Sunday, January 27, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Homeschooling Young Children: Let Them Be

One of the strange things about homeschooling is this notion of young children. I see mention of this species everywhere. When I read it, I automatically think, oh, they must mean those small and loud people that go to colorful rooms called preschool where they paint with their fingers and sing songs about an old Scottish farmer who had a lot of different animals. That's small children! I got it!

Except I don't get it.

I skim read this part of the book, because honestly, what does this have to do with me? I don't have small children. There is no need to read this section thoroughly, please get to the part where it talks of big children and their big capabilities, thank you.

Then a word or three jumps out during all this skim reading of young children. Words like, "ten years old" or "eight to eleven years old." They are using those words to define young children and I'm beginning to wonder if I have undiagnosed reading comprehension problems.

What are they talking about? Eight-, nine-, ten-year-old children are not young. They are....I don't know what they are, but they aren't young!

Then I realize what has been lost during our five years spent in government education and it makes me incredibly sad.

My five-year-old kindergartner was never a five-year-old kindergarten. He wasn't expected to act his age. He was expected to act older and be prepared for first grade, which is really like second grade. My kindergartener was expected to be a near second-grader.

My third grader was never a nine-year old. He had to prepare for a state-wide standardized writing exam in the fifth grade while in the third grade. My third grader was expected to be something akin to a fifth grader.

Since I pulled my boys out of government schools in 2nd and 4th grades, I don't know where it stops. I know 5th graders are expected to be middle schoolers, because I heard about prepping kids for middle school in the 4th grade. I don't know why that mentality would change for middle schoolers, who I imagine are expected to be like high schoolers and high schoolers are expected to be like college students?

And so I read these homeschooling books and articles and see them refer to children as something other than miniature adults. This notion still strikes me as something new, even though I work every damn day to peel away the layers of preconceived notions I have of children and how they learn best. It's so easy to slip back to those old ideas, familiar and ingrained as they are.

The challenge is not to get my 10-year-old to write 3-5 paragraph essays.

The real challenge is to hold onto that deeper wisdom that knows sooner is not always better.

They are young children. Let them be.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

10 Regrets I Have About Homeschooling

Some of the people who read my blog aren't homeschoolers (they're infidels instead), so they may not be aware that it's very popular to post a 10 (insert whatever things) About Homeschooling on your homeschool-related blog. This is what counts for creative content when all of your creative energy goes into educating your children, which also explains why I rarely write anymore.

And since I rarely write anymore, I have no recollection of how to transition into a list. So let's just jump right into the 10 Regrets I Have About Homeschooling and pretend I transitioned that very smoothly.

1. I regret that I rarely write anymore. Did I mention that already? My creative energy is spent going through our colonial history curriculum, paring up each lesson with the perfect, most interesting library book ever written on the subject and a fascinating living history field trip and/or project. By the time I finish those mental Olympics, all I can write is "a;hd ghaie"

2. I regret that I have moral objections to imbibing in drunkedness and duct tape in the presence of kids. Because some homeschool days? Damn, y'all.

3. I regret that my parenting high horse died. It was almost 12 years ago the day it happened. Payton absolutely refused to breastfeed as a brand-new newborn and I had to flash my engorged boobs to several perfect strangers and my next door neighbor, all in attempt to get that baby boy to LATCH-ON, for the love of god! That's the day my parenting high horse died, which is sad since it was only with us about 3 days. I really miss that horse, because if I had him now I could be one of those sanctimonious homeschoolers whose kids never ever bicker, all due to our perfect family culture and the Bible. Amen.

4. I regret the time I spent trying to find cheaper curriculums. Spend the money on quality curriculums. It's worth every penny.

5. I regret the time I spend trying to find quality materials. Sort of. Of course I think my kids deserve the best quality materials. I just wish I didn't have to wade through so many crappy programs to find the gems.

I see your school uniform and raise you one individuality
6. I regret that I don't have a school janitor. Hey, boy bathrooms stink, even with just two boys in the home! Also someone makes repeated messes in the kitchen and calls it "chemistry experiments." I don't know who does it, but when I catch him I'm going to do something very heinous and punitive, like force him to look at the Land's End's school uniform catalog.

7. I regret that someone hasn't figured out how to bottle up patience and sell that shit at Target. Not only I could become a better homeschooler, but I could scope out the clearance aisles all at the same time. Until then I guess I'll keep eating Ghirardelli chocolate chips in place of a patience potion.

Where are the Pottery Barn baskets when you need them?
8. I regret that I don't own stock in Usborne and DK Eyewitness books. I should be a stockholder with the amount I buy.

9. I regret that I don't have a Pottery Barn magazine house, because, Jesus, where am I supposed to store all of these books?! It's like we're a learned household or something.

10. I regret that we didn't start homeschooling sooner. Seriously, I wish we had and I regret I spent over four years being too scared to take the leap, even though the signs were knocking me upside the head every single week we were in the public system. I wish I had believed more in myself and my kids, because we are having the best damn time.
There's an educational lesson in this photo, I just don't know what it is yet.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Embrace the Feminine

If it isn't bad enough I'm subjected to farting play-wrestling with the knowledge that my neighbors can hear my sons' primordial screeches of flatulence domination, just 45 minutes later I was forced to watch testosterone-overdose shows, like Myth Busters.

What the hell, people? We have two T.V.s in this house. I don't know how I always end up having to watch this male stuff on the bigger T.V.  Except there's some ideal called "democracy" that's deeply rooted in our culture and these primordial farting heathens take advantage of it. Damn all that homeschooling and learning shit. I refuse to watch TV from the bunk beds in the children's room. It's only 720 dpi, for god's sake!

I've had some physical problems lately.  I hate to mention it since I don't like to give attention to such things, but it's been odd pains, like in my breasts and shoulder and back. I researched it a bit, and if you're one of those kooky types that believe pains and illness have a psychological root (and I totally am one of those kooks), the pains are related to me not expressing my femininity.

Well, no duh.  How am I to express femininity when I can only watch half of a chick flick once every six weeks when they all go for a hair cut?

I decided I had to take a stand. For my health. Enough is enough, and it's my boobs we're talking about.

Wally and I spent an afternoon landscaping our backyard. Since it required digging up 740 cubic feet of grass and dirt, it was obviously labor-intensive and not the kind of labor-intensive that sounds very feminine, if you ask me. So when Wally turned to me, wondering aloud when I was going to have a turn with the shovel, I told him I was embracing my femininity at the moment. Since this decision also allowed Wally to embrace his masculinity, it killed two birds with one stone, so I don't know why he rolled his eyes at me and muttered unintelligible things under his breath.

And then a fire ant got into my bra and bit me on the boob during this landscape work.

What is the Universe trying to tell me now?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

And You Think Employers Wanting Your Facebook Password Is Bad

There are many benefits of living along the Gulf Coast, and one of them is the short time frame of warm but not yet scorching temperatures during March and April. It's those fleeting days when you can leave your doors and windows open all day long, enjoying the fresh breeze and lack of sweaty armpits all at the same time.


When your two sons begin play wrestling and yelling back and forth as loudly as they can, "No face farting!" and "I just farted!" and "I just farted and it STINKS!", you begin to wonder what your neighbors think of you.

Maybe open windows aren't so great after all, no matter how beautiful the weather.  There is no way to be your every day uncouth self yet still keep up appearances to outsiders.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ghirardelli Would Have Sponsored This Post Except I Talked About Goat Shit.

I was at a party this past Sunday when someone told me how much they liked reading my old blog.  And that made me remember, oh yeah, I have a different blog now and I should write something on it.

I made it all the way to the sitting down part. And I had a some idea of what to blog about but now all I can think about is getting up and eating more chocolate chips straight from the baking bag....

Wait, I have to go get a few more....

Okay, so this time I brought the entire bag with me, to hell with this getting up and walking to the kitchen multiple times to gorge on more Ghirardelli (which, I'm sorry, is the ONLY brand to buy, people. All you Nestle people get the hell off my blog.) chocolate chips.

Back to this party where someone mentions my old blog. It's very strange, remembering I was capable of writing funny things that people recall over a year after I stopped.  I think of myself then and who I am now and wonder, who in the hell was that masked bandit?

I scraped goat shit out of three pairs of shoes today, people. GOAT SHIT. I just looked down at my hand and saw this green stuff dried on my finger and thought, Jesus, did I miss some GOAT SHIT on my finger!?!? That is unbelievably disgusting! Then I realized, oh no, that's just leaf juice on my finger from arranging cut flowers.

I don't know why I told you that, except to ask who the fuck has taken over my body? Goat shit and flower arranging?

Payton's latest obsession is dog breeding. Is this hormone-related or something? He's a tween now, should I be worried? I can't figure it out, yet it appears to be contagious.  When contemplating whether to make myself sit down and write or not, I temporarily entertained the idea of not and reading his library book on the history of dog breeds instead. I don't even like dogs nor care about how these breeds were created. Except it's a book and I think my love affair with books has tipped from a healthy appreciation over to some kind of human relationship replacement.

I miss my friends.  And not necessarily those "real-life" ones, because I never had that many to begin with. I mean those whose back and forth reply-all emails made me laugh so hard and kept my wits on its toes.

I miss my ability to see the funny little stories within the folds of every day life.

And I'm shutting up right here, because this is turning into a pity party, and worse than that, I ran out of chocolate.

Just to let you know how things are going in homeschool land (and because I refuse to end this on a pity party note), I came across a blog carnival with a school idea for a DIY paper bag book. This is where you turn paper bags into a book. And then paint each page. You know, for your kid's literacy.

I'm pretty sure that particular blogging carnival is sponsored by neurosurgeons in attempt to bring in new lobotomy customers.