Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Homeschooling Thoughts

This is an entry I found through the Pioneer Woman blog that I follow (the author is not the Pioneer Woman, but another author named Mrs. G).
I love it. It is so true that the number one question and/or comment from anyone that finds out you homeschool is about the socialization of your kids. I will just add my response to that topic: Public school does not equal "socialized and normal kid." I think we can all think about kids we know or knew growing up that have/had socialization issues in various ways. And secondly, homeschool does not equal "socially awkward kid that never gets out of the house." All we are doing is teaching our kids during the day, which actually usually only takes up about an hour or two instead of 8-9 hours sitting in a class. We're not boarding up the windows and creating a compound where no one may leave or enter. In fact, we often do school OUTSIDE, possibly while even out in PUBLIC living a normal life. Scary, I know. Anyway, here is the post. And sorry, but you will have to put up with the author writing in the annoying third person.

The Oldest One in the Book

Mrs. G. has been in the homeschooling business for fourteen years and she has taken great pleasure in watching it become more mainstream and garden variety. She can’t visit a Barnes & Noble to this day without stopping by to visit and admire the homeschooling section. Back in the day, Mrs. G. ordered some homeschooling how-to books out of the back of Mother Earth News that were photocopied and stapled. We’ve come a long way friend.

And yet, Mrs. G. notices that it is still, all these years later, almost impossible to have a homeschooling discussion without more than a couple of people (usually blood relations) bringing up that one question, the question that has plagued homeschoolers since that first brave mother threw on an appliqu├ęd denim jumper and sent the school bus on its way without her children on it:

What about socialization?

Mrs. G. has dealt with this question so many times that she is going to have to take a moment to whack her head on her desk three times to call herself back to order. Hold on a sec…
She’s back.

What about socialization?

Mrs. G. is going to start out by taking you back to a crisp fall evening in the early nineties. The G. family was invited to dinner by a woman named Linda who was in Mrs. G’s food co-op. Linda and her husband had four kids, ages 7, 9, 14 and 16. The two families sat around a big table eating lasagna and talking. Dinner and conversation went on for over two hours, and Mrs. G. couldn’t help noticing that Linda’s kids, particularly her two teenage boys, were the most polite, interesting and respectful kids she had ever spent an evening with. They were comfortable discussing all the things they were up to (writing and illustrating comic books, gardening, filming high school football for a local cable access channel, playing guitar, dismantling computers) and seemed so confident and at ease. When Mrs. G. brought up how she was looking into kindergarten for her daughter, Linda mentioned that her kids had never been to school though her oldest was off to college in the fall. Mr. and Mrs. G. were slightly scandalized. No school school. They had never heard of such a thing.
Driving home that night, Mrs. G. remembers thinking that she hoped her kids, small potatoes at 5 and 1, would turn out half as likable as Linda’s crew. A couple of months later, she found book of essays on homeschooling at the library and that was that.

Mrs. G. isn’t sure when “socialization” became such an urgent and determining concern in shaping a child’s future, but she’s got to tell you, loud and clear, that she thinks the idea that a public school setting fosters a higher caliber, gold standard set of cultural skills, habits and norms is a used and tired bill of goods. It’s a crock. She’s feeling unusually strident and squawky on this subject, because last night she had to swill a gin & tonic to come to terms with the letter her son brought home in his backpack, yesterday, on week three of his first-time-in-public-school experience.

And just because we’re all friends here and this has nothing to do with the topic at hand and this is the way Mrs. G’s mind works, Mrs. G. is going to confess that she has some serious misgivings about her son wanting to give their local high school of 1700 students a try. She isn’t concerned about the quality of his education. He’s loving his classes and all of the opportunities a huge school has to offer. She’s concerned that his fourteen years of experiencing the luxury of the freedom and time to become who he really is is going to be undone by four years in a school where pop culture and cliques rule the roost. Laugh if you want, but Mrs. G. has invested years in raising a young man who is gentleman and she knew exactly what some of his homeschooled girl friends meant when they registered alarm that he was heading to the big leagues of high school. I hope they don’t ruin him, one of them whispered. His own older and wiser sister bit her lip at the news and said, oh lordy, he is in for some culture shock. He doesn’t do the whole crude thing.

Mrs. G. isn’t suggesting that children can’t thrive in public school, because, of course, she knows they can. She did. And she knows that public schooled kids are perfectly wonderful in general. Kids are just plain wonderful in general. She has spent a considerable amount of time living and working with kids of every educational stripe and she knows there is no one formula to successfully raising and educating children, there are infinite formulas. And here’s the rub: she and homeschoolers at large are only asking for the same benefit of the doubt…don’t assume it takes a school to produce a kid capable of successfully functioning socially in the world.No doubt, the socialization question is the byproduct of not understanding that most homeschooled children aren’t spending their days chained to the kitchen table with their fourteen other siblings while their overbearing, oversheltering mothers drill them all day with grammar or math facts, making special efforts to assure they have no thoughts of their own. Mrs. G. can’t speak for all homeschooling mothers, but she has to tell you that along with the work they did at home and the planned and spontaneous field trips they took weekly, her kids took classes, volunteered at the Humane Society or food bank, played with friends, babysat, dogsat, lived at the library, glued things, grew things, the list is endless. At least once a month, Mrs. G. would stomp her foot and say, we are not going anywhere for two solid days. We need to get some stuff done around here! Mrs. G. had to occasionally curb socialization.

Mrs. G. isn’t sure when we decided that it was more important for kids to spend most of their time with their peers rather than society at large. She’s got to tell you that in this arena, she thinks homeschooled kids are the victors; they tend to be unusually comfortable and secure in dealing with people of all ages. When homeschoolers get together, you can be sure that there will probably be babies, toddlers, little kids, big kids, bigger kids, moms, dads, grandparents, a crazy aunt… and Mrs. G. loves seeing all of them interact. She remembers many sunny homeschooling play dates at the park where at any given time you might see a group of teens playing football using a toddler as the ball (they never spiked the little cuss) or a group of silly girls teaching someone’s Papaw how to braid a friendship bracelet or a couple of seasoned moms giving a young mom a tutorial on how to deal with tantrums at the grocery store. This is life, healthy life—interacting with all people, not just 300 of your peers, 300 kids all trying to grow and figure out life at the same time.

Mrs. G. is going to bring this communique to a close, because she know she’s been all over the place in this post. She’s hotblooded on this subject; she gets worked up. There are some legitimate reasons to be skeptical of homeschooling but the issue of socialization is certainly not one of them.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

How do you spend time at Wal-Mart when you have to wait 2 hours for your car to get fixed? Play with every size funnel in the automotive section.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Wow, it feels good to be writing again after four months of NOTHING. So, here's what I know about myself. I am a perfectionist. Not a perfectionist in the sense that I look like I have it all together, and I never stop working - that would be my dear husband. My style of perfectionism is debilitating. I allow many things to be left undone because I am fearful that they won't be done exactly how I want them to be. Thus, no blogging for four months at a time. But fear not - I am working on this and plan on contributing to my blog much more often than I have been.
So, what's been going on in the last four months? Really the last nine months since I haven't truly posted anything of significance since Emerson was born. Oh my - I've just realized I have fulfilled a stereotype of the third child. Isn't that the child that's always left behind and forgotten? Now I've let her entire first nine months of life go by without any updates, stories, or pictures on here. I must get better at this.
Back to the update - what's been going on with us? A lot. The last shall be first, right? So I'll start with little Emie Ray (which she is so affectionately referred to as by everyone in our house). So hard to believe she is nine months old! I am really enjoying seeing her own personality start to come out. She absolutely adores Elijah and Ella, and they are pretty smitten with her as well. Emerson usually spends the day chasing them around the house and playing with whatever they are playing with. I honestly don't remember the last time she played with any of her own baby toys. Which reminds me, I need to put them away somewhere instead of junking up my living room for no reason.
She hasn't made it to her 9 month check-up yet, but I'm very curious to see how she's weighing and measuring. I'm pretty sure she weighs about the same as Ella now who is 2 1/2. To set anyone's mind at ease, Emerson is not as big as a 2 year old, I just have a very skinny and petite little girl in Ella.
So, on to little Ella Bella. Wow, she is a two year old in every way. She is silly, happy and wants to do everything her way and in her own time. And she is so sweet and generous. It is also very obvious to many that she is just like her mom. I like this because it makes it very easy for me to relate with her and I feel like we've got a special bond through that. But, there's definitely a part of me that isn't so thrilled about it because I know what a tough road it can be at times with some of those traits.
I'm pretty sure that the last time I wrote anything about Ella she wasn't walking or talking yet. Once again, she did things on her own time. She started walking at 18 months. LATE, I know! She was 2 before she started saying much more than a handful of words, but now she is speaking full sentences non-stop, all day long. She still has some things that can only be understood by me, but for the most part she is understandable. Which brings up another aspect of her personality. I remember Elijah would try to tell me something one or two times and if I didn't get it, he'd just move on and forget about it. Ella is persistent. And loud. She will say something over, and over, and over and get louder with each attempt as if you can't hear her. It cracks me up because she absolutely will not give up until you get what she's saying.
And last but not least, Elijah. Elijah's only terms of endearment these days are Eli, dude, bud and babe. He's not real into being called by any other nickname like the girls. The best way I can sum up Elijah is that he is just like his dad. He is really into telling jokes and hearing jokes, but the poor kid tries way to hard to understand the entire situation surrounding the joke that has no relevance what-so-ever. Like, why did the elephant cross the road? Because it was the chicken's day off.
Elijah: "so where was the chicken?"
Me: "I don't know. Maybe at home resting."
Elijah: well, where does the chicken work and why was he taking the day off?
Me: I don't know. that's not the point of the joke.
Elijah: well, it would be funnier if it went like this. why did the elephant cross the road? because the chicken had been working a lot and he was really tired from crossing the road all the time, so he asked the elephant if he could cross the road that day, and the elephant told the chicken, you can take the day off and go play at home!
So, we are working with Mr. Analytical, Jr. on how to tell jokes. He is also FIVE now! And he eats like he's 25. We're going to have to start taking it easy on the food and keep that in check. Like he said today after asking if he could eat Ella's cheeseburger after already finishing his, "This is kind of like junk food, and if I eat too much food like this, I'll end up like a Sumo Wrestler wearing one of those diapers they wear." Still not sure if he's got that whole cause and effect relationship quite right since it sounds like he may be equating over-eating with Sumo wrestler loin cloths?? Not sure.
We will also be starting his school with him next week. He is excited about it. I will post pictures and more info once we actually get started on it.
Also, in the last four months Gavin has completed a very taxing summer of Greek I, II, and III that we are ALL thankful that he is done with!! He has also started a job as the ministry assistant at our church, in the last week lost that same job due to finance issues with the church, and gained a new, more stable position at another ministry. A lot has gone on and continues to come about in those situations, but we continue to be thankful and in awe of God's providence and protection over us. Gavin will start his new position October 1 and is starting the fall semester at school this week. Done with Greek, now on to Hebrew. Fun times.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

So, here I am. Still alive, just very busy and with a major writing block. I'm not sure why I feel I have little to write about with all of the material that I get from the kids each day, but somehow I have let 5 months pass since my last post. And even that wasn't a real post - just pictures. So, I know all five of you who actually read this are super excited to be reading about my life again (blogs are so self-righteous aren't they?!), but beware of the following content. If you don't have a dark or inappropriate sense of humor at times, you may be offended by parts of the story below. Just fyi...

Today we decided to celebrate Eveyn's birthday a day early. She would be 3 years old tomorrow. However, tomorrow is Monday and I wanted to be able to go out to the cemetery with all of us together and knew that would be much easier on the weekend rather than during the week. So, after church we grabbed a quick lunch at Jack in the Box and then headed out to the cemetery where Eveyn is buried. Well, it was supposed to be a quick lunch, but since Elijah has to either tell a story or demonstrate something after every few bites, it was not as quick as I had hoped. But that's beside the point.

Ella of course had no idea what we were going to do, but Elijah did and he was excited about it. He talks about Eveyn all the time and tells me how much he misses her and wishes she was still here with us. I have written about this before, but I just love the things he says about her and the way he sincerely misses having his other sister with him. Now, he hasn't been out to the cemetery in a very long time, so like I said he was pretty excited. On the way there he started talking to Emerson and telling her what we were going to do (Ella was asleep at this point). He told Emerson in his happy little sing-song Elijah voice/baby talk voice, "we're going to visit Eveyn's graveyard! That's your sister, but you can't see her because she died! But we're going to her graveyard! Isn't that fun?!"

Once we arrived at the cemetery and before we got out of the car, I told Elijah that he couldn't run around and act crazy because he needed to be respectful of other people that were visiting people they loved also. He did well with this most of the time, but he was pretty happy since we were having cupcakes. As I was trying to secure a wreath that I had bought, Elijah took a break from asking when we were going to eat the cupcakes to ask a more important question. "When are we going to dig up Eveyn?" I'll just write out the rest of the conversation:

Me: "Dude, we aren't going to dig up Eveyn."
Eli: "Why not?"
Me: "Well, remember how we've talked about what happens to our bodies once we die?"
Eli: "Yeah, they decave."
Me: "Right, they decay. And Eveyn's spirit, her true self, is with Jesus in heaven. Eveyn's body is not alive anymore, so you wouldn't want it here with us now."
Eli: "Yeah, I know that mom. But we could dig up all her bones."
Me: "Why would you want to do that?"
Eli: "Well, I could give them to my dog someday."

And at this point, you just can't help but laugh. A lot. And Elijah doesn't get the joke, but he really likes that he has somehow said something funny. And sorry Pop, but he went on to tell the same "joke" about feeding Pop's bones to his dog someday too.
Once the totally inappropriate joking was over, we sat on the grass, enjoyed cupcakes together and talked about what we thought Eveyn would be like if she was still with us. Elijah became more serious and real quietly said, "yeah, I think she'd be pretty cute right now." It's hard to imagine what she would be like as a three year old, but I agree with Elijah that she'd be pretty cute.
Happy Birthday Eveyn