Friday, August 31, 2012

Some cracks in the surface

We are only 2-3 weeks into our new school year and I'm already in trouble.  I need to sort out my thoughts and monitor their development, so voila!, the blog will become my dumping ground and brain space for all of this so I can refer back to this when making decisions for next year.

We have a lot of pressure on all sides of our schedule right now:  

CC all day once a week plus the pressure to get assignments and presentations and memory work done for each week.  While in theory this shouldn't be too much, it usually feels like it.  And not just to me.  The CC moms all look at each other with big eyes, slight panic, and a side of martyr-like acceptance.  The moms on the official CC videos typically look exhausted and very, very serious.

Challenge for my 14 year old, which since he is dyslexic means that I have basically doubled my own workload in order to help him keep up with his own separate assignments.  It wouldn't necessarily be too much for every kid, but it is a lot for mine, and certainly a lot to add into my schedule.  The type of work he is expected to do in there is also making me wonder about the relative merits of the program overall.  Freehand mapping the entire USA, including states, capitals, and 41 rivers in 2 weeks?  WHY?!  

Work:  several times a week, cutting into the school day and my mental fortitude in various ways.

Brain training:  Every weekday except for CC day.  This takes up a minimum of two hours each time we go.  It also makes us tired.  We had expected this to be over by now, but it isn't, and I don't know how long it will be before the trainers feel we are done.  I am starting to wonder if we will just have to decide to be done and walk away.  

Chiropractor:  I've been in need of some chiropractic care that I put off for a long time because it seemed like too much to add into my schedule.  I decided I couldn't put it off any longer, so now that is ALSO on the schedule, twice a week, adding 2.5 hours into the schedule each time I go.  I have been told twice that we will soon go down to once a week, but alas, not yet.  Again, I'm wondering if I am going to have to pull the plug on this.  The rub, of course, is that it is actually helping me, and with all that is riding on Mom Power to GO GO GO in this life, can I really afford to *not* follow through with this?  Because, you know, is there ever going to be a less crappy time to do it?!

"Home Improvement Project" which translates into my office and school room being torn apart for weeks now, and who knows how much longer before it is finished and I can get organized and do my work down there.  Having to smoosh everything into the kitchen is chaos and misery and definitely adding to my difficulties in so many frustrating ways.

This morning I saw that the Nina and Pinta reproduction ships were in Louisville, and we could do an impromptu field trip today for just $5 each.  My first thought was that it was a cool opportunity and we should go.  And then I remembered all of the school work we have waiting for us, how difficult it will be for us to get it done if we do something else today, and then of course I remembered brain training, and that was the end of that.  No field trip today.  No field trip any day, frankly.  Last year we only went to church about twice during the entire school year because we never had our school work done and couldn't afford to go anywhere or do anything else except for try to get the stuff done.  Seriously.

We used to play games quite a bit.  Pay Day, Settlers of Catan, and others.  Now my kids ask, "Can we play a game?" and I'm like, "Um, uh, nope.  No can do.  Sorry."

Ditto for when they want to get together with friends.  Or be in more activities.  Or visit their grandparents.  Or go swimming.  Or take a day off because they are beat-down tired.

I remembered the days when I read (and believed) things about how the curriculum is our tool, we are not slaves to the curriculum.  But oh yes we are, when it comes to the pressure of CC and everything else that we are trying to accomplish right now.  Our feet are to the fire week after week, and we get it all done somehow, by crackie!  And when I am really feeling burnt about it, I remember how MUCH money we have spent on this experience, and I feel even worse.

You know, on the one hand, once you live through it, it is great to look back and see how very, very much the kids have learned.  It's quite amazing, in some cases, how much the kids know after a year of CC.  After last year I really felt a sense of confidence for the future of our home education.  I felt like I now knew that my boys would be getting a really, really high-quality education by doing CC.  And that was a good feeling.

But now I am living it, and seeing that having 3 in foundations + 1 in Essentials + 1 in challenge has quite literally *doubled* my already overwhelming workload.  I am thinking about how I had planned to put another child into Challenge next year, and I am thinking about how then I will have 2 totally different levels of challenge to assist with, plus 2 kids in the Foundations program PLUS both of them would be doing their first year in Essentials, which is extremely Mom-Powered as well.  It does not seem possible for me to do all of these things on my own.

I look at all of these things that are going on and try to think it through:

The chiropractor thing should go down to once a week pretty soon.  This isn't going to last forever.

Brain training won't last forever.  However, it might last til December.  In the long run it will hopefully feel like a very worthy investment, even though it is asking A LOT of us right now.

The family room project will hopefully be done within the next month.  If we can manage to muster up extra energy to push through on it more each day, maybe we can get it done in 2 weeks.  This too, shall pass.

To solve the issue of work and the amount of hours needed to homeschool, I am making preparations to beef up my business so that I can hopefully afford to quit my job, and then beef it up some more so that I can hire someone to come help me.

And that brings me to the next stage where I ask myself it is is going to come down to quitting my job and hiring a part-time person to help me homeschool, perhaps I am taking on too much, and maybe we would be better off going back to something like Sonlight.

I don't know, because Sonlight wasn't a perfect fit for us either.  But I do know that I wouldn't be looking at 3 completely different levels of assignments next year, our feet wouldn't constantly be held to the flames, and it would cost a whole lot less.  (They also wouldn't be seeing friends once a week, or be accountable to someone else to get their work done, which is a plus of CC.)

(I remember the days when my annual expenditure of Sonlight materials was $1000 and I thought it was a lot of money.  Now it seems like a total bargain.)

We would not be getting the rigorous level of education that we are getting now.  I am pretty sure of that.  Part of me wonders if being pushed for 24-30 weeks a year is a good way to go, simply because of the results we get.  Yes, I hate being pushed, but we get through it and have a lot to show for it.  We have the rest of the year to not be pushed.  (In theory.  This summer was not a break for us, so we are already starting out tired this year.  I'm sure that's a contributing factor in all of this.)

The other part of me says that this is perhaps not a reasonable way for my family to homeschool.  The cost is quite high for our budget.  The specific needs of my kids with varying levels of dyslexia, behavioral stuff, etc. puts a lot on me to manage.  Add in the cost of hiring someone just to keep on top of it all, and the cost of needing to quit my job to try to manage more of it myself, and boy-howdy, that's a whole lotta money.  (I could go to Hawaii regularly instead!)

Of course, enrolling them all in school would be way cheaper and take a ton of pressure off of me.  But, alas, I do not think that school is a good option for any of these kids.  Seeing firsthand the educational experience my 10th grade daughter is getting in public school, and what my oldest son got there, it's rather shoddy and not an environment I want to feed my other kids to.  I feel like homeschooling is the only good option I've got, and it's going to take pretty much all of our resources to walk this out.  On the one hand, I think that this is what my husband and I have always done:  We push through and rise to the occasion for the good of our kids.  After a couple weeks like this I am asking myself if we are on the right road.  We're committed for this year, so we will press on.  It's not a bad thing.  It's just a challenging thing.  Once things level out with my school and work space, once the chiropractor visits don't eat up half a day at a time, once brain training is behind us, once my next business program starts to fly and produce a respectable amount of money, once each child gets a better handle on what they are supposed to be doing, once we find the missing math CD......once those things happen, it might look a lot less terrible.


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