All Girls School

Oh, Baby!
November 20, 2008, 5:20 pm
Filed under: art, baby, Bubba, mimi, Thanksgiving, troubleshooting

We began with some creative writing today. Bubba had to choose two words from a list randomly and then write a story about them. She chose “bird” and “love”. The story goes like this:

Once upon a time ther was a bird and a evil villain and a girl named hannah. So one day the evil villain was in his lair bilding an evil machine. When he had finish bilding his evil machine ther was a panel and on the panel ther wher two level’s and the level’s on the panel wher evil and love. the evil villain put the switch on evil and he aimed the machine at a bird but right wen he was about to shoot his mother called him to eat soup so wen he was eating soup hannah swicht it to love. So wen he shot it the bird wa full of love. The End

(We began and finished with creative writing today, as a certain someone was not a fan of the project and she drug it out all. day. long.)

After Mimi got home from school, the kids took a look at Baby’s Thankful Placemat from preschool and decided to make their own pages of things they are thankful for. I drug out a bunch of old magazines and all of the scissors, glue sticks, crayons and markers.

It was a fun project and the kids were having a ball with it. I want you to notice something in that photo. Look really closely. See this part?

Looks great, right? So, I thought it would be fine to go around the corner into the kitchen and whip up some banana bread. All of a sudden the older kids all begin yelling that…

It’s the first self-inflicted mullet at our house. She was awfully proud of herself. I don’t think she’s going to be as happy about it when we remove the “party in the back”. The good news is that we just had some great school photos taken of her. The less good news is that we have a family portrait scheduled for Saturday. I’m not sure yet if we will get her hair fixed before then or just run with a bad hair day theme with the photo shoot.


Working Through It All
February 16, 2008, 12:21 am
Filed under: Bubba, troubleshooting

Bubba and I had a sit down to talk about all of her recent angst. She shared where her frustrations were coming from (feeling a lack of control in the direction of her school work) and I shared where mine were coming from (her stubbornness, defiance and whining). We agreed that she hadn’t been given as much control or choice in regard to her schooling lately. We also agreed that things have been feeling stagnant and not very enticing. On the other hand, we agreed that the way she was expressing herself about her frustrations was counter productive and needed to stop asap before I lost my ever loving mind and that sometimes I just have to be the boss and make her do some work that she isn’t over the moon about. The best part is, we were able to have this discussion without her dissolving into a tearful puddle or becoming irrational and yelling and without me getting fed up and frustrated and jinxing her with a thousand daughters just like herself. (These are all small miracles in themselves.) An agreement was made that I would remember to go to her more when planning lessons because I’ve forgotten to do that lately. I also agreed to include many more games in our school day. She has agreed to stop fighting me on my stickler issues, like writing practice. We can still disagree, and if she doesn’t like the way the assignment is set up, we can discuss it, but at the first sign of whining or ignoring, the assignment stands as I laid it out the first time with no negotiations available. I don’t mind compromise and change, but I hate fighting over every. single. thing. I like the agreement that we’ve come up with and that it was taken care of very rationally. I just hope we are able to stay rational and actually implement it. That’s always the test, though, right? What’s that they say about good intentions?

February 12, 2008, 10:33 am
Filed under: Bubba, troubleshooting

It’s been a rough couple of weeks here. With every task we start, I am being met by pure defiance. She either doesn’t want to do it, or it’s too early to start, or it’s too hard or some other whiny argument for not wanting to do it. I am truly fed up with the constant talking back and whining about every. single. thing. For what it’s worth, it goes beyond just the home school stuff. In every aspect of our day, she finds reasons to fight with me. It can be something as simple as me saying that we’ll be having peanut butter and honey for snack (one of her favorites). Then she will start whining about how she didn’t want that, she wanted cantaloupe instead. It’s gotten ridiculous, really, some of the things she has tried to fight me on. I just don’t even want to talk to her sometimes. I think we’re not getting her out of the house enough. I think I may need to send her overseas for a couple of weeks.

February 4, 2008, 2:13 pm
Filed under: Bubba, troubleshooting, writing

So, how do I get this child to take me seriously as a teacher? We do work well together on things, as long as they are things that she wants to do. She does not like writing. She rushes through it or sighs and messes around and does five million other things instead of just sitting down and doing the writing. I haven’t been able to find any creative ideas that actually make her want to write, either. We’ve tried journaling, letter writing, story writing, free writing, and just practicing using her best writing skills inside other assignments, all with short lived or pathetic results. I can’t see her loving a repetitive handwriting sheet, either. So, do I make her do assigned writing every day regardless? That is not appealing to me because it will involve me telling her a thousand times to get back on task and finish the writing. It will frustrate her and she will start dreading our school time together. Do I give it up and let the writing go for a while until she shows a bit more interest in it? Maybe. But, this child loves the computer and if I know her at all like I think I do, she will forgo writing completely in lieu of typing. It’s that lazy/perfectionist streak in her. If she can’t automatically do it and do it perfectly, then she doesn’t want to put any effort into it. Her writing is legible, the letters are correct and she follows the rules of spacing and punctuation, it is just messy and she’s lazy about things like letter heights and forming the letters correctly. The most frustrating thing about the whole situation is her attitude, the eye rolling, the sighing, the “I don’t waaaaant to” whining. I know she never acted like this to her teachers, but since I’m her mom, I get every bit of attitude. Yes, seven-year-old attitude is infuriating.

November 15, 2007, 7:54 pm
Filed under: Bubba, troubleshooting, Uncategorized

You know how your mother tells you, “I hope you have a child just. like. you.” Only they mean it in more of a karmic/voodoo curse kind of way? Yes, well I heard that more than once growing up. Guess what, the curse works. Meet Bubba. Bubba is me. I was Bubba. I understand her though processes and I can feel everything that she’s feeling, because she and I are the smae person, 21 years apart. It’s almost eerie. So, Tuesday, when she had put about .001% of effort into a project that I had been really excited about and spent a long time researching and coming up with, while making sure it was fun and creative, I had had it. I sat her down and laid it out to her. I told her that she had a decision to make. She could either go back to her old school, where she could have recesses with her friends, but also spend a lot of time bored by the work and waiting for the other kids to focus, and not be able to have a hand in what she was learning. Or, she could start to take the homeschool work seriously. She fought me and said that she did, so I started citing out specific examples of times when she put good effort into a project and times when she did not. I think that she understood when I compared a good effort to a poor effort. Then we discussed how she would have to actually work to learn new things. She was upset at first and thought I was telling her that her work was no good. I tried to help her see that it was her lack of effort (and outright laziness at times) that I was not pleased with. I think she gets it. Yesterday was so so much better. She was very engaged and we worked through a lot of new things. I let her lead the whole day, really. She does best that way, when everything is her own idea. But she also started redoing a couple of the projects that I had shown her to be of little effort (like one of her letters to someone that consisted of one (1) single line of text).

Here’s where my mother’s curse comes in – that kid was so me. L.A.Z.Y. Since I could get all As with little to no effort, that’s how much I gave. Nobody after fifth grade cared to push me beyond since I was a “good” kid and got “good” grades and didn’t cause trouble. I did the assignments to the most minimum specification. It wasn’t until college (and later in college at that) that I ever started going beyond the expectations of an assignment. (And oh, what an amazing difference it made in not only my grades, but also in how much I learned. I know – revelation moment about ten years too late.) So, I get her, I really do. I also see how much effort she can put into things when it is her own idea. So, that’s how we have now gotten to where I always wanted to be, 98% child led learning. I’m still collecting the resources and throwing out ideas and giving her projects around the topics of her choice, and leading her learning, but other than that it’s all about where her whims take her. I was hoping we’d get to this point, really unschooling, but she had to work away from the school model she had  been accustomed to for a while. So, it was a little rough and tearful while we were hashing it out, but the outcome will be better for us both in the long run.

October 15, 2007, 7:26 pm
Filed under: Bubba, troubleshooting

What do you do with a perfectionist? I truly don’t know how to deal with this side of Bubba. When she doesn’t get something the very first time and I talk with her about it and help her make corrections, she smacks herself in the head and shakes it as if she should have known better. I emphasize over and over that we are doing this so that she can learn and that she’s not expected to know things right off. She understands, but seems incapable of not getting down on herself about not being perfect. I don’t know where this comes from. We have never pushed her to be perfect. Far from it, really. We always try to view everything as a life and learning experience, not as something we need to master. I am trying to be very gentle and make sure she is not misinterpreting my help as judgement. Beyond that, how do you cure a perfectionist?

Her kindergarten teacher brought this to my attention last year. I never saw it at home, though. This isn’t something that I see in other areas of her life, just school. I think I need to find a different way of approaching things. As I sit and think about this, the times when she reacts the most harshly are when she’s been working independently and then presents her work for me to see. When I go over it with her and remark on the correct things and then the mistaken ones, that’s when she starts getting down on herself. When we work together on things there isn’t any of the perfectionism. I think it’s the whole putting herself out there and feeling judged, no matter how casually we discuss her work. Maybe she would be willing to forgo some of the worksheets that she likes so much that really feed into this dynamic. If we concentrate more on the types of activities that we can proceed through together or the ones that she leads me through, that could help with this issue. I feel frustrated seeing her beat herself up over something as small as writing a number backwards. Hmmmm… looks like there’s some project brainstorming in my future, as well as coming up with some persuasive arguments for weaning her off the worksheets.

September 12, 2007, 12:34 pm
Filed under: Bubba, troubleshooting

I knew it would come, but I didn’t think it would be this soon. We’re still in the honeymoon phase of this newfangled homeschool thing we’re doing. I was expecting to coast until at least Thanksgiving before hitting a wall with Bubba. Instead, we hit it at day 8.

I had asked her which she would like to learn first, money or time. She chose money. We’ve been working on it all week and she’s gotten really good about counting change and figuring out different combinations that equal the same amount. Today I was trying to get her to add dimes to certain amounts and give me the new figure. I let her use her fingers the first two times. Then we wrote out a couple of examples on paper so that she could see the way the numbers worked out in traditional addition format. I was trying to teach her to do it in her head after that by just adding 1 to the tens place in her mind. It was frustrating her because she kept adding it in the ones place. Then she starts dropping her head into her hands, slapping her head, moaning and groaning about how it’s too haaaaard for her and she just doesn’t get it. All of this while sighing and dramatically flopping her head around to impart her intense displeasure. I then became frustrated at her over-the-top performance and scooped all of the change back into the case and shut it. I tried to explain that if we only learned easy stuff and stuff that she already knew, then it wouldn’t be school. But I had lost her by that point. She was not going to focus on anything but her perceived injustice at being asked to do something that she wasn’t perfect at the first time. So, I asked her to clean up the desk and then meet me upstairs for some reading.

This is the one thing that concerned me about homeschooling her, our mutual stubbornness. Not to mention how easily we can become frustrated with each other. I know that my eternal-people-pleaser-type-A-personality-first-born never had these types of issues with her kindergarten or preschool teachers because this is the behavior she saves for her parents. I want to try to stay impartial when we hit these patches, but it’s difficult because I know that she can do these things. I know that she’s the only thing stopping herself. But, I don’t want to push her too hard and make her dread school time, either. I guess for now we’ll just stop what’s frustrating her and take it up the next day after we’ve both had time to cool off and regroup.

Later she called me into her room and showed me what she’d been working on…

It makes me think that no matter the frustrations, it’s all worth it.

(Oh, and the librarian didn’t even give us an extra blink or anything when she told us our fine was over $17 yesterday. That was nice of her because I was totally embarrassed.)