Monthly Archives: August 2011

Getting Myself Out There

So I’ve been struggling with a fundamental question lately… Am I homeschooling Emily for her benefit or mine? I asked that question out loud to Dave the other day and his response was, “It depends on the day.” Mmm-hmm… And … Continue reading

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Learning Opportunities Abound

A recent news article about a lost dog finding his way home after part of his human family perished in a terrible crash in New Mexico caught Emily’s attention and became a geography lesson the other day. “Mama, tell me … Continue reading

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Homeschooling My Child, While Educating Myself

The anticipation and waiting were finally over. On my desk sat two Pimsleur language learning programs – one was Spanish and the other was Mandarin.I suddenly felt quite nervous. Which one should I learn first? Which would be easiest or … Continue reading

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Tackling Step 1 – Admitting I’m An Addict

I’ve been ignoring the dark truth for way too long. It’s high time I confessed. I’m an addict. It’s true. And that’s one of the reasons why homeschooling is so attractive to me. Because I get to feed my addiction … Continue reading

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Ginger Snap Hiccuping Juice…?

It all started with an empty jar of ground ginger. Or at least, it looked empty. “Emily, honey, that’s mine. I need it to store seeds from the garden in.” Emily shook her head decisively, “No Mama, this is my … Continue reading

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Grape Galaxies and Wobble-Gobbles

I love kid-isms…I really do. During our 7 days at the Y, Emily discovered a pair of forgotten water goggles. No one else was around, so she used them for the length of the visit and then she and her … Continue reading

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Just…Ask…

Am I the only one who suffers from “Oh…Duh” moments? Sometimes the answer is just sitting there, right in front of me and I’m busily making my lists, tearing my hair out to make everything balance just so, without taking … Continue reading

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No Ego…No Fear

A few years back I met a woman at a community education class. I liked her instantly. She had a dry, acerbic personality and was quite intelligent…and she had a little boy just a few months younger than Emily. Built-in playmates…it was perfect.

We met again, met the husband who was equally brilliant, had them over for dinner and they reciprocated in kind. We even went to several kid events together.

There was only one small problem…

Every time I saw them, and I do mean every time, I would get a rundown of just how brilliant their boy was. “G did this, G did that,” damned if G wasn’t already trying to master physics and Spanish while in preschool.It got old.

Now, I’m a proud parent. I’ll readily admit that. From what I can tell from a layperson perspective, as well as the feedback of others (who inevitably assume she is older by at least two years despite her small stature), Emily is damned smart.So is her big sister.

However, I also recognize that most children are intelligent, more so than you might imagine. John Taylor Gatto, who wrote Dumbing Us Down, had it right when he said that “genius is as common as dirt.” And when they would get back to talking about their son like he was the Second Coming, part of me silently responded with a “So? What else is new?”

I will admit that the ego-driven part of me found myself dreaming of a child who could speak four languages with ease, travel the world, give lectures at the age of sixteen, and discuss string theory with her brilliant older cousin Mo. That would show G’s parents! My kid is smarter than your kid!

Let’s face it, some ego is involved in raising children. Through them we have a chance at immortality, and even fame and unrealized dreams. I would even go so far as to say that, if you tell me you haven’t felt that way, at least once, then you are lying to yourself.

Part of my difficulties last week were right along this very problem. I’ve got my own experience as a child and teen, my experience raising my eldest, and now this ongoing experience raising Emily – and they are all dueling for dominance. I am constantly thinking about where I could have been if I had ever mastered a foreign language, been homeschooled, or had the perspective that only an adult every really has when I screwed up in high school.

I want for Emily what I did not have. I want for Emily what I could not give her sister. And some part of me wants to live through her and her accomplishments – call it redemption, unrealized dreams, or whatever you want.

Facing all of this has been hard. It has made me question everything, including my reasons for homeschooling.

Because if this is just ego, if this is just some frustrated attempt to re-live my own childhood or fix in the second-generation what I didn’t do for my firstborn, then I’m not focusing on the right person or the right goals.

I pulled out The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities by Linda Dobson and read the first couple of chapters. This paragraph in particular really hit home for me.

“School mind asks, “What should my child know at grade level X?” Education mind asks children what they are interested in and further observes active children to gather its own clues. School mind asks, “Do they need to know this for a test?” Education mind asks, “Do they need to know this to improve their lives in some way?” School mind asks, “What can I teach them?” Education mind asks, “What can they learn?” School mind asks, “What answers have they retained?” Education mind asks, “Have they learned how to learn?”

To be an effective mom and teacher – I need to let go of the ego and the fear. I’m a proud person, and I take deep pride in both of my girls, but I have to step down and stop worrying about the weights and measures and whether or not my kid is better than your kid. She’s different, uniquely and deliciously different – and that needs to be good enough.

I’m not saying that I’m going to let go of my supernova-achieving dreams. Yes, I will still hope and dream that Emily goes on to travel the world, speak multiple languages, and discuss string theory with her cousin Mo. But I will also strive to listen and watch and learn what motivates my child, what interests my child, and how I can help those motivations and interests grow and shape her into a thinking, learning and capable adult.

No ego.

No fear.

Just me running alongside the kiddo, trying to keep up, and helping fill her days with love and learning and growth.

Homeschool Log for 8/8/11

Monday started off pretty laid back. I didn’t prepare any assignments, instead we went into my office, which doubles as our homeschool room, picked out a couple of learning books and hit the couch to read them. I pretty much let things evolve from there, but here are the major study categories we covered…

MathematicsStay in Line! Hello Math Reader started us off on Monday morning. I really like the Hello Math Readers and so does Emily…that’s definitely a winning combination! This led to us playing with a dozen pennies and lining them up in varying rows of 3s, 4s, 2s, and so on. Emily really enjoyed playing with the pennies. I hope to revisit this book later to help Emily learn to count by 2s, 3s, and 4s.

Social Studies – I bought a globe this past weekend at U.S. Toy. Unfortunately, I failed to educate Emily on proper globe handling, which means it was broken within thirty seconds of being taken out of the box. Poor kid didn’t mean to break it. To her it looked like a big ball and she set it down none-too-gently on the floor, snapping the cheap plastic base. Now fixed with epoxy (thank you Dave!), we reviewed continents, and oceans and pointed out where family is throughout the world.

Health and Phys Ed – We read from Sesame Street’s My First Book of the Five Senses. We got through sight, hearing, and smell before meandering off with touch to use the stamp pad and examine our fingerprints (I really need a magnifying glass).

Art – temperas again, this time Emily played with some color combinations while I updated the blog…

She made green and when I asked her how she did it she said, “I don’t kn…, oh, wait, I mixed blue and yellow together!” This seemed to excite her and she continued to actively experiment with color combinations.

Later I joined her and did a little bit of my own painting. We discussed color combinations and experimented more with how black affects other colors. Honestly, with few exceptions, this is the first tempera painting I’ve done for oh, over thirty years.

Science – Plant botany? Emily decided she needed some fresh flowers and grabbed a basket and scissors before heading out in the rain with her little rainboots to collect some.

She had a basket filled with Queen Anne’s Lace and two squash flowers. “Mama, there are little bugs living in the flowers,” she pointed to the basket while eating lunch, “the flowers are their habitat.”

Now I honestly have no idea where she heard the term habitat, but it seems she understands the concept. Later Dave looked at the bugs with her, pointing out that spiders are not considered bugs and why.

In the early afternoon we went to a housecleaning. The client there has two goats and Emily made the mistake of chasing them. The male became alarmed and reared up on his back legs and then looked as if he was going to head-butt her. I explained to Emily that this was probably the goat’s way of protecting his female. It proved to be a good lesson in being respectful of animals and attentive to their reactions.

Music – While at the housecleaning Emily experimented with the client’s piano, which I have always asked her to play ‘gently’. She made up her own songs to go with the music.

My take away on Monday’s activities are as follows…

  • Learning opportunities truly are everywhere
  • Emily is learning with each moment that passes – happily, easily, and with great interest
  • Overscheduling or overplanning is detrimental to the natural flow of our day. And a lot gets learned just simply and naturally – without direction from me.

 

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What is REALLY Important?

Last Wednesday I was up and awake at 5am with a list of “to-do’s” – clean off my desk COMPLETELY, go through a stack of magazines that have occupied one corner of the desk for far too long, shred stacks … Continue reading

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Crash and Burn

This was supposed to be a post on breastfeeding…or at the very least a tip of the hat to National Breastfeeding Week. But life, it seems, had other plans. And this picture, taken yesterday right after Emily fell and bloodied … Continue reading

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