September 17, 2007

School At Home

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy. -Robert Burns

In other words: Even the most carefully prepared plans can go wrong.

Here is a log of our first three days of homeschooling:

September 5, 2007, A Fine Start

Today was our first day of school. I had to interview someone for my newspaper column at 9 a.m. so J stayed home and watched a DVD on Pompeii. When I got home we did Saxon Math, Writing Strands, ate lunch, went to the library to get some books on Ancient Rome (had to drag J away from the Manga section), stopped by Monkeyhouse Toys so J could show off his munny and wooden sword to Myra, the fabulous store owner, then went to the California Science Center. At the Science Center we explored the properties of fog, earthquake-safe building, and how fear manifests itself in the human body. Back at home we ate dinner and watched some beatboxing on YouTube. We both agreed it had been a "cool" first day of school.

September 6, 2007, The Unravelling Begins

Today was a bit of a struggle. We started with math (big mistake). The lesson was simple, a review of addition and subtraction, but J was completely unfocused and took F-O-R-E-V-E-R to complete his work. I'm not sure how to handle this situation. I could give him a certain amount of time to complete it with my help and then leave him on his own to do the rest. How will that work? Leave him alone in his room to do it? Have him complete the work later in the day as "homework?" That seems pretty lame but maybe I'll try it. That will be Plan A. I won't start the day with math, though. It puts both of us in a foul mood right from the beginning.

In spite of the math debacle we managed to enjoy the rest of our day. We watched the Pompeii video again. This time J (reluctantly) took notes. Then we had lunch and went to our first Park Day. J had a good time, made some new friends and had a few Yu-Gi-Oh duels. Day two was definitely not as good as day one.

September 7, 2007, We All Fall Down

The plan didn't work. I had decided against Plan A. What's the point of homeschooling if you still have homework? Instead I thought we'd take the math to a cafe. So, we headed down the hill to our corner cafe, math book and pencils in hand. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. I was oh, so determined to make this outing enjoyable and end the day with a feeling of accomplishment. I bought J a piece of his favorite coffee cake. I got some tea for myself. We sat at a table on the patio, opened the math book, and took out his worksheet. Within fifteen minutes J was crying. As the tears rolled down his face he scowled at me and said "You said this was going to be fun. This. Isn't. Fun."

For some reason (maybe I was tired and stressed out, maybe I had put too much importance on the success of this one outing, maybe--more likely-- it's because there were people looking at us and I was embarrassed) I got really angry. I didn't erupt, though, I stewed. Quietly, I gathered up our books and said, "Let's go home." J trailed behind me as I stormed up the hill to our house. When we got home he went to his room and I went to mine. We didn't speak for almost three hours. During those hours I researched public middle schools on the internet. I called my sister and complained. I cried. Then I googled "unschooling."


Jaynes Ave said...


I am so happy I found your blog and grateful that you have shared your entire unschooling experience. My husband and I both come from a mainstream, traditionally schooled background and on top of that, my mom, step-dad, and his mom are all public school teachers! We feel, however, that homeschooling is a much better alternative and are just becoming aware of and learning about unschooling. I haven't made a commitment, though, out of fear. Our daughter is only 3, and it is especially stressful for me to let go of my "parental" control, along with my constant wonderings about whether or not, by letting go, I will be setting my daughter up for a life of despair!

You have posted your journey here with such honesty and I am finding comfort in reading about your unschooling journey, from the start. That's why I've commented on your first post, too, because that's where I am.

Thank you!

Faith said...

I am just finding your blog. I took your advice of starting at the beginning. Your first three days sound all too familiar. I will keep reading.

SuperMom Blues said...

I just found this blog today and I am so SO thankful! I am a brand new homeschooler (we pulled my 9 year old out in January) and while we deschool I am researching different homeschooling philosophies - and am leaning toward unschooling. I have started from post 1 and going to read through every one, I'm sure. Your honesty is wonderful. Thank you for sharing your story!