Wednesday, January 21, 2015


CC Ch A Schedule (Regrouping)


I messed up.

Levi and I started out his school year together. We did most of his Classical Conversations Challenge A lessons together for the first few weeks. I made sure his schedule and to-do list was written out and checked daily.

And then we both got distracted.

Other children do live at this house. And they need attention and education occasionally. I have things I need to do. And teaching an adolescent can be frustrating. So procrastination happens.

Oh, he can do this independently. He should be able to do that independently. Just let him get started on math, and he’ll figure out how to complete the rest of assignments as well. If he’s going to fight me on that, he can do it on his own.

And so on. [Right about this time last semester.]

Math, well, that’s important. And don’t get behind in Latin! Draw your maps. We’ll skip the outlining in rhetoric, but read the chapters and lessons. We missed two weeks of science research for various reasons, but just jump ahead to the current topic and write your paper.

Writing, hmmm. There are worksheets. Just fill them out. Oh, we’re way behind! Let’s just rush this paper today. [Much, much more about this in the next post.]

Turns out, my adolescent procrastinates as much as I do—and the most overwhelming or hated tasks are the ones he puts off.

We “got by” for the first semester until he had three classes within 8 days in December (due to a make-up class)—the end of the semester classes, no less—the same week as his choir performance week and then a few Christmas activities the following week when he was supposed to complete his final 1st semester work.

Then Christmas. And a New Year’s birthday. And a big family vacation—a missed week of class.

We were going to start our new year well. I didn’t know how tired I would be after vacation, that two days would not be enough time to prep for Monday and I would be so sick for the next week. So tired and sick. Not a great start to our new year. [Hello, Christmas tree still on my front porch.]

If momma isn’t on top of things, the kids in this house aren’t either. It’s a free-for-all. Sigh.

We ended a rough week with two days of swim meet in which all three boys were competing and Russ, who was also sick, was coaching.

During a long late Saturday afternoon and evening of sitting with Levi trying to get some of his work caught up for class on Monday, Lola managed to cut her tongue (hello, blood on her shirt and bathroom towels), chop off her hair (hello, bangs), and dump several cups of water in her room (because she was “painting” with water). [This is the moment I expressed my frustration on Facebook: “It seems I have to make a choice between educating my 13 year old and keeping my 4 year old alive. Forget the two in between; they’ll have to fend for themselves.”]

By Sunday afternoon, we were a mess. It was time to regroup.

Levi and I had a long conversation about why he was in Challenge A, why he was required to do the work. How Latin is valuable for many reasons, but the most important reason we are doing this hard work is to learn to do hard things. That if he learns nothing else in Challenge A, this skill (and character trait) will serve him for the rest of his life. [More about doing hard things in an upcoming post.] I asked him to be willing to try. To do his best. And I told him that right answers or being smart was not the most important thing.

I asked Levi what I could do to help him succeed.

He asked me to be diligent about filling out his schedule with exactly what needed to be completed each day. I made a commitment to him to do just that. In return, I asked him to look at the schedule, and do his best to focus on the work on the day’s list.

Then I asked him what subject he was struggling most in. “The Lost Tools of Writing” (he said with anguish). “I hate it. I hate writing. I can’t do it.” Then we’ll do that subject together, every day, first thing in the morning, I promised him…

[To be continued…]



Kellie said...

I love this post, Heidi. Love the Facebook quote. Love your Christmas tree on the porch. Thank you for sharing your life when it is messy, like mine.

And I'm with Levi -- I hate Lost Tools. Not really, but it's the one thing we are always struggling to get finished. I have to do it together with my son too, and I'm always the one procrastinating. : )

Heidi said...

You're welcome, Kellie. :) Be sure to stick around for the next post!

Laura at By the Bushel said...

We are not in challenge A, not even in Essentials, but we are doing the 'Essentials' type work the day following. By Wednesday night, I'm a train wreck and have been on my feet since 5 and drop at 9 that night. But yesterday was a blessing. I really had just confessed to a fellow CC'er that I really didn't think i could do this, overwhelmed, and desperate in my heart, because i am out of alternatives. We have 'burnt the ships,' more or less, and there really is no going back. He depends on me for the executive skills organization etc, so much because of his learning issues, that when we actually complete a task, well, we're lucky if we eat during the week. forget clean socks. But yesterday was a day to remember... college came up (his initiation), and in a less heated conversation, I asked him how he would deal with addressing his learning issues with his professors-- his response showed me how much he believed what we were doing was important-- He said 'what you're teaching me now will help me to be able to do that when I get there.' Up till now, he had expressed no belief that he needed any special training for dyslexia, or writing. My head is bowed in thanks for even a backdoor shot in the arm to see me through the next 12 weeks.
Relatively, long ago (like the beginning of fall) I let it go, I let go of the ideal classical education, and embraced the minimallist approach to doing what we can with the time we have. I punted curriculum to the curb that were causing strife, even just yesterday, and allowed myself to be confident, because my Savior has my back. Along with a few homeschool mom's/friends.
your blog is a benchmark, because you post the 'Target pictures' the ones with Levi hanging out and one crying on the floor. And posts like today... But you meanwhile tease us with the 'wait for the next post.' Because it's all still there, the work you've put into it leading up to today. Thank you for posting this about this conversation about what's really important, and how you get back on track. Thank you for your blog.

Heidi said...

Your comment meant a lot to me today, Laura. Thank you. Yes, we need to be here for each other. To empathize. To encourage. To remind each other why we're doing this. Because educating our children is a marathon that often takes every ounce of what we have to give!

Julie Z. said...

Love this post! As a mother of seven, and my oldest being Levi's age and my youngest being 9 months old, I often find myself in such similar situations as the one you described here and in you next post. I desperately want my son to "get it" so that I don't have to stop and help! But I NEED to stop for my good as well his. Thanks for the reminders. I am very much looking forward to the rest of the post

Heidi said...

Julie Z.~ It's hard as moms to take the time to sit and talk and think and help when we have so much to do, and multiple children with various needs! I can't imagine doing this with 7!!

Cara C. said...

I can relate! Thanks for sharing. :)