Update, More Explanation, and What’s to Come
These past few weeks have been a complete whirlwind. I’m exhausted but also hopeful.
We still have so many details to work out, though, so I am also overwhelmed. I’m trying to take one day at a time. I know that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to; that’s what keeps me going.
Despite the stress, for the most part, my anxiety has been better. My brain seems to know the difference between temporary overwhelm with a positive future than extreme stress that doesn’t seem to ever end. I do have moments of anxiety, but it’s not as severe. Teaching online (working full time in general), just isn’t possible for me. My brain just cannot manage. I’m in the process of trying to get disability again, but it seems almost impossible. We will see what happens.
Yes, I’m homeschooling, but it is SO different than a full time job. It gives me just enough of something to do (that I am passionate about) without the stress of the pressure from administration and the longer hours. I can also do what I want. It is soooo chill compared to working full time. It is on my own time, my own choice of curriculum, and you can homeschool in a fraction of the time that the kids are in public school (or from when I’m teaching 8-5 or 7-4 plus after school work, planning, and preparation which takes hours every week on top of my normal school schedule).
Ethan ended up telling me that he doesn’t care AT ALL if I share why he is being homeschooled. I’ll give a brief explanation as to why we decided to do this. He has been inpatient twice since January. A lot of it stems from his severe ADHD. He has a really hard time managing life because of a lack of executive functioning skills. He’s also extremely impulsive. He struggles in school despite being smart. He feels a lot of pressure from teachers and doesn’t feel that he can measure up. The teachers often tell me that he just doesn’t do his work. They paint a picture that he is lazy. I know that he can be lazy for sure, but a lot of it is because he just can’t manage life. He has an IEP, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. He was failing 4 subjects the week before he went into the hospital, and one of those was an 18! His severe ADHD and struggle with executive functioning spiraled into anxiety (with anger episodes) and depression. When we told him he was going to be homeschooled, his whole demeanor has changed. You could see the stress and pressure melt off. He’s happy, content, at peace, and seems to have matured overnight. It has been the best decision despite the challenges that come with it.
On that note, Levi has decided that he wants to homeschool as well.
Last week, I told Karis and Levi that they had the option to homeschool if they want (thinking for next year). I didn’t want them to feel like I gave Ethan this special opportunity and they don’t get to partake in that.
Karis definitely does NOT want to homeschool. She is thriving at her school, finally has a group of friends that accept her for who she is, and is making all A’s every 6 weeks. She is the office aid and has come out of her shell so much! She just had prom and loved it so much. She’ll also be a senior next year, so I want her to be able to graduate from the school that she loves.
Levi said he wasn’t sure at the time. I told him to take his time making a decision. He has a few months to do so.
Monday morning, he told us he wants to homeschool, and he wants to start NOW. He then proceeded to tell his classmates that he was going to be homeschooled and wouldn’t be there anymore. He told them all goodbye. This is completely abnormal for him! He usually takes his time to decide on things and does NOT go telling everyone what he decided. So, he didn’t go to school yesterday. I had intentions to withdraw him yesterday, but I didn’t end up having time. I will go today to withdraw him. We are also selling our car today and paying off a large debt! That’ll feel good.
Yesterday Ethan had a counseling appointment, and we did school in the afternoon. It went SO much better than I thought, and I’m realizing that they are more capable than I thought. Levi finished really quickly. Ethan took a bit longer, but that’s to be expected. He just gets distracted more easily. I caught him staring into space several times. Haha. I was able to redirect him, and he got focused again. All that to say, I think they will actually learn more at home. Between having a 1:2 ratio, an easier ability to redirect Ethan, less wasted time, more ability to take breaks as needed, great curriculum, etc, it’s just going to be better.
I ended up going through curriculum and books that I had in my attic as well as pdf files that I had in my email and saved to my computer. I found things that will be super beneficial and helpful. Good stuff! Quality.
This is a junior high science curriculum that is really good. Karis did the astronomy and weather books a few years ago, and she said she learned a lot and really liked it! I have the pdf of the teacher’s book which has hands-on activities, worksheets, and tests. The boys chose to start with astronomy! I have so many amazing books to go along with this. Astronomy is my favorite. Robert and I plan to take them to the McDonald Observatory in west Texas when we finish!
I have decided to do weather after this, then I will probably move on to Biology for Ethan next year. I will probably switch to using Classical Academic Press for that. We will see! I think Levi might continue with this series since he’s just now going to be in 8th grade as this science is a junior high curriculum. They have a second general science series as well for junior high.
I ended up deciding against Teaching Textbooks after remembering that it wasn’t a good fit for them in the past. It never digs super deep. Math U See is a mastery approach and digs deep! Levi would just be starting Pre-Algebra, and Ethan needs to review it, so we are going to start there. I bought the DVD and textbook used, so all I had to buy new was the student pack. My neighbor said we can borrow her manipulatives as needed. Ethan would be the only one to use them. I plan to just use this moving forward. It’s quality, mastery approach, and gives lots of practice. It has a teacher teaching them on a DVD and manipulatives. I used to switch when things seemed to hard, but I have decided that they need consistency. There is no perfect curriculum.
While we wait, we are reviewing some basic concepts that Ethan felt that he never completely understood. Mostly just long division and multi-digit multiplication using Math Mammoth ($5 pdfs per concept). That’s the hard part about public school- they teach something then move on even if kids don’t get it.
The Good and the Beautiful has free pdf’s for their language arts curriculum through level 8. I started them on level 6 because it is a very advanced curriculum, especially in the area of grammar. It’s very comprehensive. They can also complete this independently if needed. There are some parts where I have to do sentence dictation, etc, but a lot of it they do on their own.
I am still doing the Brave Writer Boomerang book study that I shared the other day. We will do Friday Freewrites which is also a Brave Writer thing. And Poetry Teatime! They will never be too old for that. When I mentioned it to Ethan (asking, thinking he would think he’s too old), he was excited and said “of course I want to do that!” Not only do I have multiple novel studies, I also have her base writing curriculum (The Writer’s Jungle) and Annotating Literature (which is great for high school).
For history, I decided to not do the Blossom and Root curriculum because I would need to buy more books. They have 3 required books as the spine, and I don’t have any of them. We just can’t afford that right now. So, I decided to go back to Story of the World. We will be doing Volume 2: The Middle Ages (we have done Volume 1 before). These are world history based on certain times periods. I have the printable worksheets and quizzes to go along with it and two copies of the book! This simplifies things significantly because they can do a lot of this on their own. I will do something different for Ethan once we finish this because he will be in high school and needs specific things for his transcript (world geography, world history, US history, economics, and government). We might use Notgrass. I’m not a huge fan of how conservative it is, but I do feel that it is comprehensive. We will see what I end up deciding.
Things are Working Out
I was so happy to find and remember I have these things because it saves time and money. It has simplified everything. And the only thing I had to buy was stuff for Math U See (which will work for both boys) and ink for my printer. I already have plenty of binders, spirals, pencils, pens, etc. I also have art supplies such as pastels, water color, drawing pencils, sketchbooks, etc. I’m so glad that I held onto things that I was thinking about getting rid of at one time.
Selling Boxes of Chapter Books and Picture Books
I have boxes and boxes of books in my attic that no longer work for my kids. When I have a chance, I will start listing these in buy/sell groups on Facebook. I’ll let you know when this happens just in case you are interested in buying! I usually just give stuff away, but we need the money, so it makes sense.
I Know My Teaching Style Now
I was discussing things in a homeschooling group that I’m in and someone suggested reading up on different homeschooling philosophies. This is going to save me from all of the anxiety that I felt before when I was homeschooling. I was always trying to figure out who I was as a teacher/home educator. I know that I have a mix of philosophies and we just are we are.
I like some Charlotte Mason, some classical, some traditional, etc. I don’t necessarily have to follow one philosophy!
I think it’s no surprise that I DO love the philosophy of Wild + Free. This comes out in the fact that we try to do things outdoors (camping, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, etc), I will try to go with the flow with things and do what’s best for our family even if that doesn’t match up with other families, a mix of home-educating philosophies, nature studies, homesteading (backyard chickens and raised bed gardening), etc. I also found a Wild + Free group in my parent’s town. Obviously that’s not as great as if it were closer, but that’s the next best thing because we can just stay at my parents’ when we have meet-ups and things (a little over two hours away… but since EVERYTHING is at least an hour and 15 minutes away, this doesn’t feel as difficult). The woman who runs it said that they are just about to have their first meet up (April 13th). She said she planned to have it already, but her brother found out he had cancer and she has been helping manage that. She has a friend who will probably be joining and has 10, 13, and 15 year olds! Which is great since I have a 13 and almost 15 year old (June). It’ll be nice to have a small group of like-minded people to spend time with.
Still Things Up in the Air
We are still working out a lot of details and don’t know how everything is going to go. Some of these details are big. I’m just trying to trust God with the details.
We wish you all the best on your homeschooling adventure! If you have questions about Notgrass, we would be glad to connect. We try hard to be honest about the good and the bad in history to help students think about how they can make an impact for good in our world today.