How About a Mental Health Day? (and other stories)

As the weeks and months have marched on, I can see clearly the path that this blog will be taking. I’m sharing that vision, along with an Em update, below…

Great Grades

“Hey Mama, I almost forgot, here’s my quarterly report card.” Em shoves two stapled papers into my face and I marveled at how quickly 1/4 of the school year has gone by.

As I looked over the grades, they were predominantly A’s with some B’s sprinkled in. In other words, excellent work for the first quarter.

Her homeroom teacher has lovely things to say about her, and her science teacher wrote me the other day and said, “Your daughter’s class is my favorite one. I always look forward to seeing her!”

So, while I believe that grades are not necessarily an indicator of learning, I am pleased to see her participating and trying hard in class.

Revival of Mental Health Days

Today, just as I was leaving to go to a cleaning, Em’s teacher messaged me. “Em’s eye is bothering her and she is asking for eye drops.” Since the nurse there did not (or could not) dispense eye drops, I picked Em up, swung by the pharmacy and took her to my cleaning with me.

I showed her the easier way to administer eye drops. “Lie back, close your eyes and try to relax. I’m going to add these drops here where the pocket of your eye is and when you open your eye, the liquid will flow in.”

She was scared the first time, but got over it and later, administered them a second time when the eye was still a bit scratchy and irritable.

“I could take you back to school after my cleaning, or you could take the day off if you wanted.”

“Well, my tummy still feels a little hurt.” (she had strained it doing situps for their fitness tests the day before)

“I wasn’t asking if you should stay home from school today, I was asking if you wanted to.”

“Oh, well, yes, I would like that!”

I introduced the idea of “mental health days” to my eldest when she was young. She had a far more difficult time in school than Em has had, and the look of relief was always rather obvious. A day off school? Absolutely! As the years wore on, she would infrequently request them and I would usually oblige.

If the past six years of homeschooling has taught me anything, it is that kids do not suffer from a day off here or there. In fact, it can be rather beneficial.

We headed home and Em was in her room when I knocked at the door and whispered, “Would you like to go somewhere with me?”

Her face lit up? “Where?”

“Do you want me to tell you? Or do you want it to be a surprise?”

She grinned, “I want it to be a surprise.”

We told my dad we were heading out to run some errands and went to see the Ninjago Lego movie, eat popcorn, and fill our stomachs with three refills of Coca-Cola ICEE along with chocolate treats smuggled in from Trader Joe’s.

The movie was stupid, but Em loved it. More than anything, she loved spending time with me, and I felt the same about her.

I used to take her big sister on movie dates all the time when she was this age and younger. I hope to do more of it now that things have settled into a nice pattern.

If We Homeschool Again

While we were at the cleaning I asked Em lots of questions about school. What did she like best? What did she not like? Her answers made me smile…

Em likes…

  • Her homeroom teacher’s reading voice, “It’s soft and soothing, like yours, Mom
  • Science class – “It is always so fun! I love the experiments we do!”
  • P.E. – “We get to play games and stuff.” (And I always hated P.E.)

Em doesn’t like…

  • Math class – “I just don’t like math, Mom.”
  • Not being able to pee when she needs to pee
  • Not being able to talk during lunch – and seriously, what is up with that? That seems totally unfair!

I listened to her describe the ups and downs of her days. Finally I said, “I have a good idea of what I will do if we ever homeschool again.”

“Really? What?”

So I listed it out…

  • More science experiments and activities – it is obvious how much she loves the experiments and I think I could incorporate writing a short description of each activity and what she learned into the curriculum. And possibly get an experiment of the month subscription
  • Reading out loud with her – just like we are doing now, twice per day (I read in the morning before school and in the evening before bed)
  • More sports – soccer, homeschool sports, and maybe a yoga or dance class
  • More art – maybe explore a particular artist’s life and how they lived as we reproduce or create art in their particular style
  • Outsource math and history – through co-op classes. But also study from a basic math book and listen to Story of the World while doing art. Em might not like math, but she still needs to learn it.
  • Allow her to have screen time once she has finished her homeschool for the day instead of waiting until 5p.m. or later. It is a double-edged sword – but if she has it as an incentive, she usually applies herself to the work in front of her so she can “go have fun.”

I can see this public school working for this year and probably next year. But after that? Middle school? I’m not so convinced. I’ve simply told her, “If you decide you want to homeschool again, I’m up for it.”

And that is the truth.

Having my eldest stuck in the past and saying rather negative things about my parenting really shook me up. I’ll admit it. Combined with our life changes since my dad came to stay, and the stresses of other money-making endeavors, all snowballed into a painful decision to go with public school.

And it works quite well for now. I am also seeing, however, the possibility of making it work again in the future. The assessments show that I was doing a lot more right than wrong, something that I really needed to hear.

A New Domain Name Coming Soon

I just purchased the learningadvocate.org domain name and will be contacting GoDaddy for directions on how to make it point to this blog. I’ll eventually let the other one expire and just use learningadvocate. Because, after all…

Life is a Learning Adventure for All of Us

When I made the decision to send Em to public school, my thoughts inevitably turned to this blog. Should I keep it? Should I shut it down? What was I doing?

Crises of confidence are always fun, aren’t they?!

In the end I realized something very important – my signature on all of my correspondence reads…

Christine D. Shuck
Writer, Artist, Auto-Didact, and General Malcontent

And while I started this blog initially with the thought of encouraging others to homeschool while discussing my own path towards homeschool along with parenting ups and downs – in the end, it is about learning.

Lifelong learning – becoming an auto-didact – connecting with others in their quest to learn as well.

So this blog isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

More later, that’s enough writing for now!

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