Posted in Family, Homeschooling

The Strength to Educate Bravely

This is not a sponsored post, I did not get paid to read this book or review it, and if you go buy this book I will not see a dime of it.

My current “I’m going to start a book club!” Inspiration

But I strongly recommend all homeschoolers to read Julie Bogart’s “The Brave Learner”.

Spoiler – The Brave Learner is not the homeschooled child. It is you. The parent. But now that all disclaimers are out of the way, I’ll proceed.

In my last post I shared how I learned this school year that I needed to let go of my kid’s education. And how they actually did BETTER being educated by others than in my homeschool environment.

In all transparency, this was a huge blow to my ego! I mean, I had homeschooled them for 6 years! How could they turn on me like that? And what would that say to the other 60 students I’m offering classes to!? I felt like a failure all school year – doomed because my kids weren’t progressing the first semester now that Mom was distracted with “part-time” work, doomed because I had to outsource and pay for their education at the hands of other teachers who were clearly better at this than me.

A Happy Curriculum Fair Goer

That’s probably the Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria aspect of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder speaking. But it was still there.

The turn around point from defeat to surrender was at the IDEA Curriculum Fair when I listened to Julie Bogart. She shared how her kids loved playing video games (and I felt a little less guilty) and how she played Yu-Gi-Oh cards with her sons for years (and I felt a little more validated). By all accounts I felt like we were in the same boat – so why did I feel like a failure while she is a renowned author and speaker?

But she encouraged me with a monumental truth I can’t help but share with everyone I know – a truth I’m not plagiarizing but making my own:

If I want my kids to be sincerely happy with this very different (and valuable) form of education, I need to let go of the type of education that makes ME happy and surrender to the life that makes THEM happy.

Today’s Brave Learning involved meeting up to play Dungeons and Dragons with other kids….

This next school year, my kids didn’t ask me to enroll them in public school or a charter school. And they didn’t ask me to enroll them in the same classes where I work. But they did ask me for real opportunities to work independently.

They want to do math online, specifically with Time 4 Learning. They loved their preview videos and felt like they would enjoy their time doing math in this manner. I wanted to enroll them with the fabulous math teachers I work with.

They want to do Oak Meadow textbooks for middle school, working at their own pace off one book (primarily) because Sonlight was “killing their love for reading”. I have mostly happy memories of teaching with Sonlight, and they loved the books! But they resented me for pressuring them to read the books as a part of their curriculum instead of allowing them to read it out of curiosity and enjoyment.

They have no choice with band. I paid $1700 for their instruments. They are stuck doing band till they get married!

My older two won’t even be in the classes I teach. They were more interested in the Oak Meadow materials than the subjects I would’ve covered next school year. I did not take this personally at all because at this point of the conversation, I saw the sparkle in their eyes as they ‘Ooohed’ and ‘aaaaahed’ over the textbooks that Oak Meadow brought to the convention. They are excited for next school year… I’ve homeschooled the past 6 years waiting for this moment of independent learning.

The time has come. I’m no longer the leader in my kid’s education.

Now my job is to be strong enough in my love for them to support them no matter what they choose, and to be brave enough to go on this journey being led by them (and not the other way around).

Posted in Family, Homeschooling

The Courage to Let Go

I’m super thankful to the charter school I homeschool my children through, Interior Distance Education of Alaska, which is different than the program I normally teach for.

Why aren’t my children students with the program I mostly work for? Because we started our homeschooling journey with IDEA long before I even thought of AK Exploring Studies. They are family!

My youngest LOVES WORKBOOKS and his pets.

IDEA puts on a curriculum fair every year for all homeschoolers in the area (more than one, across different cities, to be precise). It’s an opportunity to hear good speakers, and browse a whole convention’s worth of curriculum vendors. I love looking at stuff with my own eyes before considering what we are going to do next school year! There are also “fun” vendors like the Anchorage Museum, Barnes and Noble, or Classic Toys, which are a must-stop-at for my kids.

As a bonus, because I’m an IDEA family I can complete purchase orders at this fair for ALL THE SUPPLIES I WANT for the following school year. Some vendors will ship it to me in July (and most of them had free shipping as part of their deal), and some vendors give you a bag of stuff (like the vendors I bought Legos, or microscopes from). That means IDEA pays for it, I make a purchasing choice, I don’t spend any money out of pocket. We even walked out with three new iPads!

But for as long as I’ve homeschooled my kids it’s all been about ME. How I was going to teach. What I was going to use. I took into consideration my kid’s learning style, but I went with what I thought was fun or interesting.

He actually won money at his science fair project… Which to this day I do not understand.

Imagine my shock when my kids asked me – no, begged me – for text books. WHAT?! You mean you don’t love my Charlotte Mason/Classical/Unschooling approach?!? You didn’t enjoy all the wonderful readers I got from Sonlight?!? And all the projects from Moving Beyond The Page?!?!

And I guess this was the lesson for the school year: It’s time for me to let go. When I felt like I was hitting a wall with my kids and sacrificing their education at the altar of my new business venture teaching OTHER PEOPLE’S KIDS, I had to enroll them with teachers and place them in a classroom (GASP!) where they had to do homework (GAG!) and even work out of textbooks (DEATH!).

But you know what? They thrived. More so than they had with me.

My daughter is my Pokemon Go buddy.

My youngest went from refusing to read or write to reading Robinson Crusoe, memorizing poetry and Latin, and diagramming sentences. My middle child went from refusing to learn her time tables at 5th grade to passing her math class at the very top, doing division and fractions like a boss and teaching others! My oldest wrote more essays (and learned to write better) the second half of the year than all the fussing and nagging I did would’ve ever accomplished.

So the first thing I learned at this year’s fair is that if I want my kids to enjoy their educational experience, it HAS TO BE THEIR educational experience. It is time for me to let go. And I did…

Posted in In The Classroom

My Report Card

I just finished grades for all of my students. And I asked my older students to grade me in return. After all, this was my first year teaching in this capacity! I want to do the students justice.

I taught Ancient History for kids from 5th through 8th grade. Started the year with 60 students, ended the year with about 55 – many students drop out half way through the year, specially if they do winter sports. My 7th and 8th grade classes together had 30 students strong all year round.

This is what they said:

These were the topics I covered through out the school year. And Australia.

I had fun teaching about the Romans because you can do so much! We did a day in the life of a Roman and really dove in to the different Roman classes… and played Mafia.

And well, for Vikings I dressed up, and we did lap books and Kahoots, so they liked that.

It’s hard to allow for conversations and keep the conversations on-topic. Rabbit trails are a struggle!

Actually, Kahoots was the biggest hit in my class with a 91% approval rate. By the students, at least. I’m not entirely sure the other teachers were happy with the amount of cheering and hollering that happened in this friendly competition. Another thing that had high approval was what I called “laugh therapy”, where I showed a funny video the first 10 minutes of class (helping with transition). My Role-Playing-Game (which I made up all by myself and brought dice and everything, playing out an Ancient Greece scenario), Florence CSI (I borrowed this from Mr. Roughton because I came across it just before teaching about the Renaissance, and it was brilliant!), and Extra History videos were a hit too.

No one hated what they were learning in my class, so I think this was good!

But not everything was roses. I had a lot of disciplinary struggles too. I have a hard time balancing the classroom, and I mentioned some of my thoughts on this “Unsent letter” to the class.

I don’t handle conflict very well and I honestly don’t know what to do with students who don’t want to participate in my class. I work for homeschoolers so the classes are ultimately, completely voluntary. That’s the reason why I don’t work for the public school system. My erroneous expectation was that every student was going to be there, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to learn. I never imagined I’d have students absolutely refusing to cooperate, participate, or heck even stay in the classroom during class hours. And then what do I do? Chase them down? Beg? Threaten? Bribe? How is it my responsibility to make kids care about their grade?

Obviously the kids who struggled with classroom behavior did not complete my report card.

Well, I’m trying not to take that to heart. I’m looking at resources to read over the summer in hopes that it improves next school year. My old biology teacher when I was in High School shared the same frustration with students in a High School HONORS class – and he’s got decades of experience! So if it happens to the best of teachers, I’m sure it happens to teachers like me.

Overall, it was all good notes, and lots of heart-warming comments I’m holding close to the chest. Next school year is bringing a world of changes, but it will all be for the best!

Posted in In The Classroom

An Unsent Letter To My Students

Things I’ve wanted to tell my students, but I bit my tongue instead:

I have never been so amazed at the wonders of God seeing sooo many unique individuals – even among families! Every individual child brings something new to the classroom and is irreplaceable.

A Greek Temple made out of Legos, recreating the scene from Hercules. By an 8th grader.

Your brain works in ways I couldn’t ever predict – and it’s brilliant!

I consider it a privilege to teach the smart kids in my class. I don’t take credit for their intelligence or pat myself on the back when they do a good job. I feel honored to have had their attention and their efforts instead.

I go home and cry when I’m blown off. I take it personally even when I know better! I know that a teacher can only do so much and a student’s behavior is a reflection of their attitude… And yet, I can’t help but beat myself up for not doing better.

If I did my job better would you be a better student?

I despise homework and busy work. I wish my classroom could be a Socratic environment where we all learn from discussion, sitting there talking about big ideas. However, without assignments many might like being in my class was a waste of their time. And they wouldn’t have work samples to turn in to their contact teachers.

Most of the time, I’m just happy you are here! My satisfaction comes from seeing the gears in your head turning as you learn something new.

Some of my 7th Graders

I love how opinionated you are. And passionate. It’s a breath of fresh air to see you have such big thoughts about our world, and it’s welcome in my classroom.

I think you are too young for social media, and trust me – you don’t need that kind of negativity and comparison trap in your life.

I don’t really care how well you read or write. I do care whether or not you put any effort into my class. If you show me you care, you will not fail my class. No way, no how.

I make a lot of mistakes. I have struggled with ADHD and Dyscalculia all of my life. I forget things, confuse things, mix up things quite often. And I freeze under any kind of confrontation. But because I care about you, I stay up often hoping I didn’t let you down.

Some students have to work twice as hard to produce the same results as others.

I hope I made a positive impact in your life some how. That you will move on to High School and then as an adult, remember your middle school years and remember me with good memories.

Posted in Family

Aloooooha!

We used our Spring Break to go to Oahu, Hawai’i.

Oahu, Hawai’i

This was such a big deal for our family. We had NEVER experienced a family vacation before. We had some memorable camping trips, but never traveled out of state all five of us for FUN.

The kids had been asking me to go to Hawai’i for a while, since we learned about the 50 States. I had told them they needed to learn how to swim. And they did. I was overdue in keeping my word!

We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the income that AK Exploring Studies provides. Through it we paid for everything and took this vacation DEBT FREE. No worries on the way there, no worries on the way back. This truly helped it to be a family vacation we’ll never forget because my husband and I were so relaxed, I think the kids got to enjoy a different version of us than the ones they get at home.

Teaching the kids what waves are good for!

We stayed in Waikiki, near the beach. We had plenty of days just walking to the shoreline to get all salty and sandy. We discovered a beach we liked just a little south, called Kapi’olani Regional Park and did some boogie boarding there.

But the home educator mom in me couldn’t just … beach lounge… so we did a lot of learning activities too. Like the Waikiki Aquarium, on a “rest day”.

Caleb was fascinated with their resident Monk Seal.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is the highlight of our entire trip there. A must go. We pulled out all the stops and paid for an “Ambassador Prime Rib Buffet” deal. Every show and attraction was phenomenal and my kids loved every “island” we visited (well, it didn’t look like Caleb enjoyed it, but that’s only because of sensory issues. Nothing the Center could’ve done; it was hot, and he’s Alaskan, he didn’t like it. He recalls only wonderful things from there!). The event that made the price totally worth it (more than half a crab and prime rib buffet dinner) was the Ha’ Breath of Life show. It moved me to tears. Like, I know you don’t want to fall into tourist traps where you wonder “Is this really worth the money?” so I’m here to tell you: YES! For two reasons: 1) You will never be able to “island hop” and get to know so many DIFFERENT Polynesian cultures for this price and 2) Every performer and employee is a foreign exchange student from the Island they represent. Your admission helps house and feed them while they attend school in Hawai’i in hopes of bettering their home.

We also did a whale watching and snorkeling tour. Go figure it was the only day that it was windy and rainy. The choppy waves led to some serious nausea and had I not been so sea sick I probably would’ve totally enjoyed their kalua pig buffet style lunch and four complimentary alcoholic drinks. They did, however, let us take home left overs and their food, microwaved a day later, was amazing.

The whales we got to see and the snorkeling experience made the experience worth it. Take it from someone who grew up snorkeling off the coast of Florida… It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

And it gave me the bug to snorkel some more (and take my poor husband on an enjoyable, definitely shark free trip) so we went on a date (that’s right! Kids stayed in the hotel!) to Hanauma Bay. This is the place to see fish if you are afraid to swim. You can literally see the fish from the sand. Find a spot that is knee deep and put on your snorkel – you will see very colorful fish and it will make it all worth your while.

More importantly, it was 9 days of no nagging, chores, homework, or grading. Literally no worries. A lot of snuggling, Pokemon Go, and sun burning. We met up with a church that meets at the beach called the Waikiki Beach Gathering thanks to Instagram and Hashtags and we worshiped together at the park that Sunday.

And I realize now that we need a God-ordained “Family Retreat” more often than we’ve done. Certainly can’t wait another 14 years of marriage to do that again. Probably won’t be able to go annually like my kids are asking. To be honest, I can’t wait to go back!

Posted in In The Classroom

Dress Up is The New Cosplay

Every time our organization does a costume themed day, I always challenge my students to take it one step further and make it a HISTORY day.

6th Grade

That’s right. Cosplay is no longer reserved for geeks at Comicon. I think this is a creative and expressive way to learn material! And in some places it’s the fabric of their culture. In Virginia there are civil war battlefields that do cosplay re-enactments with brilliant actors. In Hawai’i, the Polynesian Cultural Center is basically 80 Islands coming together to cosplay for tourists, using the funds to help foreign exchange students get a college education.

So the first day we had was “Dress Like a Book Character Day” in October, and all my students participated though not all were historical characters (although the T-Rex certainly argued that he was!). I had been teaching a lot about Egypt so I dressed as an Egyptian goddess and so did my daughter, but we never agreed on exactly which one we were dressed as. My oldest son was a Roman soldier and my youngest was a WWII Infantry soldier.

My Oldest, Anakin

Then we had crazy hair day in February. This was a chance to do cosplay only from the neck up. I had the 5th and 6th graders create laurels to wear for Ancient Greek Olympics Day which happened to coincide with Crazy Hair Day. End result is we wore laurels over our crazy hair while playing olympic games (the original pentathlon) and performing puppet Greek Drama.

Funny story: I decided to go “Viking” because that’s what we were learning in our 7-8th grade classes and I did my hair very braided and blonde (I was a brunette at the start of the school year)… And then felt like I couldn’t stop. Maybe I had seen enough of Lagertha on the History Channel to feel all brave and what not, but I decided to see what all I could do with black and gray smokey eye shadow, red lip stain, and my imagination. I did the fiercest warrior face and then completed it with bruising and bleeding because no legit shield maiden would look “pretty” after battle.

Well, can’t say I look a LOT better on regular days…

Problem was I scared a lot of younger students. Poor kids. And some parents were concerned about what kind of institution their kids were going to.

My class had fun with it. The older kids definitely got it.

Next problem was that I was so tired by the end of class I forgot what my face looked like. Ran to McDonald’s to buy something quick to drink, and then decided to be all healthy and ran to Carr’s for ingredients for dinner (instead of making McD’s dinner). I thought I was looked at a little weird by the people at the cash registers, but didn’t even realize what I had done until AFTER I got home, started my instant pot, took a nap, and woke up to a truckload of make up on my pillow.

And all the while, my children giggled hysterically.

Posted in Homeschooling

I love/hate Alaska

Confession: I am South American.  I don’t do winter sports.  And I was raised swimming outdoors in ocean water every weekend.  As a result, Alaska isn’t “natural” for me.

img_1670I have this love/hate relationship with Alaska, as I think most people do who weren’t born and raised here.  It’s definitely not a ‘meh’ state.  It’s always going big or going home, in everything from sunlight (and lack thereof) to snow.  Winters are long and hard on my joints.  Summers are short and sunny even during midnight.  It’s very extreme.

And very beautiful.

One of the reasons why we have stayed as long as we have (and plan on staying) is the way homeschooling has just opened up doors for our family.  We have a family we could have never imagined.  We live in a way that feels almost fairy tale like.  And I’m so thankful!

img_1674Just a few Sundays ago we went on a homeschool fieldtrip organized by our charter school.  Drove three hours one way to sit on a boat for 5 hours, and do marine biology lessons and experiments.  And whale watching.  And sea lion watching.  And glacier watching.

It’s the part of Alaska you fall in love with, the views that leave you breathless.  The smell of rain and pine trees that I’m sure I would never smell in any other place.  It’s the big ocean and the big mountains all in one panoramic view.

Then there’s an almost unbelievable amount of homeschooling support in this state that has afforded us to be here.  Paid for by their school (and not my pocket).  Learning about our ecosystem and being surrounded by kids just as interested and curious as my children.

img_1688My children (and I) learned:

  • Alaska (south of the Arctic circle) is indeed a rainforest.
  • We are so rich in phytoplankton that it is visible in our waters from outer space.
  • Alaska is the final frontier to many species of pelagic birds – birds that can swim and fly.  These birds have dense bones to help them really fly underwater but can still get airborne.
  • Marine mammals have had multiple adaptations which help them survive in these cold waters.
  • The tail of a humpback whale is worked by a muscle called a peduncle.  It is so powerful that in two swipes it will get a whale completely out of the water and into the air.  That’s 66,000 lbs!
  • Otters have such lose fur that they can literally grab their back, bring it in front of them for grooming, and put it back.

img_1690My kids got to look at and identify plankton under a microscope that they caught in the bay.  And they learned a lot about how unique our state is, the state I’m learning to fall in love with after all these years.

We also went outside and learned how to spot humpback whales by watching the patterns of the birds that feed around them.  We came to understand their behavior and know when they were going to dive for a long time.

How many people in the world could honestly say they’ve seen a humpback whale?

We also spotted sea lions resting on rocks to conserve their energy.  And so many birds.

img_1730I can get tired of the long, dark winters… but I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of exploring the beauties of this place with my children and seeing the wonder in their eyes.  When you are in front of such big wildlife, you are more aware of how small you are in comparison to the rest of creation – and more in awe that God loves you THAT much.

 

Posted in Family

My Hero Academia

Confession: I grew up with Anime (dubbed into Spanish. Yikes) and with few exceptions, I wasn’t really a fan. 

** Disclaimer: None of these images are mine.  I don’t draw that well. I don’t own them nor do I have the copyrights to them.**

heidiI was four years old when I watched my first anime, “Heidi” – yes, based on the novel of the Swedish orphan?  That was like my soap opera.  And I grew up with cousins that were really into Dragonball Z, and Sailor Moon, and I preferred Dragonball.  And then there was the Pokemon craze which I lost interest in after Pokemon #152.

My husband and kids are more into it than I am.  Once Dragonball Super finished my kids were looking into all the wonderful possibilities (and some of them were even dubbed in English!). I got involved to step up my parental controls.

Out of left field comes an anime that inspires us, makes us laugh, keeps us hanging at the edge of our seat!  I geek out over My Hero Academia, but I’m going to give you the parental review and not from a fandom perspective.

master

The premise is that humanity has evolved where 80% of the population has meta-powers or “quirks” (not all that different from Marvel or DC comics).  This has changed regulations and laws as villains arose that could do things which had never been done before.  Because the police is maintaining it’s integrity in handling suspects, “Heroes” have stepped in and used their quirk to help apprehend (and that’s the key) villains and save mankind from the catastrophes that this ensues.

kachanEnter Izuku Midoria, a young boy in middle school.  In a world where he is bullied by kids with amazing superhuman abilities, he has none.  Completely quirkless.  But all he has ever dreamed of being is a hero like All-Might, the man he looks up to.

In a chance encounter Izuku meets All-Might and impresses him with his hero potential, not in his physical ability but in the condition of his heart, which gets Izuku a quirk and the best mentor in the hero world – and admission to the elite high school where super heroes are trained.  Here Izuku needs to learn not only how to use his quirk power but also the power in himself to be a hero by doing the right thing.

all mightThree seasons into it we are waiting for every episode.  I love and have had MULTIPLE devotions where we parallel Scripture to what we see!  As we see qualities in Izuku that Christ Himself has shown us to be the supreme example of (sacrifice, love, and compassion) we can’t help but cheer him on.  Along him come a whole crew of characters who are also navigating this personal growth and you can’t help but fall in love with them.  It is very well written!

studentsI personally LOVE how male to female relationships among high-schoolers are portrayed.  There’s a lot of respect, it’s innocent, and not dating centered –  as it should be.  There is the exception in one of the characters but it’s painfully obvious how this one dude is not with the program and when he’s inappropriate, it’s not funny.  It’s frowned upon.  Overall you see a crowd of peers that learn to work together the way I would hope my kids work with other kids at that age.  In the midst of teenagers, hormones, and crushes it’s very refreshing to see a series where boys and girls develop healthy, normal friendships.

That being said, there are some themes that may cause you to pass on this or watch episodes ahead and see if it’s for your child.  Although in my opinion, it’s not all that different than watching The Flash on the CW and definitely WORLDS better than anything on Cartoon Network, so here we go:
– Some females are overly sexualized in their costumes.  It was a character development decision that was thought through and justified (the way you would justify a woman in a bathing suit because she swims, but really wouldn’t expect her in a bikini top at school).
– In season 2, they get into the back story of one character that features an abusive father and the trauma that it brings about in his mother, which may be a bit too dark for younger kids.
– The villains are scary.  Scary the way Killgrave was scary in Jessica Jones; not because they’re monsters but because they are psychopaths.
– Season 3 episode 2 is not for kids.

Overall, I would say it’s for kids 10 and up with some episodes skipped, but with open communication I know of kids as young as 4 watching it with their parents.  And I think that’s what matters the most, to be honest.  What kind of dialogue do you have with your kids on the things they are watching?

Posted in Faith, Fitness

Do The Hard Things

Confession: It’s been really nice being on summer break.  I’ve had three days of uninterrupted, unlimited Bible study.  And snuggles.  And coffee that is still hot when I drink it!

img_1785
This is my runfie.  This is the hot mess I look like running 2 miles in 50F.

I finished calculating grades and putting together progress reports on Monday and since then I feel like I have nothing to do.  Everything for AK Exploring Studies is submitted and I’m just waiting on the Anchorage School District to get back to me.  There is nothing left for me to do but wait and rest and recover.

And in all this resting, my Bible reading and my devotionals have all been revolving around one common theme: Do the hard thing.

It doesn’t take a neurologist to see that we are creatures of habit (ok, maybe it actually does, but just follow me here for a moment).  We will always do that which we have always done – we will react the same way we reacted last time, we will drive down the same routes we drove down yesterday…  And this is what makes weight loss so painfully difficult!  If you crave salt and vinegar chips when you are stressed and you give in today, you will crave and possibly give in tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that.

Which is why Paul the apostle told us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to win the prize.  Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything.  However they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away.

Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air.  Instead I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

img_1452
My daughter did a triathlon and I did the run part with her AND my youngest.

Bringing your body under strict control is not fun.  It’s hard.  But it’s the hard things that lead to the life God really envisioned for you!  We weren’t created to cruise on autopilot until we reach eternity.  We are told to do this life as if we were in the Olympics, going for the gold.  What does that look like?

  • Reading your Bible before reading your Facebook feed.
  • Putting away all the electronics and playing a board game with your kids.
  • Fasting and praying through decisions instead of making them on a whim.
  • Eating the handful of snap peas instead of the chocolate chip cookies.
  • Going for a run when you’d rather watch TV all day.
  • Listening to your spouse with the intention of understanding, instead of thinking of what you are going to respond because you are angry.
  • Working with your kid on a chore and guiding him until he gets it instead of just taking over and doing it yourself.
  • Bathing your own dog instead of paying someone else to do it when the money is tight.
  • Cutting out foods from your diet that cause inflammation if you are struggling with auto-immune issues!
  • Cutting cable when funds are tight or the family is on a spiritual low.

The hard things are not fun things.  But they are good things.  We know that doing the hard things now will plant seeds of victory that we will harvest later in the future.

img_1652My husband just went back to school.  He was faced with two options: Be a 40 year old C.M.A. or a 40 year old P.A.  It will take him that long to get there anyways and the time will pass either way.  But his career may be completely different if we all choose to do the hard thing now.

The good thing is that the hard things become easy things once they are a habit.  The tough part is making the decision to do it.  After doing it enough times, it won’t be an active decision to wrestle with any more, it will be a normal part of your life.  And that’s where it gets awesome!  Your mind, body and soul will be that much in tune with making the right choice the more we consistently do so when it is the hardest.

IMG_1052.jpg

Posted in Homeschooling

Learning That Looks Different

I can imagine that to outsiders looking in, my Instagram feed looks strange.  What we consider homeschooling doesn’t look like schooling at all.  Where are the text books? Where are the worksheets?  And how is going to the gun range “schooling” at all?

The whole gun range rant is for another post.

But in essence, the truth is: If I wanted to recreate “school” at home I may as well send them to school and save me the trouble.

If “school” was producing such great results, with amazing prodigies in science, sports, and art, our education would rank higher than that of other countries, and our college graduates a much more formidable force in the competitive labor market across the world.  But it doesn’t.

I’m not saying that there aren’t children who do absolutely amazing in public school – because there are.  However, I would argue that succeeding at Public School is not necessarily equivalent with being a successful individual.

So in my personal experience, I need to determine what would my child look like as a successful individual, and work my way backwards from there.  And here is my flow chart:

  1. Being uninhibited in kindness and compassion is a big priority for my children.  They are very tenderhearted, and I don’t want them to be “toughened up” by bullying.  I don’t want them to learn through peer influence and unsupervised socialization to be callous, or rude.  As a result, at this time public school is not the best choice for them.
  2. My kids are argumentative and struggle with submitting to authority.  There is (believe it or  not) a benefit to this: they don’t accept any information at face value.  Everything is questioned, researched, debated… from a history lesson to the chore of washing dishes.  If I want the learning to be meaningful, they would benefit best from a Socratic approach to learning.  And that’s just not a style of learning in most public or private schools.
  3. Creativity helps my children de-stress.  It’s also how they express themselves.  I’m sure there may be a charter school that would allow them to turn in their report in Manga form *somewhere*, but I haven’t found it.
  4. There are learning disabilities to consider!  My kids aren’t behind as a result of ADHD but I also know that the way I work with them at home has helped them to not be handicapped by this condition.  They can stand on their heads, pace back and forth, bounce a ball, and overall wiggle their way through all their learning assignments without being reprimanded for the inconvenience it would cause to the class.  Homeschooling for the win!
  5. A strong family unit is by far the most influential and beneficial factor I could give my children.  I don’t know whether they’ll be doctors or game programmers, but I know that they will grow up and be in relationships, get married and have children of their own (possibly).  And regardless of what they do as a profession, they need to learn how to love their children and their spouses.  Research shows they learn that from experiencing it at home, and I don’t think a few hours around the dinner table is enough.

Am I a helicopter parent? A little bit.  But there is science to back up that a happy heart leads to a smarter mind.  Looking at each child as a unique individual and helping them feel joyful means that they will retain more of what they learn and *gasp* develop a LOVE for learning.  Not learning for passing the test sake.  Not learning for passing the class sake.  Learning because knowledge is worth acquiring.

This is why homeschooling looks different in every home, and it varies within the home from school year to school year.  It’s fluid and organic as the students themselves.  And it will provide very different results from what you might have experienced in other children.  That’s the point.