Reflections, Week 3

I had another post written and partially typed (yes, I handwrite them first. Hey, I handwrote a 200-page book too…). But between beginning and finishing, it became very clear or me that how I have been doing things so far, as far as schooling goes, is just not working. We are all tense. Elizabeth is feeling invalidated by my fussiness, pushiness, and need to keep things on schedule and organized. It’s fake, it feels fake. It’s not us either.

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My planner. Sorry the picture is bad, I think Dish Network gave us these “free” iPads because the cameras suck and they were seconds from Apple so they got a cheap deal…

I mean, it’s fun for me to plan and organize our work, even though it’s all ready organized. But when I pull out these big planners and then push her through activities so that we complete the organized day though she would rather keep playing with play doh or was having fun working ahead tracing letters, that’s the opposite of what it’s all about, right? After 2 units, she all ready tells me that she doesn’t want to do school today. Something is off…

Elizabeth is high energy, creative, and bright. I want to encourage her, not discourage her. I need a new plan – or lack of one! I think she found unit two too repetitive. It was obvious that she had fun on some activities, but it’s too forced, too unnatural. It. Seems to me that she’s finding it un-fun. (I did make up that word, it means that something’s not terrible, but not very fun either, but can be fun sometimes 🙂 .)

I’ve been very involved with her since she was little, we read, talk, and she has traditionally gone most everywhere I go. She was very much a mama’s girl for a long time. When we read, we talk about the pictures, I ask her to guess what she thinks is going to happen. We discuss morals. I discuss things as scientifically as possible – one time my sister was reading a book to her and called a blue-footed booby just a bird and Elizabeth corrected her. She was 2. She loves to tell stories and make up songs. She can memorize a book nearly word for word after a few reads. She can retell a book in her own words just as easily. She can count to 50 aided. She taught herself the alphabet and letter sounds with a Leap Frog radio, in a weekend. She knows shapes and colors, including 3-D shapes, and shapes with up to eight sides. She can hold a conversation with an adult, complete with opinions, facts, detailed instructions if needed, and takes turns talking.

Overflowing bookshelf

Overflowing bookshelf

I’d say that what we’ve been doing so far has been pretty much what I understand unschooling to be. I’d say it has worked. But what do I do with the $500 of homeschooling curriculum I bought?

In the curriculum’s favor, it at least has ideas for activities that I may not have thought of on my own, or that I may not have considered because it’s not one of my strong points. Because of our investment, I’d like to find a way to use it, beyond just reading the books. I thought about just opening it up and saying, “Here, you can do what you want out of it.” Then, I contemplated saying that the materials can be used in any order, but must be used on the project they were specific for. After that, I considered breaking the curriculum into thirds and saying she could do any book and projects that accompany it in whatever order that she wants. Lastly, aware that I am still not thinking too far out of the box here, I concluded that I will try to follow the curriculum pattern by weekly units, but I will tell her what kinds of activities there are and let her choose what order and how much we do. This attitude will allow her to move ahead at whatever speed she wishes to go forward with, and let her spend more time on whatever interests her. I’ll also forget about the ‘You must try everything before you get tv time’ zombie line threat that I wrote about when I talked about who was in control last post. Rejected. It felt weird to even write about control. That’s not me. That’s not us. That’s not how things are done at our house.

But, I don’t regret trying either. After all, I am the queen of looking at things from different perspectives, and I like patterns. I regularly reflect on my parenting, particularly when things feel like they are in a low (they kind of have been for 5 months now, so longer than this homeschooling stuff). I am not afraid of being open with myself, and want to convey that open-ness on this blog. Be my current actions useful or not, parenting is all about just feeling your way forward, trying new things, and letting your kids grow into who they are, not who you want them to be. The only person I can control to be who I want them to be – is me.

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2 thoughts on “Reflections, Week 3

  1. It’s awesome that you were able to see what wasn’t working and think of a way to integrate your curriculum in a more relaxed and unstructured way. I agree that so much of parenting is trial and error. There are several routines and methods I’ve implemented that haven’t been right for us at all, but, like you, I value the learning experience that comes from those trying times. I’m sure your daughter’s environment is made richer by your willingness to be open and try new ideas.

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    • Your’s is one blog I really enjoy, Chavva. As I was writing the Reflections, Week 2 post, I thought about how you said your daughter laughed at the idea that you could make her do anything she didn’t want to. I feel that respect towards my kids too. I can guide them, and ask them to do things, I can make them do something by not letting them do something else until they do, but ultimately, they control themselves. And when applying that to learning, I have to ask myself, do I want to make learning a battle of wills? Not at all. I want it to be fun. So, thank you for your comment, and your thought provoking posts. They have really given mr a lot to think about.

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