It’s no secret that one of the things I’ve been worried about the most in our move to Afghanistan, was not the security problems, the language learning or the lack of a good cup of coffee — it was the inevitable start to our first year of homeschooling.

Turns out I should have worried more about the coffee situation. Instant coffee sucks, ya’all.

We are at the end of our first six weeks and I’m pretty much in shock over how well it’s going, especially with Violet and Dash.

Mr. Incredible made the back of the TV cabinet much more educational by tacking up a world map

Mr. Incredible made the back of the TV cabinet much more educational by tacking up a world map

Over the summer we shopped for some school desks and had two bookshelves custom made to hold our thick binders and loads of books.  We are temporarily living in a small apartment so we are a bit crowded, but we’re making the space work.

Our appetite for books cannot be contained

Our appetite for books cannot be contained

We start the day with Bible, memory verses and some preschool songs with Jack Jack.  Then Mr. Incredible takes over for an hour to do math with the big kids (and here is where my college roommates all sigh a breath of relief on behalf of my children — that I am not the one in charge of their acquisition of math facts) and I take an hour of one on one time with Jack Jack.

Circle and Calendar time

Circle and Calendar time

Math time!

Math time!

Jack Jack has been the least happy with the start of school.  He happily sang songs and participated in “circle time” but when it was time to get down to the hard work of color recognition, pre-writing or counting games instead of playing iPad or siting next to Violet and coloring he did all he could to get out of it.  He cried, pouted, did the famous “flop and drop” and even ran away from me a couple times to the kitchen where our Afghan house helper was working and hid behind her skirts.  She patted his head affectionately and assured me he wasn’t in her way and he definitely had a look of triumph in his eyes when she offered him snacks and toys.  I put a stop to his running away and getting Auntie on his side, but I have realized that he needs shorter times of learning with breaks throughout the day rather than an intense hour together.

Writing the letter "A" in dried coffee grounds -- great suggestion Grandma!

Writing the letter “A” in dried coffee grounds — great suggestion Grandma!

I still feel out of my depth when it comes to schooling Jack Jack and feel moments of panic that we aren’t doing sight word flash cards yet and he doesn’t know his letters.  But then he will totally impress me by greeting Auntie with a clear “salaam Khala” (hello Auntie) and he’s working very hard on potty training.  So, we’ll get there with the letters soon enough.

Working hard with OT skills and color sorting

Working hard with OT skills and color sorting

After math and time with Jack Jack I take over for language arts, science and history.  Twice a week the kids have a half hour of Dari lessons and then I have a half hour lesson and we try to do review throughout the week.  Our favorite part of the day is our Read Aloud at the kitchen table while we eat afternoon snack.  We just finished “Charlotte’s Web” and I gotta say, I don’t like that pig any better than the first time I read it.  Violet and I agreed, better to squish the spider and have bacon then to save the pig and have hundreds of baby spiders floating about.  It’s okay to say that out loud, right?

Violet loves nothing more than a cave of cushions and a good book.

Violet loves nothing more than a cave of cushions and a good book.

There are days, especially when my Facebook feed is full of friends’ back to school pictures and field trips to the pumpkin patch that I felt sad and homesick for what we are missing.  And then there was the day my friend Grace sent me a message saying, “E told me today that she and all the first graders spent their recess yelling as loud as they could so maybe Dash could here them in Afghanistan.”  I lost it then and even now am crying when I think of the friendships that are too far away.

Dash hard at work recording findings on a science experiment

Dash hard at work recording findings on a science experiment

So there are still things that are hard, but it’s mostly me at this point.  Prayers, grace and instant coffee are getting me through the hard days and making the good days possible.  And we will see how the next six weeks will go.

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