Monthly Archives: September 2009

Sickness, burnout and Home Education.

One of the recurring themes for many home education sites is how to avoid or get over burnout. The day to day of home education and parenting can be exhausting and I think it is fair to say that many mothers get so tired they put their children into school because they think it must be easier.

exhaustedThere are a number of ways to avoid burnout or to at least mitigate against it’s effects. The best way-but it seems the hardest to get organised, is to have ‘mum time’.  This can take a number of forms; get a bit of time to read or just do nothing with a cup of tea. Get a few minutes while the children are otherwise occupied to blog a bit. (The incredible luxury of time to think up and write a whole post in one go may be a dream too far, but a few sentences at a time can be achieved).

Sickness is a tough one. I have realised that I need to be able to be flexible with the children’s learning when I am not well. The last week or so has been very hard going thanks to some kind of relapse in my disability that going by another home ed mum’s experience may be some kind of virus. In order to keep the education going I have needed to get the children to do some work more independently. There are some really good websites that will guide children in their learning and allow them to explore even if the parent helping is a witless blob for the day or even a few days. It doesn’t hurt that we spent a bit longer on the sofa while the children drew and read and looked through books on the human body.

The main problem most of us have when we are ill is there is simply no time to recover so it takes so much longer.  It doesn’t matter how chilled the educational side gets, toddlers in particular still need care and the fact is, even with a bit of a curriculum melt down, most of us don’t want to let the educational side of things go completely no matter how bad things get.

A friend of mine kept going through chemo! And I’ve had the children bring work to hospital to show me. We’re a weird bunch.

Most of us will look out for one another in a crisis but I do believe most of us mums need some time that is just for us, or burnout will become inevitable. Sadly I just can’t find out HOW to do this on a regular basis. Usually I have reached complete exhaustion before I get a break.

Most homeschool advice columns will point to dads and grandparents as a good way of ensuring children are out of the house for a day or two so mum gets a break. Sometimes this is possible, but for many of us dads work long hours and grandparents are not always an option.

So what do I suggest?

Be realistic- nobody is Supermum and there will be times when you need to let it ride and leave everything alone for a day. DO that. Worksheets, websites and just playing can be fine for a short time.

Ask for help: I have always found this one difficult to do. The hostility towards home education that I faced at the beginning has left me feeling that a lot of people would think “you’ve made your bed…” However I have found that there are people who recognise the massive commitment of home education and will be there if you ask them. DADs too can be asked to help. Some of the best help you can get of course is fellow home educators-who are already wearing the t-shirt.

Don’t CARE so much about what others think: The important thing is your children are happy, learning and doing fine.  You are doing this for them not other people. Constantly hoping for approval and support from those who will never give either is self defeating-leading to stress, doubt and burnout. Let it go.

Alongside this I think we need to beware of looking for solutions on places where they don’t exist. Don’t forget to pray-after all He really does have the solution and will give graces for each day.

MUM time. I really think this would prevent a lot of tired, fed up and irritable mothers. I am working on this one and I will let you know when I find a solution. I keep saying I am going to do this-but haven’t worked out how. If anyone has good ideas I really am interested.

Charlotte Mason Home Education: Autumn Wk 3

On Sunday there was Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers Parade at Mass followed by a trip to Cosford Air Museum. We went there as a family in the hols so for Ronan, Iona and Alex this was known territory.

P1000709 Narration: I’ve been using the set stories from the Ambleside Online curriculum for Ronan’s narration.  We’ve been trying to take it slowly but this week I felt we were hitting a wall on this one. Ronan is 6. The stories from Our Island Story and Fifty Famous Stories Retold can be quite long and complicated and Roni simply isn’t getting to grips with them. We have decided that narration will be from Aesop or other shorter stories for now and he can simply answer a few questions about other stories. Hopefully this will build up to fuller narrations and better memory and retention skills as he gets older and more practiced. To help he is going to draw a picture of some aspect of each story.

Poems We are changing between R L Stevenson and A A Milne but I am also using poem time to do some simple songs with all three of them.

Heleyna and Avila have spent some time with the songs on MoreStarfall. (I have payed $35 for a years membership) While I’m talking about MoreStarfall I would like to mention that Avila enjoys sitting with Heleyna and teaching her about colours or the movements for the songs or reading her a story.

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When and how children learn to read.

Very interesting lecture on when and how to get children reading from a Montessori point of view by Margaret Homfray. Some of the stuff she says is just good old common sense, but she also makes some very interesting observations about how literacy levels have dropped over the years despite the reduction in class sizes.

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Ed Balls can afford Home Education reviews, but not teachers or University fees!

In the “You couldn’t make it up” category we are greeted with the astounding fact that as the great Home Education Consultation continues, costing masses of undisclosed tax payers money that Ed is out to get rid of head teachers and Universities want students to get into even more debt for a degree that doesn’t even guarantee a job!

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Charlotte MasonHome Education Autumn week 2

After Week ONE I don’t think I need to write everything we have done this week. Most of the regular stuff is the same as last week.

On Tuesday the Geography lesson was about weather temperatures. The children got to have a look at my jam thermometer and then we recapped about how the sun warms the land and makes the wind. There was a great experiment to do making a thermometer out of coloured water and a straw and then setting it into boiling water. Well, the children had great fun making the thermometers but sadly we couldn’t get them to work. I did wonder whether we should have used vodka instead of water as alcohol is more temp sensitive.  Anyone else done this?

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Should Mothers be close to their older children?

Mother_and_DaughtersFor some reason there seems to be a new understanding of the relationship a mother is supposed to have with her daughters. It is fine, apparently, for mother and daughter to be close  while the child is younger than about 12, but after that mum (and I assume dad) is supposed to almost back out of her daughter’s life.

There are those who think and openly say that a parent who is closely involved with a teenage daughter’s life is simply a bad parent; interfering; over the top; too involved; controlling. I am unsure how a mother is not supposed to be involved with her own daughter’s welfare and upbringing.

A friend of mine has been criticised and laughed at because she gets on well with her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend (my son) and worse still, in their eyes that she spends time with them. They were astonished to learn that she has bothered to meet and get to know the family of her daughter’s boyfriend. They were pleased to announce they had no idea who their own children met up with or presumably what they got up to.

I don’t have many friends with teenage children, and none with teenage daughters, but the ones I have whose children are close to the teen years are strongly in favour of ensuring they have close relationships with those children no matter how old they are. I am not convinced this is a simple case of home ed families are closer than families who send their children to school. Certainly schooled children do have a tendency to fall into peer groups with all its pressures and anti-parental culture, but I have come across even home ed mothers who don’t have a close relationship with their older children and seem to have no idea what they get up to. I saw a doctor the other night speaking with bewilderment about the number of children she has seen seriously ill thanks to alchohol and parents insist their child doesn’t drink.

A close relationship between mother and daughter was once considered a precious thing. God given. I find it astonishing that so many mothers are prepared to shrug off this gift and not only leave their young daughters to date secret boyfriends and spend all hours with unknown friends, but  mock those mothers for whom the relationship is still important.

I know many women whose mothers were too self absorbed, cruel or just too busy to spend time with them; who were never there to talk to and to learn from and they swear they will not do that to their daughters.  I believe my friend is a good mother who is ensuring her children’s welbeing and she has every right to know who her daughter sees and when. As it happens her daughter and my son are happy to be around both families. It’s simply part of life to them.

I have been reading some MSM stuff on home education and I am beginning to feel that the only articles that are getting published are those that imply home ed parents leave their children to their own decvices to the extent of neglect. No doubt this is trendy-where the children get to ignore the parents, but it is NOT what most home ed families I know do and I am glad to say many of my children’s school friends to do have this separation state either (although sadly some do).

Family life is important-let’s protect it a bit.

Not Back to School Picnic

Went off into Birmingham town centre to join the Not Back To School Picnic today. A good time was had by all I think. We blew bubbles and handed out some leaflets.

Absolutely shattered now.