A major goal this year was to dedicate significant time to something my homeschooler wants to learn. Bitxbox is that thing.
He loves video games. That is a fact that’s not going to go away. We have to limit his time on this activity quite a bit, but it’s something he loves and something he’s good at. And ya know, that’s cool. Being good at video games actually takes a lot of coordination and skill. The other thing that’s really cool though? He researches the history of video games and often wishes he would have been a kid in the 80s and that’s really rad to me. I don’t think there are many kids who would wish to go back to basic video games. I love his appreciation for this. Plus, the 80s were a pretty cool time to be a kid if you ask me. ;)
Where do we start?
SO. He has interest in making video games, too and that’s where a unique education comes in. That’s where building his confidence comes in. He often says he wants to make video games but then gets overwhelmed in the thought process, in the big picture, of how the heck does he learn to do such a big thing? Will he ever be able to, he wonders? He has a hard time breaking things down and taking it one step at a time.
After a bit of research and few thousand ads for Bitsbox on my Facebook after said research, I landed on… Bitsbox. Ha! It is pretty cool though, so ads or not, I would have gone this route in the end. Bitsbox (that’s a referral link just FYI) is a monthly subscription for kids that teaches them how to code. Cool, huh! Your first box comes with a binder and your first set of “learn how to code” cards. The organizing nerd in me really appreciates how lovely this is, by the way.
We are just diving into this, and it’s a small step in the grand scheme of things, but he is loving it overall. It’s giving him something he loves to do while teaching him something that will be very valuable to know and understand. Even with the frustrations he’ll inevitably continue to have, he’ll keep coming back and he’ll feel good knowing he’s taking action in learning something that he loves to do.
The other cool thing about this subscription is that you can buy just one, but make multiple accounts for each child in your home! Littlest probably isn’t quite ready for this, but oldest will probably want to try it out. I love that we can do that without spending extra money on multiple subscriptions. Their site is full of tutorials so it’s super easy to get started and we are having a blast!
Yesterday wasn’t a total loss, but it wasn’t very productive school-wise. And that’s ok, because today? Today he is doing so much better. One day at a time is advice we follow for a reason – because it’s all you can do. Take it one day at a time and take in the victories the day gives you – even especially the ones you weren’t expecting.
During the one’o’clock hour on Wednesday morning, my homeschooler awoke with the feeling that a bug was trying to crawl out of his ear. He came to my bedside, panicked, and in my sleepy-not-fully-awake-ness I tried to tell him it was most likely just water. We had gone swimming the day before and he always gets water trapped in his ears.
Between my mumbly speech and his panicked state, he heard something about putting water in the other ear to make the bug come out. He came back to tell me it did not work. Confused, I said, “what didn’t work??” He said he put water in his other ear but the bug didn’t come out. I explained what I meant and he relaxed immediately, but walked out of the room saying he was so stupid for thinking it was a bug. I quickly told him he wasn’t stupid, he was just worried and that’s ok.
By this point, both of us were wide awake and we both found ourselves migrating to the living room. Sometimes, when I just can’t sleep, moving to a different part of the house helps. So that’s what we did. Neither of us were in a great mood for schooling once the day started and we hadn’t slept much, so we just didn’t force it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, is that it’s not worth it to force it on days like that. We did work on something new and exciting, though, so it wasn’t a total loss. I’ll blog about that next time. ;)
The victory in this day was the way we handled the upset after this new activity, which frustrated him toward the end. He got frustrated (admittedly, I probably let him do this one activity for too long, we have to keep screen time short around here) and exclaimed he wouldn’t be doing it ever again. The negative self talk started and then he went off to his room.
I gave him some space like I always do and as I was washing my hands a few minutes later, I realized how grateful I am that he is so verbal with how he is feeling. It isn’t easy dealing with all these emotions, or hearing the way he sometimes talks, but my goodness, what if he was just barely surviving each day alone with those thoughts? Never telling anyone about them? So after I knew he’d had some time to calm down, I told him two things:
I am proud of you for trying something new and I know you’ll want to do it again and get better and better at it.
I am glad that you tell me how you feel – even when the things you feel aren’t good things. Thank you for telling me so I know, and can keep working on ways to help you.
I had entered the room telling him I just wanted to say two things and I think what I had to say surprised him – in a good way.
So that was the thing for that day, that was our progress. We are both learning as we go – not just in math, science, etc but socially and emotionally too, which are more important than anything else. I have not and will not ever be a perfect parent, but I am learning and changing my ways, day by day.
Today, he completed everything on the schedule + the stuff we would have done yesterday. One day at a time means letting each day be what it is, and diving in head first on the good days.
*this post is filled with photos of lazy cats because that’s basically what we were on this day
According to my planner, we’ve had 3 solid weeks of homeschooling. We eased into it the week before, as I obsessively researched what we would use for our learning materials, after withdrawing from k12 – one thing I know for certain, that decision was for the best. No doubt. Our decision to homeschool this year, or any year we’ve done it, was not the typical reason folks choose to school their kids at home. It was more out of necessity than anything. There’s nothing glamorous about our homeschooling ventures, nothing at all. It’s raw and it’s real, just like my blog posts on it will be. We are dealing with a lot of big emotions that often got in the way of learning (and just plain living) at a brick and mortar school.
Every single day, we run into those big emotions. They are so exhausting for all of us in every single way. There are so many moments throughout these last three weeks, where I’ve felt like this isn’t working. So many moments where I have to grab ahold of whatever mental strength I have left and push through. So many moments where I wonder if this is going to work. It clicked for me today, as I made plans in my planner for next week. I have been adjusting our schedule as I go, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. As I flipped back through previous weeks to plan for the next, I saw progress and I saw learning that had already taken place.
The learning is happening already. We are making progress. In the midst of the rough waters, we find calm, still waters – and that’s where we do the work. He now has room to feel all of those big emotions he’s dealing with. He has a safe place to feel those emotions without stares from classmates or strangers. He is able to recover more quickly and then we are able to get back to work, rather than letting one bad part of the day ruin the rest of the day entirely. He always comes back to me and says he’s ready to finish or get started if we hadn’t started yet. He’s showing me how resilient he is – on days where I don’t feel so resilient, he picks ME up and we get back to it. He doesn’t know it, but there are days where if he hadn’t come to me with a willing heart and mind, we would have been done for the day.
In case you don’t know, my homeschooler has a 4.5 year old little brother. I wanted to throw this little tidbit in here today because trying to work with both of them is proving to be impossible for me at this time. He wants to be with us, but my boys only have to look at each other for a fight to start, so it’s difficult to say the least. I know my preschooler doesn’t need a lot right now school-wise, but I want to keep him busy too. I don’t know a solution for this yet, but hopefully there’ll be a future post on this with some good news. Right now, he’s our in-your-face distraction from the peaceful learning my 10 year old desperately wants. Of course, he’s a heck of a lot more than that, we just need to find something that works for the three of us as far as learning goes!
Instead of sharing with you a grand schedule for the entire year, I want to share something I love that is working for us each time I write a post (or most times at least). Today, I wanted to share something that I am so relieved I found for math. I stumbled upon Teaching Textbooks early on as I began researching materials to use this year. It’s not my first rodeo and I knew from experience, I didn’t want to just spend hundreds on a big kit again. I knew I needed to carefully piece our year together with materials that would work for us, instead of against us. Homeschooling is not one-size-fits-all, especially in our case. Anyway, after a friend also mentioned Teaching Textbooks and we chatted a bit, I decided to give the free trial a run. They now offer a subscription service so you can pay less and avoid keeping track of the CDs. Basically, you do the lessons on the computer and it keeps track of grades for you. Each lesson has a lecture, practice and the graded problems. We just finished our first quiz yesterday and today Lesson 8 involved getting out some pen and paper to accompany the screen learning, which I was happy to see.
This program works perfectly for us because:
1. he doesn’t have a worksheet full of problems staring him in the face (this overwhelms him and he often quits before he even begins
2. instead, the questions are presented one at a time and he whizzes through them
3. so far, it is hands-off for me, which I love because frankly, I am not good at teaching math
4. it gives me a visual of our progress, which is something I need for peace of mind.
I typed and deleted a lot of first posts over the last few days, unsure of what to share, or if I even should share any of this. Ultimately, I want to share because I want to have a space to share our ups and downs. It helps me process what we’re doing and how it’s working and any bit of help I can get, I’ll take it. It’s not just for me, though, I want to let people know that homeschooling doesn’t have to look any sort of way. It just has to look like something that you and your child/ren can manage. It just has to be filled with learning of all kinds, and if you’re like us, healing too. It only has to be what you need it to be. No matter what, it’ll be full of both rough and still waters – as long as you come back to each other with your calm, you’ll be just fine.