Tag Archives: childhood

Homeschool Adventures

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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.

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Memories are a funny thing…

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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.

The one about backgrounds…

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This one will be rather different than most of my posts. This one has been in my heart and mind for weeks, if not months. This one needed the space to become. (both girls are asleep-hencce the space)

I got myself in some pretty hot water on facebook last summer. I’ve been on a 3-year journey of learning what it really means to parent and how that looks for my family. It’s been a very eye-opening journey, in which I’ve faced not only myself, but certain aspects of how I was raised. The hot water? I no longer support spanking as an appropriate parenting tool. And I’ve been vocal about it. Extremely vocal. Nearly lost a few friends in the process. (I have since learned not to argue when I am stressed-as in trying to close on our new home while our oldest has chicken pox stress).

Here’s the thing about my newfound stance….which I haven’t been asked about, but am going to share in the hopes of clarification. I am acutely aware of how being spanked has impacted me. It hasn’t always been so, but once you are aware, there’s really no going back. Spanking was used as the go-to method of discipline at our house. My parents were pastors at the time and were pretty sure that spanking was very biblical and God-intended. Each one was the same ritual. Let me be very clear about this-my parents did not yell, did not appear angry, never threatened, and were not “abusive”. I was told that for disobeying I would get a spanking. We would go into my room, read Ephesians 6:1 and then my mom (usually) would hit me on the behind 3-4 times. I would cry, she would hold me, ask if I understood, we would pray and I never did that particular thing again. Success right? I mean, I was a model teen. I never got into trouble, didn’t date much, went on missions, was active in my youth group, loved going to church, went to a christian college, etc. No. Not success. Not.at.all.

Why not? Underneath it all, I was angry. Very angry. And never felt like I had my own voice, that I could do anything other than what I was told to do. This idea, that I had to be told what to do, had to obey….it permeated my entire life. I wanted God to tell me what to do do about everything-afraid that if I simply chose what I wanted to do, it would be wrong and I would then experience pain. I hate pain. For a very long time I didn’t understand this about myself. I hated being angry. I did all the right things in hopes to never get hurt. Because, like it or not, that is the message spanking sends to children-“If you are good and you do the right thing, you won’t get hurt”

It’s a lie. I got my heart broken in college and something switched off inside of me and I went wild. I did as much “bad” as I felt I could get away with and not entirely hate myself. It lasted about a year. I was so angry that I had been “good” and still was hurt. I remember thinking to myself, “what’s the point if things are just going to suck anyway?” I’ve grown a good deal since then, but it was so unnecessary to begin with. And the anger. The anger has hurt. My oldest-now 6-told me yesterday “Mom you’re not really a grumpy-pants anymore.” It felt bittersweet. The good being that I have grown and am not walking around angry underneath it all, but bitter because I was for the first 4 years of her life. It’s not fair-being so authoritative and controlling hurts beyond childhood. It has crept into my own adult life, my parenting, my children. So, it stops with me. Violence begets violence in one way or another and you may not see it for years to come, but it will come. You may never recognize it for what it is, but it’s there. Telling children how to feel, how to be, what to say, when to say it, how to say it, etc….this communicates to your child that they are not important. That who they are, their opinions, feelings, thoughts, wants, etc do not matter. That they do.not.matter. I know that this is not what any decent parent wants to communicate to their kids, but inadvertently it’s happening. That is why I am vocal about gentler, kinder ways to parent. And it works. I’ve seen parents at my daughter’s school who respect their children, treat them with kindness, reason with them, talk about things and are appropriate in their responses to “disobedience”. And you know, those are great kids. Treating children as people doesn’t mean you don’t have limits and you let them run wild all over the place. It means you learn how to model those limits yourself and treat them how you would want to be treated. It means you aren’t mean or unfair. It means you suck it up and apologize when you blow it. And apologize without excuses or blaming. There are people who have gotten on my case for my opposition to spanking, etc that I have heard refer to their kids as a “jerk”, “pain in the butt” and plenty of sighs of disgust. That is completely unacceptable. These kids are under 5. And it wasn’t in the heat of the moment-this was the general attitude.

My aunt and I were able to spend some time together last month and she told me “it’s all about choices. You either choose to walk down the same path or you choose to be better, choose to be different.” She’s 100 percent right. I’m choosing to be better, I’m not going to repeat the same path that I had, I will do better by my girls.

For those of you who know my children…..no they are not the most mannerly, respectful kids. They don’t go to bed at the 7 pm, they pick out their own outrageous outfits, they don’t eat at the table every night, they interrupt sometimes, they freely will tell you their opinion. But you know what? They are free to be themselves and they love fully, they care deeply about others, they know how to play and laugh, they are joyful and most important-they are themselves. They are allowed to live, to be alive and be free to be who they are. Those other things? They aren’t very important to me, so I don’t set those limits. And that’s ok. If it is important to you as a parent-set the limit, but do it with courtesy and respect. Do it with love and have the decency to explain why. And for goodness’ sake, do it yourself. If you want your children to be respectful and use manners, you had damn well better be using those same things WITH your kids. If you want them to do something-follow it with a please. If you want them to treat you respectfully in their speech-you better be respectful to them in yours. It is not ok to intimidate your children into “behaving”-that makes you a bully. It is not ok to threaten to get your own way-that makes you a bully, a selfish bully.

Some of us will probably never see eye to eye on this, but at least you know where I am coming from. That style of parenting has hurt me far more than it helped me. I am dealing with the repercussions far into my 30s and it didn’t have to be that way. Let your children be who they are, let them play, let them be kids. Get down and play with them. Laugh more.