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Archive for February, 2008

homeschool bag ladyIt’s not hard to recognize a homeschool mom out in the public.  As if the harried, panic-stricken look across the woman’s face as she’s trying to corral a herd of children either into or out of her vehicle isn’t enough to recognize her as a homeschool mom, she’s guaranteed to be identified as the one bogged down with a TON of bags!  These unsung pack mules are otherwise known as the Homeschool Bag Ladies.

They’re not just equipped with the standard fare of mom’s bags such as hand bags, diaper bags, snack bags, library book bags or shopping bags, either.  Oh, no-no-no.  In addition to these standard fare bags, these moms shlep a multitude of other bags making it undeniably easy to identify her as a Homeschool Bag Lady.  These bags filled to capacity include, but are certainly not limited to (and not in any particular order):

  1. Curriculum, books, magazines, tapes, CDs & DVDs borrowed from someone else to sample.
  2. Curriculum, books, magazines, tapes, CDs & DVDS to loan to someone else to sample.
  3. Assorted toys, games and craft items to occupy younger children while the older ones are engaged in a separate organized activity or event closeby.  Indeed, some of us even carry duffle bags on wheels for this one!
  4. Assorted knitting, scrapbooking or other like hobbies to occupy the moms while the children are otherwise engaged in their organized activity.
  5. Days, perhaps weeks, of unopened mail and (now) bills to pay & mail.
  6. Days, perhaps weeks, of unread newspapers.
  7. Months of unread homeschool magazines & curriculum catalogs.
  8. Worksheets and assignments for the kids to do on the go.
  9. Audio CDs for kids to listen to while on the go.
  10. Sports equipment for various sporting events.
  11. Teaching materials and props for co-ops and classes
  12. Desserts, drinks or other contributing dishes for a homeschool event.
  13. Decorations and assorted craft items for a homeschool event.
  14. Assorted craft creations made at a homeschool event.
  15. Assorted science or historical materials & props for a private group unit study session.
  16. Cameras, camcorders and (sometimes) tripod equipment on the way to…anywhere.
  17. Contributions of food, toys, coats or what-have-you for the toy drive, food, drive, coat drive or “Drive DuJour”.
  18. Computer laptop and various electronic accessories.
  19. For moms with boys: various toy swords, guns and light sabers; and for moms with girls: dolls, Webkinz pets, and play cell phones; as well as for all moms: hats, gloves, or bathing suits, towels and pool toys…all on the way to the next playdate.

    And finally…

  20.  Various toys, sippy cups, assorted clothing, and beach towels left behind from the last playdate you hosted…to be delivered back to their rightful owners.

These bags do not include the bags of the Homeschool Bag Lady’s herd of children which increases the number of bags per family outing significantly!

Indeed, with the number of bags to be shlepped, Homeschool Bag Ladies have well learned the ways of the pack mule for you will observe that she can deftly move from Point A to Point B with any number of the above bags on her back, both shoulders, both arms, both wrists, and in each of her ten fingers…and even her in her teeth (that is, if her car keys are not found to be dangling from there).

It’s interesting to note that the relation of the increasing number of Homeschool Bag Ladies is seemingly directly proportionate to the increasing sales revenue of Tylenol.  I wonder if Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. (www.nheri.org) has conducted any formal studies on this homeschool relationship?

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Pruning

Snip, snip, snip.  Clip, clip. 

Well folks, I just experienced my first official act of “pruning the homeschool tree” otherwise known as the “Mid-Course Correction”.  And if truth be told, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!  In fact, I’m rather relieved!

Not a few months into this school year I was starting to feel as though things were not going as smoothly as I had hoped with our homeschool.  Oh, I was on track coming out of the gates with my curriculum all picked out and my yearly plan all mapped out.  But then, little by little I started to notice things to go astray (and not in any particular order):

Time-sucking leeches:  I found myself volunteering more and more of my personal time to acts of service for the homeschool community, outside community outreach projects, our church…as well as for friends and family.  While each of these volunteer efforts are honorable and worthy in their own right, and seemingly minimal in time committment, collectively they presented quite a different scenario.  I was being sucked dry!

Truant homeschooling:  It’s true what they say…that the hardest thing about homeschooling is staying at home!  We are blessed to live in an area (20 minutes from Philadelphia and 1.5 hours from NYC) where there are so many unbelieveable opportunities for seeing and experiencing our world.   We’ve done and seen alot of them and of course, ALL OF IT is considered an educational opportunity that just can’t be replicated at home.  Now throw in all the endless myriad of sports, clubs, playdates and parties for the kids to engage in!  It’s amazing that ANY schooling gets accomplished!  However, educational and social worthiness notwithstanding…time away from the home inevitably means that certain things and relationships at home are at risk for becoming neglected.

Distraction Central.  I’ve always had the reputation of being focused…so much so that people that I’ve worked with in my corporate America days have often felt that I was dismissive and unfriendly when, in fact, I was really just extremely focused on  the crisis du jour!   But today?  Post-career, post-marriage, post-kids?  You may as well as diagnose me with ADD.  I can’t even make it to the laundry room and back without completing another 20 (unscheduled) tasks on the way.  That’s not even considering the external distractions that bombard our house daily including parents, employees, neighbors, friends who are all well-meaning but clueless as to the amount of traffic that seem to flow through our invisible revolving door.  And the phone!   Some would say not to answer the phone (which I’ve started doing) but that’s only resulted in more foot traffic at more door!  ACK!!!

Where’s the…Organization?  This is something I can also file under “Distractions” as lack of organization causes me great distress and distracts me from the task at hand.  Organization is something that I’ve also been very good at (a learned behavior, I think, from being an ACOA) but I swear that the organization gene has somehow morphed into any one of the varieties of the “dis” gene: dis-sheveled, dis-organization, dis-appearing, dis-ASTER.

The Best Laid Plans…  Let’s face it…in order for the best laid plans to go awry you first need to start with the best laid plans.  Poor planning = poor results.   ‘Nuf said. 

Great Expectations.  No, not the Dickens classic, but rather my ridiculous expectations that my children would be total geniuses…with narry a deficiency or challenge!  Moreover, I expected to be the perfect teacher!  It’s not my capabilities that I questioned but rather my effectiveness.   Good heavens…I couldn’t have been more wrong on either point.  Somebody please shoot me.

Bad Wrong Curriculum.  I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a bad curriculum.  I do believe in wrong curriculum and right curriculum.  I found this year that some of my curriculum choices were not the right ones in light of our particular home environment, teaching preferences and learning styles.  After diligent research, trial and error are the only true tests of a curriculum’s effectiveness (one just has to be careful not to join the ranks of the curriculum junkies…see my post Top 10 Signs of a Curriculum Junkie).

Analysis Paralysis.  I’m prone to researching, studying and analyzing things (anything from the best math curriculum to the best fabric glue) to the exhaustive point of paralysis resulting in the failure to execute.  There’s nothing beneficial about putting in the best planning, organizing or researching if it’s not ultimately executed on!  Good grief, Charlie Brown!

So around Thanksgiving I began reflecting on each of these areas and by Christmas made some decisions to reset the homeschool track.  Some of the decisions were painful for my child such as bowing out of Friday co-ops this semester…which he loves.  Some decisions were difficult for others (me not being immediately available by phone or in person).  Other decisions were difficult for me…including adjusting my expectations as well as the resolve to change my attitude.  Other decisions continue to be struggles…such as saying “no” when I know full well that my plate just can’t fit any more.

I’m not sure if mid-course correction is really the correct term as I now believe I have to constantly evaluate the course  set for our homeschool.  I’m prepared to sharpen those pruning shears again next month, if needed, or the month after that.  But maybe, just maybe, we’ll be pleasantly surprised and be able to enjoy more of the fruits that homeschooling has to offer as a result of this initial act of pruning.   Stay tuned to find out!

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