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!