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Many of you have graduated one or more children--could you share which grades/stages/etc. you found to be most parent intensive?  Could you also share what you did (or learned to do) during those times to make sure that you still felt your best or in control of non-school related aspects of your home?  If you struggle to keep good habits without outer accountability how do you set things up at home to keep you on track?

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Probably when my children were young and I was teaching them to read, and to do basic arithmetic.

All aspects of my home are "school related." 🙂 I did figure out routines for things (e.g., no errands on Mondays and Tuesdays, library every Wednesday, field trip every Thursday, clean house on Fridays).

I'm not sure what you have in mind regarding "outer accountability." I have no "outer accountability" as a parent, either. I keep things on track because life has to stay on track, yes? Formal instruction is just part of life.

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It was always critical for me to get out of the house regularly (3x/week) and swim laps -- for physical exercise, but the cardio and regular breathing of swimming helped throw of stress and reduce depression that can arise from simply not breathing deeply enough. (I've been trying for over 5 years now to find a different physical/cardio thing I like and can do, as finding a pool that was open with consistent hours just became impossible.)

Once we started homeschooling (DSs were grades 1 & 2), a different type of stress arose as we discovered DS#2 had mild LDs + strong will + a high resistance towards anything that looked remotely like "school." What helped all of us:
- gentle consistent routine: get up, eat breakfast, do quick morning chores, and then do school -- and sticking with it, that "school is what we do in the mornings"
- as much as possible, do subjects all together (math and LA were the only separate subjects)
- school 4 days/week, and 1 day/week was for fun field trips, homeschool support group fun activities, and at-home educational games or videos and fun hands-on projects
- when there was a major melt-down by a child, realize no learning was going to happen at that moment; me take a very deep breath, and slow release; close whatever we were doing, and say "let's go outside for a break"
- protein snack halfway through the morning

By middle school / high school grades, DSs were quite easy going. We had a good routine, and they chipped in to do their share of the household because that was our habit from early on. Once they were at the tween/teen ages, my stress levels really dropped because they were so self-managing.


As far as non-school things that helped me specifically:
- we picked up and put away whatever was out as the last thing of the school day
- Saturdays were family cleaning day, with everyone having their own (age appropriate) area to take care of with deep cleaning
- share the load: I make meals; DH & DSs do the dishes
- in the afternoons, DSs would often play with the neighbor kids or I would put on an educational video for them and give myself an hour break

I have never been motivated by, or good with keeping, a written schedule or journal or checklist. For me, it is establishing a routine as our daily and week habit and sticking to it. The other major helps for me have been:
- regular aerobic exercise
- getting outside and working with plants (a meaningful activity for me, but time outside in the sun is a big mental de-stressor)
- habit of before moving on to a new thing, or before leaving the house, or before going to bed, do a quick sweep through the house and put things away -- I hate coming home to a mess, or getting up in the morning to a mess; starting clean/picked-up helps me have a cheerful mood

Edited by Lori D.
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I can only handle one planned day a week out of the house away from our normal routine. All our EC's and grocery shopping and dr appts happen on that one day a week. Sometimes unplanned stuff comes up that means we're out of the house more frequently, but since that's not the norm that I planned for, we're able to more easily recover from those and get back into our normal routine more easily afterwards.

We don't start school til 9, which gives me time to exercise and shower before school as well as spend a little cuddle time with the toddler. We take a long lunch break from 12-2 which gives the kids time to play outside after lunch and me some time to myself to regroup and play the piano and whatnot before putting the toddler down for a nap and starting school again. Then we're usually all done with school by 5 (the younger kids are done significantly earlier than that) and I still have time to get supper ready and fold laundry. The whole "typical hs schedule" of being done by noon was never anything other than a myth for me.

School-wise - The early grades K-4 are the most parent intensive, but middle school can be as well because while they are academically capable of working on their own they are not always organizationally mature enough to do so without heavy supervision. High school is hard to plan and be the guidance counselor but the school itself is pretty easy because it's just talking about cool subjects and topics with my teens and getting a fascinating glimpse into their minds.

Parenting-wise - All the ages are hard lol but for different reasons.

To keep myself from burning out, I do a lot of things but not all of rhem consistently every day. The days I am able to do 2 or more of the following activities are usually really good days. The days I'm able to do 1 of them are ok. Some days I do 0 of them and those aren't usually good days, but that's the way life is sometimes. A short 15 min workout in the morning. Reading from 9-10pm to unwind. Some kind of continuing ed for me - Spanish, photography, piano, etc. - to keep my brain engaged and flexible.

The kids clean on Saturdays and while they don't do it as well as I would, it's close enough for this season of life. I don't clean. I cook nutritious meals and I educate my kids to the best of my ability but I'm not superwoman and I can't do it all so cleaning is delegated to them and I've stopped feeling guilty about it.

No outside accountability, unless you count my husband as outside, which I don't 😊

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I have found that the years when the kids really need more outside social time but can't get themselves anywhere is the toughest on me because I am being pulled in several directions at once.  I work on keeping our schedule as streamlined as I can so I am not running around like a headless chicken.  The middle years are also more difficult concept wise but their independent learning faculties are not very developed.

We have routines and systems for getting the housework done with as little difficulty as possible.  All the kids help with that.  For my own sanity I make sure to do some learning alongside the kiddos (things I am interested in) and I volunteer at a homeschool library for "me" time.

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, JoyKM said:

If you struggle to keep good habits without outer accountability how do you set things up at home to keep you on track?

Three things keep me pretty much on track.

1) a kid who has always wanted to know, early in the morning, what we're going to do that day, and with whom I used consistency to overcome some school resistance. If it's a weekday, there's school or there's a very good reason why not; and if it's a school day, of course we would want to start fairly early in the day, because we're not night owl types. The cat switches from morning bird-watching at the window to sitting on the couch by 8 AM so that we can sit down and Read to the Kitty, which is obviously the point. If I weren't ready to get started as expected, I'd have both kid and cat making inquiries.

2) a big whomping spreadsheet with my plans for the week. I turn a box gray when it's done, and any boxes that are other colors are clearly in need of doing. This is open on my computer every day. If you're a paper person, you could do the same thing with a planner and a big green highlighter check mark across everything that has been finished. ✔️

3) a productivity app that pulls up what I need/want to do (often, daily, certain days each week, or just once), and puts it in front of me--with reminders whenever I want. I check things off and they change color (if they're things that can be done more than once a day) or disappear. It really reduces the level of executive function I need to keep running all the time, or I'd dither about thinking of what should be done and flit from one thing to another and get nothing finished. (I have been known to need to go back to unloading and reloading the dishwasher up to half a dozen times to get it finished.) I use Habitica, which is free and can be used either with the app or a website, but there are a lot of other options out there.

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I found junior and senior year of homeschooling to be the most intensive. I had to learn how to set up to take all of the exams through the schools or online. I had to figure out the requirements and set up appointments for driver's ed and all of the related tests. And for us, it involves driving quite far. Our city is always completely booked, and you have to go around the state to get in anywhere. Higher requirements and all of their appointments for higher awards in scouts, helping kids get jobs and get them there, plan college and all of that research, doing applications with them, the FAFSA paperwork, the online college application stuff. 

Yes, the first grader needs me for everything school related, but I don't find it particularly intensive. We both enjoy it. The upper years are much more intensive for me, even if it isn't all one on one with the teen. I just had to constantly be learning new skills and going down endless to do lists. 

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On 10/18/2020 at 9:04 PM, JoyKM said:

Many of you have graduated one or more children--could you share which grades/stages/etc. you found to be most parent intensive?  Could you also share what you did (or learned to do) during those times to make sure that you still felt your best or in control of non-school related aspects of your home?  If you struggle to keep good habits without outer accountability how do you set things up at home to keep you on track?

Academic kids generally tend to get intense in the middle school years (7th) and I think late bloomers need intense parent guidance around 9th.  Obviously teaching reading/handwriting/beginning math is more intense and tedious - 1st/2nd grade depending on the kiddo and abilities.

We have moved from reinventing the wheel (writing our own plan/curriculum) to "do the next thing" curriculum in a few areas - math, science, grammar, IEW, Fix It.  This allows built in accountability and when I get those boxes checked, I feel freedom to enjoy my day. We get up in the morning and do school - it's just what we do.  I'm a morning person so it is a little unfair to say we cultivated this, however, we do feel a need to "do our job." Daddy goes to work every day so I couldn't imagine just sitting around all day, recognizing that we were not fulfilling our responsibilities to our family.

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Thanks for sharing everyone!  My kids are 2nd, K and toddler, and we are wrapping up the second six weeks of our first year.  While the lessons are short, I was wondering if the one on one time would eventually change to create more space to balance academic and non academic life during the day.  Lessons, lesson planning, field trips, projects and academic teaching are fun for me, so I have had no trouble keeping up with those.  It's other responsibilities not tied to appointments, due dates or deadlines that get forgotten.  I guess every phase has it's time intensive features. I'm trying to be reflective as I go and understand that much of what we are doing is finding our style and what works for us.  There are ways in which not being keyed in to a greater community or an outside schedule is causing me to fall into some bad habits--the same bad habits I struggled with when all of my kids were preschoolers and I started staying home.  It's not a new struggle but it's important to find a way to successfully exist in a new context.  These suggestions are a great inspiration!

Overall it's been a good experience, and I'm finding a lot out about what works for us.  For instance:  1) We can finish before noon, but it wears me out and means the house is out of control.  I'm going to let that one go and embrace larger chunks of play time so I can do non academic things around the house.  2) Our family's learning-for-fun activities have always been unit study based so I shouldn't change that just because I'm formally homeschooling.  I'm happy with our "kickstart" curriculum and materials but am allowing myself to actively morph into what I really want to be.  3) This one is constantly reiterated on this forum--I'm just starting to see it at work--Math/Reading/Writing skills are very important at this age, so it's okay to focus mostly on those and make content as fun as possible--another nudge back to unit studies.  

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My kiddos are in K, 2nd, 4th, and 6th.

For me, in some ways this year is the most manageable because for the first time I don't have any preschoolers, toddlers or babies. (Also, the fact that we are not juggling any outside the home extracurriculars is both a blessing and a curse.)

OTOH, I have one kiddo (K level) who still needs a lot of one on one time and supervision and attention even when I am not working with her, two kiddos (2nd and 4th) who need a fair amount of one on one in teacher-intensive subjects, and one kiddo (6th) who is working for a lot more hours now so still needs a lot from me even though he can work more independently on many things.

One thing that has shifted over the last few years and that really helps is how many chores have been fully handed over to the kids. Starting at 6 years old, my kids are each responsible for cleaning one of the bathrooms.  They do laundry, sweep and vacuum, unload the dishwasher, clean the microwave and fridge. They change their own sheets. They take care of garbage and recycling. They can get simple meals on the table and are constantly learning and practicing more advanced cooking so they can take over more meals.

I obviously still have to inspect all their work, and hold a firm line that substandard work needs to be redone, but having all those chores off my plate really frees me up to do the jobs that truly only I can handle.

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I find that my most intense grades are typically the ones that correspond with time-intensive parenting more than schooling.  There are times when certain academic things take time - academics prior to being able to read, and for both kids, going from finishing the Singapore Math workbooks to...anything...took effort, as does learning to write an essay and making sure we have supplies for high school labs.  Some stretches take managerial time, some take driving time, but it depends on the kid and how many of those things collide at once.  And, I think which of those things you find difficult really depends on preferences.  Right now my days involve shuttling kids to activities and, since parents often can't go inside for practices in gyms these days, I do a lot of sitting in the car or parking lot walking.  I have driven hours to see my kid do 5 minutes of competition karate (it has been many months since I did this one, alas).  But, I still prefer it to glittery and gluey elementary school crafts, although I can absolutely understand why others would not!  I do find that every time we make a jump in how much effort is required from the kids, it's a bit rocky for a while.  It doesn't matter whether it's academic, extracurricular, or even a requirement for more responsibility at home.  All of them require more effort until we get it sorted out.  On the flip side, I will sometimes find that something is taking much less effort-  the kids get started on school before I'm out of my room in the morning or they start doing chores without being reminded - the day that my older said 'Hey, Mom - I took the trash cans down to the street since I knew Dad was out of town' was great.  

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So much of this depends on the kid, and how independently they can work (in an age appropriate way).

High school with my oldest was intense at times.  We only outsourced physics (due to budget constraints), so the planning and instruction and grading was on me.  It was particularly intense because I was also still homeschooling everyone else.

Your kids are at the physically busy/mess making stage.  It will shift to becoming a mentally taxing thing with time.

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On 10/18/2020 at 10:04 PM, JoyKM said:

Many of you have graduated one or more children--could you share which grades/stages/etc. you found to be most parent intensive?  Could you also share what you did (or learned to do) during those times to make sure that you still felt your best or in control of non-school related aspects of your home?  If you struggle to keep good habits without outer accountability how do you set things up at home to keep you on track?

Definitely when they were young - 5 kids ages 12 - 2.  The 12 year old wasn't ready to work independently, but I kept expecting him to.  The independent 9 year old was beginning to be overlooked while I worked to get the 7 and 5 year old reading.  It got better later, partly because I outsourced more and more for highschool level.  But the young years - when everyone needs you and everything takes so much explaining and talking, that was hard.  Driving people places is challenging, but it doesn't take as many words.  🤣

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I think this really depends on what life throws at you. Having a kid with dyslexia meant that the older he got the MORE he needed me because he couldn't do more on his own yet older kids (say 10-13) usually school more hours so the older he got the more intense it was for me. Add to that my older two had activities that became more important to them as they aged but they couldn't drive yet. The youngest did not get near enough time in my opinion. 

Throw in an earthquake that forced us out of our home temprarily, elder care, trying to figure out transcripts and testing for college and yes, I'd take little kid days anytime. I love storytime, baking with kids, and math manipulatives. 

 

I like the above posters comment about mentally taxing. Younger kids are physically more work but mentally and emotionally older kids are more intense.

 

 

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Middle school.

Mostly because we're often dealing with the maturity waxing and waning, trying to develop skills to make high school go well, much more intensive academics than what we did just a year or two before, etc. Add hormones, growth spurts, and puberty brain fog and it gets pretty hairy.

With kids before middle school if things get too hard/time intensive, you can back off on academics. I can't do that in middle school.

Edited by fairfarmhand
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On 10/22/2020 at 12:53 AM, frogger said:

I think this really depends on what life throws at you. Having a kid with dyslexia meant that the older he got the MORE he needed me because he couldn't do more on his own yet older kids (say 10-13) usually school more hours so the older he got the more intense it was for me. Add to that my older two had activities that became more important to them as they aged but they couldn't drive yet. The youngest did not get near enough time in my opinion. 

Throw in an earthquake that forced us out of our home temprarily, elder care, trying to figure out transcripts and testing for college and yes, I'd take little kid days anytime. I love storytime, baking with kids, and math manipulatives. 

 

I like the above posters comment about mentally taxing. Younger kids are physically more work but mentally and emotionally older kids are more intense.

 

 

YES!  This is my life (minus the earthquake).  I have a few 2E kids, and many aspects of getting older did not equal *less time on my part*, but more time, more teaching, more scaffolding needed. 

 

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11 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

Middle school.

 

I agree.  Academics get amped up some, but I'm still doing nearly all the teaching.  By high school, I'm outsourcing more even though the subject is more difficult, I'm handling fewer subjects.  

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I found some KIDS were just more parent intensive than others, and that didn't change after they graduated. 😛

Learning to read and math and all those skills they need to be able to do much of anything on their own, that just takes time and repetition spent right at my elbow. After that everyone's weakest subjects kept needing that level of mom time. Somewhere in middle school, after puberty settles down, some just start cruising.... and then high school takes almost as much mom as elementary again. Except for that one fiercely independent kid that makes you wish they weren't QUITE so independent sometimes... (she's the exception and not the norm, fwiw). Beyond early elementary and puberty onset I can't really pick a phase they ALL were harder or easier. Out of six kids there are six very different personalities and quirks with their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. 🤷‍♀️

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15 hours ago, daijobu said:

I agree.  Academics get amped up some, but I'm still doing nearly all the teaching.  By high school, I'm outsourcing more even though the subject is more difficult, I'm handling fewer subjects.  

Random curiosity: what are the academic things that take time in middle school? 

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1 hour ago, Not_a_Number said:

Random curiosity: what are the academic things that take time in middle school? 

This will vary from student to student as to what takes more time in middle school, but overall, middle school is when you begin the move from "grammar stage" memorization, exposure to much info, and accumulation of facts, and into the "logic stage" of beginning to work with that accumulated knowledge base -- beginning analysis, asking the "how" and "why" questions, making comparisons, and digging deeper.

Specifically, for 7th/8th grades, the academic things that might take more time (and more parent involvement and/or instructor guidance):

- English: Writing -- learning and practicing formal types of academic writing (essay structure, how to make a claim and build an argument of support for your claim, essays of various types, research paper with citations...)
- English: Literature -- beginning to do more formal literature studies (discussion and literary analysis, literary elements, literature topics)
- Math -- moving into the more abstract higher math topics and multi-step problem-solving
- Science -- beginning formal labs
- Foreign Language -- many people wait to begin exposure to a foreign language (esp. the grammar construction, verb tenses / conjugations / declensions, etc.)  in middle grades
- Logic -- understanding fallacies, types of reasoning, building arguments, etc.

Edited by Lori D.
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1 minute ago, Lori D. said:

This will vary from student to student as to what takes more time in middle school, but overall, middle school is when you begin the move from "grammar stage" memorization, exposure to much info, and accumulation of facts, and into the "logic stage" of beginning to work with that accumulated knowledge base -- beginning analysis, asking the "how" and "why" questions, making comparisons, and digging deeper.

Interesting. I haven't organized our homeschooling like this at all, which is why I was asking. Thank you for explaining! 

 

1 minute ago, Lori D. said:

Specifically, for 7th/8th grades, the academic things that might take more time (and more parent involvement and/or instructor guidance):

- English: Writing -- learning and practicing formal types of academic writing (essay structure, how to make a claim and build an argument of support for your claim, essays of various types, research paper with citations...)

I always feel like "building an argument" is an interesting skill, and it's fun to work on starting in the lower grades. But we definitely haven't done formal essays yet! That's a good point about working within more rigid constraints. 

 

1 minute ago, Lori D. said:

- English: Literature -- beginning to do more formal literature studies (discussion and literary analysis, literary elements, literature topics)
- Math -- moving into the more abstract higher math topics and multi-step problem-solving

I definitely incorporate that early on. So I don't think that'll shift for us. 

 

1 minute ago, Lori D. said:

- Science -- beginning formal labs

What makes a formal lab different from other types of experiments? Record-keeping? 

 

1 minute ago, Lori D. said:

- Foreign Language -- many people begin exposure to a foreign language in middle grades

That's interesting. And I always think of a language as something that's easier for a younger kid!! 

 

1 minute ago, Lori D. said:

- Logic -- understanding fallacies, types of reasoning, building arguments, etc.

That's another one I think of as continuous, I guess 🙂 . Obviously, kids get much better at it (and much less black and white) as they get older, though! So I can see that being a shift. 

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4 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

... Interesting. I haven't organized our homeschooling like this at all, which is why I was asking. Thank you for explaining! 
... I always feel like "building an argument" is an interesting skill, and it's fun to work on starting in the lower grades...
... That's another one I think of as continuous... Obviously, kids get much better at it (and much less black and white) as they get older, though! So I can see that being a shift. 

I don't at all mean to imply that this is a hard-and-fast "light switch flipping moment" -- it's a gradual transition that happens for students at different ages depending on the individual student's unique brain development. Absolutely -- a lot of more advanced critical thinking is going on in the younger grades. But: you're also not going to ask an elementary-aged student to have full understanding of, or analyze peer-reviewed articles from Science journals, whereas you might ask an older teen to do so. 😉 
 

8 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

...But we definitely haven't done formal essays yet! That's a good point about working within more rigid constraints. 

Oh please don't start yet! 😱 I know you have an advanced 8yo, but I just would not go there yet. So many foundational things to work on -- and so many FUN kinds of writing to enjoy throughout the elementary grades before there's any need to get to formal essays. 😉 

Seriously, I have taught quite a few students ages 12-18 in my Writing & Lit. classes, and of the middle school kids, no more than 50% are ready to try very short formal essays. And even with my high school students, for some of the 9th-10th graders, it takes most of a semester (sometimes all year) to get them up to speed with formal essays.

13 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

... What makes a formal lab different from other types of experiments? Record-keeping? ...

Check out lewelma's past thread on "Scientific Inquiry". She goes far more in-depth than just about anyone else on these boards, esp. at the middle school level. Yes, record keeping of formal lab reports, but more than that, it is actually posing a question, devising an investigation to gather data to help in answering that question, and analyzing that gathered data into a meaningful response to the question.

36 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

...That's interesting. And I always think of a language as something that's easier for a younger kid!! 

Vocabulary is easy for young children to master when the brain is in that "grammar stage" -- it's another of those types of absorbing facts and info that is so natural for the brain at those ages. And sentence structure can be absorbed easily at those younger ages, too, if the family is making an effort at maintaining 2 languages in the home.

But from an article (which I can't find at the moment, lol), and other things I've read, ages 12-14 is apparently the prime time for exposure to a second language, as the brain is still very "plastic and flexible" and absorbs the new vocabulary easily and it embeds long-term -- yet the brain at that age is also more mature, so that understanding of abstract aspects of language acquisition -- grammar and verb constructions, etc. -- is easier (compared to younger ages).

All that means that understanding/speaking is easier at the younger ages -- but there is not necessarily long-term retention unless the language is kept up through the middle/high school years. Meanwhile, the *reading* and *writing* and *retaining* of the 2nd language is easier when it happens in that age 12-14 window. (Which seems to correspond with your own English learning as your 2nd language, starting at age 11...) 😉 

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Just now, Lori D. said:

Oh please don't start yet! 😱 I know you have an advanced 8yo, but I just would not go there yet. So many foundational things to work on -- and so many FUN kinds of writing to enjoy throughout the elementary grades before there's any need to get to formal essays. 😉 

I wasn't going to!! I'm not in any rush. I'm very much "we work on whatever is low hanging fruit right now." For us, at the moment, that's paragraphs and thinking about what the reader does and does not know 🙂 . I've taught plenty of older kids who don't seem to be able to think about that, so I'm pretty sure it's valuable! 

 

1 minute ago, Lori D. said:

All that means that understanding/speaking is easier at the younger ages -- but there is not necessarily long-term retention unless the language is kept up through the middle/high school years. Meanwhile, the *reading* and *writing* and *retaining* of the 2nd language is easier when it happens in that age 12-14 window. (Which seems to correspond with your own English learning as your 2nd language, starting at age 11...) 😉 

Ah, interesting. I would of course have no idea about retention, because everyone I knew who moved to an English-speaking country as a kid kept up the language through all later years. That makes sense! 

I'll say that people I knew who learned at 12-14 varied a lot in terms of how natural-sounding their grammar was. Some of them had excellent sentence structure, and some had sentence structure that was VERY affected by their mother tongue. It was a lot less varied in kids who came before puberty. But again... I would have no clue about retention issues! 

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On 10/20/2020 at 11:09 AM, JoyKM said:

... My kids are 2nd, K and toddler, and we are wrapping up the second six weeks of our first year...
... I'm finding a lot out about what works for us.  For instance: 
1) We can finish before noon, but it wears me out and means the house is out of control.  I'm going to let that one go and embrace larger chunks of play time so I can do non academic things around the house. 
2) Our family's learning-for-fun activities have always been unit study based so I shouldn't change that just because I'm formally homeschooling.  I'm happy with our "kickstart" curriculum and materials but am allowing myself to actively morph into what I really want to be.  3) This one is constantly reiterated on this forum--I'm just starting to see it at work--Math/Reading/Writing skills are very important at this age, so it's okay to focus mostly on those and make content as fun as possible--another nudge back to unit studies.  

No doubt about it, you are in the peak of "everyone needs mom for everything" period of life. 😉 

A few ideas to possibly reduce your exhaustion:

For school:
- where ever you can, combine your gr. 2 & kinder for science, history, fine arts, and any other non-math/LA subjects
- consider using a few workbooks (if your children tolerate them, and if they can learn from workbooks) here and there to reduce mom/teacher intensive-programs in these earlier years
- consider having everyone at the table to work for 30 minutes all at once, and you just go round and round the table answering questions and re-directing children back on task (toddler, too, doing "high chair" or "booster chair" activities) -- that might reduce overall time spent on core academics if you don't have to do everything 1-on-1 first with one child and then the next
- set a timer and work for short bursts of time on your core subjects, and loop whatever remains of the lesson to the next day -- which leaves you more time and energy for the unit study/fun activities
- consider alternating science and history -- do 1 subject for a month, or 6 weeks, or 1 quarter, or 1 semester, and then swap to the other subject
- consider schooling in 6-week bursts, then take the 7th week for appointments, field trips, outings, etc.; rinse; repeat
- or, consider schooling 4 days/week, and take your 5th day for your unit studies, fun activities, educational supplements, field trips, longer projects, etc.

For the house:
- train everyone into the habit of "picking up as you go" so that at LEAST the main living areas of the house are picked up; close the doors on messy bedrooms and don't stress -- those can be dealt with once a week
(examples: "We've finished the meal, so let's all take dishes to the sink, rinse them, and put them in the dishwasher, and wipe down the counter."; and: "We've finished school, let's put all our materials back in the school crates, and put the crates away."; and: "We need to leave in 15 minutes, so after you have your shoes on and go to the bathroom, each of you go through your pre-assigned main room of house and put away anything that is not where it belongs.")
- hire someone to come in once a week and do your deep cleaning of bathrooms and kitchen; or, if you can't afford that for the next few years, then have Saturday morning as "everyone in the family deep cleans" -- if the common areas of the house are relatively picked-up most of the time, then you can tolerate waiting and doing deep cleaning just 1x/week
- meal plan so you only shop 1x/week; incorporate crock pot recipes that you can start at breakfast or at lunch; include 1-dish recipes into your rotation, and have the older 2 children help you with chopping, mixing, cooking, and setting the table
- reduce potential of clutter by severely reducing what you own -- esp. toys; box up 3/4 of the toys (whatever is currently not getting almost daily use) into several bins and store in the garage or a shed; in a month or 6 weeks from now, swap out a bin, and box up whatever has lost its "shiny" factor of daily play, and the "new bin" of toys will feel "shiny"; rinse... repeat... every 6 weeks or so -- now it is MUCH easier for your kids to keep toys picked up, because there just isn't the volume of toys out there, and YOU are not as stressed, because things DO get picked up easily 😉 

For you:
- start the day with a family walk around the block to clear cobwebs and get fresh air, and mentally change gears from morning routine to school
- train everyone into a 1-hour quiet time after lunch -- everyone on their own bed, resting or reading or audio books or other quiet activity so mom has a rest break
- turn over 1 school subject (maybe science, or building things, or a special read-aloud, or... ??) to dad to enjoy doing with kids 1x/week, and you do what is relaxing and enjoyable and restoring for YOU


Remember to schedule yourselves so you can "smell the roses" and enjoy your homeschooling journey together! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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On 10/25/2020 at 2:42 PM, Not_a_Number said:

Random curiosity: what are the academic things that take time in middle school? 

For my kids, there is a ramping up of academic demands but they still need the hand holding and redirecting of a younger kid. All my 7th and 8th graders still benefited from my sitting right there with them to help them stay focused. If I was not right there, things took three times as long. They're also getting into the WHY of their studies, not just the how. More questions that begin with "Explain...." rather than simple regurgitation of facts. Several of my kids have gotten balky about this fact, getting frustrated with the idea that school takes longer, is harder, and needs more effort in grades 6,7, and 8, so sometimes we have to work through the drama associated with that fact.

For my kids who struggle with time management, organization, and emotional regulation ( 3 of my 4), we home in on those things as well which takes as much energy and time as academics. My goal is to prepare them to have the executive skills to be successful in high school. 1 of my 4 picked these up naturally, 3 needed more direct instruction in various components of these skills.

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