Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Six weeks in...

We're in week six of school, and I'm thankful to be here and not at week one. I feel like we're past the nervous anticipation of unfamiliar schedules and routines, and are slowly jelling with this new pattern of what learning looks like in our home.
Without question, the primary challenge has been attitudes and acceptance of our new roles and routines. More than a few days of our first month found one boy or the other in tears, in a fetal position on the carpet, crying that "we don't do it like that at school." The worst was when an "I can't" dissolved into "I just wish I were at school, I don't like homeschool!" - especially when it came just minutes after a proclamation that homeschooling was better than they expected. What drove me crazy was that when one boy faltered, the other's attitude remained upbeat and cooperative. Then the next day, without warning, they might switch. What in the world?!
But even the most frustrating episodes ended in contrite cooperation. This message scribbled on the dry erase board welcomed me one morning:

Enter Corbin with some positive reinforcement. Armed with bags of candy - good candy, expensive candy - he filled a glass jar and perched it on a shelf in the sunroom, a visible reward for good attitudes. Just one piece a day has been enough to get them in line.
Even more than the candy, though, time has smoothed out the wrinkles of unfamiliarity and anxiety. The boys know a little more what to expect, they are learning their new routines, and I think they are feeling some success in learning and even enjoying the new way we do it at home.

So enough about the kids, a few things that school at home has meant for me:
- Endearing me to my oldest. Branson caught on to the "pros" of homeschooling early on, and he has surprised me by jumping in with both feet. He wakes early and is a self-starter, and would have all of his work completed by 9:00 a.m. if I'd let him. I treasure his consistent up-beat attitude, his courage to jump in and try something new, and his amazing aptitude. (See all the pink post-it-notes on his folders - Bran scrawled "done" scrawled across each one to show me he'd completed his work... I think this photo was snapped before breakfast.)

- Laughing with my boys. We have laughed a lot - they are really funny! Bran is even funnier when he's trying not to be. Nothing beats genuine laughter with these boys.
- Having Bran and Hud to myself. The girls go to school three days a week, and Basden is LOVING her kindergarten class. I love that she's learning songs and poems and jingles - and not from me. I also love that she's getting a classroom experience with these sweet teachers and kiddos. Needless to say, Essie is happy as a lark to be with friends several days a week.

- Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. We're staying up a bit later and sleeping a bit later. I still can't get over afternoons and evening with no homework (!!!). I feel like the pulse of our home is a little more relaxed than it's been in awhile - the sabbatical from school deadlines has been a tremendous gift.
- Tuesdays with the Alexanders. Our kids LOVE Tuesdays, can't wait for the weekly trek to Arlington to be with this sweet family and some other friends. Emily is amazing in opening her home, Moody is amazing with science experiments and teaching, and Senora Mary Lynn is adorable teaching Spanish. And best of all - hot pizzas delivered between classes. So thankful for our Tuesday lunches and learning!

So far, our weeks have been a gift. That's the way I've been trying to anticipate this school year - a treasure. My mind's eye envisions a rusty old treasure chest filled with shimmering gold and bright gems and sparkly things that I don't even know the value of. I don't know what our treasures will be, or when we'll uncover them, but I'm counting on the fact that the Lord has something beautiful in store for us. One day at a time, one day at a time, one day at a time...