Category Archives: mothering

The trouble with reading

It is the middle of August. That means it is time for me to freak out about school planning and get all anxious and crazy. The anxiety and craziness came way early this year.  At the beginning of July I had a complete and total homeschooling mom breakdown. From time to time I do second guess my homeschooling decision and wonder if the kids would be happier in school and then I remember why we are doing this and go back to being really happy with our choices. This time my melt down was far worse. Within 2 days I went from my typical second guessing to actually calling the school district to find out how to enroll my kids in school and calling the department of special ed to get Ulka evaluated. I was a mess and spent most of those two days in tears. Andy calmly looked on and let me go through my craziness without saying much. He knew that I would come around back to where my heart really lies.

The forms came from the school and I sat down to fill them out and got completely overwhelmed by that process. SO MANY FORMS. Wow. Who knew it was so complicated to enroll your child in school? Then, I saw my more sane and stable friend Sarah who so patiently listened and nodded and agreed. When I saw her two days later, she talked me off the ledge and reminded me of all the benefits and pluses of homeschooling and offered encouragement and support and suggestions.

So, the back story. Ulka has really been “struggling” with reading. By this I mean that she isn’t reading where she “should be” if she were in traditional school. As a homeschooling mom it is sometimes hard to gauge the children’s progress and I fall prey to all the school standards that I am so desperately trying to avoid. I looked up reading  by grade level, researched how to determine fluency, measured her reading in words per minute and basically made myself and Ulka crazy. I convinced myself that if there is a problem it would be best to find out sooner than later so I decided to have her evaluated by the board of ed. Every single homeschooler that I talked to said clearly “DO NOT DO THAT”.

I know that every child learns at her own pace and I knew that in my heart I was not convinced that Ulka had a “problem”, but that she is just taking her own time. I didn’t get her evaluated and am so thankful that I didn’t.  She has been practicing a lot recently and has made some good progress. I know that schools have to have standards to measure students progress. There are certainly kids who really have a need for intervention and it is great that those resources are available to them. But some kids are just ‘late bloomers’.

Some kids potty train at 2 and some at 4 . Everyone tells the frustrated mother not to worry, that she will do it when she is ready and that she won’t be in diapers when she goes to school. Some kids learn to ride without training wheels when they are 3 and some not until they are 8. If a child is still riding with training  wheels at 7 nobody freaks out and says that there must be some sort of problem and that the kid should be evaluated for a physical problem. It is similar with reading. Ishaan read Tom Sawyer in the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade and Ulka is still sounding out words. But she will get there, I know she will.

So now onto the fun of planning the school year. I have lots of fun ideas, trips and projects in the works and am looking forward to this year. More on school planning later. Now I have to go and do it!

Healing Lessons

The title of this post might be very similar to my last post, Healing Herb Garden, but this is a  different sort of post. It is not about school or gardening or anything else that you might find useful. It is a mini revelation of sorts. We all have them from time to time and these days mine usually involve some sort of wake up call, reminding me about who I want to be as a mother.

A few days ago Ila, our five-year old, fell off a little exercise  trampoline at our neighbor’s house. We were busy getting ready for a yard sale and frankly didn’t have the time or energy to console an over-reacting child. There were a whole lot of tears and a good bit of screaming, but that is just kind of what Ila does when she is hurt. And besides, it was not a serious fall.  But the crying didn’t stop so I took her inside. When I sat her on the table and gave her my full attention I could tell immediately that this was not just Ila over reacting. Her cry was different and something wasn’t right. She said that her shoulder hurt and when I looked it was clearly not ok- even I could tell that her bones on one side didn’t look the same as the other side. The on-call pediatrician could tell just by looking that she had fractured her collar-bone.

It was a low point for me. Not because she broke her collar-bone, but because of how I reacted to her. Lately I’ve been snapping at the kids and yelling too much. I am out of energy and patience most days and just generally feeling unmotivated as a homeschooling mom. The school year is wearing on me and I am yearning for beautiful weather when we can just be outside all day.

Over the last few days Ila has needed, and deserved, extra help kindness patience and love and I give it readily. My sweetness with Ila has overflowed to the other kids too and our days are just more gentle. I am trying to be the kind of mom I want to and strive to be.  Don’t get me wrong, we are not living in some sort of dreamy existence. There is still yelling and fighting and frustration but Ila’s injury, though not terribly serious, helped to put things back into perspective for me. It reminded me of how resilient kids are but also of how fragile their spirits can be and that I need to take care of them and be gentle with them all the time, not just when they are hurt.