24 August 2008

I can do it!

This has been quite a year for growth for me. I have learned that I am capable of so many things I never thought I could do. I have planted a garden, actually harvested food from it, made jam, tried my hand at water bath canning, and today I even scheduled the upcoming school year. I am still working out in my own mind why I think myself so inept. I have always had a terribly low self-esteem, and I am not completely sure why. Perhaps because I have always lived my life as an outsider. Perhaps because I am naturally a pleaser. I don't know. I have lived a pretty bizarre life by most standards, so people often have trouble relating to me and my experiences, and I to theirs. But I will try not to dwell on the wherefores for long. Ultimately, they are proving irrelevant.

I just noticed this newly found self-confidence today. Public school starts tomorrow and of course we homeschool. So Caitie has gone back to her dad's for the year, and Moira and Lauren have both started asking about starting lessons. My history with providing lessons is spotty, at best. The first year I took Moira out of public school, no reporting was required since Kindergarten is not mandatory here. The next year, I had to submit a curriculum with my letter of intent, but I wanted to "unschool", and use no formal lessons. I came up with ways that her learning might take place over the next several months and qualified my submission with the statement, "We reserve the right to adjust this curriculum as needed to best meet the needs and interests of our child." I worried all year that I didn't do enough, teach enough, show enough to her. In December, I had gotten myself so worked up that I found a curriculum that I liked and bought it. We started the lessons in January, which complicated things. I decided to just do what we could and then we could finish the rest of it the next year. Then when I was filling out the evaluation paperwork at the end of the year, I read through the sample and saw that I had done plenty. My one-page paper was nearly two pages long so I had to edit it down.

The next year, we started again with the curriculum pretty much where we left off, but by now we didn't have enough to finish the year. I did well with giving lessons regularly until we ran out in December. The rest of the year ended up being mostly unschooling. I was feeling better about it though after having gone through it all once and passing. I think that is a significant statement. I have been viewing homeschooling as a test for me to prove I am good enough to teach my child, instead of viewing it as educating my child and to hell with the system, which has enough faults of its own. She did fine at her year end evaluation, even with no formal lessons after early December.

Today (homeschooling year 3.25), after the girls asking if they could learn Spanish (a language I studied in high school and college, but haven't really used in 12 years or so) and if we could start lessons tomorrow, I sat down to schedule and coordinate their lessons. I picked up the curriculum overview (which I had actually not read since I bought it two years ago, instead diving straight into the syllabus) and read up on grade 3. Lauren will be doing 1st grade this year, and I think I will repeat it again next year so that she is on track with the lesson content. If she struggles with 1st grade this year, I will repeat her Kindy year, or maybe I will combine them together and stretch out 1st grade for her. When I looked at my chart and lessons and planned projects (not too many, I was realistic), and field trips (I may have planned a bit too much financially, we will see), I looked at it and felt confident. I can do this. It isn't going to be terribly difficult. The hardest part will not be the lessons themselves (which I have feared in previous years), but maintaining the discipline to do them every week, establishing the household rhythm that lends itself to learning. Finding the link for the curriculum showed me that the author actually did what she swore she wouldn't do - write syllabi for grades beyond first. My first thought was, "Whew! I can get a syllabus and know I am doing it right." Then I thought, "No, I don't need someone to tell me lesson by lesson. I just read up the overview and I can do this myself. I don't need to spend all that money."

That is what I have been feeling all summer about various different projects - I can do this! And I daresay, you can too, if you want to.


Kati said...

Best of luck with the homeschooling this year!!! This is our first year, and knowing that the hubby, kiddo and I tend to be very unreliable about doing anything education without boundaries, I went ahead and registered my kiddo with a correspondance school district (Yukon Koyukuk school district) and we're using a pre-formated curriculum: Calvert for most of the schooling, Saxon for math. But, we changed it just enough to have her repeat 4th grade math (which she really neads to go through again, with a LOT more emphasis on review than the public schools have provided for) while doing 5th grade curriculum for reading, history/social studies, science, etc. We're nervous, the hubby and I, but looking somewhat forward to this. We never WANTED to be teachers, but we realize that if our daughter is going to get through school with ANY education at all, it's going to have to come at our insistance and hard work.

Anyway, wishing you and your girls the best for this year!

Nicole said...

Wow. Homeschooling takes such commitment. I get frustrated when I don't have 'me' time so I would probably have trouble with it!

As for gardening, canning, etc... I planted my first garden (very small) this year and froze tomatoes for the winter. I also made some tomato blue-cheese basil soup for the freezer. Jam and water-bath canning? Give yourself more credit!