Monday, June 8, 2015

12 Steps + 1 Deschooling Plan

I've created a 12 step program so to speak for my personal deschooling.

1. Stop complaining. The past couple of months have revealed that I dislike most things that interest my children (and husband). Plus, I was adamantly vocal that certain activities do not meet my standards of quality uses of time. I was openly hostile to video games, TV, sports (playing, discussing, and watching), and comic books. I'd go berserk if I had to listen to one more superhero
discussed as if it was real life. Oddly enough, these are things I had no problem in my pre-children days. I did these things. So, when did they become horrible?

2. Connect with my children on their level. Once I stopped complaining it opened a lot of opportunities to connect. The past months have found me watching football and basketball, although for the longest Kevin Love and Kevin Hart were the same people to me. Also, I enjoyed being a spectator at my son's basketball games. Normally, it bores me to death. I make a point to sit in my daughter's ice skating lessons (I hate the cold). I've played a few Lego Marvel games. I even built my own mini figure at the Scouting for Bricks event. How can I expect my children to respect the things I like if I treat their interests as useless. On Tuesday, I went to Game Stop and bought my very own game in probably 30 years. 

3. Stop micromanaging and TRUST. Yes, I am that parent constantly asking what are you doing and double checking what you have done, possibly redoing it if it doesn't meet my standards.

4. Stop making everything about me. See points 1-3.

5. Stop seeing 30 year old adults where children reside. When I see my children,  I'm not content with the here and now. I'm projecting adult behaviors and thoughts on an 8 or 13 year old. I need to see who they are right now and rejoice in who they are becoming. Growth is a process and I can't rush progress.

6.  See my children as individuals and NOT just extensions of myself. My husband reminded me the children are not me when I complained about their lack of interest in certain areas that I enjoy.

7. Stop trying to correct my shortcomings through my children. Sometimes we want a do-over and attempt to get it through our children. I see my weaknesses/weirdness in my children and so want to drum it out of them. I'm realizing that what I perceive as weaknesses are sometimes just part of my personality and need to be accepted. If I can accept them in me, I can accept them in my children.

8. Take personal responsibility for the mistakes I've made in home education. Owning up enables me to make honest self-assessments and strengthen our relationships as stated in points 1-7.

9. Use discernment when following home school/educational authors, bloggers, specialists, experts, etc.  Everyone has the ideal plan; not every plan is for your family. You can't replicate in your home what works for another family.

10. Rejoice in the academic success of others without desiring to follow the exact formula for your children. There are so many home educators that I admire. Their children are doing such great things with Classical Conservations, school-at-home, and Charlotte Mason. But, it doesn't make what I do less. It means that they've found what works for their families. I use to run out and buy whatever curriculum or book suggested. Remember, you can't replicate in your home what works for another family.

11. Be true to yourself. Determine if it's important to care about what people think and the effect it will have on your life, family, and educational choices. You can't replicate in your home what works for another family.

12. Smile more, have fun! I've forgotten how to relax and have fun. Recently, I realized that I'm a real fun sponge. I can suck the fun out of every situation with my cynicism and seriousness

13. Read, Research, and Reach Out.  Make use of the wonderful classes, websites, Facebook groups, blogs, books, people, and other resources that exist. We need all the support and encouragement we can get. There's no need to reinvent the wheel or go it alone.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Summer of My Deschooling

In the last year, a need for my children to achieve has taken over. I flip between wanting to help ignite self-directed learning and pushing high test scores. I crave my children to test above grade level and reflect the time and energy that I have put into providing a home education.

One day I'm all about the slow path, the next I wonder why my children are not doing what others in my circle are doing. When they were younger I was more able to go with the flow, but as they get older it becomes harder and even isolating to hold on to what I value most.

We are definitely more relaxed than when we first started home schooling, but something is still missing. I need to get rid of the remaining vestiges of a "school" mind. For years, I avoided labeling ourselves as unschoolers because of fear of backlash, preferring instead lifelong, natural, or self-directed learner.  The term unschooler carries too many negative connotations, such as radical or unparenting. I've even seen the distinction academic unschooler. I'm assuming to differentiate from the negativity.  Regardless of the terminology, this is the summer of my deschooling. So, in an attempt to let go of the fear, I choose to use the term unschooler.

I'm a lukewarm unschooler.  When I'm with more school at home types, I speak the language, and discus curriculum. When I'm more relaxed/unschooled types, I speak the language and adjust accordingly. It's as if I have a split personality. I desire to be hot or cold, both are desirable states in water depending on the uses. Hot water is healing and cleansing, while cold water is refreshing. But, what use is lukewarm water. It definitely doesn't taste good or heal the aches in tired bones. I need to heal from the harmful effects of my education. I'm not really talking about horrible teachers, because most of my teachers were awesome. I was a good student and loved school, but there are subconscious effects that I'm still uncovering or recovering from. The closer college comes the more confused I become with the path to take.

My SAT scores (which were horrible) defined me for years, even though they were not indicative of my future academic success. Tests mean a lot to me. So, that does cloud my interactions with my children. My husband constantly reminds me that lots of people are "successful" without college. In the back of my mind, I think that's all well and good for someone else's child. I waver between get out the textbooks and "what do you want to do today?"

I'm pushing hard to step outside this box of fear and escape this places where other people's voices are in my head dictating the rules about education, tv, computer, video games, learning, success, etc. I have always prided myself on going against the grain, and being confident in my ideas, opinions, and decisions. Somehow by having children I have allowed "professionals" and so-called experts to usurp my power.

Hopefully, this summer will enable me to get on track and stop wavering between two camps and heal what has been broken in our homeschool.

*Disclaimer:  I'm not saying that other methods of home education are wrong or harmful, only that I'm not being true to who we are as learners. Nor do I think there has to be an all or none type of method. It's just that my perfectionistic tendencies ramp up with certain educational styles.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Our Journey

Welcome!  This is a place to share my thoughts, experiences, and experiments in home education with my four children.

I have been home schooling for about eight years and have slowly hewing a path from a rigid classical education to a more relaxed, eclectic style that fits my family. We never planned to homeschool. In fact, we eagerly awaited the day to sign my now 13 year old up for kindergarten. We have no public school horror story and never considered any other route. In fact, I thought homeschooling was something that radical, Birkenstock wearing, living off the grid types did. No offense to those who choose to do this.

My husband and I both worked in our local school district, but not as teachers. I found through my work that the district seemed to operate primarily to improve and take tests. Simply put, we wanted something different. I assumed the change would be admission to the local Montessori school or a small, affordable private school. Suddenly, we started meeting home schoolers. It was as if an entire underground movement had manifested out of no where. I had literally never met anyone who home schooled. Families were popping up at the playground, library, and other places. There was this entire organized world I had known nothing about that consisted of home school classes, co-ops, and field trips. Where had all these people been hiding? It was as if a veil had been lifted. Someone invited me to a home school informational meeting at the local library.We accepted that as confirmation that this was the path God wanted us to take.

Initially, I followed the educational style of the people I met. At that time in my area, most families adhered to a classical education. We followed a pretty rigid schedule. School operated from 8-12 pm. Math, grammar, reading, and history were covered daily. I did not go out during the day until after 2 pm or only to designated programs. Outside time was even scheduled. All I knew was school at home. I think I felt someone would give my kids pop quizzes when they went out. I only had two kids at the time.

Fast forward a couple of years, and we're a lot more relaxed using more living resources, hands on materials, and generally trying to follow the slower path.