Monday, April 16, 2012

What a year......

   I started this year out with lots of really good intentions.  I was going to be the best homeschool mom ever.  We were going to stick to Montessori 100%.  I had a schedule, the boys had workplans and we had a classroom set up.  And then we started DAY 2!
   To really tell this story, I need to back up a little though.  January 2011 we bought our home (built in 1910) and moved in the last weekend of January.  The house is 5400 sq ft but the upstairs was attic space that had never been finished out.  Downstairs we had 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, large hall, kitchen, dining and study.  The study housed my scrapbook stuff, my husband's office and our classroom.  It worked for a while but we were cramped and usually ended up working in the dining room.  Needless to say, this created a big mess.  I was working hard to keep up with Montessori lessons but I was so stressed out and we were still missing our friends at the Montessori school.  Homeschool was going good but it was a struggle.  December came and my husband hired an accountant for his business, which took a load of stress off of me but created another problem.  We now have another person in the office with us.  We were all in each other's way!
   Me and the boys moved into the dining room for a week or so but we were so frustrated.  Gabe began working upstairs so now we had a mess to clean each morning (he'd work late at night).  By Christmas I had had enough.  I couldn't do it.  Montessori is wonderful but with all of the chaos in our home, it wasn't working.  The boys love it and do well with it but I couldn't keep up, we had no space for our materials and I didn't feel like the Super Mom I wanted to be.  The week after Christmas I broke down and bought a WORKBOOK for Elijah's math.  I hated the idea of using a workbook but it is something that he can work on each day without me having to tell him which lesson to do and show him how to do the lesson.  I decided that I would let Levi work on what ever he wanted, which most days was markers and a coloring book.  The workbook turned out to be a good thing for us.  I found myself looking ahead about 5-6 lessons and making hands-on "lessons" to go with each lesson in the book.  Our math shelf started growing.  Elijah stopped complaining that he missed his old school.  He started working in the workbook in the evenings and on the weekends too.  He liked it!
   We also started Explode the Code Book 1 at the same time.  I got this mainly because I couldn't work with him daily on his pink language materials and he really needed daily work.  He would use this workbook each day, doing 1-2 pages and pretty quickly he finished it.  When he started the book, he knew his basic phonic sounds but was still struggling to put the sounds together and read.  This of course made me feel really bad.  This workbook helped him jump over that hurdle and have the confidence to actually attempt to read the first Bob book.  Wow!  I was so against workbooks and I found that they add to what I wanted for the boys education.  After all, I love Montessori BECAUSE it is hands-on, not because they have tons of wonderful materials.  He finished the ETC book and now he's working on finishing the pink language series.  In Montessori he would be much farther in reading but for public school he is right on track.  It's not what I had hoped to accomplish but I am happy with it.
   Gabe finally finished upstairs enough that we could move our bedrooms up.  This left the boys room downstairs for a guest room and scrapbook room, our old bedroom became our classroom and now Gabe's accountant has the office to herself during the day.  We can all breath!  It has taken me quite a while to get the classroom set up the way that I want it and I still have a ways to go but we are comfortable in there.  Elijah is getting ready to start 2nd grade math (Saxon) in a few weeks, we've started a 1st grade social studies book (BJU) and a 1st grade science book (BJU).  For each unit in the books, there are hands-on lessons on our shelves and books in the book basket.  We have science workboxes with puzzles, books and 3-part cards.  I've adapted some of the Montessori bead materials to work with our math.  I like the way our school is going now.  It isn't Montessori, it's not all Bob Jones and it is far from Unschooling.  We're happy!  We're comfortable!  WE'RE ALL LEARNING! 
   I am still struggling with frustrations and anxiety but I'm working on it a little at a time.  I want to be Super Mom.  I want to do it all.  I want my house to stay clean, my boys to have the perfect education and my family to eat a home cooked meal every night.  In reality, my house is lived in, my boys do school work sporadically and we eat out at least 3 times a week.  I'm not Super Mom but not a day goes by that my boys don't tell me how much they love me and that I am the best mom ever.  I can live with that!  We've got a lot of work left to do on our house, I've got a lot of lessons that I still want to make and/or buy for the boys but now that we've found our groove, I'm okay with not having it all together.  We will continue working through the summer, mainly because the boys enjoy it, but we are going to stay flexible, much as we are now.  We will have our fun and we'll continue learning too.  HOMESCHOOL HAS BECOME A PART OF US!