Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Back to the Drawing Board

I needed some respite.

Not that January was all that restful. But it was different. Sometimes you need something different. I think that's one of the reasons why we kept changing homeschooling styles and ended up at unschooling. I'm the type of person that gives all of my focus to one thing at a time. Whether it is drawing, writing, juggling or yoga, I always try to put as much of myself as I can into my activities, especially when it is a new experience. And that means I am prone to burning out from them.

Over the years, I've learned my signs of burnout. I might not want to make the effort to travel for the sake of my interest. I'll try because of the people--I've met lots of interesting people for everything I've done--but if my heart isn't in it anymore, the activity becomes more of a chore. It drains my energy rather than energizing me.

This is why taking breaks is so important. Think of it as cross-training for the mind. If you only work one muscle group, you are more likely to strain something because only that set of muscles is doing all the work. When you train different muscle groups, shift from strength training to cardio, you work the whole body and end up stronger overall. Our minds can wear down, too.

There was a point where I was so worried about getting things accomplished in our homeschooling day, I did not see how our strict schedule was affecting us. The kids would get grumpy or tearful. One worksheet would take an hour to finish, and only if I stood over them the whole time. I yelled a lot. I would threaten to send them to school. Homeschooling became a burden. It wasn't fun. Fun is important. It opens us to learning. 

It is our nature to avoid painful or uncomfortable experiences. Learning under stress makes us fearful of that subject in the future. I hated math because I couldn't do it fast enough to finish a test and getting a low grade was embarrassing for me. My fear transferred to my daughter when I tried to teach her algebra, a subject I never mastered in school. Reading "Algebra Unplugged" by Kenn Amdahl helped explain it from a different perspective. Now I've learned to see it as a puzzle I would like to figure out. (No. I haven't mastered it...yet!)

Now that we practice a more natural learning style, I see how my children are like me. My son needed to know it was OK to let go of taekwondo when he wasn't interested anymore. He had done it for at least five years straight and stayed with it that long because he didn't want to disappoint his teachers. My youngest shows an intensity with her pursuits, and will suddenly shift focus to something else, just like I do. The only down side is I've usually put some money into their interests right before they find a new passion. Hopefully they'll return to some of those activities. In my own life, I eventually returned to juggling, art, and writing after long breaks from them.

Recently, I took time away from my comics. I was busy with holidays and two other projects and I couldn't stretch my brain power any further. Now I feel more relaxed and ideas have started flowing in again.

It's time to go back to the drawing board.   


Melissa R said...

Thanks for mentioning Algebra Unplugged. My library has it and it will soon be in my hands.
We have put our toes into Algebra and the water hasn't been too bad! I am actually wondering why I was so awful at it in school. One thing both my son and I have been doing, Algebra related, is playing an app called DragonBox. We each have been doing it on our own (me so I can help explain it to him) and I love it! It makes sense!! This is the only app I have ever paid money for and I don't regret it! http://dragonboxapp.com/

jugglingpaynes said...

Thank you for that link, Melissa. I'm definitely going to look into it!

Kez said...

I'm like that too - obsessive about one thing to the point that I exclude everything else. Then that interest wanes and I pour my energy into the next thing. I can't seem to balance - I just need to work with the fact that that's how I am!

Glad the ideas have started flowing again.

Inner Elder said...

As always, I love your analogies. I was alarmed when you talk about an activity becoming "a chore". Yipes! I hope she doesn't mean her cartoons! Thank you for resting your art and here's hoping it always gives you joy! It certainly gives us joy. Love, Mom

seekingmyLord said...

You and I have much in common. I am an all-in person too and since April of last year, I was struggling with homeschooling and the 4-H horse barn and being a church board member. In August, being praise and worship leader of my church and webmaster designing the church website was added. By November, I gave up on the barn duties, but my husband was still talking of private school since he could tell I did not enjoy homeschooling anymore and my daughter was miserable as well. The first of January, he and I both resigned from all our church duties. By the end of January, I was loving homeschooling and my life again. Now I am focusing visiting different churches without seeking membership for some time and on my cleaning up and reorganizing my home from one room to another, but at a comfortable pace with homeschooling coming first. Then I will have an art studio area for both my daughter and me. That is the goal! We still do a classical approach but at this point she does much of it without much supervision. I just have to be available...mentally and emotionally.

jugglingpaynes said...

seekingmyLord: I'm so glad you have been able to refocus. An art studio area sounds lovely. My whole living room is our art studio, which sometimes makes it hard to find a seat!

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