April 8, 2016 by Courtney
In a lot of ways, so far, this has been “my year.” My bipolar is under control more than it ever has been. This is a huge victory. While I may have slight symptoms, they are not so bad that I can’t control them with coping mechanisms.
I started homeschooling Karis in October and it was going so well that I knew I would be ready to bring the boys home next year. In true Courtney fashion, I spent hours and hours and hours and tons of money (thanks, tax return!) researching the PERFECT curriculum for my kids. I spent hours on websites looking at samples, placement tests, etc. I spent hours talking with people in homeschooling groups. I asked lots of questions, and I came to the conclusion that I had chosen the perfect curricula.
Then, we decided it was time to go ahead and bring the boys home early (long story). So in March, we let them finish out their week, then they were home. We had one week of school, then they had spring break to kind of “de-school” for a bit. They stayed at my parents’ house for much of that time and Robert and I had a much needed “get away.”
During this “get away,” all I could think about was homeschooling and curriculum! It’s so terrible. We did enjoy some quiet time, game playing, naps, and great restaurants… but not without my mind constantly going and the need to constantly be talking things over with Robert.
Fast forward to the past couple of weeks. I have been going back and forth, back and forth about some of the curriculum I have chosen (and already have). It’s all I think about. There are many curricula that I bought based on what others thought was best, and I didn’t take into consideration MY needs as well as the needs of MY kids.
I have had a HUGE weight on my shoulders.
After having a full week of breathing issues due to anxiety, I decided I needed to figure out what I need to do to remedy that.
After going to a doctor yesterday to make sure there wasn’t anything physically wrong with me (and we decided that there isn’t), Robert and I spent a few hours talking everything out last night.
When I told Robert some of the reasons for some of the curriculum I chose, he told me something that I needed to hear. I don’t have to do what everyone else says is best; I need to do what will work for ME. Just because someone else says it’s the right way for them doesn’t mean it’s the right way for me or for our kids. Then I told him that I’m worried about failing them. What if they don’t do well because of something that I didn’t choose wisely? All of this has been a huge weight on me and has made it difficult to just enjoy what we are already doing.
Between Robert and someone else last night I was reminded that my children will learn in spite of me.
Then I asked the question, what if what I bought doesn’t work? Robert and a few friends just said, then try something else. What if it’s not good enough? Robert then asked, “What’s good enough?” By whose standards am I measuring here? Are they learning? Are they enjoying learning? Are they thriving? I can say yes to all of those questions and we are only a month into it and we’ve kept it simple.
Through all of this talk, I’ve decided to make changes (yes, again!) to curriculum for next year to simplify for myself and for my kids. They will learn and it will be great!
I’m selling a spelling curriculum that EVERYONE says is amazing, but I just dread it and the kids don’t enjoy it either. And it’s expensive. I’m moving over to a more simple spelling curriculum (one that I’m currently doing with Karis). The one I’m moving over to is the one that the classical school used where I taught a few years ago. It is literally just an Evan Moor Building Spelling Skills workbook. But. They learn the rule for the week at the beginning, copy/cover and spell, word meaning (not just how to spell it, but what the word means), word study (digging deeper into the rule for the week), editing for spelling, then a spelling test (if I choose) on Fridays. So far using this method, Karis has made mostly 100s on her spelling tests.
I’m selling a writing curriculum (Essentials in Writing) that I bought for the boys that they’re just not ready for. It’s expensive as well. I bought a less expensive grammar and writing that has them doing things the more classical way. It’s simplifying everything. They will be doing copywork, dictation (me reading to them and them writing it), and narration (reading and telling about it… summarization). They won’t be expected to come up with their own narrative, informational, poetry, etc. The curriculum that I’m selling is GREAT for older kiddos, but they’re not ready for it yet. So, I’m going to continue using it for Karis. We’ll see what I do for the boys as they get older.
One other thing I’m learning. Take. One. Year. At. A. Time. I had everything planned out for many subjects all the way through high school in my head, and I’m learning it doesn’t work that way with homeschooling (or for anything really).
I absolutely HATE that I have anxiety. I’m still not breathing 100% because the “wheels” are still turning so to speak. I know that once everything is sold and settled I will probably feel better. For now, I just breathe in and breathe out. Rest. And take the meds necessary to feel okay.
One of the questions that I’ve had in my mind (and I’m sure other people are thinking but are just not saying anything) is that maybe with my mental illnesses I shouldn’t be homeschooling. But I have come to some conclusions. One: I don’t have any other choice. I will NOT send them back to the school they were in (many, many reasons), and we are over an hour from town. This is our life. Two: I have to learn how to overcome difficult situations. I can’t live my life scared of my mental illness. Three: With homeschooling year around, we can take it slow. If we need to take a day off, we can (which we did, today!). We can even take a week off if we need to! Most people take 3 months off for summer so a day or week here or there won’t hurt anything. I am confident that we will get through this and I we will get into our groove. One step at a time!