books-with-appleIt’s an old far side joke, I know, it’s cheesy and silly and right now feels accurate.

This morning, just to keep the kids entertained I gave them color-in worksheets from Super Mom Moments and they really had fun coloring them in. They had to color the verbs, nouns, and adjectives different colors. Is that homeschooling, or is that fun?

I guess it’s both but I’m still so unsure.

My biggest problem has been going overboard when I do things. In my mind, I just want everything to be “right” … you know, the way it should be. In reality, I fear that I might push my kids too hard and try to teach them too much.

I mean, I have no training in this.

For example, I am trying to find a starting point for my 2nd grader (S) and don’t know how to measure that. The closest reading placement I found was at the National Right to Read Foundation. Is that a legitimate site? I’m not sure. I gave her the reading competency¬†test and it basically told me she was reading at a high school level. Is that true? I don’t know what a high school reading level is, not really. I know the things my great-grandmother used to say about the newspaper being written at a fifth-grade level so it was more accessable, but then the website said that 100 years ago the 6th grade level was equivilent to high school level today. All that to say: I have no idea where to start her reading education based on that placement test.

It’s all very, very confusing.

Also, it seems my 1st grader (A) – who has been doing just fine and is really enjoying her experience at public school – is getting jealous that her sister is going to have me for her teacher and learn (as she puts it) “more stuff” than she is.

So homeschooling of both children will begin in earnest this summer. I’m going to try and let A finish the year because she loves her teacher and hasn’t had any of the problems S was having at school. I’d like her to finish.

This is not what I pictured for my kids.

I was always the it will be a cold day in hell before I homeschool my kids mom. I’m not super-excited about it. I have almost every book from the library and can’t stop researching everything online because I don’t want to break my kids or make them into mutants that can’t have a conversation or, worse, can only talk about Ray Bradbury and dice games. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with those being part of the conversation toolkit, I like those things, but I want them to be able to talk about other things too. I’d like them to have a range of things to talk about so they can communicate effectively with a range of people.

Of course, school was never going to give them that in the first place, so I’m not sure if it even fits with this whole train of thought. Well, I guess it fits in the sense of finding out new things from other kids. They won’t have that except through me and while I am into current pop culture more than anyone I know, I’m still not up on trends like a 2nd grader. Or a 6th grader. So how do I help my kids talk with other kids? I’ll probably just end up spending time on the Disney Channel website or something. Not that they’re into those shows now, they’re not. So maybe that was never meant to be in the first place.

Maybe I’m borrowing trouble and S will want to go back next year. Maybe she will be done with mom-as-teacher and want to try again to go the public school route. Or, maybe by September we will have an option C and she can go to a private school I was looking into a few months ago. It’s possible. I just don’t know where we will be then financially. Private school is expensive and I’m still not sure I can’t do it better myself.

In the meantime, I’m going to take it one day at a time, one worksheet at a time, one story at a time.

Oh, one thing I wanted to tell you. This morning when I had them do the coloring worksheets, S brought hers to me when she was done and immediately apologized because once she had finished the perfectly colored pieces of the heart she also drew around the heart and on the back of the paper. She sounded really stressed when she apologized and told me she “forgot she shouldn’t do that.” I looked at her – shocked – and said, “Babe, this is just for fun. You got all the answers right. I don’t mind if you color the rest of the paper however you want.”

She was visibly relieved. Like, her little shoulders fell two inches. They must have been crazy-tense. Poor thing.

What are they doing to her at that school that she’s got anxiety on spring break doing a silly worksheet for fun?

Moments like that are why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m not a great mother, I’m not a martyr, I’m not doing something great and noble, I’m just trying to keep my kid from being so stressed she can’t chill out and color in a heart.

What do you think is the best way to determine the reading level of a child? (I’m just looking for brainstorming ideas, no need to cite a source or be a homeschooler for this. Y’all are smart. I want to hear what you think!)