Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Home to Public School - 28 days to go

So I have been thinking about why this whole homeschooling idea didn't work out so well for our family.  I want to understand why so that I can return to it in the future.

Some factors that have had an influence on how well (or not) it has gone:
  1. Tiredness due to extended breastfeeding, usually 4 years per child, longer in 2 cases
  2. Tiredness and mummy fog due to a pregnancy every 3 to 3.5 years, yup, the pregnancies overlap the breastfeeding
  3. Tiredness due to headaches and fogginess due to chronic grass allergies that flare up into seasonal sinus headaches that really knock me down (so very thankful I don't have migraines though so I don't see this as a whinge at all, just the facts as they are)
  4. Inability to direct my kids to do what I want them to do as I don't like confrontation
  5. A definite lack of funds for about 6 of those years, which tends to make me freeze up mentally and not use anything in case we don't have the resources to move on, also meant there was no funds for organising all the things that come with homeschooling and 4 children's worth of toys and clothes
  6. Depression due to tiredness, guilt, feeling of low self worth, messy house with no tools to organise it all due to lack of funds
  7. Having an oppositional Aspie child as my eldest (remember I don't like confrontation!) threw my self confidence out the window, no idea on how to handle him 
  8. Lack of confidence in my ability to teach when everything I tried didn't help my eldest to learn to read (he finally got it on his own around 9 years old and I felt like nothing I did contributed to his learning at all)
  9. No family support close by although my mum and dad are supportive of homeschooling!  TG!
  10. No time off, as in None for a very long time!  For basically 12 years, until the eldest was old enough to be left home for short periods with younger ones to mind, I did not have a single break from parenting and household responsibilities.  If I went out while dh looked after the kids it was solely for jobs like shopping, library visits, or actual income work at a local supermarket.  I didn't get to go anywhere on my own.
  11. My introvert nature gets overwhelmed by managing all the noise associated with 4 children who I haven't had the energy/confidence to teach to act in a way that doesn't overwhelm me.
  12. Moving interstate and between towns several times - no feeling settled, no friends, no networks of support!
  13. Self discipline that could really do with some work (But as most of my self discipline issues also hinge on directing others to fit into the life I envision for us, it doesn't help that avoiding conflict is an issue for me too.  It is enough that I need to have conflict with my own comfortable but not useful ways but to then also try to direct others to move out of their comfortable but not useful ways is just too much especially when I am tired - see above.)
Wow!  I hope that covers everything.  I need to see what I can do to "fix" some of these.  Hopefully some things are just seasons and will soon be off the "problem" list.

  1. For example, no more kids to come, and only 1 last child to wean.  
  2. Dh fully understands that a family our size needs a steady income.  He will be doing his utmost to ensure we don't have long periods of low income again.   
  3. I have found a combination of natural remedies and homeopathic remedies that seem to be reducing my reactions to my grass allergies.  
  4. We will be moving closer to family again with the next job. 
  5.  I will be making sure to establish some support networks for myself very quickly when that happens.
And I am really hoping that as the tiredness and depression from the guilt, money stresses and loneliness lift that I will have the courage to try again, to do what I need to do to homeschool my kids again after this break.
Best wishes
Jen

9 comments:

  1. Hi Jen :)
    I think it's great that you're able to be so honest with yourself about why it hasn't worked out at the moment.
    I do want to pick on one thing though :)

    #11 - My introvert nature gets overwhelmed by managing all the noise associated with 4 children who I haven't had the energy/confidence to teach to act in a way that doesn't overwhelm me.

    If you'd have had the energy/confidence do you think they'd behave that way anyway? I'm not trying to be a negative Nelly, I actually think you're being too hard on both yourself and your kids with this one!!
    I have 4 kids also, albeit younger, and I have the same conversation with them EVERY SINGLE DAY, multiple times (!!!) about how they need to be quiet when the baby is going to sleep. She's 8mths old now, and the conversation's been going since she was born.
    They don't stay quiet when she's going to sleep.
    I've approached it from many angles and...nothing.
    I think sometimes we just need to accept that some things are just the way they are and will stay that way no matter what and in doing that find a different way to solve the problem -

    get yourself some time out!!
    activities for them that can be done quietly.
    designated 'quiet time'.
    designated computer/gaming time for them.
    have you tried 'strewing' (or as I like to call it...leaving things out for my kids to find so they will be quiet for a change!)?

    I've really enjoyed reading your posts about all this :)
    Take care.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your input. I needed to hear that some of these things are just normal. That is one less thing to be hard on myself about and I really needed that right now!

      Jen

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  2. You know Jen, I think you've done so well to homeschool for this long. Tiredness due to pregnancy and extended breastfeeding would make it difficult in any case, but add in any one of your other points and it gets so much harder.

    It's really important to take time to yourself and really hard if you don't have the money to pay for childcare. And school is a pretty cheap way of paying for someone to look after your children. Even if your two that are going to school don't make much educational progress in the next year, you can count it as worth it for providing you with a bit of a breather. I hope you do get that time to yourself somehow.

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  3. Dear Jen, you certainly are being very honest and thoughtful about this whole journey. I hope you aren't beating yourself up about the decision to send the kids to school though, and especially looking on your homeschooling years as a 'failure'. You have given your boys a stable family life through a series of moves that would have been so difficult for your son with Aspbergers if he'd had to negotiate school changes as well. You have provided them with a happy, unpressured childhood, and let them develop at their own pace. They are good friends with you and each other, and they know that you want to spend time with them. So many 'poor little rich kids' would love to swap with yours.
    It's time for a change, but that doesn't mean your failure, that means you are listening to their needs and yours and making a sensible decision. I say, well done you. I bet you could write another post about all the positives of your homeschooling experience as well..about what a great family foundation you laid from which to send the kids out into the world.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jo. I guess I hadn't looked at it that way. Off to ponder some more.

      Best wishes
      Jen

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  4. Jen- I haven't weighed in before, but I really want to now: You've done a great job. You're concerned that your oldest didn't read until 9, but he does read - and reasonably well. Most children who struggle at first continue to struggle, throughout their lives. By giving him space to learn when he was ready, you've hopefully saved him from that "poor reader" label.
    I want to second everything Jo said, above. You've provided a wonderful, safe, stable, loving home life, in spite of many difficulties, to four remarkable and sometimes intense young men.
    Finally, I don't know any parent who doesn't use some of the public resources available. Here in Utah, I've got the kids in an online school, sort of part-time. Many homeschoolers here have their kids just in band, or orchestra, or drama. Every homeschooler I know uses the library; and every person I know uses the public roads. We use more or less of the public resources available at different stages in our lives. If this is a season of your lives when you need to use the public schools more, as in full-time, why stress about it? You're being the parent your boys need, by evaluating what will be best for your family and doing whatever it is. If the time comes when you need less of that resource, wonderful: do that then. The thing is, homeschooling at its best is about being a thoughtful, involved parent. And that doesn't change with the venue of the classroom.

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  5. Thank you to all you lovely ladies out there supporting Jen - you have just reiterated all that I have tried to tell her. You've done good, girl!! Of course, you know that parents opinions don't count! Well, my darling girl, you will find out when the boys come home from school, that suddenly Mama and Dad are maybe not as smart as the teacher is. Don't believe a word of it - though I know that although they don't put it into so many words, you are their mainstay, their refuge from the big wide world, and they will take that assurance to school with them and be with them all their lives.

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  6. Hi Jen,

    Long time no talk to! You used to follow my blog Ferns by the Fireside. I'm now writing at 3 Little Ferns and How They Grew (3littleferns.blogspot.com).

    I totally understand all you have said, having homeschooled myself then put my little girl in school, pulled her out again for 2 more glorious years of homeschooling, only to put her (and my son) in school again following the sickness, tiredness, guilt and all the above you have mentioned! 9 years of pregnancy and extended breastfeeding, along with health problems, marriage problems and no family support also ended my homeschooling experience. I wish it hadn't... but life has a way of not working out quite the way we hope. And honestly? My children LOVE school. We have all adjusted to the changes, and you and your boys will too. Much, much love. Saminda x

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  7. We were never designed to do it all on our own. Raising kids was supposed to be a family affair and it is really tough without that additional support, so don't be so hard on yourself. You have proved you are tough in challenging circumstances and you will be a stronger person for it. Well done for making it this far - it does get easier as they grow up and are not so physically tied to you all the time :)

    Influencing people does not have to be about confrontation. You are probably thinking that I have no idea what your family are like and that it is always about confrontation, right? They probably know that you don't like it and use it as a way to manipulate you to get what they want. Well, you don't have to go along with playing things their way. Tell them how you feel about full on confrontation and that you will not participate in conversations that involve raised voices or unruly behaviour. Techniques like Non-Violent Communication work well, although take a bit of practice. I learnt about it from Sally Lever at http://www.sallylever.co.uk/. She has loads of great posts full of help and advice, and regular newsletters, many to do with home schooling. I can't find the one about NVC right now though.

    My kids all went to school, and i agree with a previous comment about it being 'free childcare'. Sometimes you need that break from the kids to be yourself again and have adult coversations and thoughts. Then you can enjoy seeing the kids at the end of the day and have more patience and energy for them. Without family support this may work out better for you :)

    Chin up

    Judy

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