I started this blog mostly as a way to let interested family members know what was up with our family. At the time we were on a different continent and it made sense.
At various times it has been used as different “platforms” (i.e. a “soapbox”, a “look-at-us-aren’t-we wonderful”, a homeschooler’s aide, a gripe box, etc.)
By the way, the community needs to determine if “homeschool” should be one word or two, because I’m getting a mite bit tired of spell check telling me I’m wrong. And, honestly, how can a community be taken seriously if they can’t determine that singular thing. Oooh, squirrel!
Yesterday I was pondering if I even wanted to continue to write a blog and if so to what purpose.
I haven’t yet figured out “to what purpose”, but I do believe I would like to continue. It seems to help me focus.
To that end, yesterday was sheer “pandilerium”! (Which I’m pretty sure is a made up word, courtesy of my husband, but which suits perfectly.) My head was completely out of any game what-so-ever and nothing I did could bring it back. But, just as I was drifting off to sleep, something popped in my head that I wanted to share.
What Homeschooling Has Taught Me (thusfar)
- Patience is not merely a virtueOnce upon a time a long, long time ago, I thought patience meant being able to stand still in line or sit quietly in a doctor’s office. And I worked hard to perfect both. Oh how wrong I was!
- Patience shows respectLet’s face it, I don’t care to hear about a silly-to-me game ad nauseam any more than I want to hear all the griping about how math is “too hard”, or how “school is so stupid”. However, listening to these things is often what my children need for me to do. They need to feel I respect their opinion (even if I don’t agree), and that they are valued. Additionally, in taking the time to show patience in this way, I generally learn “why” they find math hard, or school “stupid”. Usually, they would not be able to form these thoughts quickly and succinctly.
- You need patience to persevere
Why, yes, I spent 2 years teaching one child the multiplication tables anew on a daily basis. I even managed to retain some of my hair and tooth enamel. And, by golly, I would do it again if the need arose. I just may purchase a mouth guard. To my knowledge the child has no emotional scarring from that period of time, which is probably the best testament of my patience there could possibly be.
- Patience for the “ugly”Let’s face it, there are some things you have to teach that you don’t like. Despise even. Yet, there you sit plugging through it; even going so far as to research and get to know it better so that your child may possibly find it interesting and, if you’re really lucky, “fun”.
- Two sides to every equationThis is a big one! There are so many articles out there about discovering the type of learner your child is. Or the best teaching style for this type of kid, etc.News flash! You need to know YOU first. And believe it or not, most of us haven’t actually considered that.
- One of my students was very kinesthetic, so I did all this study about how to incorporate that in teaching situations. Made sense at the time; except for the fact that I have tactile issues. It’s amazing how all the activities in sandboxes that are highly recommended caused all sorts of heeby-jeeby issues in the teacher that would put school on hold until fully body showers of all involved were completed and an entire house vacuum session. However, painting with water on an exterior wall totally worked for both of us.
- Also, phonics makes no sense to me (whatsoever). I think homeschool gurus still strongly recommend teaching phonics to children. I remember at one time, I was truly determined that I should “do things ‘right'” and spent a good deal of time researching phonics, and the more I researched the crankier and more confused I became. I do not purposely teach my children phonics. They may “pick it up” through some intuitive gift from God, but they surely don’t get it from me. (By the way, my kids all read well, so pthhbt! to phonics!)
- Guess what? There is every likelihood that EACH of your students will be very different from the other. What works for one is not guaranteed to work for the other. Not only based on learning style, but the “who” they are and their personal strengths / weaknesses will throw a wrench in your carefully laid out plans.
- Know the reasons whyWhen I started homeschooling with my oldest he would frequently ask “why”. Why did he have to learn this?It’s an excellent question, and if you can’t answer it, then why on earth teach it?!
- Sometimes I have had the reason why, but still decided it wasn’t worth teaching. i.e. Latin. If you go into a science / medical field Latin can certainly come in handy. Learning Latin can help your child learn the grammatical rules for language, it helps your ability to learn a 3rd language, etc. We don’t learn Latin. (I have the books though. . .should sell those.) It’s a dead language for heaven’s sake! If you need it for your chosen field, you’ll learn what you need. Get a good grammar book; you’ll be fine. ANY second language will help in your ability to pick up a 3rd language, if only to affirm your personal abilities to do so.
- Telling your students “why” can eliminate a lot of frustration. I didn’t realize this for a period of time, but the state law of “you must have math every year” is an amazing gripe eliminator. “Sorry, dude, it’s the law. You want me to go to jail?” (Thankfully, children have yet to decide to send me to the “big house”.)
- Set the GOOD example
- I got fussed at last night by my 11 year old. I had gotten frustrated a let a choice few words fly free in his presence. “Mom! If you don’t want me to say such things then why would you say them?” Why indeed?*sigh*Let’s face it, everything we do is closely observed. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We do not have the benefit of those whose children go to school and can therefore blame a lot on peers or other external influences. It’s all “HERE”.
- This goes beyond “school” as well. My personal struggle right now is diet. (I don’t diet; this is more a discussion of “food habits”.) What food habits am I “teaching” my children that is setting them up for failure in their future lives? (Cheese on broccoli? Desserts twice a day? SNACKING?) Let’s face it, there are a number of things that I am not willing to change for me; but for my kids. . .it is amazing what leaves I will turn over.
- I spend a lot of time researching and planning and preparing. Not just for school, but for life as well. The children are now frequently heard to say, “Can I look up ___?” It does not dawn on them that they are learning. Heaven forbid any of this research should in any way, shape or form somehow be related to learning (AKA school). I’ve had two children learn instruments in this fashion.
- PS YouTube is an awesome resource!
- The “magic pill” does not exist
- Oh, *sigh*. This is a big one I STILL fall prey to! You are talking to a friend whose opinion you highly respect and they offer that such-and-such saved them. You read an advertisement about some product or other and, of course, it is in the topic you feel least comfortable in so you just have to buy it. And on, and on, it goes.
- There is NO magic pill. I mean, you may come across something that totally jives with you at this point in time. That does not mean it will work for your best friend or even your next child. Five years from now it may not even work for you. A lot of this plays into who you are and learning styles and such, but be very careful. “We” have a tendency to recommend things like they are God’s gift from heaven. Just a mite bit audacious.
- I am a scheduler. Schedules and lists not only work for me, they are necessary for me to be able to work. I know of others that can’t deal with a simple list, let alone a schedule. Yet, they still get things done and are quite productive. (Call me baffled!) Here’s the thing, if you know you are talking to a non-scheduler, don’t recommend a schedule unless they ask. (Then, you can honestly say they asked for it.) And obviously, the reverse is true also. But, let’s say you don’t know what type of person they are. Then mention both! Don’t pretend the one side does not exist.
- Marathon vs. sprint
- “Education” is a marathon. Too frequently we can get into the mental “sprint” trap. It’s an easy trap to fall into as there are so many courses of study, benchmark checklists, etc. Guess what, if your child took till 4th grade to learn their multiplication tables, chances are they will do fine in life. Truly!
- Oh, your students will help you with this one; even if you go into it kicking and screaming!
- I knew of a family once that believed all their sons should be engineers and all their daughters wives and mothers. Based on that philosophy this was how their “school” was designed. I recall the mother expressing frustration because one of the daughters wanted to study more science and was “fighting the power”. hmm
- Your goal, in my honest opinion and whether or not you choose to accept it, is to help your children attain THEIR goals. Now, if their goal is to be a bum, that’s fine. They will just be one that has a basic set of solid skills (remember, “state laws”).
Finally, I have learned that this is probably the period of greatest “growth” in my own life, and I strongly suspect that I will continue to stretch and grow further than my wildest imaginings on this journey.