Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bubble

"No one homeschools in a bubble." I've been reciting this often lately, as we begin to more actively pursue our homeschool life. If I had to take on my children's education solo, if there was no curriculum to support our efforts, if there was no Internet chockfull of brilliant material...well, then I suppose I'd throw up my hands and quit, or I'd run myself into insane circles trying for perfection. Gratefully, in this period of American history, homeschoolers are commonplace. And, we come in all shapes, colors & sizes. We practice a variety of educational modalities, and follow sundry theories & philosophies. There is no homeschooling parent or student cookie cutter, Thank God! And, what I really thank God for is the mavericks & renegades, who chose to do this when no one else would. Because of them, now, no one has to pursue this adventure on his or her own.

Ahhhhhhh. Sweet fellowship. Sweet community!

We are still in the Getting To Know You stages with a couple groups--one that meets weekly at our church and one that is forming in our town. I am also planning to attend some open house meetings for a certain curricular style, Classical Conversations, in February & March.

The beauty of small groups is the ability to bounce ideas off of others, to develop mentor relationships with experienced parents (I've met several who have chosen this path for over a decade, already), and to crash in desperation when necessary, so that others can encourage you along the way.

This is not heroics. It is not bravery. It is just a parenting model & choice that I feel driven towards. I am compelled. I am convicted. I am convinced.

When I consider putting Logan in a classroom environment, now, with his peers, I feel anxious, because he is ably reading better than our seven-year-old neighbor. He glides across the pages of Level Two books, meant for 1st & 2nd graders. I am looking, always, for ways to continue stimulating his linguistic mind. How could he have the sort of Language Arts attention he needs right now in a public school setting?

I do not mean disrespect to public schools--please understand! I have so many friends who are formal educators in public, private & university levels, and I give them massive kudos! The work is sometimes almost impossible for them, even as they sweat blood to give their all. I have had friends whose careers have almost been destroyed by PS hoodlums, by false accusations, by unsupportive "support" teams and leadership. It is not the fault of the public school system...it is the fault of all the parents who do not send their children to school prepared to be decent citizens!

My child is not ready, himself, to be a decent citizen. We have had such major behavioral issues with him this year--I am concerned that if I let him go into a 20+ student classroom with 1 1/2 teachers, he'd be the boy acting out, causing trouble & pushing kids on the playground. NOT because he is a bully, but because he needs regular intellectual challenges & gets a bit wild when he's..."bored." This is why we play Battleship, already. This is why we play chess. This is why he can get on the phone with my mom (his "Namma") for over an hour to create a lengthy story full of inconceivable detail! As a creative, spacial, linguistically gifted kid, he is also a tough nut to crack, and hard to keep up with.

So, I often find myself wiped out. You've seen it here; it's evident at my sister site, Maddening Mom Fusings. But, in partnership with other homeschoolers (especially those who are trying to raise their children with Judeo-Christian ethics!), even my rough days ahead will be supported.

CAUTIONS FOR ME:
1) Let go of more. Don't be so serious all the time.
2) Let him be a BOY, which includes rough-housing, even if it means he might get hurt. Don't be a helicopter mom. Once, Logan said to me, "Just let me be, Mom." I know what he means. I need to let go of my big time CONTROL issues!!
3) Keep to a schedule that includes purposed stimulation of the kids' brains. Today we enjoyed writing the letters (caps & l.c.) A, B, C & D and the numbers 1 & 2. It was great, even though he was wiggly. He did very well. Tomorrow, E, F & G and the numbers 3 & 4. He can write when he wants to, but I would like him to have this skill, and to connect the importance of writing to reading...and to writing bigger things, not just letters, words, sentences or paragraphs, but jokes, fables, stories...NOVELS!! Oh. Wait a minute... #4...
4) Don't jump ahead. Take each day one-at-a-time. Observe where each child is NOW, what they CAN do, and what they ought to do, and invest in THAT. Do not create a future in my mind for either of them. One wise homeshooling mom (JM) advised me that I don't have to consider homeschooling my highschooler right now. I am homeschooling an almost-five-year-old. Stay on that task for now.
5) Always ask for help when it is needed.
6) Include dh in all our plans--he does want to help decide on curriculum & schedules. He has great contributions!
7) LISTEN...to other moms, to my mom, to my husband, to my children...and, especially, to the LORD, who will guide me along the way.
8) Breathe. A woman at church taught me the most unbelievable breathing exercise last week. She testified to having attended a women's conference where the ladies stood on the edge of a cliff with the instruction to speak the name of Yahweh the way the Hebrews did of old--not by speaking His holy name, at all, but by breathing it. Yahhhhhh on the inhale, and Waaaaay on the exhale. It is powerful, deep, and chilling. It is magnificent, and puts me in my place! Oh, Yes! My Lord, my God. My creator! I MUST breathe in you, and exhale me.
9) Stay organized.
10) Allow chaos. I know--those two things seemingly contradict one another, but in an otherwise ORGANIZED environment, there is room for chaos. There is room for creativity! I remember in art school learning that creativity isn't the ability to do whatever you want to whenever you want to. Anyone can do that. Creativity is finding ways to do what you want to within preset limitations. It is the old adage, "Necessity is the mother of invention." Only when a boundary is in place can we play and learn safely, and push against that boundary to test its viability. Oh, Logan is good at that testing part, but I need to be consistent with the rules laid out. For example, if we do not put the Play-Doh away with tight tops every time, and clean our tools after painting, then we will have hard, salty Play-Doh and crusty, unusable brushes. These are guidelines, like the lines on his penmanship paper, this morning. Sure, you can write the five letters of your name in a circle, if you like, but it might not be legible to others. So, we do have rules in life that help us all understand each other. Rules like punctuation. Spelling. Bedtimes.

Speaking of...it is 11:54 & I am trying to diligently maintain my own midnight bedtime so that I can rise with my husband (that is, before the children) and go running while he reads the news and eats his breakfast. It's the beginning of my commitment to run a marathon by 2010. So, I have to sign off now! But, I just wanted to dump these thoughts quickly. What do you think about them? I'm sure there are many more cautions I need to maintain and review for myself...I'll keep adding.

11:56. Enough time to post this FYI:
A brief but intelligent talk at TED about not hovering over our children.



Thanks to KC for sharing it!

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