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Aspasia

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About Aspasia

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    Hive Mind Level 6 Worker: Scout Bee

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  1. Thank you! These are such good insights and suggestions! I like the idea of doing some audio stuff during breakfast. We can't do them in the car, because we live in NYC and don't drive. One of the challenges I'm dealing with is that DD11 really struggles with math and needs me to be right there the entire time, mainly to make sure she doesn't get off track. If she starts doing a problem set wrong, the whole day's work gets thrown off and we just have to fix it the next day. It's a better use of my time to just stay close while she works. I am looking into Kumon or Sylvan or something to lighten that load a bit, because dang. I like the idea of setting timers to see just how long everything is actually taking us. I have noticed that whenever I'm working one-on-one with a kid, other kids take advantage of my busyness and wander off. I'll find them playing or otherwise just being distracted. I realize this is my own failing, but I just feel like my head is spinning all day and I'm still not accomplishing what I want to accomplish. The kids have checklists, so they know what they should be doing when I'm not working directly with them. When I see an aimless kid, I'll ask, "What are you working on?" just to direct them back to their checklist. But it seems like they've figured out ways to get me off their back long enough for me to get distracted by another need somewhere else, and then they go back to whatever they were doing. So maybe this is less a time management issue and more a discipline issue?
  2. I'm having a really hard time accomplishing everything I want to accomplish every day. I KNOW there are enough hours for these tasks (I don't think I'm being overly ambitious), but I'm just not making it happen. One problem is that we have activities a couple days a week that begin at 1:00. I just want to get all our table work (three R's stuff), read alouds, and history/science done between 9:00 and 1:00. That's not crazy, right? So why do I never (or rarely) accomplish it? I need some time management tips from the wise, please.
  3. Ooh, thank you! These sound perfect! ETA: Just looked up the classes at the Historical Society and they have one that is learning history through Broadway musicals! Are you serious?!? This is the dream. My 11-year-old would DIE. She's a huge musical theater buff. My neighbor across the hall has a friend who pulled her kids out in middle school to homeschool and they're now in high school. She said they are loving it and have TONS of homeschool friends, so I'm definitely gonna get her friend's contact info to get a feel for these activities and groups. I know that the homeschool community tends to dwindle in middle school and up.
  4. We JUST got all the moving boxes out a couple weeks ago! Phew! The kids ask to come home almost daily. And once one of them mentions it, it's like a floodgate opens and everyone else lets their pleas flow. I'm still just validating the struggles to adjust and reminding them that this is a big transition and will take time. I'm sure to help them look for the things they like about school. But now that things are settling down from the last 6 months, I'm actually starting to miss our old lifestyle, too, so I can actually relate to their pleas. I honestly wonder if my burnout was more about the circumstances than the homeschooling. This morning I read my journal from the last year and it was so sad because what showed up in almost every entry since early summer was, "I'm so tired. I'm not sleeping because I have so many decisions to make, and I need to do so much research and think about so many things." Deciding where to live, putting our house on the market, selling almost all of our stuff (including our cars), figuring out how to live in a small space, learning about a completely new lifestyle and all the details of that, etc. No wonder I started thinking it would be a lot easier to outsource the kids' education! Every time I remembered that I was supposed to be educating some little people, I felt like I was going to crack. But now those circumstances are clearing up, so maybe it wouldn't feel so heavy?
  5. It's because of what they tell me. They complain every day about school and cry about having to go back. They're begging to homeschool. When I say they're doing well academically, I just mean their performance is up to standard (except my 1st grader, because this school is big on early academics and I have not been, but she doesn't seem to notice), so it's not like their unhappiness is about struggling or being behind. And by "doing well socially," I just mean that they have each found some friends, so it's not like loneliness or feeling left out is the cause of their unhappiness either. My official position with them is that public school is permanent for the foreseeable future. They don't know that dh and I are waffling right now (because if we decide that we don't want to homeschool after all, it feels unfair to give them false hope). So I try to help them focus on the things they like, like friends and lunch and recess. Dd11 is a cool kid and loves to learn about pretty much anything, so when I say she's enjoying her classes, I mean that she is interested in what she's learning. She comes home and tells me about it with interest, like she does with anything she's learning about that I'm not directly involved with. But she still comes to me a couple times a week crying about wanting to come back home. She's the kind of kid who likes to please, so dh and I get the sense that she's being a "trooper" by dutifully waking up every day and sullenly walking up the street, but her actual words and shaky emotions tell me that she isn't happy. Her mood seems resigned and blah, whereas, her typical mood is very energetic and sunny. Ds8 is very different. He doesn't like much of anything and is just naturally sort of a negative kind of guy. If he were the only one complaining about school, I wouldn't think twice about it. He complains about everything. With him, my desire to homeschool is more about carving out more space and time so that gymnastics doesn't feel like a burden. Gymnastics has been SO GOOD for him. It's one of the few things he really, truly loves, and it is has given him confidence and the pride that comes from working really hard to accomplish something, so it's important to us to preserve that for him. I said from the beginning that if I had to choose between public school and gymnastics for him, I'd choose gymnastics. Because he can get what he needs educationally from me (or any number of other places), but he can only get what he gets from gymnastics at the gym and on his team. Our sense that everyone is miserable is about the general tone around here, coupled with their words and tears. They are very vocally missing all the free time they used to have. They hate how long the school day is, and the fact that they then have to come home and do more school work. I'm definitely aware that it's impossible to separate school misery from move misery. Everyone just feels "off" right now, which is to be expected. This is why I don't know what to do (and probably why I should have waited to enroll them).
  6. We're actually at 82nd St. Her school is on 93rd and her peers are all AMAZED that she lives so close. She's literally the only kid who walks out of the building and goes east. The others all go west toward the 1 train. And yeah, Lower Manhattan would be a stretch, but who knows? My husband works down there (right next to Stuyvesant, actually), so any kid who went to high school in that direction could ride with him, I guess. 😀
  7. They have been off (they start back on Wednesday). We've done some things around the city, like Christmas markets and caroling, but we've mostly hung out at the park and at home. They are just desperate for chilling out. I think you're right that they won't be happy exploring as much as I would on my own. I'm kind of a go-go-goer. It would be just one or two outings a week for our homeschool. But we're literally right next door to the Natural History Museum, and we haven't even been since we moved in. We've been there on vacation before, but not in the 6 weeks that we've lived here, which is INSANE. And that should be an easy outing, but they're just so hungry for familiar right now, and that means being with their things at home. So I'm trying to let them have that.
  8. My cousin's kids go to affluent, high achieving schools in Chapel Hill NC and she describes a very similar environment to the one your friend's kid is experiencing--cutthroat, intense, high burnout. That stuff is just not for me. I've thought exactly the same thing about the race/class issue with NYC schools. And to be honest, we had to examine our own biases when we were offered schools for our middle schooler, because the demographics at all of them were very, very different from our own. It was uncomfortable to face my own stuff and realize that when it came down to it, maybe I wasn't the kind of person I thought I was. But we went for it, because we looked at other numbers that aren't about demographics. For example, this school has really good teacher retention (which means, among other things, that there probably aren't terrible behavior problems) and a high rating for student progress (which means learning is happening), and that's all that ultimately matters to us. My daughter is part of a very small white minority at her school (9%), and the vast majority of her friends commute from the Bronx and qualify for free lunch, but they're great kids (I've met a few) and I honestly think it's an objectively good school. Our pull to homeschool is actually stronger for the younger kids, who go to a very white, very affluent neighborhood school. The focus on achievement and the push for early academic skills is over the top.
  9. That's a really good idea. I will definitely have them take those 7th grade tests. I've been immersed in learning about the NYC public school system for the last few months, and it's wild. I really appreciate this tip, because I didn't know that homeschoolers could take the exams.
  10. This is something I think about daily! I'm all for finishing what you start, but I also don't think that we have to stay committed to "wrong" decisions if/when we determine that they weren't the best fit. I think the biggest thing is, if we don't want to do the NYC public school thing (and it is a THING) long term, then why put them through finishing the year just to make sure that we get an accurate sense of what it's like? As some of the other posters have alluded to, middle school and high school admissions here are intense. My neighbor has a 4th grader this year (4th grade grades, test scores, and attendance are used when the kids apply to middle school in 5th grade), and she says everything is about preparing for the middle school app. There's more homework and just a ton of pressure. For what? To get into a great middle school, and for what? To get into a great high school, and for what? To get into a great college. But I have already decided that I won't buy into this system. It's ridiculous. They test 4-year-olds to track kids for gifted and talented, even though we know from science that testing kids that young (and even in 2nd grade) is not a reliable predictor of their aptitude even a few years later. I just don't want to play this game. I know that ultimately, the middle schools and high schools my kids may attend won't make that big of a difference in determining what college they go to, and even the college they go to won't necessarily determine their success or happiness in life. My husband is doing quite well in life, EVEN THOUGH he went to pretty average middle school, high school, and undergrad (MBA was a little fancier). But I also don't want to set my kids up to be stuck in bad schools should we ever want or need to send them public school in the future. Honestly, if that happens, maybe we'll just move to Connecticut. 😂
  11. UGHHHHH. Some of you may remember that we just moved to New York City and put our kids in public school. They've been in for a little over a month, including my middle schooler (she got assigned to an okay school, based on availability). They are doing fine academically and socially. Even my middle schooler, who I was concerned about because of weak test scores, is actually doing really well on all her assignments and is really enjoying her classes (I think she's just not a great test taker, probably because we only take one test a year 😂). The 6th and 3rd graders are very responsible and do their homework without any cajoling from me (which makes me really happy, because people love to ask how homeschoolers will adjust to environments where they have deadlines and requirements, and turns out instilling a general sense of responsibility and pride in work well done has proven sufficient). My 1st grader is a different story, but I am not requiring her to do homework, because I think 7 hours a day is plenty and it's ridiculous to expect more of her. They've all made friends and everything is just...fine. BUT...Nobody is happy and I can't make my peace with this lifestyle. And while I know that adjusting to big transitions like this can take several months to a year, I just keep thinking about all the things we would be doing if we were homeschooling. I LOVE living in the city, but my kids hate it. And it makes sense, because I get to wander and explore all day and they haven't experienced any of the good stuff. To them, living in NYC just means having to go to school, which they are not happy about. But if we were homeschooling, we'd be at Central Park every day (we live less than a block away, and they have been going every day during the break, which has been so healing), we'd be going to the museums and exploring different neighborhoods. Instead, they are so tired at the end of every day and every week that they just want to veg at home. They just want to BE. They don't want any more new experiences. And I can't blame them. DS8 does competitive gymnastics 3 days a week, which means that on those days he comes home, grabs a quick snack, changes his clothes, and leaves. He gets home at about 8:00, does his homework, and goes to bed. We haven't even restarted piano lessons and it's not even soccer season yet. I just keep wondering how on earth we're going to fit those things into our days. And WHEN. Basically, my biggest reasons for homeschooling have always been time and freedom, and we're really feeling the loss of those things right now. DH 100% wants to go back to homeschool. It's not even a question for him. For me, I was feeling burned out and the idea of offloading this huge responsibility was very appealing back in September and October. But now I'm wondering if that burnout was the result of the months-long process of deciding where to move and working out all the logistics of downsizing (4500 sq ft to 1500 sq ft) and making this huge transition, which began in May. Homeschooling did sort of feel like a massive thorn in my side amid all of that. Now that things are on the cusp of settling down, maybe it would feel different? Here's the rub: Three years ago I also had a brief burnout (different but very clear reason) and put my then 3rd grader and kindergartener in school, only to pull them out two months later because we all missed homeschooling. The parallels are uncanny. I know that I can't keep jerking them around like this. If I pull them out right now, I feel like it has to be for good, because this isn't fair to them. They've invested a lot of effort and emotional energy into this transition. I don't take that lightly. These kids have just lost so much in this move: friends, space, yard, free time, the comfort of sleeping until they naturally wake, etc. And while there is much to be gained in the city, they haven't actually gained much at all. I should have waited to enroll them, and maybe I could have prevented this problem, but now we're here and I don't know what to do.
  12. This is what I'm afraid of. DD11 is pretty adaptable and she's really excited about the move, but I definitely worry about her (and actually my DS8 even more, just because is very sensitive and NOT very adaptable). Would you mind sharing more of your experience? What, if anything, might have eased the transition for you? Do you think I should homeschool through the end of the year while we adjust to city life? Maybe moving to the city AND starting public school, combined, is just too much of a shock for everyone.
  13. Thank you so much! That's a great idea to call the schools directly and ask about admissions for homeschoolers. Definitely gonna do that on Monday. And I will for sure reach out to NYCHEA. I've got that Dec 1 application deadline seared in my brain. It's basically the only date in my life right now, lol.
  14. We are moving from Northern Virginia to NYC (Manhattan) next month and are planning to enroll our kids in public school (because I'm just kinda burned out after 6.5 years). I've spent days learning about the NYC public school system and it is DAUNTING. I'm less concerned about my younger kids, because from what I understand, they will likely go to the neighborhood school for which we are zoned (and we will rent in a zone with a school we like). But my eldest is in 6th grade and that's a little bit trickier. We're planning on living on the UWS, and there aren't any zoned middle schools there. I called a Family Welcome Center and they told me that mid-year, they'll just put her wherever there's a spot. I'm not thrilled about that, and I'm prepared to homeschool her until a spot opens up in a school that is a good fit. I'm just really anxious about the whole process, especially for dd11. She isn't very strong academically. Her Iowa test scores aren't high, so she won't be able to get into the competitive screened schools. How does this work as a homeschooler? So much is based on past grades and attendance, and we don't have any of that. Has anyone made this transition or do you know anything about it?
  15. Ahhh, I found some very detailed answers from Maria on her website. https://www.mathmammoth.com/faq-common-core.php#3
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