Fellow Parents I Need Your Help

ClothboundChildrenBooks_11-500x748

My daughter brought me “The Hobbit” and asked me to read it to her. Knowing it’s too much for her age I asked why she wanted to read it. Her response, “I want to read books like you do, with no pictures”.

Sounds easy enough, there is a wealth of classic children’s literature I could read to her, but as I went through my memory of my favorites I realized, she can’t handle most of them. She is an extremely sensitive child.  If I read Anne of Green Gables, she would spend days trying to understand why someone would give up their child, if I chose Charlotte’s Web she would spend the whole book crying about why Wilbur has to be eaten. No, she has not made the “baby cow in our pasture will be eaten” connection and yes, I will probably make up a lie about where he went. Don’t judge, seriously, let it go, I need your help.

Do you remember any children’s books that are light and gentle?

Advertisements

First Official Day of Homeschool

normal_ulrich020484cf

Monday was the first official day of homeschooling.

The reason I’m calling it official is up until now, there was a box of educational goodies sitting on the kitchen table we called the school box and each child picked from it what they wanted. This was going to be our first moments spent in a room I have been busting my patooty to get ready. (makeover post to come)

Monday morning after breakfast we walked into our Creativity Room(Class/Craft Room) for the first time.

I had such a lovely daydream of what this day was going to look like. Me, with my fresh brewed coffee, picking out fabric samples for the girl’s summer skirts. Every once in while I would gaze so proudly at my girls happily painting frame worthy art.  As they transitioned  from project to project I would be right there beside them to inspire their creativity and guide them to a love of learning. 

reality-check-1

Once they walked into the classroom, they went a little nutty. Flitting from one thing to another without giving anything time to sink in. 

In the first 10 mins this is what took place.

  • a few scribbles on a math workbook
  • looked at a few flash cards
  • barely painted one picture
  • glued a few geometric shapes to paper
  • maybe 30 seconds of a puzzle
  • drew on dry erase boards
  • colored an alphabet page
  • threw magnets on the floor

I kid you not, they did all this in 10 mins. I know it was the excitement of a new room and new things to do, but it was almost my entire homeschooling plan for the day. Gone, poof, in 10 minutes. 

“I’m done. I want to do something else” was repeated constantly from my oldest, my youngest was bellowing like a hyena, all the while pulling everything from the shelves.

Maybe I should just box everything up and put

it back on the kitchen table.

OR

Maybe public school isn’t such a bad idea.

no child left behind

Ok, maybe not.

As parents we get to exchange one dream for a new one, sometimes every single day until we experience that flicker of hope that we are on the right path.  Monday was one of those days, but the last 2 have gotten a little better with each day. I expect to have perfect children with incredible focus, mindfulness and overwhelming aptitude by May.  It could happen!

life-is-beautiful-quotes

What were your first few days of homeschooling like?

I Love Black Women

I do. I Love Black Women.

Let me tell you why that matters to you as a parent.

When I was 5 years old my 16 year old brother died in a car accident. It broke my family in a way that even 35 years later we still don’t understand. My Mother disappeared into her bedroom, my brother went to school, my Father worked 14 hour days and there was me, a little girl in a state of utter dismay. That’s when 2 neighbors entered my life and forever changed me. Although I was not to know they did for another 26 years.

Mrs. Beulah walked in our front door bold as brass with no knock or invitation. She cleaned, she cooked, she dressed me and brushed my hair. And then we would sit at  the table and talk over a cup of coffee(2 tblspns coffee, 2 tblspns sugar, 1 cup milk).  And when Mrs. Beulah didn’t come, Mrs. Ivory would. I don’t remember a great deal about her, but I remember her laughter, which she offered up constantly. Her whole body would shake in perfect rhythm to each lilt of her mirth. Then came the moment when all her glee would explode, she would open her mouth wide to let it roar and show a mouth full of gold teeth. To me, she shimmered and glittered.

Flash forward 26 years.

I came home to tell my Husband I just met the loveliest woman and I was completely besotted. As I prattled on about all her many virtues he interrupted me to ask “was she black?” I stopped dead. Had I said something that would lead him to think that, why would he ask, did it matter? I was confused and taken aback. Because she was.

You see, I don’t fall in love with people. I socialize out of interest in their differences, not necessarily to make bosom buddies. I’m not antisocial per say, but I usually don’t take the time to allow myself to feel a connection. I’m careful with my feelings and seldom jump in a friendship. My husband knew this about me, but he had also noticed an exception.

And then he asked me this “Who is the first black woman you remember?” As I sat there recounting my tales of Mrs. Beulah and Mrs. Ivory, I began to feel the love and warmth they imparted. I felt the laughter that filled our home when there had been none for so long.  I felt the earnest and open listening and understanding that was handed me when no one had been listening before. How could I have missed this about myself?  He was right, if I met a black woman, all shields were down.

This is not a story of race or family tragedy.

It is a story to remind myself and all parents, we can not know who or what will imprint on our children or in what way it will affect them…for the rest of their lives. Even though these women only spent a few months in my daily life, they managed to inspire a lifetime of positive relationships. But it got me thinking, what about all the other experiences that weren’t positive? What other hidden tendencies are related to the negative?

This is why our choices to educate outside the home should be scrutinized from every angle. For 9 months, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day someone else will be in charge of our children’s experiences.  Educators and school chums can offer bright and positive experiences. But they can also offer something else.

One bad teacher, one sad abused classmate, or one non caring principal could change our children permanently. I know what your thinking, “I had bad teachers and bullies and it didn’t effect me at all.”

My question is this…

How do you know?

My Homeschool Curriculum For Pre K

The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” Alexandra K. Trenfor

A Dame's School

What homeschool curriculum did you use for your little ones? 
Did your child ask to learn and you waited it out until they were older?
How did that work out?

I feel a little silly writing this post, my kiddos are 4 and 2. They don’t need school, they need crayons, kittens and princess dresses.

What do you do when your 4 year old has this conversation?

Kiddo: I want to go to school.

Me: What happens at school?

Kiddo: I get to ride the bus and play with kiddos, and learn math. Do you know how to Math?

Me: Yes, do you want me to teach you?

Kiddo: No, I want a real teacher.

Me: I could be your teacher.

Kiddo: Big grin, wide eyes, “Yea?!”

I didn’t jump in right away like in hindsight I should have. Because when I said this to her, I was thinking more like, “I’ll teach her a few things while I’m looking for a preschool.”

Jump to conversation number 2…2 weeks later.

Kiddo: Mommy, I want to learn Math, you promised to teach me

Me: I did, didn’t I.

Enter serious Mommy guilt.

Bunny_facepalm_by_shlj23-d4s3yaj

At this point I had been doing my best to figure out appropriate schooling options and was starting to lean towards homeschooling. I was very much into Rudolf Steiner which explicitly denies formal education until they are 7. So what am I supposed to say, “No, not until your 7″, like she’s asking to have her ears pierced? ”

So I began the homeschool curriculum search, educational toys, workbooks, free curriculum on line, apps etc. What makes this a little more difficult is kiddo number 2 will want to be involved, so I must have “school” for her too.

I want to clarify something before I move on.

You do not need all this stuff. I bowed down to capitalism to allay my “I’m not good enough” fears. I recognize they exist and I will work through them, but my kiddos shouldn’t have to wait until Mommy’s issues are cleared up to live their life. I needed to get something on the proverbial school desk, fast…before I lost my nerve. I needed as many learning tools as possible “in case I fail”. This was my form of retail therapy.

Math

We went through all the new goodies and it was great fun, but the clear winner…the Abacus! My kiddo’s dexterity is not great, so getting her fingers to count properly was a frustration, enter brightly colored beads. For the last 4 days since our packages arrived I have heard this joyous song ringing through our home. “I want to play Math”. So really all I needed was the Abacus. The numbers worksheets I downloaded from here.

math

Reading

We went through the first Bob book while my Husband and I sat with mouths agape. She was sounding out words like a pro. But she had no real interest and promptly went back to “playing Math”. Then something miraculous happened during storytime, “can you read this for me” I prompted. “Pat sat on the cat” she easily breezed and then looked at me with sheer joy. “I read, I really read”. “Yes, baby, you read the other night with Mommy and Daddy”. I said. “I’m not talking about those books, that’s a real book”, she exclaimed pointing at the Dr. Seuss I held. The Bob books didn’t register, for her it was an exercise, but reading a book that up until now only Mommy read, that to her was reading. So most likely I could have just stuck with Dr. Seuss. *sigh*

reading

Writing

This skill is just not there yet and I haven’t seen any real interest. She does enjoy Mr. Pencil and is very proud to have her first big girl pencil. So I’m satisfied with these purchases. Found the writing worksheets here.

writing

Spanish

Kids have such an aptitude for language. I’ve read accounts of children learning new languages at young ages, but really thought it was a case of over zealous parents. My kiddos already have a fairly significant number of  Spanish vocabulary just from watching Dora and Diego. So when I get the question, “Mommy, do you know how to say “such-n-such” in Spanish?”, I have to follow their lead. Both kiddos really are enjoying and learning with Little Pim. Very happy with these.spanish

 Little One’s “School”

All of these were actually great purchases. The fish color puzzle is just about obsolete so well worth it there and the rest are still being enjoyed tremendously.

little one

These last few days have taught me that I honestly didn’t need everything here. Part of the reason I bought so many different things was because I didn’t know what my children would respond best to. Also, child led learning sounded so scary to me and I wanted them both to be able to pick what spoke to them. Turns out, pencils and paper and “school” with Mommy spoke more to them than anything. Well, except the Abacus. I thought for sure I was going to need a background in child psychology to catch the clues of readiness. But it really is as easy as, “what do you want to do today?”.

Starting a little homeschooling at this age is less stressful. By the time the school district will require lesson plans and standardized testing  she will be far enough ahead that it will make no difference if she chooses to ignore a subject for a while. But also…she’s 4! Who cares?!

Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Institutional Education

Enjoy watching the adults behind her who shift, fidget, cross their arms and look at each other for consolation. I would think a true educator would, despite the confines of mandated curriculum, be proud to have helped create a free thinker for a Valedictorian.

The Courage To Homeschool

homeschool9

A few days ago I typed up a few of my mind ramblings about homeschooling. To my surprise and delight homeschoolers  from around the world found me and offered up a look into their lives. I felt honored, but mostly inspired.

As I watched my WordPress map brighten with color from Taiwan to South Africa, only a very few were from my own country. With almost 2 million homeschoolers in the US, I had to wonder why my fellow countrymen offered so little and why I gained so much from around the world. I’m just curious, in the end it really doesn’t matter. They all have helped to answer a question I didn’t even know to ask.

Thanks to these fellow humans who’ve shared I’ve learned the story of…

A Father who moved to Taiwan to immerse his son in the culture.

A Mother who said yes when her perfect and intelligent son asked to be homeschooled.

A Mother who removed her child from school after she began being exposed to things much to young for her precious 8 years.

A Mother who fights a national health care system to ensure her child’s needs are heard.

Parents who took their children to Africa to experience what true need looks like.

A Mother who carefully integrates core studies in Art for a child who’s mind is constantly creating. 

All of these people have a great deal in common, but the main thing I felt from each and everyone, was courage. So instead of asking why a parent homeschools, I should have been asking,

How much courage does it take to homeschool?

Because in the end it only takes a small amount of research and study to come to the conclusion homeschool is almost always the best. So what stops a parent from choosing homeschool?

Courage.

The courage to sacrifice a large part of our day that could have been spent on any number other self fulfilling activities. Not that educating a child isn’t one of those, but there will certainly be a great many thrown by the wayside.

The courage to stand against the tide. Ignorance is rampant in the US and a homeschooled child is handed judgment and the parents even more so.

The courage to face any government involvement. Pennsylvania for example requires a full year of  lessons plans be submitted for approval and access to your home for inspections.

The courage to educate ourselves so that we will be the best guide for our children.

The courage to say “I Can”. To believe ourselves capable of introducing the minds of our very own children to the world. That is something I have questioned about myself since I first felt the stirrings of life in my body.

It is easy to empathize with a parent who chooses not to homeschool. Homeschool comes with a hefty cost and not all children and parents are best suited for such an education. When I started my journey into homeschool I did it with resistance. Not to the idea, because I know it’s probably best. But with fear, a fear I was not good enough. Someone else would be better suited to teach my children, someone with more degrees, more education experience, more materials.

Who is better suited to lead our children through life and help them learn from all their experiences, if not their parents?

Thank you fellow homeschoolers for helping me to see that I could spend countless hours in books and websites, but in the end “the courage to homeschool” was the only question I really needed to answer.

Are Children’s Books Meant to Condition the Parents?

Homeschool or not?

This question has been on my mind and search engine daily. Since I began to question the wisdom of sending my children away to be educated, I’ve noticed no matter where I turn we are being told education should happen outside the home.

Something as simple as a children’s book.

Last night my oldest picked a book I have read many times. This time it’s meaning struck me so differently than it did just a few weeks ago.

The book is “This Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn.  It was a New York Times Bestseller and was an Ed Press Winner.

khchester250

Chester Raccoon stood at the edge of the forest and cried.

“I don’t want to go to school, ” he told his Mother. “I want to stay at home with you. I want to play with my friends. And play with my toys. And read my books. And sing my songs. Please may I stay home with you?”

Here is the sad little illustration by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak that corresponds with the text.

racoon

Mrs. Raccoon took Chester by the hand and nuzzled him on the ear

” Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do,” she told him gently “even if they seem strange and scary”.

 

“Um…no….NO…no we don’t have to!” I thought to myself.

So children are to be ripped from their family and home, everything they have ever known. Their source of security. Put in a strange, large, confusing building, with a bunch of strange children, whose home life and parents we do not know. What imprint they leave on our children will be outside our control. They will spend the majority of the daylight hours with adults we have barely met, if at all, and know nothing about as well. This will be our children’s main source of influence, guidance and education for the next 9 months.

 Let me put it to you another way, in the next 9 months your child will have 2,340 waking hours. You will be with them for 990, they will be in school for 1,350.

Are we being conditioned to believe that this is the best thing for our children?

If you think I’m crazy ask yourself this …

  • How much research did you do before you sent your kid to school?
  • Do you know where the teacher got her/his education?
  • What kind of person is he/she?
  • What are the teaching methods?
  • What is his/her teaching track record?
  • Who are the children in the class who will be his/her friends?
  • What kind of people are their parents?

I would bet a significant amount of money that most people don’t ask these questions.

Now the obvious question, why didn’t you ask these questions?

Because this is what we are supposed to do.

Anyhoo, just a random thought I had while taking the book out of our repertoire and deciding what illustrations I can keep for decoupage.