Thursday, August 8, 2013

"Anything Works If The Teacher Works"

Here is the original title for this post:  Advice for History 2013-14......or Just About Anything.....

Edelfelt, Albert - Boys Playing at the Beach


 .....because I am looking for advice on how to proceed with history this year.....for my 6th grader, an 11 year old boy.....

.....but after Willa's post, I changed it.......because once I started writing this post.....I realized the title did not actually represent the content anymore.

And, I am well aware that the quote in the post title refers to "the student will learn anything if the teacher will 'work' to bring to the student or bring the student to the learning opportunities"........I cannot help but think of it as a pun. 

A PUN  because THIS teacher IS working.  Working a full-time job.  Which interferes with my ability to homeschool.....with my ability to bring to my student his learning.....with my enjoyment or even my ability to care that I must educate this little man. I seriously forget that we homeschool.  Yeah, really.

So, the details.....

Work perspective:

Some of you may have figured out that I am currently working a full-time job.  An RN, I work five twelve hour shifts out of every 14 days in a stressful rural Obstetrics department.  Most my shifts are not less than 13 hours.  Sometimes more.  I am usually wiped out the next day.....especially if there are two shifts in a row (headache, mild nausea and serious concentration issues...and a very strong desire to be left alone.......because everything and everyone is over-stimulating).  And then...there is the rest of life to attend to on the days off......So, not many days out of 14, but that makes me feel ill a possible 5 out of 14 which means that for about 10 out of 14 days, I am not available to my student.

Homeschooling perspective:

Some of you may have noticed that I have begun calling my current homeschooling philosophy:  NON-schooling.  Most of my days' off I actually forget that I am supposed to be homeschooling my little man. Poor guy got some schooling done last year....but barely.

I spent some time this time last year trying to figure out how best to educate him in this situation.  I looked at each subject........made some great notes in a post that I never finished or published (but did a few days ago.......) .....and tried to think outside of the box to figure out how best to make it all work, even if I was not there.

I typically have a loose plan.....literature-based......unschooling by default.  :)

The successes:

Language Arts:  He attends his sister's writing workshop which covers so much non-reading LA, that he is waaaaaay covered.  He is natural writer and story-teller......he loves this class and does not mind the work.  I am so blessed.

Science:  I contracted with a friend to take him once a week for a day.  They did chemistry lessons and experiments.  The rest of the day was a "play day", but you know in a homeschooling household, that often just means unschooling.  ;)

Signing him up for Lego Robotics this year.

Piano:  He takes piano lessons.  Speaks for itself.

Physical education:  He does well on all of his sports teams and only has a small amount of time off in between.

That's it.  Almost everything else was a failure.  You can read about the details in post linked above. There may be some redundancy in this post.......sorry about that.  Just trying to have complete thoughts.  Well, as best as I can.  ;)

Part-way through last year, I was reevaluating.....well, that happens at least weekly.........and even though he was capable of doing the Math-U-See on his own, he was moving waaaaaay toooooo slow, especially for the little math-brain that he is.  I was encouraged to try Teaching Textbooks......but I did not want him in front of a screen more than he already was......nor was I willing to invest in a new program considering he was the only one left at home.  I finally gave in......and my friend found him a copy of the one he needed.  It worked well those last few months.  So, that was a partial-success.

Another partial-success was that I realized I could give him his American history through Great Courses Lectures.  I then just wrote little quizzes for him from the info in the booklet........just one a month, to turn in as a learning sample to our charter school.  I would have liked to have had more discussion with him.....but he has a good memory, so I am sure he got something out of them. So, that could be an option.......


So, I am praying that I can spend more time being INTENTIONAL with my boy. I am praying that it is easier this year than last because I have graduated my senior AND I am sending her away. ;)

AND.....I am hoping that my sophomore in the Independent Study Program at the local high school ---so he can play sports---will be more independent with his schooling. He was quite independent by the end of the year last year........I told him he has to I can concentrate my efforts on his little brother......

Boy Reading
Thomas Pollock Anshutz (1851 – 1912)

I really hate that I have to expect my 11 year old to homeschool himself.  It is not very fair, to him.  But, it is our reality.  And I guess I could console myself that lots of homeschoolers do this every day when they use certain programs for their kids......with parental guidance, of course. 

I have a few.......


Or, maybe issues.....or major considerations.....

  • My little man is not yet a fast reader.

  • My homeschooling has always been literature-based. I am an unschooler by default, but we do provide some plans.....and take up rabbit trails whenever needed or desired.

I cannot assign him lots of reading; I am not around to do most of the read-alouds.  I need to work around these two things. And still be satisfied.  Is that possible????

I don't want to give up my literature-based education.

  • I work and it wears my body and brain out. Too tired to read aloud, or even cuddle, much less teach. 

  • I have a lot of Mondays off........he does not.  He has two classes and always sports every Monday.  (Since I originally wrote of his classes has been changed to Thursday morning so I will probably change his piano to another day as well.....he may have free Monday mornings and early afternoons for the first time in his life  :) .....and me, too!  Strange concept!)

I need to take these into consideration when I make my plans.

Other items of consideration:

He loves art and is good at it.

He loves playing on the computer.  I do not like him even looking at it.  ;)

I need to give him a checklist that works.

I want him to read/hear good literature.

I probably will not buy anything new......I need to use the resources I have available to me already, or borrowed, or free.

We have already listened to two or three of The Story of the World sets on CD.

(I just started peeking around Simply Charlotte Mason for something.....I might find simple inspiration there.....)

+ = + = + = + 
"Mrs. Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888
by Mary Cassatt

Bottom-line:  Does anyone have any recommendations:

  • of what time period to study for history
  • of what resources to use, specific ideas welcome
  • for any other ideas about our year, for any subjects or......

I welcome any thoughts that you might have after reading through this........

Summer Blessings & Prayers for YOUR school planning,



  1. Chari, I love this post. Your last one made me reflect on all the things about the way you are raising your youngest that are NOT a bust. So this one brings that part out more.

    Of course, I want to tell you to do US History, because for a change this year, WE are. Usually you are and we aren't.

    Or maybe church history? Combining your desire to form his faith with a historical perspective?

    It sounds weird, but could he listen to audiobooks for his history while you are gone, whether historical narratives or else bios/ historical fiction, and you could pick things that you would want to listen to as well, and you could listen to them on your walk and then discuss/do activities with him on your together time? I am doing something like that with my high schooler, with literature.

    This year I am trying to to think of school as something you do around the corners of life in a way, because even though I am not as busy as you are, I have a lot of things that need attention going on, and my three are so different that it takes a lot of time making sure they all get time. So Kieron and I meet after dinner, for instance. And I was going over math facts with Aidan after labs in town, this morning. I'm trying to think of other ways to combine child + time + subject, too.

  2. Chari
    What period is Malachy interested in? Considering alot will have to be driven my him I'd make it easier on both and go with something that really grabs him.
    Seconding audio books and sites for your 'not quite reading' lad.
    oh and DVDs.
    Well, think I already wrote you a post in your first post;)

  3. Chari-
    I loved this because I too work full-time and homeschool. Although you don't know me, I read your blog in my spare time (HAHAHA). I say this just to let you know others walk the same walk. We do the best we can-- AND really it is good enough. I have four children, two who just finished their freshman year at college, and who were adequately prepared, but more importantly HAPPY. I have two more children at home, upcoming 9th and 6th graders.
    As for recommendations, my only thought is for you to teach what you LOVE. An excited teacher about a subject is far more valuable than covering certain material.


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