Friday, February 20, 2015

Back to school - the good bits

It's been quite the big decision to stop homeschooling and send my kids back to "real" school. I had/have mixed feelings about it, but we are taking it one day, one week at a time and going in with very clear expectations of what it will be like - the good and the bad bits.

So do you want the good news or the bad news, I ask? And don't wait for an answer - because we all want the good news first.
  • No more prepping school work! As an ex-teacher, I didn't mind putting together "curriculum" and learning plans and getting resources and books that I thought would work for us. When I wasn't working, that is! Trying to work full-time AND keep the kids up to date with interesting engaging school work/learning activities AND trying to manage a household AND trying to look after me, really wasn't working. I managed, but I can't say I did a great job in the last year and the kids really just got the basics and lots of worksheets and textbooks. They may as well have been at school! So it is with some great sense of relief that someone else is doing all the planning and prep now.

  • Socialisation! Yes, we homeschooled and yes, we were able to meet other people, talk to them, catch up with friends and be social. But moving to Canberra meant a new start. Ideally, I would take the kids along to all the amazing homeschool-ey events and groups here and meet new people, but me working full-time made that a little difficult. And the although the kids get on amazingly well for two teens that spent and inordinate amount of time together, they were starting to get a bit over each other. So it has been lovely to hear other kids names mentioned at the dinner table, and nice to know they haven't had to hide away in the library at lunch. They have made friends and have a group of friends to talk to. Video Boy has all his friends Skype and Steam deets, so the interaction continues online into the evening.

  • The kids are fine academically! Even with my "lite" curriculum and minimal bookwork approach, they are so far ahead of the game. Video Boy is amused that basically no-one in his English class knows what irony is (let alone that there are different types of irony) or what a metaphor is. Both kids are realising that a lot (note: there is no such word as alot) of succeeding in school is being able to comprehend the written word; something they are both great at. They are not behind in maths or science or any of the subjects where you build on prior knowledge. They actually often complete their classwork much quicker than their classmates (wonders will never cease!) and they are reasonably diligent at getting as much work done in class, rather than bring it home as homework. I am going to claim just the tiniest bit of credit for all of the above. Go me!

  • We have routine! The kids actually know what day of the week it is now, and even what date - something that was embarrassingly lacking in our homeschool life! They are slowly getting into a pre-school and post-school day routine of getting ready and doing homework. I think this will be good for them heading into the senior years of study and (hopefully) university.

  • They are gaining independence and real life skills! Although most homeschoolers can claim they spend more time in the "real world" than their counterparts at school, I did find the kids kinda relying on me. Now they catch the bus to and from school, buy stuff from the canteen, and figure stuff out by "them-selfes". I'm working on the getting themselves organised by themselves every day - my plan is to become redundant (hey, I gotta have dreams!!).

  • The kids are really comfortable in their own skins and have their heads screwed on the right way! I am so happy though that we have had the chance to homeschool these last 4 years. They were important years in their physical, mental and emotional development and I think by being at home, with people who love them and experiencing a different way of learning, they have had the opportunity to feel really secure in themselves. They not only have had the chance to develop into their "authentic selves" and feel good about that, they also can see the faults in the school system and take them with a grain of salt. They aren't "sheeples", they can think for themselves and think critically, and for that I will take a lot of credit!

  • On my Rostered Days Off I have quiet, me time! You know, what all the mum's gloat about when school starts back. Admittedly, those days are filled with chores, errands, to do lists and washing, but I do sneak in a couple of coffees, some social media catch-up and if you're lucky, a blog post or two! All in the peace and quiet of home with no-one else here! I could walk around naked if I wanted (but even I don't want to see that). But I totally could if I wanted to! Ahh, the serenity...except the dog randomly barking at things I can hear - that just scares the shit out me!
So, mostly, it's going well and we are coping and getting there and even better than that, the kids are doing pretty well out there!

But there is a darker side to everything and so next post - the bad bits!

PS: the other good news is that the Peruvian flute band has been very absent this week, which is a good thing, because I've worked 10 days straight with the last three being 12 hour days - if I had to endure any more of that, I would have gone completely cray cray....

Monday, February 09, 2015

What's happening?

When in doubt, copy your neighbour's work - so I'm copying Mrs Woog's blog and letting you in on the Secret Life of Ingi:

Making: a new blog post!

Cooking: Slow cooked pork belly for extended family (recipe snaffled from here - I put the oven on about 140C and cook it even slower)

Drinking: coffee and believe it or not, significantly reduced wine

Reading: just about to start Cathy Kelly's It Started with Paris)

Wanting: another day off, please

Looking: for the next holiday option

Playing: Uno with Wombat Girl!!

Wasting: time on the computer (I call it "me" time!)

Sewing: bahahahaha!

Wishing: that the you-beaut iron I bought actually ironed the pile by itself

Enjoying: if I'm being really honest, quiet time today with the kids not at home

Waiting: for the kids to get home from school

Liking: my slow cooked pork belly - it was delicious!

Wondering: what I want to be when I grow up

Loving: Not being at work today

Hoping: the kids will be OK at school (today, this week, this term, for the next 3 years)

Marvelling: at Cosco - I went for the first time last week - it is an out-of-body consumer experience!

Needing: All. The. Things. at Costco :-)

Smelling: pork crackling - say no more

Wearing: size 18 clothes (WTF???)

Following: along with FMS Photo a Day on Instragram - liking the pretty

Noticing: how tired the kids are after school - it's an exhausting thing

Knowing: that we have options

Thinking: about way too much - I might have to do some mindfulness/meditation, but it feels like one more thing on the extensive "to do" list

Feeling: a bit overwhelmed

Bookmarking: nothing - if it's not worth/short enough to read straight away, ain't nobody got time for bookmarking!

Opening: belated extended family gifts

Giggling: at Video Boy's description of his science lessons...

Feeling: better now I've offloaded onto you!
What's happening with you?

Ever been to Costco? Did it blow your mind?

How good is pork belly?

Is this directly related to wearing size 18 clothing?

I ask all the important, probing questions!

Friday, February 06, 2015

First week back at school - a wrap-up!

 This was the week, people!! Our first day back at "school"!!!

The day dawned overcast and cool, in Australia's national capital. But the kids were up to the task. Alarms were set. Alarms went off. And a bunch of tired, weary, people staggered about the kitchen looking for breakfast. And that was just the parents! Having teens added to the mix was just more fun!

I had organised uniforms. Packed lunchboxes. Supervised packing of the school bags. Ordered bus passes. We were set!

But first, the dreaded "first day back at school photo shoot". The kids were less than impressed, but I haven't done this in 5 years, so they had to cut me a little slack :-)

Don't they look handsome??? Apart from the fact that Video Boy needs a shave?

Now we need to stop for a minute and think about the family member who this back to school business is going to impact most on - Max. Poor Maxie-doodles will be HOME ALONE all day! Poor bub doesn't know what's in store.

And their first day?

It went well!!!

Academically - no issues! Yay for the awesome homeschool Mum!! They weren't behind in anything (even Japanese) and were in front in a couple of subjects (maths and science - what a shock). Let's not talk about R.E. though, shall we??

Socially - they were not awkward homeschoolers! They have nice groups of friends and weren't left wandering around the library at lunchtime with noone to talk to.

Emotionally - they were weary, but happy.

Everybody breathe a sigh of relief - it's going to be OK.

 But as every Kindergarten mum will tell you, it's often after the first day that things start to unravel.

Both kids still need help with the organisational side of things. Learning to use a diary. Coming home from school and doing homework. Unpacking dirty lunchboxes. Coordinating lockers/books/bags. Catching the bus on time.

Wednesday night saw Video Boy in a sea of tears because:

a) the day goes by so fast - and he can't remember what lessons he had, let alone what homework he has to do and the diary has been left in the locker at school.

b) he kinda DOES suck at P.E. (despite his previous protests to the contrary). "Mum, I don't like ball sports, I never intend to play ball sports, I'm not good at ball sports - why do schools insist on the emphasis on ball sports?". Good question VB, good question.

c) free time is SEVERELY diminished - how will he keep up with the stream of new videos on the YouTube channels he follows? I ask myself the same question, VB!

He asked me sincerely "does it ever get any better, Mum?". How am I supposed to answer that? No? It gets harder because then you go to work 9-5 (or in my case on Tuesday 8:30am to 8:00pm), with only 4 weeks leave a year, and have to come home every night and cook dinner and wash and iron and clean and help with homework.....So no, it doesn't really get better. The best I could come up with was that the routine will get easier. He will find the days less stressful. Maybe not P.E., but the days more generally. And the goal of this is to do work you really enjoy and that the time flies in, so you don't resent the 9-5 (or whatever). But on the whole, a fairly stressful Wednesday evening!

And then on Thursday morning, he wakes up with "I don't feel very well". And I'm like "what? It's DAY FREAKING FOUR and I'm dealing with this?????"

But he really was sick...Snot. So. Much. Snot. So I did what any good mother would do and loaded him up with cold and flu tablets, nasal spray, tissues and vitamin C and sent him on his merry way! But when he came home, he was burning up with a fever and I was burning up with mother-guilt! So Day 5 of our new school adventure saw me receiving a text message at work from the school informing me that VB was absent and I needed to send a note on his return. Ahh, technology! And this is what comes of mixing with the great unwashed! Wombat Girl did well and managed the entire 5 days, despite rushing to finish her science homework this morning, even though I had previously spent the last 3 afternoons nagging her to get it done.

So at the end of our first week, I'm knackered. So are the kids. I'm sure I'll have more words to write on that, but on the whole it went OK. Except we missed homeschooling not-back-to-school party at the waterpark today. Really missing that...
Did you have a good back to "school"?

How foul are germs?

Does it ever get better?

Embroidery Project - Blue Butterfly

I downloaded this pattern as a PDF from Hoop Embroidery Co on Esty as my first attempt at the technique known as "thread painting"...