Friday, August 1, 2008

It's August First... you know where your homeschooling materials are?

(Cue the dramatic prairie dog.)

I finally got around to ordering my books, between July 15 and July 20th. Homeschooling curricula providers hate people like me, who wait until their busiest season before placing relatively large and complicated book orders, and then pace by the door until the books start arriving. They tell you to order early, they advise you to order early, they beg you to order early--and you don't. Or maybe you do, but I don't, and I know I'm not alone, or this wouldn't be their busiest season.

Part of the problem is that when summer first begins, the last thing I want to think about is the next school year; but as summer rolls on, baking the residents of the great state of Texas in hundred-degree-plus heat, my motivation level stays pretty near rock-bottom. School? Decisions? Book orders? Mmmhmmm, sure, I'll do it, soon. Any minute now. Absolutely.

And then one day I look at the calendar, and it's the middle of July. True, that time spent guest-hosting at Crunchy Cons in late June did make that particular week or so a bad time to order books, but I have no excuse for the other weeks of June or the first two of July (and, really, I don't have an excuse for the guest-hosting week, either, not when The Crunchmeister Himself can work full-time at the Dallas Morning News, read tons of bristlingly intelligent books, announce that he's too busy for anything more than light posting and then toss off nine, count 'em, nine posts in a single afternoon, and still manage to attend to domestic chores). If I put up nine posts on my best day there it's one more than I remember, so clearly the only reason I didn't also manage to order a full year's worth of interesting and challenging books and supplies that week is that I was shirking.

To which I plead guilty.

The truth is that when the figurative bell rings on the last day of homeschooling for three whole months, I'm worse than the kids. My school shelves are still waiting to be cleared of last year's used workbooks, I haven't gone back through and made sure I've recorded all of last year's grades, and even though books have begun to arrive (despite my late orders, which really doesn't motivate me to order early for next year since things started showing up almost as fast as Wile E. Coyote's many ACME deliveries) I'm still puzzling over things I should have settled a long time ago.

Now, you might wonder why I mention all of this. Here's why: I really do love homeschooling.

That is, I love getting the privilege and the opportunity of teaching my three girls at home.

But I'm not a born teacher/type. I don't drool over fancy educational materials in pristine catalogs, I don't own a laminating machine (and don't know how to operate the ones you can use at stores--at least, I've been told that such machines exist), I don't skip happily (mentally speaking) while coming up with lesson plans to beat all lesson plans, I don't craft anything, I'm not innately organized or gifted with that special talent for making even dry, dull subjects seem infused with life and possibility, and there are aspects of doing this whole amazing whole darned thing that I don't really enjoy.

I'm telling you this for a reason. Too often, I see would-be homeschooling parents scared off by these sorts of things, by the notion that you have to be some kind of super-mom, super-teacher, super-super to teach your kids at home. I've heard parents say they'd love to, but...and the "but" is something trivial, something like "I don't enjoy fingerpaints" or "I wasn't ever any good at fifth grade math" or "I don't have a good enough memory to keep track of everything they're supposed to do."

Now, if you're someone who uses these excuses because you're not really interested in homeschooling and you're afraid the brightly enthusiastic homeschooling mom you're talking to at church or at a friend's house or wherever isn't really going to take "no" for an answer, fair enough. But if you're really afraid that, because you don't thrill with joy at the sound of a hole-punch or sigh over the prospect of decorating your living room in Early Cursive, you're not cut out for this, rest assured. Homeschooling moms come in all varieties. Some of us use Google Earth but never bought a globe; some of us shriek with delight at the prospect of buying a used and temperamental overhead projector on eBay but others would wonder where in heaven's name such a thing would be put in an already-crowded school room; some of us have a grudging fondness for a new pack of notebook paper or a brand-new college ruled spiral notebook, but have never placed posters illustrating the anatomy of a frog or listing helpful Latin verb conjugations in our dining rooms.

And some of us wait until August to order our books each year. Or almost.


Oremus said...

We still haven't ordered our books~! You are in good company!

(Thank you for visiting my blog;)

MommaLlama said...

I placed my orders on Tuesday :0)!

volpecircus said...

...or you order in May like I did and then forget where you put everything. :) I know it's all here somewhere and I have approximately four weeks to dig up all the remnants.

I'm so glad to see you post this about homeschooling. I actually just had this same talk with a friend of mine who is thinking of homeschooling her daughter. I told her that it's actually my teaching experience and the whole ball of wax that goes with it that I think gets in the way of homeschooling sometimes. It seems to cause me to expect too much structure, perfection, schedule, etc, etc and etc. What would help me out is better mothering skills, patience and common sense. Things they didn't offer classes in at the university. :)

Alexandra said...

I'm definitely not a super mom, yet we get it done. Truth be told, I'm a late riser; my son is done with his school work even before I wake up!

My son hated the normal hands-on activities so we went straight to old fashioned three R's desk work. He loves his prepared curriculum, and best of all, he is learning and retaining.

It certainly does not take a supermom. Even a old tired mom like me can homeschool. ;)

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Great post. We're more than a little intimidated by "perfect homeschoolers" who blog about wonderful craft ideas for every obscure feast day and have photos to prove that they actually do them. It's good to be reminded that it's not a competition.