Explaining the Hard Things

A couple weeks ago, five police officers were killed in the line of duty, in one night, in one city.  It was the most deadly day for emergency responders since 9/11.

It rocked Dallas.  It rocked the U.S.

The shootings were senseless.  These police officers were targeted and shot because a deranged man didn’t like their color and blamed them for things that were not their fault.

Like so many other events recently, this is a national tragedy.  Flags outside fly at half-staff, as they should, to honor these men.

I knew my kids would see the flags, and as they always do, ask me why they were flying half-staff.  They’ve asked me that far too often lately, much more than they should have to.

So, I decided to sit down and talk with them.  All of them, even the littlest ones.  Because this time, it feels different.  This time, it’s going to really affect them, though probably not right away.  But it will, and I wanted them to be prepared.

Sometimes it’s really difficult to talk to our kids about the things happening in the world.  And sometimes, I want to ignore it, and hope they don’t notice or hear about it.  Sometimes I want to grab them up and hold them and shield them from all the bad all around.  Because, sometimes, oftentimes, it seems as though they are being bombarded.

How do we talk to them about these things?  Well, there are several articles out there on how to talk to kids about disasters and tragedies.  There are segments on popular news shows with psychological experts teaching parents what to say and do.  But I chose to ignore them all.  I chose to be thoughtful and prayerful and listen to my instincts and the promptings I received.

We all sat down at the table and through tears, I explained the facts of what had happened.  I gave the back story about how two men had been shot earlier in the week by police officers, and the two men happened to be black.  I explained that in Dallas a group called Black Lives Matter was protesting those shootings and how they felt that the police unfairly target and mistreat blacks.  I also told them I didn’t know if that was true or not.  I explained that there was a man who purposefully targeted white police officers and shot and killed them from a near by building.  But, I also explained that earlier that day, the protesters and the police were getting along so well that they actually posed for pictures together.  I told them this man said he wasn’t part of that group.  Those are the facts.

As I talked to them, we discussed the differing view points on the situation in our country.  And, I freely admitted that I just don’t know the truth about everything, because it’s hard to find truth when “facts” are presented in such biased ways.  I told them there are good people, on all sides of this issue.  I tried to explain why certain groups of people feel the way they do, and tried to help them to understand.  I explained that, while there are some bad ones, as in any group, most police officers are good people, who risk their lives every single day to protect us.  I told them that these police officers leave their families every day, not knowing if they will return home that night.  And, I told them how grateful I am to have these men and women out there protecting me.

We talked about some of the issues causing contention and problems in the world today.  And I told them the answers to these things are not going to be found in Washington, D.C., or with any politician.  The answers to these things are going to be found within all of us.  If we treat people better, we can make our little part of the world better.  I admonished them to serve and love each other, and their neighbors and friends and our community.  I also talked to them about race, and I explained that the racial divide in this country is worse than it’s ever been in my life.  I talked to them about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wish that one day we would all be judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.  I told them how important it was to be good to people, no matter their color, race, religion, gender, because we are all children of God.  And isn’t that what matters?  The reason I wanted to talk to my children about this is because I want them to understand that we must be the good the world needs.  And if we do that, it spreads.  Kindness is contagious.  And while I don’t expect us to change the world, I know we can make a difference in our corner of it, and I believe it’s our responsibility to do so.  The only way to combat darkness is with light.  And the only way we are going to be able to combat the evils of this world is with goodness.  If we are the good we want to see in the world, we will be that light.  And that’s what I told my children.  Be kind.  Be understanding.  Love each other.  Be the good in the world.

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Broken Children and A New Blog Name

I think I broke my kids…

Let me explain.

Years ago, I was inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s letter to his nephew in which he said,

Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.

So, with this in mind, I’ve taught my kids to question.  To question everything.  Question what they are told by my husband and myself, by their church leaders, by other parents, by everyone.  I even want them to question themselves.  Why?  Not because I want them to be annoying or contradictory or cynical, but because I want them to be independent thinking people.  I want them to be able to really critically think about, and understand, the world around them.  I want them to question things because questions lead to answers and discovering those answers plants them firmly inside of you.  I want my children to know exactly who they are, what they think, what they believe, and why.  I want to be able to sent my children out into the world as leaders, not followers.  I want them blazing the trails for others to follow.  When we question things, and earnestly seek answers, we find truth and we set our convictions.  The journey of discovering the answers is what forms the foundation upon which we stand our entire lives.

Sometimes, when we get stuck in the “things to do” of everyday life, we forget to take time to ask questions.  We take what we hear or see at face value and don’t delve deeper.  Perhaps we set it on a little shelf in our brain, thinking we’ll come back to it later, except we never do.  When we let life get in the way of living, we loose our way.  And sometimes, our foundation gets a bit shaky.

This coming school year will make 9 years that we’ve been doing this homeschool thing.  I cannot believe that.  We’ve had good times.  We’ve had some amazing activities and learning and discovery.  I’ve watched with joy when one of my kids reads a word for the first time or figures out the answer to something they’ve worked hard on.  I’ve It’s been one heck of a journey, and one that I’m so incredibly grateful to still be on.  But I’m going to tell you a secret.  Sometimes, it’s just hard.  Sometimes, I worry that my kids won’t know everything they are supposed to.  Sometimes, they don’t want to do the work.  Sometimes, they just don’t want to learn.  But this is life.  The good and the bad.  Opposition in all things.

Sometimes all the doubts and naysayers get to us, homeschool moms.  Sometimes, it’s hard to shut that out.  Sometimes we feel constrained to “school” our children the same way as the system we are keeping our kids out of.  Sometimes we forget that we know our children better than anyone, including how they learn and what they like to learn.  This is the trap I fell into, and I didn’t even realize it.  And oh, the lost time!

The doubts took over.  My foundation was being shaken.  We got this “great curriculum.”  I was certain that would curtail all those doubts.  And we trudged through.  It wasn’t fun.  No one like it, except for small amounts.  When I said it was time for school, I heard moans and groans and complaints.  My oldest adopted the attitude that if he just hurried up and did it, it would be done and out of the way.  This was not how homeschooling was supposed to be.  My foundation shook more.  But still the doubts persisted in my mind.  So we kept going.  I let “school” get in the way of our education, and no one was happy with the situation.  As I began to lesson plan a several weeks ago, I had a nagging feeling it wasn’t right.  And I recognized it, but didn’t know what to do about it.  How was I supposed to fix it?  After all, the HAVE to learn all these things….right?

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.                              ~Albert Einstein

It was then I realized I had sucked all the joy out of learning.  All the questions and curiosity were gone.  Well, not all, but most.  We were just “getting through” the lessons, but not really learning.  That’s when I realized I had broken my children.

The fun loving and adventure and curiosity and questioning was sucked right out of them.  In their place, we had mundane, forced fact learning.  Not cool.  I missed all their questions and curiosity and wonder.  And now, I knew, I had to do something.

See, not only was my foundation shaking, it was crumbling right out from underneath me.  In doing “school,” I lost my passion, as well.  I lost part of myself when I didn’t stay true to what I knew was best.  So, I prayed.  And I studied.  And I prayed.  And I followed promptings I received.  I became determined to turn things around.  Not only did I need to fix my foundation, but my children’s as well.  I realized I needed to do what I should have done all along, but never really allowed myself to do.

There were a lot of things that led me to where I am, and each could be a post in and of itself.  Suffice it to say, I know what we need to do.  First, simplify.  I realized I had over complicated things, in so many ways.  It’s time to streamline and keep it simple.  Second, I need to let the children lead.  That’s what I’ve always want to do.  I’m going to let them explore their interests and questions and curiosities.  That’s it.  That’s what I need to do.  I need to allow the fun and creativity back.

We will be following the Volume 2 of The Story of the World.  This is all about the Middle Ages.  This was the perfect thing to start with because there is just so much to do with that time period.  We’ll start going through that and delving deeper into it.  Everything should stem off that.  I’ll present things in a more project/activity based way.  We’ll have books about things we read about.  We’ll have art projects relating to it.  We can study the Renaissance, and the Dark Ages.  European nobility and the Japanese Samurai.  Scientific revolution and the Catholic Reformation.  And the art.  Oh the art!  And the literature! Shakespeare anyone?  Yes, please!  There is so much there!

And that is what we will be doing.  Like a big unit study, except the kids get to choose their interests.  And, we won’t be constrained by set topics and projects and activities.  I have one daughter that wants to grow up to be Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Perhaps she’ll choose to learn about how peasants farmed.  And maybe that will lead to learning about how farming has changed over the centuries.  And perhaps that will turn into learning about how farm equipment works now.  And that could turn into studying gears and motors and torque.  Bam!  History, science, and agriculture – just like that.  Perhaps my son, who has already studied Shakespeare some, will read Romeo and Juliet.  And that could lead to a discussion on feuds.  And perhaps we’ll look at some famous feuds throughout history.  That could very possibly lead us to the Wild West and a very famous gun fight.  And he might wonder what kind of guns they had.  That could easily lead to learning about the evolution of weaponry, which brings us right back to history.  Or maybe he’ll read Romeo and Juliet and want to read more Shakespeare.  Maybe he’ll wonder what the real Globe theater looked like and what performances during Shakespeare’s time were like.  Perhaps he’ll learn about how the pronunciation of the words has changed over 4oo years and how that has changed the meaning of some parts of Shakespeare’s plays.  Maybe we’ll learn about how languages evolve and how some share common roots.  Maybe we trace those roots back to their geographic origin.  See?  They’ll learn all the subjects, just in a better, more inviting and intreaguing way.

But what about math?!

Ah, good question.  We got rid of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad textbooks.  Instead, we got some interactive math programs that are done all on the computer.  And guess what?  I have kids asking to do math.  Yeah, that’s right.  They want to do their math, because its much more fun.  And when it’s more fun, they learn more, because they actually want to learn.

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And I’ve realized my job is not to throw information at them.  It’s to help lead them along the way.  As I lead and guide my children, we will walk together down a new, less traveled road.  And thew will truly learn to not only enjoy the journey, but they will learn to love learning.  When they love to learn, they will become lifelong learners.  That, after all, is the goal.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
                    ~Robert Frost

 

Imagination

I run a Frontier Girls troop (think Boy Scouting for girls), and last night I was working on planning out our new year.  One of the badges they can get is for writing.  I happen to know a published author and asked her if she’d be willing to come tell the girls about what she does and maybe help them to get excited about writing.  I added in that I really want to help them be excited about something that they probably think of as boring, because too often school and homework suck the fun out of it.  She agreed.

I hate that.

I hate that the fun and joy of learning get sucked away because of lesson plans and tests and 30 kids in one classroom.

I hate that kids in public school are generally trained to think only inside the box and when they don’t fit in the factory mold they are labeled, disciplined, and all too often, brushed aside.

I hate that kids, who are naturally curious and adventurous and playful are denied the opportunity to learn that way.

I could go on, but I won’t.  You get the idea I’m sure.

You know what I love?  Imagination.  Imagination is the guiding force behind everything that’s ever been invented.  Imagination created Mickey Mouse and Disneyland, even when people thought Walt Disney was crazy.  Imagination led Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum to carve Mt. Rushmore.  Imagination tells us Where the Sidewalk Ends and leads Winnie the Pooh up a honey tree and tells us of the best of times and the worst of times.  Imagination put man on the moon and a telescope in orbit around earth that can see 14 billion light years away.  Imagination rocks.  It’s the best things we humans have.  And I can’t stand when it’s squashed and belittled and ruined, usually by adults.

In our house, in our school, we do imagination.  Why?  Because the world was built by imagination!  Someone dreamed up the Burj Khalifa and the Sydney Opera House.  Someone imagined a technology where they whole world would be available at the click of a mouse.  People imagined living in a land that was free of tyranny and oppression.

Of course not all things dreamed up in imagination are huge towers or the internet or a giant carving of presidents’ faces.  Most imagination takes place on a smaller level.  Did you ever pretend your couch was a fort?  Or throw a blanket over your dining room table and suddenly you were in a cave exploring?  I’ve watched my kids battle pirates, fly around with fairies, be crowned kings and queens, and fight dragons.  I’ve seen them fly airplanes and spaceships, transform into dinosaurs and puppies, and travel back in time to be present at the birth of the Savior.  They’ve been NFL quarterbacks, performers at Carnegie Hall, and win gold at the Olympics.

I’ve also watched them light up with wonder reading about Middle Earth, roll in hysterical laughter imagining eating ice cream at Bleezer’s Ice Cream store,  and try to figure out how Pooh Bear could have avoided getting stuck in Rabbit’s hole.

Imagination is a magical thing.  It opens doors to, well, everything.

Sometimes, imagination helps us do hard things.  My boys, and a friend of their’s who lives behind us, imagined there was an easier way to pass things back and forth over our wall.  So, they built a really cool bucket and pulley system.  Works like a champ.  All of my kids have been part of an amazing art class, and subsequent gallery showings.  They each imagined up their own works of art, which were auctioned off for a scholarship fund.  Generally, I’ve found, if my kids imagine something up, they can, and often do, make it happen.

Sometimes, imagination is just silly.  And that’s a good thing.  When you give kids the opportunity to be silly using their imagination, it gives them confidence to do more.  Plus, they learn to laugh at themselves and not to be serious all the time.

Imagination lets you:

Create art

Create art

Build towers

Build towers

Make fairy houses

Make fairy houses

Create landforms out of dough

Create land forms out of dough

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Dance around and have fun

Dance around and have fun

Climb on a horse

Climb on a horse

Put together your own Magic the Gathering tournament

Put together your own Magic the Gathering tournament

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Build awesome forts (For reference, that is my then 11 year old stand up inside the fort, poking his head out.)

Build awesome forts
(For reference, that is my then 11 year old stand up inside the fort, poking his head out.)

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Just be awesome in your cloaks

Just be awesome in your cloaks

Have Spiderman and Pony eggs (Because it looks like webs with the melted cheese.  Pony, well, my two year old loves My Little Pony, and so for her, they are Pony eggs.)

Have Spiderman and Pony eggs
(Because it looks like webs with the melted cheese. Pony, well, my two year old loves My Little Pony, and so for her, they are Pony eggs.)

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Squeal for joy trying not to get caught by the parachute

Squeal for joy trying not to get caught by the parachute

See if you can get all your coins to stand on their side

See if you can get all your coins to stand on their side

Have your own family version of the Chopped show

Have your own family version of the Chopped show 

See how many blocks you can balance on your head

See how many blocks you can balance on your head

Build a crayon creation

Build a crayon creation

Make a regular old toy sword aweome

Make a regular old toy sword awesome

Come up with a way to make a swing for your baby sister

Come up with a way to make a swing for your baby sister

Create a Tree of Gondor snowflake (And Star Wars snowflakes and Star Trek Snowflakes)

Create a Tree of Gondor snowflake
(And Star Wars snowflakes and Star Trek Snowflakes)

Imagination, pass it on…

I Wanna Talk About Me….

This.  This is what happens when you have six kids you homeschool, plus a church calling, plus run a scouting troop, plus, you know, life.  Three months in between posts!  Aye yi yi!

It’s been a great three months, but it’s also been very busy.  LOTS of happenings and fun stuff.  And, much to share.

Let me start with this one.

My oldest and I were asked to be on a local radio talk show to discuss homeschooling.  I was pretty nervous about it.  Not because I ever have a problem sharing my thoughts (just ask anyone who knows me), but because it was totally new to me.  It turned out to be a great experience!

We first got a little tour of the building.  There are several stations operating out of there, so it was pretty amazing to see everything and learn about some of the technical stuff.  The woman handling all the technical stuff was awesome and answered our many questions.  The hosts of the show were amazing too!

Then, the show started and the interview began.  Started off a little shaky, but ended up great!  (At least I think so.)  The show was an hour long, and I really wish we would have had more time.  I discovered I really LOVED doing it and especially loved discussing what we do for homeschooling.  I felt like there was so much more I wanted to talk about.  But that’s ok.  It was really fun and I think a valuable experience for both my son and me.

You can hear the show here.

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With the Leavitts, the hosts of the show.

With the Leavitts, the hosts of the show.

Back to School….Or Not Back to School….

THAT is the question.  🙂

In the homeschool world, it’s pretty popular to do NOT back to school activities when the public schools begin their school year.  For some, its a way of having a fun thing for their kids who aren’t taking part in all of the “back to school” hoopla.  For us, I suppose it’s our way of celebrating our choice to not conform.  Our choice to say, “We are not going to be part of that.  We are going to do things better, for our family.  We are going to be different and different is great!”  Or something like that.  Regardless of the reasoning, it’s usually a time for fun and silliness and laughter before we get down to the actual learning of stuff.

I had grand plans for our not back to school day this year.  (This is the first day of school in public school.)  But tummy troubles put the kibosh on those.  So, we stuck around the house instead.  Which turned out to be a great thing.  We had a wonderful, care-free time.  Lots of smiles.  And lots of my most favorite sound on this earth- my kids laughing.  (Honestly, is there any sound better than the sound of your children laughing?  I think not.)  We played in the water of the hose and made rainbows on the street.  We ate popsicles (because it’s still so dang hot here).   And, we received a great new toy, which pretty much consumed the whole afternoon.  It was fantastic!

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Sometimes, the thing to do is just to play in water and look at weird bugs.

Sometimes, the thing to do is just to play in water and look at weird bugs.

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Free 3-in-1 activity table, thanks to an old friend.  So much fun!

Free 3-in-1 activity table, thanks to an old friend. So much fun!

I think sometimes it’s better when the “plans” don’t work out.

Now, the next day, we did get back to “school.”  But it was good.  And I felt good about it.  And the kids did great.  I normally school all through the summer (because its so freaking hot during the summer here), but this year I needed some time to sort of regroup and change things a bit.  With a son who is SO ready for high school level course work, I really had to step back and plan a bit differently than in previous years.  The break was good for everyone.  I was a bit concerned about starting up again and hitting some resistance, but it really wasn’t there.  Hooray for that victory!

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Yes, we were back to school, but we needed some recess time.  :)

Yes, we were back to school, but we needed some recess time. 🙂

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There's learning to be done, too!

There’s learning to be done, too!

This first week back to doing school was probably one of the craziest weeks we’ve ever had (due to some outside, completely unrelated to school circumstances), but it was also one of the absolute best!  I think we are all feeling refreshed and excited.  We are finally settling into a routine that actually works well, and that has made a HUGE difference!

And can I just say, I am so dang excited for this year!  We’ve got a great co-op that we are a part of, which offers classes for the 8-12 year olds once a week.  This year I’m teaching Nevada History.  (Last year I did astronomy.  I’m so glad these wonderful ladies utilize my nerdiness!)  My oldest is going to be part of a different co-op this year, where he will be studying Shakespeare and being part of a Shakespearean play.  This is great for him in so many ways.  Mostly I’m happy that it will be with older kids, more his age.  Plus, we have karate, Boy Scouts, Quest Club, Frontier Girls, Activity Days, and fun activities with our friends.  (Remind me again about how homeschooled kids aren’t socialized….)  In addition to all the activities, we are going to be doing some great stuff academically too.  It’s exciting, and challenging, having a child who is ready to do really advanced work (and who wants to do advanced work).  He would be in 8th grade in public school.  But, in some areas, he’s moved past that level.  So, I have him doing two high school level classes.  Additionally, he’s at a level where he’s really able to have real adult conversations.  It’s a really exciting and fun time.  Challenging, to be sure.  But it’s going to be AWESOME!  I’m also super excited about my next youngest son.  We are utilizing the Scouting program in our homeschool.  (In case I’ve not mentioned it like a million times, I LOVE scouting.  LOVE!)  He’s going to be working on the science merit badges for his science program this year.  It’s so much fun!  He did decide to start with Nuclear Science, which is really ambitious, but so far it’s been great!  And he’s so engaged this way!  We’ve had some trouble with him being able to focus on his work the last few years.  But I’ve discovered the simplest way to help him with that, too.  Things are exciting for the girls too!  They are both so enthusiastic about learning and discovering new things.  And they are moving into a new stage of learning.  It’s so fun to watch them grow.

No doubt there will be struggles along the way.  But I’ve got a really positive attitude, which is trying very hard to be very contagious to everyone in the family.

We started the year off right, with blessings for all the kids (yes, even those who aren’t old enough for school yet – homeschooling affects the entire family), as well as myself.  I’m really hopeful and enthusiastic about things this year.

Yay for learning, in all it’s stages!

Simplicity

I had a bit of an epiphany over the last couple weeks.  I’ve been thinking about curriculum and planning for the school year a year from now.  (I’m a planner, at least in this area.)  And as I’ve been planning, I’ve been reevaluating what we are currently doing.  I think it’s important to do that.  Because what works at one point in time may not work for another.  And that’s the case I’m finding myself in.

It all started when we finished US history.  (More on that later.)  What were we going to do next?  Ahhh!  “Worry not!” I thought.  I had done plenty of research and found great world geography books.  I wanted a book to follow so we could stay more on course.  I got a great book for my little ones.  But I still needed to order the book for my big boys.  But money was tight at the time and I decided to wait.  SO glad I did.  In looking through the book for my littler kids, I discovered it covers pretty much everything I want my big boys to know, just not in near as much detail.  But details are easy to add in, right?  We’ve got the Google.  🙂

So I decided to just use the one book for everyone and then add in more for the big kids.  And when I figured that out, it was like a little light bulb went off in my head (and heart) and I realized I’d been over complicating things.  There’s really no need for that.  And I felt deeply impressed to keep things simple.

I wrote a few months ago about my hunt for a science curriculum.  Super happy with the physical science book we got.  We needed some equipment for some labs, though, so I got online to order it.  As is usually the case when shopping on Amazon, I got sidetracked by some of the other awesome science stuff they have and started feeling a bit nostalgic for my science classes.  Then it hit me, and I felt a little giddy.  (Yes, I get giddy over science stuff.  I’m ok with that.)  I remembered this book we had in our physics class in high school (still to this day one of my favorite classes ever).  And so I looked it up and sure enough it was available.  But then, down at the bottom, I saw there were more in that series.  You cannot even imagine the excitement inside of me!  Seriously.

I ordered the physics and chemistry books.  Then waited very impatiently for them to arrive.  When they came, I showed them to my oldest, who promptly walked off with them.

There's more where these came from, too.  Calculus, economics, statistics, even history.

There’s more where these came from, too. Calculus, economics, statistics, even history.

I’d been trying to figure out how to integrate the physical science book and the new cartoon science books, when I realized that I didn’t actually have to.  My oldest loves these comic strip cartoon science lessons.  So why not make those his science books??  Because really, does it matter which book they learn out of?  Does it matter if the information is presented as cartoons or plain text?  Isn’t the point to learn and understand (and hopefully like) the material?  Yes, it is.

So, why not?  And the physical science book is a perfect reference.

What a feeling of relief that has settled over me the last few weeks as I’ve discovered being simple!  I think often as moms, especially homeschooling moms, we second (and third and fourth and…) guess ourselves, and we really, really don’t need to.  IT DOESN’T ALL HAVE TO BE PERFECT.  (That was more for me right there, than you.)  And we don’t have to have all the answers.  We worry so much about making sure the kids turn out alright, that we get lost.  I realized that really, the kids are doing just fine.  Learning a ton, even when we’re not “doing school.”  They are curious and adventurous and constantly seeking out knowledge.  I LOVE THAT!  That’s what it’s really all about.  A love of learning doesn’t come from a textbook or a stressed out mom.  But it comes from deep inside of each of us, and if we foster it, we will be way better that just alright.

So How’s That Homeschool Thing Working Out??

I get that question from one relative a lot.  It’s annoying.

I’m part of several homeschooling groups on Facebook, and I’ve seen more and more people post about how to deal with the opposition they get to homeschooling.  My first thought is not one that is very lady like.  My second is to tell them to go mind their own business.  But I know for some it’s not that simple.  (It should be, but it’s not.)  And all these people have what they believe are fantastic arguments about why they are opposed to homeschooling.  Most of the tired worn out arguments are about how if a child is homeschooled they will become social misfits and inept to handle the “real world.”  Probably the second most tired worn out argument is how children can’t possibly receive a proper education from mom and/or dad (insert grandparent, aunt, uncle, whatever) because they don’t have a degree in education and the child will fall way behind.  There’s a fantastic blog post that has been circulating the internet over the last few days responding to some anti-homeschool arguments.  And you should definitely read it!!  But I’d like to take a few minutes and address this stuff, because it has been bothering me a bit lately.

First, socialization.  Blech!  Can’t we think of anything better here??  I mean really.  Have you people actually LOOKED at the world today??  There’s a little saying I saw a while back, “I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my child!”  Yeah, pretty much.  This argument was well refuted in the aforementioned blog post from Matt Walsh.  My children don’t need that kind of socialization.  My kids however, interact with all age groups, act politely to adults, say yes ma’am and yes sir, act responsibly, think outside the box, still have a sense of wonder and adventure and use their imagination, have shown tremendous leadership skills, ask questions to actually find something out, are curious, can play with kids much older and younger than them, and can carry on full and meaningful conversations with adults.  And, I’m often complemented on their behavior.  But they aren’t socialized properly…

Yeah, I’m good with that.  I don’t want my children to be like the kids I see that are disrespectful, bully, spend all their free time attached to their phone, know all about the latest pop star, but nothing about an actual star in the sky.  I don’t want my kids to worry about if they are cool or wearing the right clothes or fit in with the in crowd.   My kids are very comfortable with who they are.  And they are confident.  Don’t see that too much in kids.  But they are missing out on the social things…

Well, yeah, I guess so.  I suppose they are missing out on all the best gossip and latest tweets (did I mention they aren’t on Facebook or Twitter?).  They do miss out on bullying other kids (or being bullied).  They miss out on that ever so great 20 minute lunch time where they would get to “play” with their friends (as long as their friends are in their class or grade or have the same lunch period).  They miss out on sitting in a classroom for several hours a day with no breaks.  They miss out on learning the art of hand raising to alert everyone as to the condition of their bladder, or hydration situation, or to even ask a question.  Yup, they miss out…

To be fair, there are some things in public school that my kids won’t be part of.  We don’t do big science fairs.  But we do have super fun science activities.  We won’t have a prom or other school dances.  But they will have dances through our church and even if they didn’t, school dances don’t make it worth it to send my kids to public school.  We don’t have sports teams.  But they can join sports teams (and choirs and bands and orchestras) at our local school, if they wanted to.  Or they can do other activities, like Karate (which we love).  1198

Here's my boys getting their latest belt advancement.

Here’s my boys getting their latest belt advancement.

And I’d also like to mention that most homeschool children don’t spend their time locked away at home.  There are so many different activities and co-ops and classes that we often find ourselves having to cut back on those things.  And, those activities are with other children, too.  Children of all ages.  You know, for “socializing”… or something like that.

As for academics, let me start by saying I’ve never been trained to be a teacher.  I’ve also never been trained to be a mom.  Or a chef.  Or a housekeeper.  Or a chauffeur.  Or a gardener.  Or a beautician.  Or a librarian.  Yet, here I am, a mom.  And I do all those things.  But since I’ve not gone taken out heavy student loans and gone to school for education, I shouldn’t teach, right?  Yeah, I don’t even begin to accept that.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m not discounting those who are teachers.  One of my nearest and dearest friends is a first grade teacher (she also is the same friend who brought ME a treat during teacher appreciation week, so I’d feel appreciated).  I have a lot of respect for GOOD teachers.  But let’s face it, even the best teachers don’t know your children like you do.  I know my children best.  I know how they learn best.  I know how they tick.  I know what gets them excited about learning and what shuts them down.  I know how to bring out the best in each of them.  I know how to foster their interests and enhance their learning.  No college degree will tell me those things.  That comes from taking the time to really get to know my children.

Of course I don’t know everything.  I’m constantly reading to learn more.  I’m always seeking more knowledge.  And sometimes the kids ask me questions I don’t know the answers to.  But that’s ok.  We look it up.  Together.  We research things.  Sometimes I teach them, and sometimes we learn together.  And sometimes there are even subjects I’m not very good at teaching.  For me, that ‘s language arts.  I’m good at it, but not good at teaching it.  But that’s ok.  I have a friend who loves it and works with my kids.  We work together.  It’s a nice little community thing.

Another thing about the academics.  We don’t take standardized tests.  No CRT’s, no ITSB or ITED, none of that.  So that means we study what we need to study, what I feel is important for them to be successful adults.  (And filling in bubbles on a scan tron  is not part of that.)  I don’t teach my kids to a test.  I teach them valuable and useful information, and we work on mastery.  So if they get something quickly, we move on.  If they need more time, they get it.  That’s the beauty of homeschooling.  Teaching to the individual.  My children are not parts going through a factory.  They are individuals and need to be treated as such.  It’s a fantastic thing!

See, I’m just not convinced public schools prepare children for their future very well.  When was the last time you went into work and the boss segregated you and your co-workers by age?  Anyone?  I thought not.  When was the last time you tried to do something at work, and failed miserably, but got a promotion anyway because the boss didn’t want to hurt your feelings?  Again, I thought not.

And for the last 30 years, homeschooled children out perform their public school peers, both in academics and socially, by a large margin.  There are several studies showing that.  Several.

And I won’t even get started on how several colleges actually seek out homeschoolers…

For some people, public school is the best choice for their family.  For some, it’s simply not.  For us, homeschooling has been one of the greatest blessings ever!  It’s hard sometimes; there’s no denying that.  But it’s oh so worth it!  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

So can we please be respectful here?  And by all means stop asking “how that homeschool thing is working.”

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