Singapore Maths book we realised he really already knows the stuff in this book.  We have shortened 31 lessons down to just 8 practice and review exercises.  If he makes mistakes in those then he will have to go back to do the whole lot.  He likes this deal.  Hmm, better order the next book now!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…
I have been thinking through how my boys learned to read.

My eldest really struggled to learn phonics.  I started teaching him (remember teaching does not always equal learning) when he was about 6 years old.  He could not retain what was taught to him even for the short time a lesson took.  And definitely not until the next day.  I read Better Late than Early by the Moores and accepted begrudgingly that he may be a late reader but I still didn't feel comfortable with it especially as other little friends were reading and moving on with their skills.

Despite me trying again and again, sometimes for a week, sometimes resting it for a few weeks, just trying again and again, he still hadn't learnt to read by the time he was 8.5 years old.  I was getting very embarrassed by it, afraid that others would think I was a fraud as a homeschooler when I couldn't teach my child to read,  and he hated writing too.  We didn't go out much, I didn't join any homeschooling groups and I definitely wouldn't take the kids anywhere where they might be expected to read, like Sunday School.

Finally, on his own, he started reading when he was about 9.5 years old.  I was just glad he had finally got it.  But I still feel like a fraud as a homeschool mum who is supposed to be able to teach her children.

To avoid the frustrations on both the part of me and my student I have not taught my next 2 children to read.  I put them in front of games like Starfall and any other phonic based sites I came across.  They learned their sounds in a fun way, no pressure from me if they weren't "getting it".  Now they can read 3 letter words and know how to sound out new words we are getting on with reading lessons together.   Sure, I missed that moment when it clicked for them, but I also avoided many painful lessons where it just wasn't "clicking".

My method may not be the most talked about in forums or in real life groups.  I am partly embarrassed to admit I didn't teach my kids to read, but you know what?  It doesn't mean I am a failure as a homeschool mum, I just knew where my weaknesses lay and found other resources to teach my children.  After all I will probably have to do that later on for the heavier sciences or higher level maths.  What is wrong with doing it earlier on?

And my eldest, well, he has since been diagnosed with mild Asperger's, which explains an awful lot.  I wish I had known earlier and not beaten myself up so much.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
From one of my favourite songs:  Mama by Nana Mouskouri  This song is why I wanted to be called Mama instead of Mum.  Grab your tissues before you read the lyrics.

This is the tale of a little boy
Wandering far from his home
Most of his family were with him then
And nothing but life did they own
Tortured by war in their native land
Their only recourse was to flight
Tracing the path of the sun by day
And led by the north star at night
Onward they pressed to the promised land
Not knowing if that was the way
And none of the children could understand
And this little boy used to say
Hey, hey, hey

Mama , where do we go from here
Mama, why can' t we stay
Mama, is daddy very near
Mama, why do you pray

Down came the winter, the food was scarce
The people were falling like flies
Disease helped starvation make matters worse
And parents resorted to lies
Hush, your mama will soon be well
Though all they can do is to wait
And one little boy hears the doctor tell
The others he thinks it' s too late
It' s too late

Mama, he whispers quietly
Mama, you' re looking old
Mama, why don' t you answer me
Mama, your hands feel cold

He rushes out into the chilly night
He can' t believe what he has been told
The tears in his eyes start to blur his sight
And freeze on his face with the cold
But in the next camp, there is a mother mild
Who's mourning a son passed away
And fate brings the cries of the little child
To her just as he starts to say
Hey, hey, hey

Mama, she knows what she must do
Mama, she thinks of her
Mama, I must take the place of you
And take him into my care

Mama, oh oh...

Thanks for hanging in until the end.

Best wishes


  1. Kids have their own schedules don't they. Just as they learn to walk and talk at different times, they also learn to read when they are good and ready.

    I think learning to read can be a bit like learning to ride a bike too. You can teach them how to ride when they are younger but it might take a lot of work and perseverance but if we wait until they are older they might just be able to get on and ride after only a few tries. And other kids will pick up a bike and teach themselves. It doesn't really matter how they learn as long as they do so they can enjoy riding.

    It's a shame that schools don't see the process in the same way. If kids don't learn on the school's schedule then they label them as defective in some way and many children in that environment live up to their labels.

    So glad our kids aren't part of that world.

  2. Thanks for sharing about the reading timetable. It is something to me to remember, now that I am just embarking on this journey. My eldest is 5 and likes to sound out words or write his own words - for instance he will draw a picture and write letters that he thinks sounds out the word he is trying to say. I'm trying to let that be enough for now, because he got bored with "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 lessons". It can be a competition for some as to how advanced their children are, but I don't want to put pressure on myself. I enjoy your homeschool journals, thanks.

  3. Hi Jen, I think this is the first time I've commented here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on teaching reading. There must just be a time when a child is ready. My daughter recently 'got' swinging. I tried to teach her a few times but in the end I just left her to it, and one day she realised she could do it.
    If only we could be more confident and trusting in the times before when they don't yet get it. I think it can be hard to just trust "it will happen" (especially when their peers are already doing it).

  4. Oh how much I LOVED this post! I love when other mommies get honest. And as a mommy dealing with catastrophic illness (my littlest) on a daily basis...let me confess that most days I make it by the skin of my teeth! And the Grace of God! I shared with someone earlier this week that the thing I hate about blogging is it provides a skewed view of reality. I can write a post and edit it to smithereens until it portrays exactly what I want it to. Meanwhile what it doesn't reveal is...the laundry piled higher than my screaming at the kids for no good reason...I've had a major meltdown on the hubs...and getting dinner on the table? that's a funny one! By the skin of my teeth, hon. inspired an honest moment for me. :)

    The reading drama you've had is comparable to the writing drama we're having at our place. And Lord knows...I don't have the extra patience to deal with it! Maybe it'll just click when he's ready??


    This post made me love ya' a little bit more!

    raising little rhodies

  5. Amanda,

    I think your little guy is doing great when he is making up words. My eldest started doing that when he was closer to 8.5 years old. It is great for them to realise that those little squiggles on paper can mean something and even send a message. He would ask me how to spell words and I would get little notes about wanting to watch TV or to go to the pool. His notes were so precious to me and I still have some of them.

    They gave me some hope when he was struggling so much in other ways.

    Best wishes

  6. Danielle,

    Thank you for your comment. I too don't like how blogs can show such a small window into our lives. The blogging lens can be very good at showing only rainbows and not the mud that naturally comes with the rain.

    And with regards to writing... oh boy, I do not want to go there just yet. Aspies are not known for being creative, being more literal and logical type people. Getting him to create a sentence, let alone a paragraph, out of his imagination would be a lot to ask from him and he is 12.5 years old.

    I am thinking of trying IEW when it comes time. Again, lots of watching and absorbing from someone more interesting than Mum.

    Best wishes

  7. Kids certainly have their own time tables! but I do understand the pressure that comes when they are outdone by their peers in certain ways. I also used starfall etc heaps with my dd but in the end she learned when SHE was ready for it:) It's tough when mamma is sick as I have been this past week as well but we plod along and keep going...good on you for being honest!


Thank you for visiting. I would love to hear from you and tend to reply in the comments. It is nice to just have a chat some times.

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