Thursday, February 18, 2010

Child Neglect: Guilty

Every mom experiences some Mommy guilt, sometimes justified, sometimes not. I do too. Usually I can tell when its pointless mommy guilt, because it is something I can't do anything about. I try to let it roll off my back. But then, sometimes I experience Mommy conviction (for lack of a better term). When someone says something, or your kids say something and it suddenly clicks, it hits home. Suddenly you see what you have been doing wrong, and the consequences it will have.

I had one of those moments this past week.

I was at a homeschool meeting when the speaker began discussing how to structure your day if you are homeschooling more than one child. My ears perked up naturally because I have more than one child to homeschool and I have been tweaking our schedule lately. She explained that it is a natural inclination to structure your school day around your oldest child. However, her advice was to structure your homeschool day around your youngest child (even, and especially if they are not yet school aged). In other words, you meet the youngest child's needs first. This is a family activity and the whole family should be involved. If I spend the whole day shooing John away from school, or just giving him busy work and not giving him my attention, then I am creating a negative association with school. Guess what I had been doing all this time? When it is his time to start school in a few months, he won't want to have anything to do with it.

Wallowing in what is going wrong is so unproductive. Thankfully the meeting is held in Barnes and Noble so I could run two aisles over to get some solutions. Here is what we have changed.....
  • We start each morning with play-dough. It is John's favorite activity, and it will strengthen the girls motor skills as well. We do it until John is bored, which is usually about 30 minutes.
  • We do our joint learning classes like history and science first so that John can participate as long as he wants to.
  • While Chloe reads to me, Emma and John do math, or vice versa. Emma is doing her math and John helps her count out her manipulatives or he comes over and laces cards with me.
  • After lunch we sit down to have craft time before we restart school.
  • I have special sticker books for John and some pattern manipulatives that we work on together. The difference now is that instead of having him do his work on his own quietly, I make him a part of everything. He is in the "attention rotation".
We have been homeschooling now for close to three years and it has become more and more a part of our lives. School time doesn't just happen during specific hours, its a lifestyle for us, it has become a part of our family life. So it follows that we don't have to stick to some magical date to begin John in schooling either.


  1. This is so relevant... I have just had the I am giving Emily such the short end of the stick dawning moment! I have cried, wept, prayed, researched and have come out teh other side! WE have changed some of our schooling, I am trying to meet her needs also. SHe doesnt get to do all teh cool hands on, learning that kate or even Matt got to do becasue I am so busy schooling the other two. So it is fine if we do joint learning but I have to still work with all three on their levels for each learning adventure!

    Anyway... I get it. I am there too and I am desperately trying to fix it!

  2. This is a really great post, with some wonderful practical tips, that so many parents will relate to. I wish this was something I had done when my younger two were smaller. Thanks for submitting it for this week's Homeschool Showcase!

  3. this is great! I have three kids. They'll be 7, 5, and 2 1/2 when we officially start schooling at home. I've been thinking about how to be sure the middle child is engaged in school (like planning units where she'll be more interested in the oldest just loves learning facts!) but I hadn't given much thought to the little guy. I thought perhaps he'd just kind of hang around...which would be unfair and I'd feel some guilt about that, I'm sure! So, thanks for the great idea...I'll definitely focus a little more on the little guy :)

  4. Such a wonderful thought! I often structure stuff around my older child--since they're only 22 months apart, I justify it by thinking that my younger kid can learn "up". But I HAVE been noticing some gaps in her abilities...oops. I will absolutely try this for a while.

  5. This is a great article! I found you from the Homeschool Showcase at Wierd Unsocialized Homeschooler. I will be in this predicament soon with a 1st grader, a preschooler and a toddler that I'll be juggling to homeschool. Thanks for the great advice!


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