Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Now what?

This post is inspired by the questions and concerns another homeschooling mom expressed on one of my lists.

Paraphrasing, she said:

"I just realized at least 2 of my 5 kids (ages 7 and 10) are right brained.  I'm not.   They're not reading yet.  I don't know what to do.  The baby is just a year old and I'm pulled in so many directions.  Traditional learners can sit everyone down at the table and work for 3 hours and be done.  My kids won't.  What do I do?"

Here's my response:

First, cut yourself some slack.  You've just had a huge paradigm shift.  It'll take a while to integrate that into your everyday life.

You still have very little ones.  I gave myself the 1st year or two of every babies life to just be.  You can call it unschooling, or relaxed homeschooling if you want.  If you can manage to read to them most days, take them to the library and to parks now and then, you will be doing more than fine.  There's nothing that is urgent right now.  Keeping everybody fed and healthy is a high enough goal.

You say you like check-lists and scripts.  That's going to be tough.  Right brainers don't just think "out of the box"  Rbers don't even notice there's a box.  They won't even understand how they're making you crazy.  (But it might amuse them) 

If you write a script, they're going to turn it on end.  It's time to start thinking of your homeschooling as an improv troupe.  When you're doing improv it doesn't mean you are without structure.  It means that, with in a certain agreed upon structure, you are free to experiment.  It means that there is not "right" and "wrong" way to do something - there's only this works and that doesn't, this is fun, this is drudgery.  Your improv will be different than someone elses, and that's a good thing!  It means you're doing what works for you.

What if instead of a daily checklist that the kids have to do, you have a mental checklist you consult every week or so, privately or with your spouse?   Especially when they are little my kids learn so much without my input or structure.  I'm always amazed when I step back and look at how my little ones spend their days and see it through their eyes.

Our kids are getting older.  I miss having littles, but the advantage of having rational human beings for children isn't to be dismissed.  At our house we have pretty regular talks about what is working and what isn't.  It's not child centered, it's family centered.  It has to work for everyone.  It has to meet our long term goals, which the children help to set for themselves.   We all have family and household chores which  we have to do, just 'cause that's what it takes to manage a house hold.

Our days and weeks have a certain fluid structure, with the oldest (14) having the most structure and the youngest (8) the least.   My oldest can now work mostly independently.  He has a list of academics he does everyday and then he is free to do as he wishes.  (Which is mostly sit at the computer programming, skyping friends and play games.  So long as he meets his family obligations, his academic commitment, and moves his body around every hour, I try to be ok with that)  My 11 yo is just starting to do regular academics - he's learning to type, practicing his hand writing, and practicing piano every day.  Soon he'll start doing a wee bit of math.  My 8 year old isn't reading yet.  His brothers didn't start reading until after 9, yet by 11 both were reading at an adult level, so I'm not worried.  He's learning to type and practicing his handwriting, but mostly because he wants desperately to be like his big brother.  The younger two (8 & 11) spend most of their days playing - legos, k'nex, making things out of cardboard or wood scraps, dueling, shooting each other, and -yes- bickering for entertainment.

Just throwing in that last bit to keep it real here.  I hate reading stuff about how perfect someone's life is.   My life's not picture perfect, just humanly lovely imperfectly perfect - except when it's not.  
That's what wine is for. ;-p

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