Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Economics and Homeschool Angst

I know I have been AWOL these past few weeks... my husband suggested that I not blog until he gets home in the evenings after work, so that I don't get sucked into ComputerLand and lose my entire afternoon, but I have discovered that I am brain dead by the time 10 pm rolls around. He works the second shift and I just don't seem to be able to write that late. So I am trying to still find my ideal daily "processing our school day and sharing what teaching ideas I think may be useful to other families" time.

We have been doing mathematics -- fractions, decimals, percents, and graphing -- and as always it seems my pacing is off. For example, I thought we could do coordinate graphing and maybe even linear equations, but we are actually only going to be making pie charts. That's because they are the best fit for the results of our current profession/college major survey and we simply ran out of time for anything more complicated. Coordinate graphing will have to wait. We were faster than I thought for fractions and then ground to a screeching halt for decimals. When I think something will be a review, it turns out they don't know it. When I think something will be new to them, they've done it in school before. It would be so much easier if I had my kids for their entire education, but it would be silly to dwell on that! However, it seems like this block I am scattered much more than usual in my planning. I decided that our survey would be a good time to learn about qualitative vs. quantitative data, and to do our calculations as to what percentage of people end up in a career that matches what they thought they were going to do when they grew up, as well as have each girl choose on person whose career path they are especially interested in, and do a more in depth interview.

Why am I having such a tough month overall? Either it's because it's not a specific and well defined Waldorf block that I'm following, or because mathematics is the subject about which I'm the most insecure, or because it's the holiday season and there are so many other things going on, or because the children's skills are particuarly spotty in this area, I don't know.

When it comes to Economics, I wanted to share a thought or two. I like the now out-of-print book Ideas About Choosing by John Maher and S. Stowell Symmes (1969). Sonlight recommends Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? A Fast, Clear, and Fun Explanation of the Economics You Need For Success in Your Career, Business, and Investments

We've been looking through the Sonlight catalogue because Natalie's motivation is worse and worse and I am tearing my hair out trying to reach her. I don't know if it's too late to pop in and try to do Waldorf in the 8th grade. I just want her to have some internal drive and I am willing to teach her in any way necessary as long as she mentally shows up. I can't follow her around the house and plead with her to do her work. It's not quite at that point, but it feels like it. I'm depressed because I feel like I'm doing a bad job. I'm looking at traditional resources like Teachers Pay Teachers, I'm looking at books on Multiple Intelligence Theory, I'm wondering if she has ADHD, I'm doing all this WORK and I'm working way harder on her education than she is. I asked her to take a day off school and write a plan for how her ideal school day and school year would be set up and she just read a book all day. Honestly, I'm willing to buy a package like Sonlight because although they are traditional I like that they are based on really good literature. I see a little Charlotte Mason inspiration there. And I had considered CM before I went to Waldorf. If Natalie really can't function without a reward of a grade, and doesn't have it in her heart to want to learn, my heart hurts for her and how she will do in college and in the real world. Or am I over-reacting and she just needs a good night's sleep and some time to run around in the yard? Truly I am spinning my wheels. So I guess this post really isn't about books that help explain economics. My family is twirling and swirling and that makes me sad.

I'm thinking we do so much cool stuff, you know? Hydroponics and Latin and all these special things they wouldn't find in school. So I think everyone should be joyful and happy. My middle daughter Leah is thriving and is the first one to show up for school each day. She loves it. But Natalie's not having such a good experience. And so now neither am I. Am I being selfish? Should I just put this kid in middle school? Or if she's just going to do worksheets and etc. when she's there, I can give those to her at home.

I have asked her what she wants and she says she wants to do school in the way that we are, but just not so fast. She likes main lesson books but she needs more time to review the stories and skills before she has to write. And she wants more free choice time to knit and bake and she says I just fill up their day and they have no time left. Ok, that's a valid criticism. And, yes, that's how I first envisioned our time at home together. Happy kids who have plenty of time to follow their own interests. Holy cow, are we looking at unschooling? I found my old issue of Life Learning magazine and that's just not me. But homeschooling is about your individual child. I love Waldorf so much and I feel so invigorated when we do it. But it's about them, not me, right? So I don't know. I just want to enjoy my children and my life. It seems like that is far far away.


Catherine said...

I have to admit I haven't actually read this book on economics yet so I don't know where it fits with Waldorf education or the age it's aimed at, and obviously I don't know if it will be a good match for your own thinking on this subject, but someone sent me the link and it's free so I'll pass it on...


Rhoda, I'm sorry you are struggling at the moment. It sounds like you are putting such a lot into making this work, I can understand if you feel discouraged. Hang in there, the first year is always the hardest. Trust that however it turns out will be ok.

Rhoda said...

Thank you so much for the encouragement!!!!!! It must be like that first year of classroom teaching... you just need to hang in there!

Looks like I'm not being gentle enough with myself. I believe I expected that I had enough experience to skip the adjustment year, between homeschooling the girls, when they were younger, and being a classroom teacher at several different schools and age levels. But this year is still different from anything I've done before, given that I'm teaching middle school for the first time, have a new baby, and a new marriage, and a new house. So a learning curve is natural! I just need to give myself more permission to make mistakes and not beat myself up for them.

Maria Montessori says Every expert was once a beginner.

Or, to put it another way, Practice makes progress.