Friday, October 24, 2014

Early Morning Kvetch and Notes on Homeschooling

Good morning, I think.  I'm so tired.  So I'm teaching a night class which totally messes with me sleep-wise, and I've been meeting with each of my students for the last two weeks.  And then today I have to be on campus at 8:30.  You know, like in the morning.  I just get grumpy when I look up at a clock on campus when I'm already tired and wearily note that though I'm still not able to go home yet, I have to be back in 12 hours.  Anyway, as Winchester said in M*A*S*H about a slightly different hour:  I only recognize on 8:30 per day and this is not it.  But the worst part is 8:30 is not 8:30, it's really 5:30 in sheep's clothing because that's what time I have to wake up to get to campus at 8:30.  All told, this means I've had precious little sleep.  Oy gevalt.  I hate this. 

House projects are continuing, due almost exclusively to Absurdist Partner.  The last few days I seem to specialize, when at home at least, in panic and jibbering.  We've had two frosts, at least, but have I managed to get the raised bed together?  No.  Planted the bulbs (which is a huge project where I have to take out hostas planted on a ridiculous sun-filled southern exposure -- oy, I will never understand that one)?  Of course not.  Nor have I put the composter together, though I did order it, which was on my list.  I think I'm only getting items off my list that I can do on my computer.  Maybe this has something to do with the fact that my left hip aches and I get these pains all the way down my left leg.  I assume it's sciatica, but oh!  it hurts more when it's cold.  I did my favorite workout and did not push it or anything and was so sore, not in my muscles, which felt fine, but in my joints.  I'm old.  What's more, I did not take care of myself when I was young.  Meh.

So we got a late start with homeschooling because of when Absurdist Partner stopped working and all the craziness around here, but start we did.  And Absurdist Child and I would do things, but it never seemed official, never seemed like enough, like I was supposed to provide school for 6 hours.  Then I decided to look to the wisdom of the interwebs about how much "seatwork" a first grader should be doing:  about 1-1/2 hours.  (Absurdist Partner reminded me:  they do a lot of things in school that are not academics, so the focus on at-home academics can be pretty short at this age.)  So it turns out, everything's fine.  And instead of really needing to make sure he covers all these subjects, the important things are these:

  1. Reading:  Especially with his eye problems, reading can be a challenge, something he doesn't jump up and do.  But he needs to practice.  
  2. Writing:  He loves to write lists, but there's always on unlined paper and in full caps.  He needs to work on his handwriting, and we have a great book for this:  Handwriting without Tears, which is especially good for left-handed children.
  3. Math:  We started with Life of Fred, which is this narrative about a five year old professor at KITTENS University.  I find it charming, and they sneak in all sorts of cool info about Archimedes.  But I learned a very important lesson:  just because I'm into it doesn't mean my kid's going to be into it.  AC loves numbers and, crazily, computation, so Life of Fred's narrative style with very few problems was just not really his thing, though he'd do it occasionally because he knew it made me happy.  So when I finally figured all this out, I went researching different math curriculum because I'm a bit concerned that his knowledge is too piecemeal.  (For example, he knows how to carry and, less reliably, how to borrow, but is confounded if you ask him where the tens place is.  He is clearly gifted in math as well as logical reasoning, our little litigator-in-training, and gifted kids often just know things without knowing how they know, but I do want him to be able to answer those kinds of questions.)  I got Singapore Math.  He sailed through the first assessment test, but then had problems with only specific aspects of the second, so we got him the books for 1B, and he's been sailing through it.  Honestly, I think I'm going to let him skip the repetitive stuff.  I can't wait to be able to sit down with him and go through this one particular workbook lesson, but with all this busyness, it hasn't happened yet.  
And then the rest of "school" is following up on his interests and going to nature education classes, which AC loves.  We've been getting lots of books about animals, his current obsession, from the library.  I did start him on some history, and so he wanted a book on Stonehenge.  I do the library trips but I don't often get to do the reading with him; I've never cracked the Stonehenge book since we got it.  And that's a significant source of crankiness at the moment:  this feeling that I'm not at home enough, not connected to the family enough, which makes sense since I just had my long day, when I was gone from 10-10.

It will get better, I tell myself.  And in any case, Dory's always right:  just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

Have a great day, everyone!  And a lovely weekend. 


What Now? said...

Okay, I know that this isn't really the point of the post ... but why do you have to get up at 5:30 to be on campus by 8:30? Have I somehow missed that you have an insane commute?

Can some of the gardening stuff happen next year, since you already had the craziness of moving this summer? I know that you're super-excited about doing it! But it sounds like it's causing some stress.

Earnest English said...

Was there a point to that post?

My commute is about 35-45 minutes. (We live in the country now. It's lovely. I want to write a whole post on that!) I like to leave an hour before because then I can get food, maybe, and often I don't leave the full hour before. This morning I did my best but did not have time did not get to buy a breakfast sandwich at The Corporation because I wanted to drop my stuff off at my office before I went on to the workshop.

But the other two hours is, I'm afraid, how long it takes me to get myself together in the morning. I'm really quite a zombie in the morning until I get some food in me. (I figure I'm secretly cold-blooded, and it take some time to come to temperature.) Basically, it takes me an hour of being up to wake up, and then the other hour is showering, getting ready, all that. Sad, isn't it? I love sleeping in and having breakfast in bed or getting to write as I used to do with my tea when I was single, but those days are gone for now. I did used to try to write during that hour of waking up, but I found it was counterproductive to good writing and feeling good about writing.

Your ideas about waiting with the gardening are smart, but I've planted bulbs on one windy December day and still managed to have stuff come up in the spring. We're going to have some warmer days coming up, and I'm still hopeful.

Things should slow down a bit because I won't be needing to be on campus to meet students. Crossing my fingers.

Anonymous said...

We really love Singapore Math. It's neat how they sneak later concepts into earlier chapters so they don't come as a big surprise when they're formally introduced.

Earnest English said...

nicoleandmaggie: I tried to leave a comment at your place but I have such trouble with wordpress. But wow, you have great posts about giftedness, gifted kids, and everything. I was digging through it. Great stuff.