Thursday, 28 June 2012

Grinding to a halt in home ed.

After a conversation with a friend this morning we came to the topic of how tired we were. Not physically tired. Not even mentally tired. But just feeling a bit drab about our home education.

The thing is, there are often fabulous times when you home ed - times when your kids are bursting with learning, when you have all the enthusiasm and energy in the world and want to tell everyone the benefits of the HE choice you have made. And there are times when you wonder what on earth you are doing (Am I mad?!)

And yet life goes ok when you are riding up and down the this is great...this is crap rollercoaster.

The difficult times, aren't really the difficult times. The most difficult times I find are when we are stuck in the plateau, when everything is plodding on, but in a mediocre, half-hearted, jaded, can't-be-faffed sort of way. After all I didn't choose to home ed to spend the day doing mediocrity.

I know when we get to this point because I lose the will to keep any structure to the day. I'm not talking about educational structure (although that goes out the window too), but the ability to make anything happen. We find ourselves eating breakfast closer to lunch time and lunch sometime shortly before I cook dinner. Bedtimes become later, or just haphazard. The to-do list of jobs gets longer without any enthusiasm to reduce it.

When we get to this point I start resorting to worksheets because the effort of responding to child-led projects is more than I can muster. (And besides, think of the mess that someone will have to clear up afterwards). The kids spend more time on the pc because somehow there is no fuel to inject into creative activities. It takes energy to push myself out of the house. Pushing three other rather reluctant people out with me, is more than I can manage, so we stay in.

Of course these moments, like any moments in parenting and HE, do pass. And of course, it doesn't mean that the kids aren't learning, because they ARE learning heaps. But there is just a weighty drag to the week.

I've been home educating nearly nine years now and we've been here before.  (At least once a year, sometimes more).

Why? Why now?

Perhaps it's because we've always had to do things on a tight budget. Resourcefulness takes energy and time. If you have money you can always pay for someone else to do something with your kids. Or you can just go on holiday :) I have been feeling alot of money envy recently. A sure sign that I need a break, time to chill, connect back with the important things.

Perhaps it's nine years of responsibility. Someone with kids in school can put the blame on the teachers/school/ peer group/ education system. When you Home Ed, the buck stops here. When I'm on top, I don't mind taking that weight on my shoulders. I even revel in it. When I'm feeling lethargic and uninspired I just want to hand the load to someone else.

Or perhaps it's just the occasionally repetitive nature of HE when you have several children. Can you really summon up the same enthusiasm to do the Romans AGAIN, this time with the third child. Will they miss out if you don't make a table-top volcano with baking soda? (there will be a further post on this). Bedtime stories...sigh. Why wont this one just get on and learn to read?

Or perhaps it's just my personal response to finishing a two-year diploma course and now having to go back to being just a mum and a housewife and meeting everyone else's needs. Being treated as someone with a brain for two years is nice. It's like someone telling you you're doing a good job, and that you're important and that you're fit for more than colour-coding the lego. The rewards of home ed can be huge, but mostly they are intrinsic and not always easy to extricate in a way that the rest of the world will understand.

Is there a solution?

Hmmm...I don't know. Most of the time I think it's something we just have to ride out.

And other times it can be helped with a change of scenery, meeting some new people, or just a damn good rest.

Time for a break, perhaps?


Anonymous said...

I too home educate, I finished my degree last year and this year I've had another pregnancy to focus on. Life does become quite uninspiring when you have nothing for yourself to work towards. Maybe you could do a futher course or work during the evenings or weekends at something you enjoy. I hope you get out of your black cloud soon.

peapod said...

Interesting post. I am feeling EXACTLY the same at the moment. Lethargic, drab and just 'meh'. And that's interspersed with feelings of guilt because there doesn't seem to be the usual joy of learning going on in our house recently.
May the funk pass soon!
Pea :)

Deb said...

I think it's natural to have these lulls when home edding, and actually see it as one of the good things about it. These 'fallow periods' (as I call them) happen all the time in life naturally, except in school there is no provision for them, and you are expected to carry on regardless and ignore what your body and mind are telling you (that is, to take a rest). At least when you home ed you can realise when you're coming into one of these phases and respond accordingly. And, as you say, the learning happens anyway, so there is nothing to worry about :-)

Anonymous said...

No visible progress doesn't not mean that no progress is being made. I'm stating the obvious but it's definitely worth saying.

Doing something which can be measured, labelled, completed and waved around in a victorious flourish is what school has taught us to do. Life however is often less easily measured, defies a neat label and is left half done or less. Would we wave a flag for this and why not?

Getting through a day counts for something; the thoughts and realisations that are reached internally without prompting or external questioning mean a lot and the sharing of our journey with family and with love is something which will be remembered for a long time.

Just being is ok m'dear. Don't panic.