Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Power of Choice

 "Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back 
In my husband's latest sermon, he discussed how following God is a choice. Using Deuteronomy 30:11-19, he asked the listeners to choose between blessings and cursings. For those unfamiliar with this passage, the Israelite leader, Moses, is asking the people to choose to make a commitment to God's commandments. This led me to Joshua 23 in which Joshua brings the people together asking them once again to choose right then and there who they're going to serve. I think this is wonderfully applicable to unschooling and parenting, especially for those of us who do more talking than walking. 

You know what I mean. You've read, listened, and watched every bit of material on unschooling and parenting, but you never quite get to the doing. It's time to choose to make the commitment to the life you and your family want. Just to clarify, I'm not in any way using these scripture to support unschooling or homeschooling. I'm just talking about how these scriptures spoke to me.

Don't keep going back and forth, make a choice. Trying sets us up for half-hearted attempts and failure. It makes us, and those around us, doubt the path we're following. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of wavering. I'm tired of sending mixed messages to my family. Are we going to keep trying to become more thoughtful? Or keep trying unschooling? Or will we choose thoughfulness and unschooling? We have the power and ability to choose. 

Are we going to choose life or death? Are we going to speak beneficial, encouraging words to those in our life?  Am I trying to foster an atmosphere of peace, curiosity, and joy? Or am I actively creating this atmosphere? My decisions, thoughts, and actions must line up with the things I say I want. Not trying, but doing. Yes, I get up each and every day consciously choosing to act on this knowledge. It's not a once and done type of deal. Live life, don't try to live life.

You have the power: choose.

*Any similarities between this post and my husband's sermon are intentional used with his express permission.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Unity in Homeschooling

"Unity is strength... when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved." Mattie Stepanek (www.brainyquote.com)
Self-righteous. Know-it-All. Queen Mother of All Things Correctly Done in the Homeschooling and Parenting Universe. Passive-Agressive. My husband wouldn't have been wrong if any of these thoughts coursed through his mind. What do you do if you and your spouse differ on methods of homeschooling? To be clear, we have always agreed on homeschooling. We always agreed on classical home education, school at home. Until we didn't.

Years of homeschooling, reading, and later deschooling led me to believe our family needed to do things differently. Instead of drawing my family into the process. I leaped in wholeheartedly, revamping our entire lifestyle. Notice I said "I." I didn't really consult with my husband. Or even my kids for that matter. Instead of gradual change, I flipped the script on them. I just threw out curriculum (except for my son who wants to play college sports). Decided no separate subjects. Straight living life and freedom. Too much, too soon. But, I didn't stop there. I went straight radical. No bed times, no limits on electronics All this after completing an electronic screen-time reset in February. Total electronic blackout. Inconsistency and too much change.

I made unschooling more important than the relationship with my husband. Plus, I threw my children into chaos. No schedule, no organization. Which is not what unschooling means. When my husband returned from work the house was turbulent. Madness greeted him on a regular basis.  No bed times in the general sense, disturbed him. As the watchman of the night, he likes to know the house is secured. It's not o-kay with him for the kids to roam around the house at all times of night. Plus, it's hard for them all to maintain quiet. He has an early and lenghty commute. But, it turns out he has no problem with the kids occupying themselves in their rooms with quiet activities. This is about respecting him. Without his support of homeschooling we wouldn't be able to enjoy this lifestyle.

We go back and forth with electronics. So, we're working a plan that takes into consideration his thoughts. This is a partnership. He loves our children as much as I do. I think because the primary homeschooling parent reads, studies, and breathes this life it's easy to treat the nonschooling parent as a mere observer. No input needed or desired. He wants to know our children are learning. He wants to know I'm actively engaging them, and not just letting them roam wildly. It's up to me to show him the children are learning. It's my job to let him know he's included in our lives. He loves hearing about their days and new things learned. He loves seeing their projects.

He misses the projects and experiments. I admit I've become a little too hands off. Honestly, it's been my implementation of unschooling that's a turn off not the actual concept. He's all for independence, taking control of your learning, following your interests, and natural learning. What's not to love?What he dislikes is disorganization and lack of a plan. Unschooling doesn't mean no structure. I'm not talking about structure in the sense of micromanaging the  day hour by hour. Or even filling the day with activities I've planned for them. But, helping  them find activities of interest to them and supporting them once involved. Without unity, our homeschooling lifestyle is doomed to failure. As we enter the new year, I go with renewed purpose not only to unschooling, but more importantly to our relationship.