One of my friends has been a teacher for several years and (in my opinion) is very educated on teaching and educating young children. She was telling me the philosophy she believes in which is that children learn best when they're learning through play. I wholeheartedly believe in that too. When learning becomes a chore, task or something that's just plain annoying, it becomes just that and it seems that the children just "turn off." My friend mentioned that you never get this time back when your children are little - they have the rest of their lives to learn and study but they're only little once. Sound advice. She also gave me some ideas of games to play with him to reinforce different things like learning his letter sounds and developing his fine motor skills.
I regularly read Amy from Raising Arrow's blog and figured she would probably have some good idea on homeschooling and she does! It sounds like, according to this blog post, that she did the same thing I did: "I began homeschooling when my oldest was 4 1/2. I sat him down at the table with a long and involved (and rather teacher-intensive, I might add) curriculum and purposed to teach him to read within 2 months or else. We made every craft, took every field trip, and read every book that curriculum suggested. By the end of the year, he was reading and I was exhausted." That sounds very familiar to what I've been doing! She goes on to talk about how they've changed their styles with their children and how they learn through every day living, which is similar to another good blog I read - The Happy Housewife's blog: "Learning and living go hand and hand. I often time think we, as homeschoolers, spend way too much time using curriculum when our children are little. I truly believe you don’t need to purchase a thing for your younger students. Children learn best by doing and they can learn so much from you! Read books, play games, cook, clean, take walks, live life!"
As much as I've read up on homeschooling, you would think that I'd be more prepared to change and adapt but I haven't been doing a very good job. I was frustrated that the "plan" I made wasn't working and that my son and I were both getting irritated with each other. So starting today, I'm taking more of relaxed approach and trying out some different homeschooling ideas. That's not to say that I'm just not going to teach him some of that "harder stuff" we were struggling with, I'm just going to find different ways to go about it - and be more relaxed when things don't go just as I'd planned.
Update - December 2010: We couldn't be happier! Since we started a less restrictive/more focused on play curriculum, things have been TONS better. I wrote an update about it here.