I’m a planner. I always have a plan. Back up plans? Yep, got those too. Back-up to those? Oh yeah, usually have a few of those floating around too. I am the world’s best planner. My plans are detailed. Specific. Focused.
And then life happens. And I get tired. Or lazy. Or bored. Or frustrated. Or lack the resources. Or something looks more interesting at that particular moment. Or I get a new idea that totally revamps the infrastructure of the original plan. So I may spend hours planning, only to spend the same amount of time re-planning, leaving no energy whatsoever to actually “doing” what I planned. (Which means my ideal work job if I ever have one again would probably be in consulting!)
Case in point. A month ago I developed a homeschool plan for 4 weeks. It took an entire day to build it when you consider the daily distractions of 3 energetic kids under 5. But it was perfect. I used the latest technology (Evernote) to organize it. I outlined the subjects I wanted to cover, the days I wanted to do it, the specific details of each subject even. I used screen shots. Printing out the weekly plan in Evernote looked like I was a professional curriculum writer and that I really knew what I was dong.
And the result? I did it for one day – and that was 2 weeks ago. And I didn’t even do all of it. Why?
Because I’m trying to cram real heavy work into a 4 year old.
You see, I have another problem. I get impatient. I want to get to the really good stuff. The fun stuff. The interesting stuff. And I am surrounded by very small children while trying to pull off what is effectively 1st grade curriculum work with a 4 year old (who will be 5 very soon).
Looking at the curriculum a regular Pre-K class would work on at this age, learning basic numbers, letters and sounds…it looks so simple. I know that Graham has already mastered those subjects. For that matter, Graham has nearly learned real reading, so why would I bother teaching basics like “this is ‘A’…this is ‘B’ and so forth”. Now let’s color them….sheesh.
What I really need to be working on is listening comprehension. I need to be making him read very simple books. I need to be reading the harder ones. Lots of them. Instead, I’ve got him trying to do arithmetic. Or learn sentence structure.
I actually have the kid sitting in a school desk (and have for over 6 months), and expecting him to be able to not randomly fall out of his chair for no apparent reason. I seem to be fully underestimating the restrictions of his age, no matter how quickly he may pick up the nuances of a subject. Just because we can forge through some tougher mater, doesn’t mean we should.
When we run into trouble, we both get frustrated. I’m pushing so hard that the joy of it is gone – even if he does start to get it. The problem is not with Graham. It’s with me. I have an unreasonable expectation of lightly skipping through the boring stuff and diving head first into the complex.
All my Evernote plans have fallen by the wayside. I went back to the internet to figure out what I was doing wrong and one them kept coming up. I was trying to hard for such a young age – especially for boys. Today’s regular public school seems really designed to cater to all of the strengths of girls and few for boys – especially in the early years. So if that structure isn’t the best for boys (and I only have boys), why am I trying to stick so hard to it? And worse, try to do it even earlier than they would?
Instead, we are going to take step back and breathe. I’m going to chunk the Evernote curriculum maker for now. Instead, we are going to just move about a little less structured and cover topics in normal life. It doesn’t mean I won’t use the white board. Everyone seems to love the white board. But…I’m not going to hold everyone’s feet to the fire of my ridiculous planning ideas.
I am going to focus on books and the library and life experiences. I am going to make crafts that have a teaching element (like our Hercules Beetle lap book). I am going to calm down and worry less about progress and competing with the world even if it’s only a mental competition. It’s wearing me out. I’m going to try to un-plan our learning and let the kids get just a little older before I make them sit in the desk again.