About a week ago, everyone was grumpy.
We were 45 minutes into our school day and there had been tears.
Everyone was out of sorts for some reason.
I told the boys to go get the pool noodles and have a battle on the trampoline for 20 minutes.
I took that time to veg. out and eat chocolate.
At 9:45 am.
Because some days you just need to have a pool noodle fight on the trampoline.
And some days you just need some chocolate.
At least 3 times a week, people tell me something like this:
"I could never home school because my child and I would kill each other."
"My son would never listen to me."
"I would go crazy trying to teach her math."
"Our personalities just clash."
"We are too much alike."
In fact, people now say this to me more than,
"So, are you trying for a girl?"
(I guess I am looking my age and they are thinking that ship has sailed or something.)
I am not amazing at keeping the boys happy during school.
(I am amazing at making dioramas. Just FYI.)
Almost every day someone is:
1. Surprised they have to do school
2. Disappointed they have to do school
3. Hopes I only want them to complete just 1 thing and then will let them have a break.
We've been at this for 7 years.
But this isn't about how you could lift a car off your kid if it was what you knew was best for them so of course you could teach them math.
Or a debate on home school vs. regular school - because the answer to that is "whatever is best for your kid and your family."
This is: What I Do When The Day Falls Apart.
1. Is there something going on or do the kids just need to buckle down and work harder?
Allergies, not enough sleep, hunger, hurt feelings: these are all things that I try to have compassion about.
Wishing you had less work to do, complaining about the work or just being in a bad mood is something the kids just need to push on through. I always tell them they don't have to do the assignment now. They can just sit there. But it will be the next thing they do. Because I have always stuck to that, I've never had anyone sit there longer than 15 minutes. Then they eventually decide they, as David would say, "Want to get on with their life."
2. If it falls into the first category, then is there something I can do about it?
Sometimes I let them switch up the order of their activities.
Sometimes we break for a snack (peach milkshakes are a big hit.)
I let them do something active like jump on the trampoline, see how many times they can hit a ping pong ball with a paddle, toss a bean bag back and forth as I call out math facts.
And sometimes I go for silly...like musical chairs. When the music plays, run around the table. Sit down when the music stops and do whatever work is in front of you. That's right....a 2nd grader may have 7th grade math in front of him. It is only for a minute or so and then the music starts again. I would never do this when they are working on something like their journals or art. Nothing that they would be upset for their brother to write on. This is great for maps, geography, spelling, math. They know a wrong answer by their brother will not count against them.
Just pausing for a conversation with them is helpful too. Also, adding humor to the activity. Ex: Replace math word problem words with other ones. Instead of eating 3 apples, Molly ate 3 monster trucks. If she ate 2 more the next day, how many monster trucks in all did Molly eat?
I let them pick out of their whole week's worth of assignments (which I give to them on Monday) what they want to work on. If they want to just do one subject right on through for the whole week, then go right ahead. I think that little bit of control in their hands often makes them feel better.
3. Yeah...I don't have a number 3. It seems like to have a list...I should have at least 3 things. OK, so what do you do when your day (Home school or whatever kind of day you normally have) falls apart?
I would be willing to bet that someone might propose an argument that it is a life lesson for them to do their work no matter what. And in the real world they do not get to have a noodle fight on the trampoline.
Their school day is their real world. And no, they wouldn't make it in the grown up world....because they are kids. So I do not have grown up world expectations for them. And they do all of their work.
In the grown up world, in the variety of jobs that I had, I've always had the autonomy to get up from my desk and go and get a kit kat if I wanted to. When I set up displays for Target, Wal-mart and K-mart, I made my own schedule based on when I was the most productive. If I felt like I just needed someone to talk to for a few minutes, I could talk with someone I worked with. Autonomy is a good thing. Learning to be flexible vs. falling apart over something you can change is a good thing.
Also a good thing... fixing the trampoline. When did that pole come apart?! Yipes.