Reluctant homeschooling

. . . having been home-schooled myself


"ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ.  Now I know my ABCs.  Next time won't you sing with me."

“ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. Now I know my ABCs. Next time won’t you sing with me.”

Girl 1 goes to a marvelous little Catholic Montessori program.  The only downside to it is that it technically is a “tutoring center” and not a school.  Her program only meets three days  week.

I knew that I’d need to do something the other two days eventually.  For now, she’s just kindergarten age, and I hoped that it would be enough for Pat to go over her phonics readers with her in the evenings.


She’s so eager to learn.  She writes words and sentences on her own initiative.  She tries to write in cursive, making up her own style.

At the same time, she’s been acting up in school lately.  And even during good weeks, her unfocused self only gets so much done at school.  Mostly she draws and paints and socializes and goofs off.  So I’m thinking she needs some supplementation at home sooner rather than later.


I was homeschooled K-12, and I feel like “Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt.”  I literally got a tee-shirt.    Still it just seemed like the right thing to do to bust out a few worksheets a few weeks ago.  A Friday morning in mid-November is as good a time as any to start homeschooling, right?

I held her hand over the pencil and traced the cursive letter “a” with her . . . for about five seconds until she shook me off.  It was funny how it brought back memories of when my mom taught me how to write in cursive (except that I think I was a more docile student).  A real déjà vu moment.


We only got through maybe 20 minutes of actual work.  She did a few easy preschool-type shape-matching worksheets too, just for fun.  Then a really long snack.  Then some outside play time.  Then Peter and the Wolf on YouTube while I made lunch.

I  remember my mom playing Peter and the Wolf for me on our record player when I was about four.  I was really scared of it.  I think my mom turned it off.  Girl 1 was scared too.  I don’t know what I was thinking. Peter and the Wolf just seems like the homeschooler-ish thing to put on.

After lunch we read some Little House and the Big Woods, then I put the girls down for “quiet” time.  Girl 2 yelled the whole hour.  Then another snack, then a trip to the library, where we happened to catch a children’s group Suzuki lesson.  Then dinner.  Then Pat read Girl 1’s phonics reader with her and put both girls to bed.  (Okay, and there was some movie-watching here and there throughout the day too.)

The whole day was like an out-of-body experience, especially since our days generally have no structure.   (My life is like Jenny’s life, minus the part where her life gets better.) I usually go around in a sleep-deprived haze, trying to keep the girls amused and not screaming, and trying half-heartedly to empty the dishwasher and brush my teeth before dinner.  Adding any school work into the day seemed completely impossible.

But, in start contrast to my prior apathy, I find myself a bit excited about homeschooling.  A big part is that it might help put some structure in our life.

I wrote another post about how loving your child, for some people, might mean giving up your dreams of homeschooling.  For me, it might mean giving up my dream of not homeschooling.  Girl 1 has a strong will, a short attention and probably ADHD.  Her sister is no shrinking violet either.   I have extremely limited emotional reserves, I doubt that we’ll homeschool full-time for any significant period.

But–for today–we did it!  Only 20 minutes of real work, but we did it! Because that’s what we needed to do.  And it felt good.


(**Update, several week later, we are still at it.  Some days are better than others.  The novelty has worn off for Girl 1.  Girl 2 is excited to do “home-goo wook” because she gets to chew gum.  We still only get a few minutes of serious work each time.  But we’re doing it!)


16 thoughts on “Reluctant homeschooling

  1. My oldest boy (8) has ADHD and ODD. I would have given up homeschooling him years ago if it weren’t for his father, who would rather die than yield his son to any institution, private or otherwise. My second son (6) loves school, but because his brother takes all my energy to handle, he usually gets short shrift.

    I was homeschooled 4th grade and onward, so I have seen and experienced the “dark underbelly” of homeschooling (as my sainted mother calls it). I was by no means over-optimistic before I began homeschooling my own children, but my oldest has shown me how truly horrible it can be. If it weren’t for my husband, I would have abandoned my principles long ago. Most days, I’m glad I haven’t.

    • My daughter has been asking I listen to Peter and the wolf again. I won’t let her, bc she came I to our bed for several nights afterward, having sCary thoughts and dreams about “the wolf.” Maybe when she’s older she can join your ranks. 🙂

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. Gosh..I’ve never once put on Peter and the Wolf for my kids. I didn’t realize that was such a homeschooly thing to do.

    Oh,..and I was reading another blog who is homeschooing children with ADHD and she recently learned that caffeine has the opposite effect on ADHD people as it has on other people. Apparently caffeine can help ADHD kids focus, so she’s been giving her kids tea in the morning iwth great results . Apparenlty you have to be careful that it’s caffeine w/o sugar as the sugar negates any effects of the caffine.

    And, I love homeschooling for the structure it gives our days as well. Although I’m naturally a very structured person who thrives on routine so even if my kids went to school, I’d still have a lot of structure in my day. In fact, I hate holidays and things which through my regular routine/structure off.

    • You know, I feel pretty unstructured and yet weekends drive me crazy bc I lose what little routine we do have. Poor Pat. I’m not very good company on his days off. They easiest way to avoid the situation would be for me to keep up out weekday routine on the weekends, but I can’t resist the temptation to sleep I and let pat take over childcare.

      Sent from my iPhone

    • Oh, and the caffeine idea is intriguing. I’d love to try it. I don’t know how I could get my kids to drink unsweetened tea though. I could use stevia, but I’m wary of giving them stevia on a regular basis since it’s still a new product. I don’t quite trust it 100% yet.

      Sent from my iPhone

  3. Next time, try Carnival des Animaux by Camille Saint-Saens. Have the girls guess which instrument is playing and what animal is being represented. The tracks are very short and dance-inspiring. I guarantee she’ll love it!

    By the way, I love the artwork! She is way ahead of Claire in representational drawing!

    I think Claire’s ‘schoolwork’ takes about 20 minutes a day at this point, for her phonics, math, science and handwriting. Soon we’ll be starting the reading book, so there will be a bit more effort. You’re doing great! 🙂

    • I will definitely look for that song. Thanks for the tip!

      Girl 1 has become advanced in the areas that interest her–so far, those are reading, writing, and art. Math, on the other hand, is already the disfavored subject. It’s a delicate balance to keep at it consistently without making it into a battle if wills. If I push it too hard she could well set her mind against it for a long long time. Fortunately she’s only in kindergarten and she really doesn’t need to do much yet.

      Sent from my iPhone

  4. Good for you for giving it a shot! I’m hesitant about homeschooling… I still have a few years yet so I have time to be indecisive. I might find myself just kinda easing into it. I have that annoying tendency to just make the everyday things educational and sing-songy from being a preschool teacher, and SK’s personality is such that she eagerly soaks it all up. We might just keep that going and see where it gets us, although Gus might throw a wrench in it. Btw, Girl 1’s writing skills are really great! I love that phase when they’re writing phonetically and independently.

  5. Our “homeschooling” for preschool is super short too. Like 10 min handwriting, 10 min of math. And sometimes a fun map thing with choc chips to learn the United states of America that I saw on Pinterest. I also consider baking, walks, library story time, etc part of “homeschooling”. I think it’s added a good routine and I give Grace focused attention, so she loves the special 1-on-1 time with Mommy. And my husband teaches her the catechism at night for like 5 minutes 2-3 x a week.

    • You know, I’ve never been attracted to all the cute kids’ activities and crafts on Pinterest until now. My kids love that sort of thing so now I do too! By the way, what book does your husband use for catechism lessons? Girl 1 has Catechism of the Good Shepherd as part of her Montessori program, but I’d like to supplement at home a bit eventually.

      • It’s a little white book called “my first communion catechism” by the Neumann press. A very basic Baltimore catechism type from 1942. They do it after dinner (and before dessert –as motivation to pay attention… We have no qualms about bribery! ;)). But she is very calm and focused –just born that way — I don’t know how well it would work with a ADHD or high energy child. my #2 child is more spirited so in 2 years I may have different thoughts on catechism for that temperament?

  6. Good for you guys! (Also that picture of Pat and the kids is totally adorable.) I did something structured with Sam for all of two weeks before the novelty wore off for him, and now our much less structured approach seems to be working better for his personality. I really think he would thrive in the type of Montessori situation you are describing . . .if only he would potty train!

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