We are getting closer to the end of our first year of homeschool. I have learned more than thought I would. Such as, teaching on only 3-4 hours average sleep per night is not a good idea, makes me a little less patient and a little more grumpy. Anyways, I’m learning a lot of really good things, too. I’ve learned to pay attention to what the girls are actually interested in. I’ve learned to let go a little more. Starting the day with what we are thankful for puts our focus in the right place. And that diffusing the right blend of essential oils in the room keeps us all calmer.
I never thought I would homeschool. It was a terrifying idea to me. Yet, here I am. And I am willing to continue. Not only continue, but the idea of unschooling is more appealing by the day. I still don’t quite get it, but I’m learning and reading. What matters most to me is that they learn because they want to, that they have the chance to pursue the things that are interesting to them. Because it no longer makes sense to teach a subject for the sake of teaching it. And because they don’t really retain it anyways. We are doing some early state history and my 4th grader is bored out of her mind with it-she hates it, she doesn’t want to learn about Oklahoma. She wants to learn about Africa, Asia and Europe. She wants to be a world traveller. She also has no desire to read the assigned books-they’re not particularly entertaining to her. She likes books that are funny. So, rather than keep forcing her to learn what bores her-I’m letting her set the pace and pick what she prefers. Does is really matter as long as she is reading? I don’t think it does. And honestly the state history of OK is pretty depressing. We had a discussion about Native Americans being forced from their homes and moved to OK. She gets it, that it was political and wrong. She has the makings of an activist. She also wants to learn code, film-making, creating mine craft mods, etc. And she wants to play an instrument. Looks like we’re already on our way to unschool.
This entire year we’ve been connected to an online public charter school. I won’t be using this post to discuss in-depth how arbitrary and unnecessary I think state testing is, but let’s just say I hate it and I’m not doing it again after this year. It’s inefficient and tells me nothing really. Good-bye public education.
Then there’s my 2nd grader. She loves to move. She loves to be read to and her reading skills have really expanded this year. She is interested in aerial dance, horseback riding and wants to play cello. She cannot sit still without her attention totally captured. And as much as I like Oak Meadow’s curriculum that we’ve been using through this charter school-it isn’t quite cutting it. There’s a lot of second-guessing myself, am I making this interesting enough? Are we doing this “right”? I am the student that mastered the school system, but I left it still not knowing what really motivated me, what was interesting to me, what I wanted to do. It took until I was 29/30 to realize that I love science-specifically how the body works and what it needs to really flourish. It fascinates me. I feel like a sponge. I want my girls to have that opportunity now, not when they’re 30. Being well-rounded isn’t necessarily good. Learning to suffer through learning something you don’t care about isn’t really learning. (looks like I’ve talked myself into an unschooled after all)
This year was our first attempt at homeschool. We ended up doing Oak Meadow through an online charter school. I had read in various places that other homeschoolers do not feel that charter schools online are “real” homeschool. I didn’t understand at the time, but I do now. Being tied to the state, having to deal with the stress of testing and the results, and being given extra work on top of what we are already doing is stressful. And it’s not particularly productive. These tests are not an accurate assessment of what my daughter knows. She completely freezes during the tests and loses all ability to comprehend. Her posture changes drastically and she looks so dejected, just from having to answer questions. It doesn’t help that it’s also timed. How ridiculous! Next year we will not be doing the charter school thing-even if it does have perks (like free curriculum and a learning fund to pay for horseback riding lessons). I would rather find a way to come up with the money myself to pay for all of these things than to subject her to this inefficient and inaccurate system of testing. No wonder people get up in arms over education. Thank God we are able to homeschool and she doesn’t have to go to a public school that would focus on testing and where she fits in that system. She doesn’t fit in their system.
This would have never have been a problem if we hadn’t been forced to test out of first grade into second grade simply to get the curriculum that best suited her learning. The first grade testing she flew through and did very well. She felt proud of herself. Now with the second grade testing (which is a very different test than first grade) she acts as though she has somehow failed. I know I am part of that problem as well because I am putting pressure on her to pay attention, click on the right answer and do well. We are now doing practice work that is formatted like the state tests everyday until the next round of testing in April. Oh joy. At least maybe it will help ease the unfamiliarity she faces every time we do a test. Ugh.
I am so over it. It looks like I will be heading down the unschool path. Because I would much rather have her discover which work is meaningful to her and do that. I want her to be free to pursue what she is actually interested in, rather than what a curriculum or state standard tells her is important. That to me is the inefficiency of the educational system in general. A bunch of students learning a lot of things that don’t appear to be relevant. Even in college-how much time/money did I waste taking a bunch of general education classes that had nothing at all to do with my major or my interests. I didn’t discover my true passions until I was nearly 30. I have a business degree, but I could care less about business-in fact, I hate it. It’s mind-numbing to me. But I love nutrition, love health and wellness, love learning about the way the body works together, love discovering natural remedies that strengthen the body and help it to heal. It’s fascinating. The body is so intricate and complex, this whole system working together to keep you alive. I could literally go on and on. That’s what I want for my children-to find what it is that makes them come alive, that captures their personal interest and then to find a way to do it, be it, etc. That is success, that is living life with purpose.
I suppose you could say that this little blog is my outlet for my feelings. I don’t know who to talk to about it sometimes and this is like sending it out into space. (even though I know a few people are reading it)
I had this friend-we grew up together, we were friends, we played legos together when we were little. He was a great guy. Kind of like a brother but not quite. He had a brain aneurism at 19. He was left a totally different person. He was very disabled from it. The last time I saw him was a year after it happened. He has always remained a part of my thoughts. I moved across the country, so visiting wasn’t really something I could do easily. Anyways, I have a dream about him probably once per year where he is himself again and vibrant. The dream always feels so real. A couple nights ago I had another of these dreams. So when I woke up I googled him. Just to see. His obituary was one of the first things that came up in my search. It was in 2010. I had no idea. I didn’t expect it to hit me so hard. I’m happy for him that he is in a place now where he can be free and whole. Very happy for him. But it still feels so sad and so shocking. I think because a part of me deep down always hoped he would one day miraculously recover. And death feels so final. I hate death right now. I’m so done with it. I am sad. heartbroken. not without hope. one day.
Last night my hubs and I got to go out for our anniversary (a month later lol). I’ve been listening to Switchfoot for about 10 years now and somehow had never seen them live. So that is what we did. They were playing at the Brady Theater. Oddly enough there were about 6 protestors outside of the venue. It was quite comical actually.
On the walk past the walk past the line to get my will-call tickets, I noticed how young the majority of the crowd was. Lord help me, they were all about 15. But really? Who cares because I am there to see Switchfoot.
This particular tour, the band is debuting its movie Fading West featuring all new music from their album titled the same. I’ve always loved this band because you can feel the heart in what they sing. It’s been like a running soundtrack for my life since I was 24 (going along with their song 24) Thank you Jenai for introducing me to this band. Well, after watching this film I am proud to be a listener, proud to be a fan, proud that my girls sing their songs in the car. I love them more now than ever.
They came out to play after the intermission. And a lovely woman in the long line at the ladies’ bathroom thought I was having my first (not third) child and figured i was only 25-27. Gotta soak up those moments. She was appropriately shocked to find out that I am actually 34 Anyhow. The show was fabulous. They are just as great in person as on the cd, if not better. They put on a great show in a small venue. But it was so fun. I’m pretty sure I sang my heart out, cried a little and smiled all evening. The hubs is now hooked. Their album is available for preorder on iTunes for a mere $9.99 and 3 of the songs are available now. It’s worth it. Get it. You’ll be glad you did. I’ve been looking up their youtube videos to show the girls all morning. http://www.switchfoot.com
“Will I find the day I die? I wanna hold my head up high. I want to tell you that I tried to live it like a song. When I reach the other side, I want to look you in the eye and know that I’ve arrived in a world where I belong.” (Switchfoot)
And now the real adventure, the real life begins. His story goes on and has no end. There is deepest joy. And happily ever after.
I love you Grandpa Jack.
So I read this book awhile back….Pain and Pretending by Rich Buehler. It is not for the weak constitution. (I’ve also been reading a lot of Jane Austen recently-can you tell?) The book is about exactly what it sounds like-the pain we experience in childhood and the pretending that follows in order for us to survive. One of the things he addresses are memories and how you view your childhood. Some people remember everything rather well-plays almost like a movie in their head, others remember pieces and can tell you but can’t necessarily “see” their memories and then other people have whole sections blacked out. This last group remembers very little…usually in those areas where there was significant pain, they literally cannot remember.
Personally, I’ve always landed in the first group. My childhood plays out like a movie in my head-full color, sound, feelings, etc. It starts around age 3. But there was one section that was black. As if the movie suddenly cut out. And I could not bring up that memory no matter how hard I tried. I never took it seriously or thought of it as significant until I read this book. And then I knew this blank spot held some keys for me in areas that I didn’t understand about myself. I won’t go into what the memory was or what surrounded it. Suffice it to say that it was as significant as my intuition led me to believe. Asking Jesus to help me, desperately, get this memory back has been liberating. I am still in the midst of it, but I guess my reason for sharing is that I know so many of us are walking around with these blank, black gaps in our memories. The mind can be forced to forget in order to survive, but the body never forgets and it will come out in some way or other until faced. If you have these blank memories, I encourage you to get the book. You may not like everything in it, but I assure you the help in those pages is invaluable. If you have a trusted counselor-talk to them about this specifically. Let’s face our black areas, and allow healing to come. Especially as parents. Our children need parents who are whole and not living out a pretend version of ourselves.
Narnia….my daughter requested we start The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. This book is more profound and more heartbreaking to me than any other in the series. Maybe it’s knowing that it’s the very last book and the end. Maybe it’s because of how it ends. Maybe. But really I think it’s this…..the Narnians get taken in. They are completely snowed by Shift the Ape. This particular generation of Narnian creatures have never seen Aslan in person. Most have never seen a regular lion. Not even the king. They doubt the character of the one who sang their world into existence, the one who saved all of Narnia with his very own life. They doubt that he is good, kind, loving, gracious, approachable. They believe that he really is ordering all of these dreadful things to happen-murder of talking trees, selling the beasts into slavery to their enemies, etc. And they believe he is doing it as punishment. A punishment for no apparent crime. That is what breaks my heart. That because they don’t understand his true nature from all of the available stories about their history and are deceived.
But is it the story in and of itself that has me sad? No…it’s that this is our story. Here and now on this earth. We don’t really get the true nature of our God. I think this is especially true of believers. We are quick to accept guilt, punishment, retribution, and evil as being deserved. The best example I can come up with is corporal punishment. Spanking. Many, many evangelical Christian parents believe that God has required that they cause physical harm to their very young children in order for those young children to grow up well and be able to serve God. Hmm. This particular issue is a huge turn-off to many nonbelievers. “Why does your ‘loving God’ demand obedience and beating of children?” Good question. He doesn’t. Not really. Not at all. It’s as outrageous as a donkey parading around in a lion-skin. His character has been distorted, his true nature has been obscured and thus, many are taken in by something that was never intended. Even the stories about “our history” with God have been taken out of context and used for personal gain in some fashion. The scope of how to parent well is to guide them, correct them verbally, give direction, rescue when needed, love and love some more, give grace. I try to imagine Aslan beating one of the Narnians for a mistake. It’s ridiculous. He didn’t even do that to Edmund, who was a traitor for the White Witch. They had a deep conversation about it instead. Did he smack Digory in book 6 for bringing the evil witch to his new world? No, he showed him what he must do to correct the problem. What’s my point? Before we do something in “the name of God” let’s stop and think if this is actually true to his real nature. Is it love without condition? Is it grace when least deserved? Otherwise, let’s own our actions as ours and not blame God for our mistakes. Back to the spanking example-if you want to beat your children in the hopes they will wind up to be wonderful people-own it as your own doing. Not God’s directions.
Time and again I return to this series of books because even after 24 years of reading, I am still learning, still discovering and finding myself in the story. I pray that I will be brave, that I can do the task in front of me well, that I can love to the end, that I will shy away from cynicism.