Oh my gosh! School is almost out. We homeschool and I am so happy to not have to think about any type of instruction for the next few months. This is our second year and it’s better than last year. But I have this nagging feeling it could be better or that maybe I’m doing it wrong. We started out with an online public charter school-learning fund anyone? But the added pressure of being ready for state testing and assessment every quarter was too much. This year we did it again and added a once/week homeschool co-op. Because I am a glutton for punishment and need to bite off more than I can actually handle. So I’m looking forward to a break and next year. Because next year we aren’t doing the online thing and we aren’t doing any extra groups. Thank you Jesus. They will be busy doing violin and aerial silks to help them be around other kids. I am also going to lazily start my 4 year old in Oak Meadow preK. Just to help keep her entertained since her favorite playmate is starting full-time preK in the fall and they won’t see each other as much.
I have this daughter. She is the most loving person I know. She insists on loving people, on believing the best about them. Even when they hurt her, she is quick to forgive, quick to want to give the benefit of the doubt. I’m learning a lot from her. What I find intriguing is that she is not like this to a fault. She is no doormat and she is learning to stand up for herself. I watch her and am fascinated by the way she will set aside her own preference to allow another to have theirs. I used to think this sort of thing was a weakness. I used to see it as a bad character trait-a pushover. But in truth, she is not a pushover. She has her priorities in line. She knows it’s better to love, to give, to help, to share. She knows that a mistake is just that. It’s a mistake and not the truth of a person, their heart.
I, on the other hand, am the complete opposite. In meeting people, I am simply waiting for the novelty to wear off, for people to show their true selves. And a mistake is the first sign of “Oh I see-this is the real you.” I am not generally disposed to seeing the best in others, to loving despite injury. It’s takes a lot of effort to not write people off. There is this one person who, through repeated injury, I had basically put in a box with a “crazy, do not trust label.” But recently I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I see much more good. There’s a generosity and overall good-natured quality that exists. So, I’m learning to be willing to hold off judgement, to trust God with my heart so that I can love more freely. My daughter is a walking example. We help each other that way-I help her not get taken in and she helps me see the true, the good.
I just want to write. I have been reading Glennon Melton and Anne Lamott and Brene Brown lately. There are all of these thoughts, musings, wonderings swirling around in my brain that I need to get onto paper….well, the screen I guess. It’s not really paper anymore is it? I digress. There is this creative urge to make something of value-even if it’s only to me. Something that says-Yes! I made that. I wrote that. Here is a part of me. For the time being I will just do it-even if it means I’m writing for 5 minutes a day. Just to do it.
At the moment, Anne Lamott is my new favorite. I went to see her in public once. I hadn’t read a thing she’d written, but my best friend insisted we go because Anne is amazing. So, I went having no idea what to expect. I laugh now. She was passing out anti-Bush number stickers. And I really don’t remember anything else. That was over 10 years ago. For Christmas this year I received 2 of her books. Small Victories and Help, Thanks, Wow. I have been missing out. The latter book perfectly captures how I’ve been feeling about prayer since having children. I don’t have much more than those 3 words, but they succinctly capture what I’m trying to say. The first book-Small Victories-has me thinking a lot.
I am currently at the end of my 3rd pregnancy. I’m not being induced or having a scheduled c-section. What does that mean? It means I get to wait. Wait until it’s time. And waiting is harder than I realized. I’ve been impatient, tried to control the process, doing natural “induction” methods. But at the end of the day I get to wait until baby is ready. And I want him to come when ready, because it’s better for him. Living in the in-between is challenging. I know that he has to come out at some point in the very near future, but I do not know which day that is. Will he come at night? In the morning? Will it be fast or slow? This waiting lesson applies to so much of life. There are so many things out of our control. And things we must wait for. How well do we wait? What does waiting bring out in us? Are we able to stay peaceful and sit in the middle of the unknown? Knowing that something will happen. Some days I wait better than others. Some days I am ok giving up control and just going with whatever my body is or isn’t doing. And some days I get so fed up and want to cry. Especially when I get asked repeatedly when the baby is coming. I don’t know-my belly is not a crystal ball and no one wants him out more than I do. Trust me. I am ready to be done with heartburn and insomnia. And yet at the same time I know he’s doing well inside and is thriving. But there comes a point when it’s no longer an adequate space for him. Living in constant expectation is a bit draining. So I keep cleaning the house (much to the delight of my husband). I don’t really know what else to do with myself. I think today I will get the girls outside and enjoy the spring weather. Maybe go buy some chicken feed and strawberry plants. Something. Anything to distract me :) And then you will all hear from me when this sweet child makes an appearance.
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.