Things have changed a lot in our house. My son is no longer excited to do his lessons; he sees them as intrusions into his playing. In the past when I told him it was time for lessons, he’d shout “Yaaay!” Now he groans. In the past he’d ask to do lessons on the weekends. Now he can’t wait for the weekends so that he doesn’t have to do any lessons. In the past he’d ask for more when we were finished, now he can’t wait to get away.
I’ve painted quite a grim picture. It’s not that he hates our lessons; he likes a lot of what we do, and he loves science. A big part of it is that he’s just so into his Lego, Lincoln Logs, wooden train set, and cars and can play for hours and hours non-stop. His play is quite intricate, complex, and on-going. He resents being torn away from it. And being taught at home means his play things are mere feet away.
But there is more to it than that. The joy has definitely waned. He feels it, and I feel it, too. There are a few reasons for this:
- Routine. Although we mix up the order of our subjects, we’ve got a pretty regular routine. Routine, although necessary, is not one of the spices of life.
- Being over-extended. We were doing too much each day, which caused several problems, and contributed to #3 and #4.
- My attitude. I’ve been in a “we gotta get it done” frame of mind for a long time. I’ve tried to stop myself, but being over-extended, behind on housework, tired, etc., has made it very difficult to overcome this. I’m also guilty of showing frustration when Esa is slow/fidgety/not reading well/not paying attention. I’d lecture him and even raise my voice. (No wonder the kid wants to get away.)
- Not participating. I’m talking about myself here. I often give Esa something to do, say an art project or copywork, and walk away to do dishes, take care of laundry, or any of the other 80 quadrillion things women have to do each day (see #2). I should be sitting with him, watching, and doing art projects with him.
These problems have been going on for some time. At first I thought it was all my fault and felt a lot of guilt. I thought we needed to get an earlier start, and I needed to slow down, relax, and participate. And the raised voice had to go. This is all true, but I’d set myself up for failure with our overwhelming schedule.
Since I’ve cut back on things and changed to a 4-day-a-week schedule there have been some dramatic changes.
- Multum non multa: since cutting back, we’re digging deeper into history and science and Esa’s loving it (and so am I!). We now have more time for some of the extra history activities.
- We’re no longer over-extended.
- I have time to get the housework done. A clean house makes everyone happier. I also have a bit more time for myself.
- I’m more relaxed and am participating or at least observing and am “there” (physically and mentally).
- I’m trying to change things up a bit.
- We have more time for discussions.
- We have time for an afternoon read-aloud, something we used to do but that got lost along the way.
- We have more time to play together.
- Esa’s getting more outside time which cures his fidgety-ness.
I’ve also learned to relax about his reading (this change happened a few months ago). I used to think that if he was reading badly one day he’d forgotten everything and it was all a big waste of time and our homeschooling career was over and what am I doing thinking I can teach my child and he’s never gonna learn at home…
You know how it is.
Now I’ve learned that it simply means he’s having an “off” day in regards to reading and either needs to read something lighter (and who can’t relate to that?) or we need to put it away for the day and do something else. The next day he always reads better, and sometimes I notice a jump in ability. His brain just needs some downtime to process what he’s learned.
It’s hard to believe that cutting out a couple of subjects and moving from a 5-day schedule to a 4-day schedule could make such a difference, but it has.
Is Esa enjoying his lessons more? Absolutely. I can see it in his attitude, in his face, in his enthusiasm, and I can hear it in his laughter. Is he asking to do lessons again? Well, it’s only been a few days since most of these changes took place, so no, not yet. But watch this space; I’ll keep you posted.
There’s certainly more joy to our day.