We have officially wrapped up our first week of homeschooling!
That exclamation point expresses both enthusiasm and confusion. According to our progress dashboard we have completed all of the necessary lessons (pats myself on the back) but Rinn cried at least once, I definitely thought about it and there was a point in the week where I read a bunch of emotional back-to-school posts written by moms who were conflicted about having to drop their babies off at Kindergarten for their first day and I thought TAKE RINN WITH YOU! I had a serious lapse in judgement. I’m scared and overwhelmed and my face is in danger of taking on permanent look of bewilderment. SEND HELP!
I have to assume my whirlwind of emotions is on par with the reactions deemed acceptable for parents embarking on homeschooling for the first time. Unless of course they’re some kind of saint unaffected by the drastic lifestyle changes and demands made by being solely responsible for their children’s education. If you’re one of those people you should write a book, I would definitely buy it.
In reality however we only had to retake one assessment because the art curriculum is kind of awful. It’s not so much doing art but reading about art and Rinn has the attention span of a hyperactive mayfly. After Rinn rolled around on the floor shouting I DON’T KNOW for the second time I discovered a YouTube channel called “Art with Madi & Dada”. It houses a plethora of clips under ten minutes that highlights over thirty artists and is substantially more captivating than the sound of my own voice. We were back on track.
Also I took advantage of Groupon gold and we went bowling for physical education credit. We got to spend quality time together, I was able to indulge in beer and pizza and Rinn was exposed to physical activity that doesn’t require anyone getting pelted in the face with a rubber ball. Soon Rinn will start Fall soccer and gymnastics which will both count for P.E. hours and I’ll be able to take off my plate worrying about whether or not walking the dog for 30 minutes each morning or letting Rinn struggle through a yoga video meets the curriculum criteria.
This whole experience was supposed to be about Rinn learning: how to write and recognize letters of the alphabet, understanding that /m/ and /n/ sound obnoxiously similar but are in fact different, and that he should listen to his mother or end up like Little Red Riding Hood who spent an uncomfortable amount of time in the belly of a wolf. Turns out I picked up a few things this week as well.
1. TIME MANAGEMENT IS EVERYTHING and not all planners are created equal.
Rinn was super jazzed to get started on the first day so you can imagine his dismay when the very first thing I did was open his Math book only to realize that there was a whole pile of reading I should’ve done before I sat him down. Keeping the attention of Kindergartner is already a battle but they lose interest at warp speed when all you’re doing is staring at open textbook scratching your head like this is first you’ve seen of the English language. How is Rinn supposed to do his homework if the teacher hasn’t done hers? We struggled through the first day to say the least.
Keeping that in mind I set up next week’s schedule this week and even managed to skim a majority of the material which gave me an opportunity to seek alternative and supplemental material for lessons and objectives which I suspect to be problem posing. I am using and abusing my Monster’s Study Planner, a gem I found on Amazon which I initially deemed overpriced but couldn’t resist because the cover was cute. Turns out it was worth all 21 dollars and 99 cents. Yes, I’m aware they have an entire isle of day planners at Target, WalMart and everywhere in between. I use one of those to keep track of the rest of our life: my assignments, soccer games, doctor’s appointments, endless rehearsals, meetings with my lawyer, blah blah blah.
The Monster Study Planner though, damn. It has pages to create daily schedules, the ability to track individual curriculum progress and the weekly pages have more than enough room to lay out our daily plan and keep track of the time it took to accomplish everything. For those of you who don’t know, homeschooling is as much teaching as it is recording the hours it took you do that teaching. My planner is my best friend, if my best friend was Korean. The whole thing has Korean subtitles, just gives it character if you ask me.
2. HELP YOUR CHILD HELP YOU and never underestimate the power of Google
As I said before, Rinn struggled through his art lessons this week. He was also a bear during the 50 minutes we spent each day on phonics. I found myself daydreaming about Homer Simpson grabbing Bart around the neck and shaking him till his eyes bulge and his tongue hangs out of his mouth. Instead, Rinn and I had a discussion about what he finds so difficult about these topics and came to the conclusion that my voice is pretty much a bore; both subjects require me to talk for lengthy periods of time without the use of visual aids. Thanks kid. I’ll remember that when you ask me to read you a bedtime story later. But in all seriousness, I get it. Like me, he’s a terrible auditory learner. Put me in a college lecture hall and I’m the first one to disregard the Word document I opened to take notes because I’m Google searching “how to pull a fire alarm and get away with it”.
I don’t have the time to craft some enthralling presentation and why bother when we have modern conveniences like YouTube. I perused few articles online listing the best educational YouTube channels for kids which is how I stumbled upon Art With Madi & Dada (mentioned earlier.) I also subscribed to a Alphablocks for phonics and Mr. DeMaio who I enlisted to help explain the upcoming solar eclipse. Call me ingenious or call me indolent, either way Rinn is learning and I’m not pulling my hair out.
Now I just have to find a way to effectively communicate basic sex education at a Kindergarten level. Maybe a bit premature but potentially necessary after a recent conversation Rinn and I had when I came home from work.
ME: “What did you do today?”
RINN: “Nuffing. Papa was at work, but when you have another baby in your tummy I’m going to be the best Papa.”
ME (Deer in headlights): “Well you have to have your own baby and that baby has to have a baby for you to be a Papa.”
RINN (Clearly puzzled and a bit dismayed): “But I don’t even have a girlfriend yet.”
ME (more deer, more headlights)
RINN: “Maybe when I’m nine I’ll have a girlfriend and then we can have a baby.”
God bless, this week has been interesting. Excuse me while I go make myself a drink.
At least I can say that no one was paddled.