It is probably way to late for me to be trying to think, but I will give it a try.
For the last couple of months I really just kind of let go of any organized, mom-planned 'teaching'. I got weighed down by the arguing and teeth-pulling. I was fascinated by this little improptu experiment we seemed to have going on in the house. Katie and Emily, the two who had never been to preschool, I had basically left pretty much alone this past year. I mean Emily is only 2, now - so yeah I don't generally plan out her day. I had thought to do K-4 with Katie this year, but after the first couple of weeks gave that up.
What has happened this year with the two of them has been extreme growth in many areas. Katie's number skills are so much higher than I thought they would be at this time, her handwriting is shhhh!better than Mary's, and her creative streak is growing. Emily's verbal skills are nothing less than amazing to us, she knows most of the basic colors and can name like 5 different shapes. In fact, my drawing is so bad that one day I tried to draw a square to illustrate something to Mary (and it wasn't that far off from being square) Emily looked at it and said "Momma, that's not a square. It's a 'tangle"
But, Mary, the oldest, had gone through full-day and half-day preschool programs. When we started, many moons ago, I figured she was already used to the program. So I pushed on and when she pushed back I felt this compelling need to push a little harder. I *needed* to let her know how this was going to work.
I also kept researching. I figured I just needed to find the magic key that would release this learning machine that was pent-up inside of her. I beat myself up. I unfortunately pressed Mary until there were times I am sure she felt a little beat up. Everyday I tried to gleam the pearl, and shove the painful experiences under my mental carpet.
Slowly, we began skipping days here and there. I felt so tired and unsure. I didn't want to go five rounds with her anymore over 10 measly math problems. After a few days I would feel guilty and make us put on our school hats and hit the books. And, then there is a whole other set of issues with consistency and all.
After Robbie was born, I only schooled half-heartedly. I was really sure that our homeschooling days were going to come to an end this year. Since she had finished the 1st grade math book and I had finally realized that there was probably nothing more I could do to MAKE her read - I figured what would she really lose. I spent my days mainly watching all of them. And just being with them. I began reading, again, articles about waiting for the developmental clues. Readiness to DO "schoolwork" and it began to dawn on me that what Mary had been asking for all this time was more TIME. For me to slow down and wait.
It wasn't ever that she wasn't intelligent. She could always blow people out of the water with her conversations. She just wasn't physically ready for the demands I was putting on her body. Combine that with some sort of innate need to be 'perfect' and not ever make any mistakes so no one will ever laugh at her. (No anxiety issues there). She could not do it without falling apart.
I am working on my 'waiting' skills. I am trying with my whole being to be totally in love with my children exactly as they are at each moment - and not force my own insecurities and 'shoulds' onto them. I'll be honest it is much easier with the others compared to Mary, because we have been at this personality song & dance much longer. Katie doesn't want to read - "fine" I shrug my shoulders and suggest something else. Mary doesn't want to read, I cringe a little inside, but say 'fine' and try to move on. Much better than the bribe, negotiation, arguing and crying cycle.
So, what has been going on. Well on the good side - tv has totally lost its alure. They still get up and veg to it for about 30 minutes every morning but then I find them gone and off with the day. I turn it off and rarely do they ask for it to come back on. Mary is spending alot more time on the computer doing different things that she is having to practice her reading skills on. It is much more peaceful in that regard around the house. I am able to spend more time with the little ones - playing games and so forth with them. I'm getting alot more hugs and kisses.
On the bad, but not horrible side; Mary spends as much time as I will allow with friends in the neighborhood. There are times I feel almost reduced to begging for her to come home, alone, for a little while. I miss being with her during the day. When she is gone I'm not quite sure what she is learning. I feel as though I can't help build of her self-image any faster than it is being eroded by others. Yet, she still feels compelled to be with them all the time.
I am trying to wait. I still feel internal pressure to 'control' (part of that whole missing what is going on minute by minute). I'm trying to believe that she will tell me when she is ready. Yet I have July 2nd circled on the calendar to begin some new subjects, to set aside 3 hours a day that she *will* be home. I need to have some structure!