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First Week of September

9/14/2014





































I don't have many pics of our first week of school - it was way too chaotic. So, I took pics of the first week of September. (See Day 1 here). This was a better week. This week we dug into our basics - reading, spelling, writing, math. I finally got Elli's All About Reading 2 binder all put together and it was wonderful to have everything all cut, organized and ready to go. Our hens laid their first two eggs. I had just put their nesting boxes in (I recycled an old dresser) and they made good use of them. I have 5 kids in soccer ~ Elli up to Jordan. Bo is bummed he's not playing. Jordan started college this week. I stayed on plan (THM) all week until Friday. (That's a low carb pizza with turkey pepperoni on Joseph's lavish bread and a Big Mac Salad ~ yum!)

I realize I don't have a single photo of my older boys. I worked with them the first week so they could work independently the 2nd week, and I could focus on getting Mali and Elli started. I did not check them out on Friday as I usually do ~ twas my birthday and we went to the city for our monthly shopping trip so I didn't check them out of their school until the following Tuesday (remember I declared another three day weekend on Monday morning).

I've been struggling for awhile to make homeschooling work for my older boys. It zaps my energy, I am struggling with adrenal fatigue, and I can't handle the stress. I'm worried about my health, but also my relationship with my boys. It's been tough.

We've talked about public school before. Both boys were not interested because it would take away their freedom and independence. Nathan says on a good day the benefits of homeschooling far outweigh any benefits of public schooling. The problem is, they have too much time on their hands and don't keep themselves busy enough (not like Jordan did), and we have more bad days than good. They want to fill their time with video games and when they do that, they are distracted from their school and I can't compete for their attention. I never wanted to send them to public school, didn't wake up thinking that day that I would, and certainly didn't think I would ever come to that decision. But, this is my 10th year of homeschooling, I'm tired, and I need a break.

To be continued. . .

34 comments:

Tara said...

I love this post, and its lack of words under all the pictures. I need to do this more often! Thank you for your refreshing honesty. Homeschooling kids as they grow older, and desiring more independence isn't easy. I only have a near 12 year old, so I'm not even in your boat yet, but I feel it coming. Public school here isn't an option yet. One of the reasons I pulled my oldest out was he simply was not a good fit at the time. Who knows what age and time will bring, but I know the fatigue. It's a big responsibility no?

My oldest never played video games until he discovered Minecraft. We don't allow it during the week, or there would literally be no end to it, but then again there are those stretches of time that we have to fill. I have no wisdom. You have me beat in this homeschool thing by 5 years. All I know is while I love it with all of my heart on many days, I understand the fatigue and heavy burden it can be at times on others. Thank you for being such an honest voice out there for those of us who need to know it's not only us feeling that way at times. Hugs :)

Billie said...

I loved this post...it's fun to see pictures. Now I have to be honest...I see so many of your picture of all about reading and spelling and it makes me want to use it...but I already do!! lol I have my reading very organized but I'm doing 3 levels of it with 3 different kiddos and 3 levels of AAS. It is soooo much. My son is 8 and after a year and a half of struggling through level 1 we are taking a break and using something else (he is dyslexic). I am still using the AAS with him and plan to get back to AAR...I just needed a break from reading the saaaaaame story and fluency sheets so often:)

I am just struggling with a schedule on how to schedule them as a combination with 3 kids. Do you do AAS and AAR everyday? I have to behonest...I get so tired of tiles and cards and fluencies sometimes...it's so hard to stay organized with all the levels.

btw....I love the paper you use for AAS...did you make that or find it online somewhere?

Sorry so many questions.

btw ...I love

Billie said...

I guess I should also ask about your AAS..>I notice you have at least part of it in a page protector in a binder. I organize my AAR like that ,but is there a way that you are organizing your AAS in a binder? Sorry so many odd questions:)

Michelle said...

lol! I have us doing from 1-2 lessons a week in AAR, and 1-2 lessons a week in AAS. I usually alternate them so I am doing AAR M, W, & only Fri if nec., and AAS on Tues/Thurs. So 4 days a week and some lessons take us 1-2 days. I took 2 years to do AAR/AAS 1 with Eliana (in K and 1st). We took lots of breaks, did Explode the Code for review, and then picked it back up. I had to divide the fluency sheets up in 1-3 sessions. And sometimes we did every other line - knowing that fluency just takes time. I am also using Pre-reading with my youngest 1-2 days a week. I sometimes have a hard time getting into AAR/AAS, but I think it is worth it, so I plug away and eventually get into a routine where it only takes us about 20-30 minutes per child a day. Towards the end of last year, we were doing 2 reading and 1 spelling lesson a day, to get it done. THAT was the easiest time I ever had doing AAR/AAS! So, I suggest getting into a regular routine of doing it daily, but only spend 20-30 minutes a day total on each child, and alternate reading and spelling. Oh, and if I get tired of using tiles, or am just feeling lazy or tired and want to school on the couch, I use a moveable alphabet app called Word Wizard - the kids love when we do that and it cleans up with a tap of a button.

The lined paper is from her handwriting book - Getty & Dubay Book B.

Michelle said...

No problem, Billie! I put the AAS progress chart, the Word Banks, Spelling Strategies, Syllable Division rules, and other charts that come in the AAS student kit in their binder with AAR. Just helps me to have it all in one place!

Michelle said...

Yes, homeschooling is for sure a huge responsibility, so I honestly felt relieved when I saw all the classes they are taking! I think it is the best decision for now, but I still believe homeschooling is the best. I know I would have never sent them to the junior high, but there is a pretty big group of homeschoolers here that homeschool through the 8th grade and then go to the high school. The boys get themselves up and ready for school on their own (amazing that I don't have to wake them up!), make their own lunch, and get their own ride to school. And praise God, they do their homework without me saying a word! Such a relief!

My 9 yo is really into Minecraft and it can be highly motivational, but video or computer games can be a distraction and are not real projects - boys need real projects to keep them busy. One thing I plan to do with Malachi is enforce consequences for not getting his independent work done. I will remind him in the morning that if he doesn't get his school done, he will have to miss his soccer game. (And then follow through with it if he doesn't! That is honestly the hard part! But, I need to establish healthy habits in him NOW! before it is too late).

It was hard to not feel like a failure and I worried about letting myself and others down, so thank you for your encouragement and understanding. ♥

Abby said...

I'm so glad to hear your second week went better and that you are enjoying school with your little ones. Everyone here is so little that I can't imagine the struggle you are going through with the boys, but I know how hard it is to feel exhausted and worried about your health. You are such a strong mamma and work so hard that I know you will always do what's right for your family, even if it is the hard decision. Know that I am praying friend!

Debbie said...

I'm only in my 5th year with a 2nd grader as my oldest and I already feel the drain. My guy is also not motivated, so it's a constant battle to do the work and then be productive for the rest of the day.

Sometimes it feels easier to just allow them to play video games, but it's not easier in the long run because (boys especially) get addicted quick.

Don't be afraid to just take away the games for a while. Pack them away. Soon they will find things to do (after much complaining, of course). I had to do just that with my little guy and soon he was reading books or riding his bike outside. I also assigned chores on top of the school work, for added productivity. (this is all after I started to have stress related health issues too)

I do get it. It's draining to feel like you're constantly micromanaging and redirecting. This season is a busy and hard one! Stay strong and make time for you once in a while.

<3

mud puddle soup said...

A week filled with lots of memories and trials....always good to see Father guide your decisions. I love your tote, too! I use mine every day :) Praying for peaceful days ahead.

Julie said...

Michelle,

Where did you find that cool looking bag that holds what looks like a file folder box?

Julia said...

Wow Michelle! What a fun week of learning! You are SO organized! Very inspiring... this is what I am in NEED of right now. To be better organized with our school materials and supplies. I love the totes that I've seen in your posts... but which one would you recommend having, if you could choose only one? The Thirty-One tote, or desk apprentice? I really like both, but I can get one:) Would love your opinion... :)

Bekah Begg said...

I LOVE how you organized your All About Reading. I showed it to my son and he wants me to do it that way too :) I think I shall get to work on that later this week :)

Joy C. said...

Yes! I need help with my AAR/AAS organization!!! It looks like you cut the binding off, and the do you put each page in a page protector? And those that have cut parts you put in with the page it goes with? We've been doing AAS for about a month now...and I LOVE it...but I've been too intimidated by AAR... I think if I get it all organized it will be better. Thanks for sharing your heart - you're certainly not a failure - but a very wise woman for putting everyone's best interest above ideals that aren't working. As long as the Lord is leading your family, you're very much in the right place!

laurie said...

Hi Michelle, I was at your place in fatigue as I was starting with my boys. I was at the 10 year mark or so, and I think that is common place to burn out. Now that my boys are older (I think about the same age as yours), I can see exactly what you are talking about. It is tough to keep them moving unless they have constant supervision. We did remove all electronics a few weeks ago and it was miraculous- it took a few days, but slowly they started to be more cooperative, more creative, more pleasant- they began talking and playing board games together. With younger children in the house, I know it adds an additional challenge. I got a taste of that while watching my grandson though last school year. This is a lot of rambling with no real answers, but I feel for your situation. I will pray for a solution that works for you and your boys! Don't give up yet. If it is the right thing for them to go to traditional school, you will know it.

Michelle said...

Julie, that is a thirty-one Bag! You buy them from an independent consultant. I have a friend who is a consultant, so I am planning on having a party online for her if you are interested! The one pictured is the organizing utility tote and I put a clear file box inside.

Michelle said...

Julie, I have both and loved the Desk Apprentice until I bought my Thirty-One tote. I love that the tote is portable. I don't even have the Desk Apprentice in use right now, but keep thinking I need to find a way to use it. If I were on top of our FIAR more, I'd have a file for all of our books and put it in that, but I keep thinking I need another organizing utility tote! I think it's just so much easier to tote around and store (and more versatile for the money). I'm planning to have a Thirty-One party online for a friend and to earn some products - loving the new chevron and parisian pop in the totes, and really want a Mini Cindy purse. So, I'm leaning towards the Thirty-One tote!

Michelle said...

Thanks so much for your prayers and encouragement, my friend! ♥ I am feeling better each day and am amazed at all I still have to get through and don't know how I did all that I did all these years!!

Michelle said...

Making time for myself is not something I do very often, so thank you for your encouragement. I really do need to do that. Today I had the three kids lay down for a quiet time for an hour after lunch and it was wonderful! Even my daughter asked if we could do that everyday (she's like me and needs her quiet time). So, laying down each day after lunch is going to be a new priority!

And you are right - boys do get addicted quick. All video games and Amazon Prime movies will not be allowed during the week anymore (which can be hard when I need a break, but we did it today!). :)

Michelle said...

Thank you for your prayers, friend. ♥

Michelle said...

Eliminating electronics will help in the long run, I agree. I’ve done likewise with my boys – almost all summer, in fact. Thanks for praying and thank you for your encouragement! I did send them, and I do think it will all work out. :)

Veens @ Our Ordinary Life said...

Michelle, I am sure God wants you to take a break too and is giving you these ideas. I have never seen another mother do so much, as much as you do :) you are doing the right thing :)

Sara said...

Michelle-
I am having similar struggles with my older two boys. I don't know if we are going through a rough patch or if it is the end of our homeschooling. I love teaching my kids, but in our case, the fighting and lack of self-control is really pushing me to my limits. My middle son told me that would would rather go to the International School that my husband teaches at. That is like punch in the stomach, because I put every minute of my day into trying to make it fun experience for my boys, but then we end up fighting or getting upset because someone is being mean or not being respectful. I know homeschooling is the right choice for us, but I am wondering if I can continue to fight to make it enjoyable for all of us. But, I hate feeling like I failed. You are not alone. Making the right decision is incredibly difficult. Hugs!

Joy said...

Hugs to you, Michelle! I'm so far away from what you have accomplished as a homeschooling mom and yet I can already feel the struggles and stress. Know for certain that a lot of moms (that includes me) are inspired and encouraged with what you've been sharing with us. Thank you so much! I believe the Lord will give you the strength and grace to go on. Blessings to you and your family! :)

Michelle said...

It really is difficult Sara. I fought those same feelings (still do). So, when it happened, it was not something I ever thought I would do, and wondered if I could even go through with it, but after thinking, I told my boys (and myself!) to just think of it as a break. We will reevaluate after the school year is over. I know my limits and I had reached them. I think I can be a better mom now. I have more patience and am not so worn out fighting those daily battles after just one week. I imagine a year will be very beneficial, healing and restful for me.

I read Erica's post the other day on Homeschooling Burnout and she suggests you pray and make changes. https://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2014/09/homeschooling-101-homeschool-burnout.html I know there are some changes I should have made, but I was too tired and worn out. It's like correcting a toddler - it takes more work at the time, but makes your life easier in the long run. Hugs and peace to you, Sara!

Michelle said...

Aw, thank you Veens! I know He won't let anything happen that will get in the way of His will for our lives. So thankful that He is so gracious.

Michelle said...

Thank you so much, Joy! ♥ I'm feeling strengthened and renewed already, praise God!

Amy @ Wildflower Ramblings said...

Michelle, thank you for sharing your week. You do so much!!!! Have you thought about an online program for your older two? I'm sure there are a ton of choices, I know some states even do a free computer with that. Then they'd get their "screen time", but also be home with you <3 hugs for this big, big decision!!!!

Joy C. said...

Thanks to this post I was inspired to set up a binder for AAR like you did. =) I've been too intimidated to actually start the program. We love AAS though. Do you cut out the fluency sheets and practice sheets and put them in their own page protector, or do you double up and put the whole lesson in one protector? I'm still working on cutting out all of the activities first. =)

Michelle said...

Joy, I put two lessons per page protector (so each lesson faces out). In level 2, the fluency sheets were in the back of the book and often had the next lesson start on the back of a previous lesson, so I put those in their own between the two lessons. Level 3 and 4 were easier to put a lesson all together because they reformatted the sheets to be included in each lesson. I just finished level 4, and I'm so sore! Be sure to get up and take breaks! It is a lovely excuse to watch a good movie! :) And sooooo worth it once you are done! It really made a difference for me last year and we moved through our lessons much more quickly once I did this, so yay!

Michelle said...

Amy, Malachi is doing Veritas Press for History this year and it is freeing me up a ton! I'm not willing to give up some of my favs, but I am considering Teaching Textbooks for Malachi. Definitely will keep my eye on programs that can help us in this way. :)

Joy C. said...

Awesome! Putting two lessons in a sheet will save a lot of page protectors! =) And you're right - so far I've watched and movie and spent time talking with my husband while working on this binder. I truly don't mind the busy work. I do wonder if I'll ever get to the end of the workbook though... ;-) Thanks for the response. I'm so thankful for your example - in all things - be it practical like this, listening to the Father lead you, or doing what's best for you AND your older boys...you're an incredible example!

Heather said...

Ah! Now, I'm caught up! Seems like a good call to me. And it's not like it is set forever in stone one way or the other:) Day by day, year by year we have bridges to cross:) We have to have quiet time too!!

Amber Garsee said...

Michelle,

I've been homeschooling for 16 years and oh do I know the challenges of homeschooling teenage boys who are self motivated!! If we wouldn't have been in Thailand, where sending them to school wasn't an option, I would have done the same thing! I think it's very good for them!! If they're strong in the Lord, then the benefits far out way the negatives.
As you know, we have 6 boys. Boys need to stay busy! They need to feel like they have tasks and need to accomplish those tasks. Homeschooling high school boys is so rough!

Keep them busy! That's my advice. Have them in school, participating in sports! Any and everything. Their the 8th/9th grade year and then again at 17 are huge deciding factors of "which path they will" choose. The busier they are the better. (my thoughts anyway).

Video games, will destroy young men's desires, goals, passions, and drive.

I fully support your decision!

We put Joseph in school this year. He's only in 3rd grade, but we really felt to put him in this year. yes, the days start much earlier than when homeschooling, but each child has their own path that God has chosen for them. We're their parents and I'm sure you're doing the right thing for your boys!

You're an awesome mother!!

Love
Amber

Michelle said...

Your support means the world to me. I can't imagine that it was an easy decision for you to make either. I'll be praying for our boys this year! And I agree ~ I think that is why it worked for my oldest and not the next two boys - they don't keep themselves busy enough. Jordan had a hobby that motivated him and kept him busy. So much harder competing with electronics. Video games are a devastating aspect of our situation. I don't know what to do. They lose them and then work to get them back. Wish they would go away for good. I'm already doing that differently with the younger children - just don't know how to undo the damage with the older boys.

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