… aka the less whingey version of my last post. My bit of a grump had been magnified in to a major grump, by various factors I won’t dwell on in case the grump comes back, and the thoughtful, reflective post I intended to write came out as a rather pathetic whine and moan, sorry. Attempt two…
I feel I am not operating to the best of my abilities at the moment. I know I am not the only one. The word failure which I used yesterday was definitely a bit overdramatic, more like working at B level when I expect A*.
I’m going to ignore work/home etc as everyone inc myself tend to cut a bit more slack in those areas. Home Ed though is something different, you are out on a limb there, people are very judgy about it (until recently I hadn’t really realised how much) and I think the fear of the consequences for our children if we ‘make a mess of it’ is huge.
Most of the time common sense over rules the fear. We can see our children thriving and learning and growing as people. But I find most home educators I know will admit to an occasional panic.
I’ve now been home educating a school aged child for 7 years, over 20% of my life which is quite frightening. The road is a bumpy one I think most long term home educators will admit. We’ve come across plenty of stones in our path. Some require a change of route (eg bit more/less structure, change of curricula, tracking down a new opportunity to make friends … ), others just a gritting of teeth and climbing over them (eg. work/family problems that need your attention). Very, very occasionally a stone is so big it requires not just a new route but a new destination, for us the lack of suitable/desirable social opportunities for Jack was something we just couldn’t get over, school does suit him better.
I tend to be a lot more positive about the changes of route now-a-days, less wobble inducing ‘it’ s not working, I’m failing’ and more ‘hmm, so that isn’t working because… wonder if this will…’. Also better at avoiding the paths with stones we would need to walk over – saying no to things, avoiding too many trips etc. Which makes me more relaxed when we do encounter them, few weeks ‘off’ every now and again doesn’t matter in the overall scheme of things and indeed helps develop different skills such as independence.
Where we are now is not so much stony as a trough. We’re floating along, probably from the outside (perhaps even to Sam) it looks like we’re on our normal path plodding along. What they don’t see are the legs paddling like mad underneath. For many years I would have panicked and looked to change what we are doing because ‘it’s not working’, however actually it is working, I’m just a bit bored of the routine and ready for a holiday. Part of the problem is me looking to escape the misery that is summer by looking to Sept and what we might do then rather than living in the present. Planning is good but I am planning next year to avoid following the plans for now.
The problem is if we do lose routine this early in the summer then behaviour will deteriorate massively before end of the break, Sam won’t admit that he likes it but I have no doubt that he does need routine. Ideally we’d knock ‘school’ work on the head from now until mid Aug when we get home from holiday but with pesky Jack in school we are tied to those times roughly.
The inner rational voice says…
- I’m not on top form physically, cut myself some slack.
- A ‘B’ is still a good pass, I’d love to be constantly A* but I’m human. Even with me working below par, objectively, I am still happy with the education he’s getting.
- If I was teaching I would be feeling just as physically wrecked/fed-up/desperate for the break, and a lot of teachers will be the same, I doubt any practising teacher is in the same form of enthusiasm in July as they are in September. The guilt in dipping only really kicks in as he’s ‘mine’, but he is fine.
- Schools are on limited timetables at this time of year, plays/sports days etc will all be disruptive.
- Even though he is fine plodding through the curriculum, I’m not doing well delivering it because it’s not engaging my brain. Obviously home ed is 95% about what works for him, but it has to be deliverable for me. It is not currently so we need a change of tack – not long term, the curricula are good we’ll come back to them in Sept, but for now to engage me in the present rather than planning things that realistically we won’t have time to do.
Now the unsolicited (and possibly slightly pompous – if so Sorry!) advice for others struggling.
If it is a trough; cut yourself some slack, don’t be afraid to make it a bit about yourself and what you need, don’t panic and make mass changes completely unnecessarily, adopt a ‘summer schedule’ that is a change in routine for a while if needed.
If it is stones on the path; cut yourself some slack, talk to the children. Talking helps most things. Give them input into how they work – don’t just interpret or make assumptions, they will surprise you. I am upfront about this is what I need you to do (basic maths and english skills really) but they have always had a lot of input into the practicalities and there is lots of room for negotiation elsewhere. If there are family/home/work problems talk to them at an appropriate level, give them opportunities to help but also make time (however small) to forget about everything else and read a book, kick a football … But mostly cut yourself some slack, lower your standards and just ride it out if necessary.
We are always our own worse critics so don’t be so hard on yourself!
Sometimes I actually listen to myself and follow my own advice 😉