Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Confessions About Art and Science

After the upset of last week’s family drama, we’ve managed to get back to a remnant of our normal glorious schedule this week. I know I’ve griped about this before, but why, oh, why must there always be those couple of days of sheer hell to re-establish our normal schedule? We can manage a weekend just fine, and we can usually go back with only a minimum of hassle after a true ‘break’, but when there is an unscheduled interruption, it just throws everything off kilter. As ever, the first day is ok, but the second day… grrrr. ‘It must be Tuesday’ has as much meaning for us as a family as it does for Buffy fans.

Now that we’re back in school, there’s a part of me that really wants us to be where we would be lesson-wise if we hadn’t taken off. In school-school, I’d have said ‘screw you and your make-up work’ and let the kids fall back into place – I’m sure they’d have adapted and glossed over whatever was missed and would probably be none the worse off for it.

However, as a homeschooling family, there is no ‘gloss over’. Ever. We focus on mastery, so when we take off, especially unscheduled breaks, the planner adapts and we pick up where we left off. But the OCD record-keeper in my brain keeps pointing to the planner and screaming, ‘LOOK!! We should be starting lesson 4 this week – not in the beginning of through lesson 3!!!” and having a panic attack. I keep trying to shut her up with coffee, but she’s a persistent little brat. I blame it on not being allowed to have a Trapper Keeper when I was younger.

In amongst all of this internal turmoil comes the dilemma of how to fit in the essential electives. I call them ‘essential electives’ because even though they’re elective (as in ‘not core’), I still think they’re very important… though not as important as the core lessons. But still very important! That said, it’s been a while since we’ve really had time for art work. I confess, I hardly ever don’t always make time for art. It seems superfluous much of the time, and as much as I know, intellectually, that spending time on art work and art lessons is time well spent in rounding our my kids’ education, it seems less important a lot of the time when we’re struggling with mastering basic math concepts or grammar. I can’t possibly be the only homeschooling mom who feels this way, nor, I am sure, am I the only homeschooling mom who constantly finds herself resolving to block out time to spend on art this week. Okay, THIS week. No really, THIS week for sure!

Well, I can now style myself better than you because, though it took everything in me to let the other stuff go for a bit so we could focus on ART, by golly, we did it. As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been art journaling lately, and with all of my art stuff sitting out just begging to be used, I decided to make good use it and of some older books by showing the boys how to make altered book art journals using paint and collage. And it was ever so much fun! We may not have gotten around to finishing the day’s core lessons, but since we’re 4 weeks into school and have done essentially nothing that was pure art, I’d say it was an excellent use of our time.

The boys take piano lessons almost every day with my grandmother (who lives next door), so it’s not as though their lives are devoid of The Arts. We also cover some art history (or at least the evolution of art) in our history lessons and some in our literature lessons, so they’re getting the instructional/academic part to some degree – but the actual hands-on, putting pencil or paint to paper gets lost in the shuffle of ‘real’ school work, I am sad to say. It is my newfound resolve to make time for more creative goodness with my kids over the next few weeks. I’d love to say ‘maybe a little every day’, but that might be a little unrealistic. As much as I enjoy artsy-craftsy stuff, the kids aren’t always interested. So, note to self: Balance, woman! Achieve it!

Science projects also tend to get shuffled to the back burner. Part of it is the time it takes to set up and clean up, but that’s mostly just an excuse and I know it. I have had a book called Jr. Boom Academy for years and we’ve done some of them; most are little projects that are quick and easy and can be done with little to no prep (which I like). We’re not coordinating all of our science projects to our science lessons necessarily, though I am sure at some point they will overlap; ‘getting’ to do these fun little mini-experiments is more a fun reward for a day well-managed, time-wise.

Today, after the majority of our core lessons were complete, we made pseudo-putty from white glue, food coloring and borax. The book called for things like pipettes and measuring; we winged it and it turned out fine. I guess I am going to have to invest in a couple of junior science/chemistry kits if we’re going to persist in this homeschooling business. If you have one that you love, please recommend in the comments. I’ve been looking and haven’t found one that looks ‘right’.

Our homeschool group is planning a trip to the Texas Regional Homeschool Science Fair in Houston in April, not to compete, but to get the kids excited about the process, then our group is hosting our own ‘show and tell’ science fair in June. I’m really looking forward to exploring more kid-friendly projects and working with the boys on the method so that they’ll be prepared for June, and for next year’s Science Fair.

So now that I’ve fessed up about my weaknesses publicly, hopefully that will help keep me accountable. Ask me about this post in a few weeks, lol.




3 responses

  1. straderspiel

    I have the exact same person living inside my head that wants my weekly lesson plans to always start on Monday and end on Friday. Always. No matter what. It’s unreasonable and really quite obsessive so I’ve started just dropping a day of a class when I need to. For example, for literature we read the same book all week and complete various comprehension activities each day. If life happens and we need to miss a day, I cross off the day like it happened. So my kids don’t get to copy a sentence from the book in their best handwriting because we had to do something more important once every 6 months or so, they haven’t been negatively affected by it at all. Sadly, when it’s something like science that they really do need to review since it builds on the day, we end up doing that subject on Saturday to make the next week start on Monday. But I’m working on it!

    January 25, 2011 at 10:32 pm

  2. LOL I have the same issues with restarting school after an unexpected break, first day goes smoothly but the second day is a nightmare. We love science experiments in our house and I try to do one at least 2X a week. I am still working on the art. We study the artist and visit art museums but I don’t really teach them to paint or draw they do it on their own:)

    January 26, 2011 at 3:06 am

  3. PB&J

    Glad to see that your boys got the chance to do some art this week. I know it’s so easy for me to say, “NEXT week, we’ll do art.” But next week becomes the next… I wish you much love and luck as you get back on schedule.

    January 26, 2011 at 8:49 am

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