Sunday, May 30, 2010

Attachment Challenge: Day 3

Whew!  I am WORN OUT!  We went to the local street fair held every Memorial Day weekend, Territory Days.  We usually go pretty quickly.  Our normal routine consists of come in, try to ride the mechanical bull but something's been wrong for the past 3 years, find the train and ride it, go get a turkey leg to share.  Sit and eat it. Paint faces, get a funnel cake, leave.  This year the grandparents came with and it was their first time, so there was a LOT more walking around involved, many more exciting things for the littles, and generally more just enjoying our time there.  We were there for almost 5 hours!!  TIRED...  Then, Jon and I had already planned out with his parents that they were going to watch the littles for us while we enjoyed ourselves a little date.  We were so tired afterward that it was almost hard to even have a date.  With ALL of that, we STILL managed to succeed with our challenge today.  (I'm about to fall over and not get up for a long time...)

I knew we had a busy day ahead so I started off with quite a few hugs (also kept true to my no talking until hug challenge.)  Gave a couple while we were at Territory Days, then had to push in an extra one during bedtime story.  Best part: Zane ASKED for one earlier in the day!  YAY!!!  He wanted a real, regular old hug.  Usually when he asks he's in his super-weird, uber-energetic, clingy-overload mood.  But, this time he just asked for one and we shared it and all was good.  I <3 that!!

Our 20 minutes playing Zane-chosen FUN was split into two parts.  Firstly, we played Wii for 10 minutes together.  Mario Bros, in case you were wondering...  He wasn't jumping around and being told not to, he wasn't kicking my butt adn throwing me off ledges or anything.  We just played.  That was also awesome! Later, he wanted to play pillow fight again and this time he didn't even get that anger-release face thing going on like he did yesterday.  We had a blast.  I lost, he lost, we both won.

AI-inducing FUN was even better!!  We played some thumb war, which was great.  We stared at each other while tossing a very small stuffed monkey into each others' laps and we did so much better.  He actually held eye contact for some time, too!  Finally, we did the slap hands game thing that I brought up yesterday and he even did better with that.  I think I explained it a little better to him, too so that helped.

Again, I'm EXHAUSTED!!!  I'm also really really glad today went so well.  Usually when we've got all that stuff going on and so much stimulation Zane has a meltdown at the end of the day.  Jon and I talked about that on our date today and got prepared for it.  It didn't happen.  I'm not sure why and while I'm grateful for it, it also scares me that maybe tomorrow will bring the meltdown??  I dunno.  But, we'll be BBQing at the in-laws so we'll see and I'll just be sure to set aside some of our special time for there and the evening again.  Maybe that helped...finishing the night with games AND THEN a story rather than the regular story.  Enough.  I'm tired!  :-)  

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Attachment Challenge: Day 2

We have some cool rules in our house, if I do say so myself.  Things that keep us focused, centered, and attempt to keep us from becoming overstimulated.  These things cause Jon and I to have to work pretty hard, especially in comparison to what I hear from peers and their parenting styles.  Sometimes I read about others people's lives just to fantasize about living in their cool, calm ways of being and other times to compare, contrast, analyze differences, seek out inspiration, etc.  One of these rules is that Zane can't start playing video games for the day until he's brushed his teeth.  Sometimes this is a problem as there are days when he wakes up before us and doesn't want to wake us and sneaks video games with dirty teeth.  More often than not he is honest and brushes first, but today was one of the rebellious days.

When I woke up and saw him playing video games I asked if he brushed and he said yes.  I said "Are you sure?"  He said "Yes."  I said, "I hope you're telling the truth" and proceeded upstairs to check.  (He hasn't yet figured out that I know just by whether or not his toothbrush is wet, so it always tells the truth.)  Toothbrush was dry, Zane lied.  I came down and let him know and asked why he lied.  He was honest, "I really wanted to play video games."  "Thanks for the honesty, babe.  Go ahead and turn off the XBOX."  He took it like a champ, did what he had to do, and came upstairs with me.  It was only after we got a drink and such that I gave him his good morning hug.  Yuck!  I was so inspired yesterday by the good morning hug and so determined to make sure it happens every morning that I didn't realize how easy it is to start commenting on "rights" and "wrongs" first.  Tomorrow: no words until good morning hug has commenced!!

For our 20 minutes of Zane-chosen fun time we had a pillow fight.  Two ten-minute pillow fights.  They were F-U-N!!  I LOVE pillow fights.  The best part was watching him get a little angry during the fights, but not even angry at me.  And he didn't cross the line (while angry.)  But, it was kick ass!  I felt like he was being able to safely and courageously release a little bit of anger while doing it in a loving environment.  It was neat.  We of course added in some Jedi skills like force-pushing, force-choking, and force-throwing and that was fun too.  All together, much better than forced lego-gun-making time from yesterday.

Our 10 minutes of AI(attachment-inducing) fun was really kinda' tough.  He was having a really hard time keeping eye contact during our staring contest and while we sat feet together gently tossing Mr. Potato Head back and forth.  Then, we played thumb wrestle which went really well.  We did it with our right hands, our left hands, and then both at the same time.  Heehee!  No matter how well it goes though, one can only take so much thumb wrestling...  So, we ended it by tying my right leg to his left leg and making a three-legged pick-up-toys-from-the-living-room session.  THAT was fun.

Overall, it was another really good day.  I did have a hard time finding the motivation to be interested in playing the games with him, so 20 out of the 30 minutes didn't come until the last our of our waking day, but they both ended up really well.  Goes to show you at any age...what you don't WANT to do is usually the best thing for you.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Attachment Challenge: Day 1

10 hugs wasn't hard at all.  I like hugging my kids and it was nice to throw in a couple just for good measure.  I have to admit, I usually hug Zane either right after he's had a hard time or when he's done something really well.  There's always a good night hug, but not always a good morning hug and I wasn't even aware of that until today. That will be changed from now on.  I suppose we've always had busy mornings either getting ready for daycare and work or getting ready for school.  I think that's kinda' BS now that it's been brought to my attention, so this morning hug thing... it's sticking around.  :-)

20 minutes doing something fun of Zane's choice... that kinda' sucked.  I figured it would.  Mainly because I'm either bored by most of the things he likes so much or I just hold no interest whatsoever.  Today we built lego guns.  I decided to make it fun for myself by grabbing a handful of random pieces and declaring I would use all of those pieces to make my gun.  It was tough, but also a little fun actually.  I liked the challenge of having to use them all no matter what and I liked the stability that came with not needing to imagine a gun first, but rather just build with what I had until it all went away.  It helped marry my two opposing ways: type A planner and creative free bird.  Usually tough to do that.  Our building ended with a pretend session.  We had a gun store for the war and took turns being the store owner and being the customer.  My guns cost me 16,000.00.  Zane's only cost him 12,500.00.  He tried to tip me, but I refused.  Of course after that we had a big shootout during which neither of our guns actually worked as we sat there shooting nonstop for a minute or two and neither of us fell.  I pointed that out and asked for a refund and he adamantly stated that the gun did work and we shot each other 13 times.  I let him get me good with his rocket launcher and I fell to the floor...  We played for 27 minutes.  It was nice to spend the time with him even though I didn't particularly like what we were doing.

10 minutes of attachment-inducing FUN.  We started off with a staring contest.  I wasn't sure how it'd go since Zane pretty well avoids eye contact all the time.  So, I made it easy to "win".  We could laugh, we could blink, we could even talk, but we HAD to stare at each other's eyes.  We managed to play this for about 3 minutes, which I thought was good and we DID have fun making faces and generally giggling.  Then we tried to play a clapping game, but it's tough for Zane so that didn't last long.  So we played another game where we tried to slap the top of each other's hands.  I'm sure you played it as a child, but I don't know how to adequately explain it, nor do I have a name for it.  Regardless, that was fun and he never got out of hand and too physical.  :-D  Finally, we were both already out of ideas and we still had 6 or so minutes left so I suggested we give each other hand massages.  Zane decided he just wanted me to give HIM a massage.  I figured it still counts so I did.  The deal is he's supposed to reciprocate tomorrow and give me a hand massage.  We'll see... :-P

I noticed today that while I DO play with him and I DO spend time with him, I don't devote a decent amount of time to it at once.  It's more on and off all day and it was pretty cool to JUST connect with him.  We did both things while Stori was sleeping (once during nap and once right after she went in bed for the night) plus we went to the grocery store together this morning.  There was a lot of bonding time and while there were definitely some mishaps-what to eat for dinner, who to clean up toys from the yard, etc-he never crossed the line from complaining to being disrespectful.  So, I'm glad.  

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The attachment challenge

I found a blogger who I LOVE to read a few weeks ago.  Most of you know that I have a difficult child.  None of you know what it's really like.  This woman does and I absolutely thrive when reading her posts, because I don't feel so alone.  Now, we don't actually know what it is with Zane, but I've got a pot full of ideas and it's probably a nice mixture of them all.  I got him "evaluated" shortly before he started Kindergarten, because I wanted to use whatever diagnosis they gave him in my favor and get him an IEP.  Since we went to a shitastic school that didn't happen and I completely disagree with his diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  The things Christine says about her children fit really well with Zane and it's really wonderful to feel included.

So what's my point?? :-)

She challenged me!  And I'm excited.  I'm PRETTY good about this stuff anyway, but she's given me a big challenge and I'm totally in and really stoked.  We've had a rough week adjusting to new time schedules and lack of constant engagement.  Zane always has a hard time with change, so while I've known this would happen it doesn't make it fun. Ever.  Tonight ended terribly and I participated in his fight and now I regret that.  But, you know... that's okay.  Shit happens and sometimes it gets on your foot.  I can stay still and let it get sticky or I can wipe that shit off and walk on.  I'll walk.  ;-)

So, I'm off now to make myself a chart to keep track of my progress and keep myself engaged in this challenge. I'll come back when I find my camera (!!!!) and take a picture of it to share it with you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why Unschool rather than Homeschool

I fully intended for this post to come soon after the last two, but it's the last week of school, which means we're extremely busy.  And since we all know this is probably the end of school for a very long time we're all living it to the absolute fullest.  Anyway, I want to showcase our ideas for why unschooling will be the best fit for us.  Of course we haven't officially started yet and we're not living this fully, yet.  So, I fully expect all sorts of things to change, but again this is all how we see it as it happens.

Let me tell you first...  I was an excellent student in early elementary school.  I remember the very first time I cheated on a test.  I was in second grade and it was a spelling test.  It was the word "who" and I COULD NOT remember how to make that word with the sounds.  I fully recall knowing there was an "h" and sounding out "ho" and knowing that wasn't possible, so I sounded out "hoo" which sounded right but my eyes didn't recognize it.  Finally I decided to slide out my word list from my desk and take a peek.  I kept my impeccable spelling test record after that moment, but as we can see 20 or so years later I still live that moment.  A feeling of desperation as I wanted so badly to get it right and keep my great score card.  Fast forward a year or so and my parents start this process of separating and divorcing so I start acting out and lose focus of my pride in school work.  My parents don't teach me anything rationally about what's going on with my family, they make me go to school and yell at me when I'm getting in trouble, but display none other than the very disrespect I'm playing out in my daily activities.  I'm scared, I'm confused, I'm pissed, and I'm sad.  Mom leaves us, Dad moves us to IL (from the sticks in OK) and I find myself being rejected by my assigned locker partner within a matter of a couple of days.  Parents still aren't teaching me anything about what's going on.  So, I decide that since no one likes me at home or at my new school then I'm just going to be smart.  Period.  I fully engage in school and blast through with my intellect.  Dad gets a new girlfriend, puberty starts to creep up on me, and still no one is teaching me about any of this and how I fit into it.  I say screw it all, find my niche of friends and start drinking with my few buddies, Beau, Marty, Ben, and that other kid that for some reason I'm forgetting his name.  The point: I found my crew.  I was ugly so there was none of this boy/girl crush stuff going on and I always came with something to drink and wasn't afraid to do whatever I needed to impress my friends.  This is when I perfected my off-color humor and never-ending wild side.  I stopped caring about school since even a few of my teachers had become as mean as my classmates (ahem, Mrs. Spivey I sure hope you've matured since then) and sailed my way through the rest of middle school and high school with passing grades only.  I had a few classes that I enjoyed which caused my report cards to resemble this: DD+CDA.  If I didn't like it, I didn't give a rat's ass and if I did well, I was invested in it.

My point: life is the most important lesson we can learn and the sooner we can learn about it and grasp some of the ideas behind it's working the better off we'll all be AND we learn what we're interested in.  Some people are just trained to be interested in being generally scholarly.  Those are your straight A folks.  That's their interest-getting straight As, so they master it, they're invested in it.  Most of us, however, set aside our minds and hearts for things that are important to us in the moment.  I spent all those years trying to learn to "fit in" and the only people who gave me a chance were those who were equally out casted. And we made a hell of a team.  We were all there for each other, we all had a great time, we never betrayed each other, and we never criticized one another.  That's what I wanted because that's what I was lacking and is a basic human need.  I wasn't getting it at home, so I found it.  It's all learning; all of it.  After I got that down, I was able to then find my interests in a handful of things.  Whichever of those things applied to my education found themselves as my priority during my days.

Home schooling, while vastly different from compulsory education is still a forced curriculum.  I'm absolutely certain that by being forced to "learn" something you have no interest in you never really learn it.  These become the very things we memorize and forget about.  And, frankly maybe a time would come when we'd find ourselves interested in them, but because they already left a sour taste in our mouths we're not going to voluntarily revisit them again.  There are some basics that we feel should be stressed, reading, writing, and proper English.  Everything else, however, "eh"...  So to bring Zane home then get him on a rudimentary curriculum would be, in relation to our goal, nonsense.

We want to explore Zane.  We want him to really enjoy learning what he learns and become invested in his own knowledge.  So, we're starting out with something that we're viewing as kind of a marriage between home schooling and unschooling.  No forced curriculum=unschooling.  Guaranteed and very slightly scheduled learning situations laid out for him=home schooling.  We know Zane pretty darn well.  We know that if his days are completely free and unscheduled he will be overwhelmed and probably get very uneasy.  He thrives on knowing what to expect to some degree.  We also know me.  If I don't have a "plan" of some sort I will sit around doing absolutely nothing.  I've coined myself a lazy perfectionist.  I REALLY enjoy doing nothing.  I also really enjoy doing things exceptionally well.  So, if I don't have something to focus on, I will do nothing.  If I do have something to focus on, I'm going to take it all the way and never look back.  Unless of course something comes along and gives me the opportunity to do nothing.  HA!  So, for our family we can't do either choice but instead have to work on marrying the two.  That's good.  We're REALLY good at finding, and working toward, balance.

What we already have planned out:

  • Library every Tuesday morning.  We go there already because it's toddler time and I take Stori to go listen to stories, songs, rhymes, and play with other toddlers.  I already ask Zane what types of books he wants that week and I get them, but beginning next week he'll come with us and be able to pick them out himself.  He can take the time to mosey through the aisles if he wants, do some learning games on the computers if that's his desire, chit chat with the bunnies should he feel like it, or even come play with/instruct the toddlers.  He'll have one writing or videography assignment each week based on what he picks.  This is very flexible depending on the books he chooses also.  If he chooses story books he'll do the paper or video as a semi book report.  If he picks something nonfiction then he'll sum up what he learned either throughout the whole book or a particular section of it that really interested him.

  • Zoo once per week, probably Friday afternoons.  Before we go he needs to choose an animal, a group of animals, a plant or group of plants that he wants to learn about.  We'll go, we'll learn everything we can about the subject matter, ask the zookeepers, read the plaques, observe them, etc.  We won't mosey around all day getting bored of the zoo, but really get into the one reason we came.  He'll have a writing or videography assignment on what he learned.  If he's inspired to do so, he can/will also draw a picture of it, paint it, play it out with his legos, or however he sees fit to make his learning of it also a creative interpretation.  If that plays out during his writing or video-great!  If not, a gentle suggestion by me will come and if he's truly not feeling it he won't have to do it.  You can't force inspiration or creativity, after all.

  • Grocery shopping with Mama.  He's already quite good at this, but will begin to come every time and we'll begin to categorize things as we place them in the basket.  He can choose HOW he wants to categorize them-packaging, food type, color, size, likes, dislikes, etc.  Also when checkout time comes he gets to pay since we use the cash system for things like groceries.  Not only is this all about math (categorizing, pattern making, money counting) but it's also about building his self confidence in interacting with adults and appreciating how hard everyone works from the cashier to the butcher, to the Mom.  Likewise, it's a life skill all too many people don't get taught.  Label reading, meal planning (which he already participates in), budget making, etc.

  • Zane-directed inquiries.  This is one of those things that makes me feel so sure that we're doing what's right.  Zane is a question asking kinda' guy.  Not the regular "why why why" thing that most everyone does, but he really has a general thirst for knowledge.  Last weekend he asked us how volcanoes are made.  So we looked it up and learned about it.  He's always doing this sort of thing and we usually oblige and find out.  But, now as part of our job there should be no question left unanswered for any reason whatsoever.  I'm certain there will be no lack of things Zane chooses to learn about and that will comprise the bulk of his studies.  We'll one-up most of what we already do and after learning about how the volcano is made we'll go make one in the front yard or with baking soda and vinegar or look up some education video online and watch it happen.

The gist of it all is that we follow his lead in what he wants to learn.  Kids aren't imbeciles.  I love saying that, because I believe it and I think they're treated like they are way too often.  Kids want to learn things and know things and fortunately we have a relationship with him that fosters that learning.  I think the best lesson given throughout this whole thing though has nothing to do with anything I've already said, but is the lesson that family, time, and love matters.  More than anything else.  We'll be able to slow down, become more organic in our lifestyle (sleep later in winter and wake earlier in summer, for example), find ourselves closer to what our bodies want to be that we are able to more clearly understand one another, appreciate what each other experiences, and give within our circle more fully as we'll be more emotionally and spiritually fed.  Our minds and hearts want to be connected and I think the more they are the more fundamental our knowledge becomes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Why Unschool: Part Two

  • Test, test, test
Firstly, I'm not anti-test.  At all.  I think tests are quite awesome actually; it's a great way to see where one is along the lines of development in a particular area.  But, what I have learned this year is it's one test after another test after another.  I think if there are so many tests going on all the time then there's no real definitive measure of one's comprehension, but rather of their current knowledge.  Don't we really teach our kids things to help them learn those things?  Don't we deem them important to be understood?  I think it's the nonstop test cycle that leads to memorization, not learning.  That's what puts pressure on us to "remember" something, but things that we actually learn, things we know aren't just remembered.  They're practiced, they're thought about.  The fundamentals behind the things we learn are built upon and used in other ways.  I don't know the fictional history of Macgyver's educational background but I am fairly certain that he didn't memorize how to use all the random objects he did in order to produce the results he did.  He must have had functional knowledge of a myriad of things, probably from hands-on experience with his Dad or Grandpa.  Again, tests are good.  Testing too much and forcing children to memorize and discard-not so much! 

  • Teachers are underpaid, undereducated, and under-evaluated
  I don't think anyone disagrees that they're underpaid.  I guess looking at my general workload I am too, so who am I to talk?  Well, I'm only responsible for teaching how many children I choose to teach not 20+.  Besides, I consider myself well paid.  I have a home, clothes, food, entertainment, a car, and everything else I need.  But, I digress...  Teachers handle a lot of kids with a variety of backgrounds and home lives, pressures from the state on how to get the kids to memorize everything they need to in order to pass the next test they're given, and limited space and time in which to do it all.  And they get paid so poorly from the start.  I say undereducated because while teachers do have to go through college which includes teaching training, it's been said that most new teachers have no concept of classroom management.  Now, you take another look at the concepts behind Waldorf education or Montessori education and you see that teachers do, in fact, manage classrooms effectively.  Probably because these are specific molds of teaching that require teachers to be trained, as the flow of these methods is essential to the whole education practice there.  But, average teachers-nope.  They get thrown on in with more than enough children to teach.  Should I ever retain a college education and be thrown into a room of 20+ children who need to be molded into something "usable" the following year, remind me of this blog, please?  Bless every teacher's heart for what they do.  I think the lack of evaluation is a serious problem.  The students' performance on all of their tests is usually a teacher's main form of evaluation, which is a real shame.  I get the premise, I do.  Their job is to teach and if the children are doing well on their tests then the teachers are teaching well.  But, again, every teacher's room is different.  Whether or not all the children do fabulously on a test doesn't necessarily indicate the level of skill a teacher has in handling her classroom, communicating with children, boosting their self esteem, or any other aspect of their job that, let's face it, they do  It leads to burnout.  Zane's current teacher has a classroom full of really tough kids.  It's incredible to watch her with them, really.  She touches them (even though the rules say not to) by shaking hands in the morning and saying good morning along with their name to each one as they walk in.  When they do great she makes a BIG deal out of it.  She bought coats for a couple of them at the beginning of fall because their parents hadn't yet.  She forgives with ease and most importantly she really, really cares.  As of 2 weeks ago it was decided that she will not be returning to the school next year.  Budget cuts.  She was new to the district this year and has the least seniority.  Tell me something...  A teacher moves in from out-of-state, starts at a new school, gets a very difficult class and gets packed to the max (25 first graders, no aide), year starts with extreme behavior issues and ends with vast improvement, all students in class are leaving the year able to read and teacher gets cut.  Should stature within a school be measured more by evaluation than years in the district perhaps this fantastic and talented teacher wouldn't be out of a job next year AND more teachers just might be getting trained on how to be as good as she is.  But, what do I know...  I'm a meager stay home Mom. ;-)

  • Too much (time spent) for not enough (attention)
Classrooms are jam-packed and we all know that.  Because of that, though, kids have to be in school for an average of 7 hours per day and I'm certain they're not getting their "money's worth".   Teachers just have too many students to help, to teach, to control, to watch.  7 hours is a very long day for children, especially younger ones.  Most adults work 8.5-9 hour days at work and how many of them do you hear whining by Thursday afternoon that they're "So ready for FRIDAY!" I did when I worked, too.  And yet when our kids tell us they're bored of school or tired of school, we tell 'em to just get back in line, stand up straight, and do what they're told.  They don't even get a bonus at the end of the year or anything!!  These kids, I tell ya...  they're real troopers.  Plenty of them are truly brilliant enough that they're legitimately b-o-r-e-d all day long as they wait for the others in their class to grasp a concept or memorize a formula but the schools aren't equipped to provide alternative classes for the bored ones since you can either skip grades or not skip grades.  Often someone excels in one area but not all.  There simply are no resources for them in traditional school, so since there's no "time for them" they're left there, waiting and getting bored.  What a waste of intellect.  At the very least, they should be provided an "out" for part of the day so they don't have to sit around wasting perfectly good time.  

I do have to make one really great exception to my fourth point on Why Unschool: Part One which was "NO freedom".  I'm happy to say that I got to witness the kids at Zane's school be almost completely free on Wednesday afternoon.  The Student Council threw a school dance to celebrate the end of the year and the beginning of spring.  In all honesty, I was hoping Zane wouldn't want to go, but he did, so we went (adults were required to come with students).  I had a blast.  Stori had a blast.  Zane had a blast.  So many people had so much fun that I found myself sad to be leaving the school.  These kids were jumping on each otehr, over each otehr, all around the gymnasium and were NOT told no!!!  Oh, I was just thrilled!  There were kids break dancing, hooping, hopping, skipping, sitting, standing, lying on the floor...  Of course it's not possible to eliminate all the nay-sayers, so there was one lady who was next to one of the foil door curtain things.  I'm sure it was purchased at the dollar store or similar and it was about 20 minutes until the end of dance time and there were boys who kept running through them (cause, ummm...they're the most AWESOME things ever to young kids) and yes, Zane was one of the boys.  She says to them "you need to stop running through this or it might break."  I guess she missed the memo on 1. What kids like and 2. it was in a DOORWAY-people go through those.  But, hey... that was the maximum of limitation put on the students that I noticed that afternoon and that, my friends, is one of those times I am SO GLAD to be wrong!!!  

Many of my points are personal, obviously.  This is, after all, OUR driving force behind making this movement.  So you may ask why not home school rather than unschool and I think I'll save my next post for that.  :-)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Unschool: Part One

I thought I'd start off with a couple of posts on why we're choosing to unschool.  I feel I have to point out the word "we".  Plenty of people choose this for their own reasons and I'm surely not the end-all for reasons why.  What's funny is that the first listed reason here is the way this all came about, actually.  Then as I started to live this transition, mentally, many others came to light for me just by observation and seeing how I truly feel about them.  I'm a believer that our experiences and thoughts create our reality, but I love when I see it in action.  Very satisfying.  :-)

  • We wanna hit the road, Jack!
Jon and I are like so many.  We've dreamed of retiring in an RV and traveling the country, taking it slow, visiting family, seeing friends, boondocking on beaches, creeping up mountainsides, the whole gamut.  Then, a few months ago I was introduced-via bloghopping- to Families on the Road.  Wow!  Really!?!?!?  People do this when they're young and with their kids?  Suddenly it seemed a great disservice to work many years and set the kids free to their own independent lives then hit the road in our golden years.  Why wait?  Why chance being old and tired?  Why rip off the kids?  I bet they'd love the adventure too!  So, I realized if this is to come to pass we'd surely be home schooling.  I thought about home schooling this past summer but for vastly different reasons. Since I gained a new inspiration on why to home school I've not been nearly AS afraid of it as I was last summer.

  • I'm smarter than they are, anyway.
What!?!?  You say...  Well, everyone measures intelligence differently.  Just like everyone measures success differently.  I noticed last year, in Kindergarten, that only a few short weeks after Zane started school his grammar became terrible and he was using words that aren't real words.  Now, I'm a grammar nut to an extent.  I mess up plenty, but "ain't" doesn't roll with me, people fix things that are broken and not something they're preparing to do, meat is done people are finished, "she doesn't" rather than "she don't", etc.  Even then I was complaining that if the first couple years in school are focused on reading and writing (language) then shouldn't a large part of that be LANGUAGE?  But, I digress.  I don't believe that a child memorizing that ten blocks equals 1 ten and 4 blocks equal 4 ones, which means that the ten blocks next to the 4 ones equals fourteen has ANYTHING to do with learning math.  Mathematics isn't memorization or even even sequences of numbers.  Math is conceptual thinking, critical analysis, and problem solving.  I don't believe that teaching children that seeds sprout in a cup before you throw it all away is teaching anything about science or nature.  Nature is planting the seed and caring for it until the crop is harvested, THEN utilizing the remainder of the plant to compost to re-feed the soil for the next year's crop.  I don't believe that teaching children to keep their hands to themselves and not touch one another teaches respect.  Respect is understanding that everyone's different and if "so and so" doesn't like to play sword fight then find someone else to play sword fight with.  I don't believe that teaching children to be active in gym class is by sitting on a platform affixed to wheels and pushing themselves around by their feet.  Being active is moving one's whole body, usually fast paced to also incorporate the mind into being active by doing something that a child becomes engulfed in to a point that their imagination takes over and no end of the play is in sight.  I could go on and on, but I'd like to list a couple more here.

  • "They" are mean and forceful
Now, let me point out that in two years of school, we've attended two different ones due to a home purchase.  They were quite different schools and I actually like our current one so much I may continue to volunteer there next year, should we still be here.  That being said, I don't see a way around it.  There are too many children in a building with too many things and to allow them to be guided properly would take an enormous amount of adult interaction which the school systems (notice I don't point out public, because many privates don't differ too much on how overloaded they are) aren't designed or even capable of equipping.  So, that means they HAVE to be mean and forceful.  They have to tell them to be quiet in line in the halls, they have to tell them to stand in a straight line, they have to tell them to not speak too much during lunch.  Otherwise, life there would be nothing short of catastrophic.  I get that, I do.  But, I just think my kids shouldn't have to deal with that crap, because I'm willing to give them something different.  I'm willing to spend the time with them and GUIDE (a word I think is lost from child rearing but shouldn't be) them, to help them find inspiration, help them learn to RESOLVE conflict, not ignore it.  I want to be far more loving to my kids than I have before (no more morning hustle and bustle and Mom nagging for clothes, socks, shoes, brush teeth, eat quickly, etc).   I don't think they've done anything terrible that makes them deserve to be pushed around.  I wouldn't let other kids talk to them the way teachers often do...

  • NO freedom
Now this one isn't so much the doing of the school and their lack of available resources as it is of parents who overprotect their children and are quick to blame and sue.  But, should you spend a decent amount of time in a school (at least in this area) you'll quickly find that there is not one time during the day for the kids to just be free.  Prior to my extensive volunteer time there, I thought recess was free time.  But, alas!  Nope.  When I was younger, I remember maybe one or two teachers out there to stand guard in case any real fighting was happening or in case someone got hurt, so they could escort them to the nurse's office.  There are MANY teachers on the playground these days.  Kids are not allowed to jump off swings or play sets, may not play tag (I WISH I were kidding on this one), may not pretend to sword fight (or light saber fight as Zane found out), surely may not play cops and robbers or anything even resembling and sort of thought about a gun, and are supposed to "keep hands to self".  All of these things are perfectly normal kid-things to do, I think.  But, someone somewhere complained that their child got hurt playing tag, jumping off a swing, or by getting high-fived in their face on accident (probably from walking backwards or sideways or some other silly way kids like to walk).  Someone must have said that was the "fault" of the supervising party and surely not a "natural occurrence" of happy, healthy, active children.  Laugh...  Gym isn't anything resembling free either and while I don't see it as it should be FREE, I do think that it should involve a lot more in-the-moment-activity.  Sure, some kids might run into walls (refer to above statement regarding the ways children walk) when they're RUNNING from someone or something, they may trip when sprinting, or they may even throw a ball terribly and hurt someone on accident.  But, it's absolutely clear to anyone who spends time with kids when something is intentional and when it's not.  Don't each of those accidents teach us to run in the direction our eyes are looking, sharpen neurological pathways between our feet and brains, and increase our hand-eye coordination?  Isn't this all just normal development and if we're not allowing kids to experience these things aren't we holding them back, providing them a handicap from realizing their full potential and/or ability?  

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pudding without meat!?!?!?

How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

Vegetarianize yourself! ;-)

Our family is going through transition.  Much like that during childbirth, this means an end to a period and a beginning to another.  A time of excitement, a time of fear.  A time of certainty, a time of disorientation.

We're preparing to unschool.  When I first read this word a few months ago, I thought I found a blogger who liked to play with words as much as I do.  I thought they were insinuating that they were going to un-learn what they learned during school.  I was hooked then.  :-D  But, now I know...  It is a form of non-schooling that gets me excited!!  We've been schooling our son, Zane for two school years and in 2.5 short weeks we'll be done with that for our foreseeable future.  I figured what better tool to watch it all unfold (particularly on days when I'm wondering WHY I'm doing this) than to set a space aside just for it and just for us.  After all, this nonsense of sleeping early to wake at 6am will be fading soon; as will the morning rush, the timed afternoon pickups, the weekly volunteering, etc, etc, etc which leads to my evenings of dazing out, rather than engaging myself.

While I follow the blogs of a couple of unschoolers and I've joined a local group of homeschoolers, to include, unschoolers, I've yet to watch anyone go through the process.  My hope here is to inspire any intrigued families, to show you the difficulties I encounter and the ways I solve them (or embrace them instead, for that matter!), or even to bring back fond memories for some who have gone through this process, and finally to document it for my own family and our nostalgic memories of the past, in the future.  ;-P

Here shortly, I'll include some links to my favorite unschoolers, but for now will leave you with this brilliant presentation from an impressive young lady.  While she is not speaking of unschooling, I received this message on a personal level as it has been a long standing belief of mine that children usually know more about LIFE than we do.