Friday, August 10, 2012

Might + Should = Might Should

<<My friend, Jen, over at Homeschooling in High Heels asked me for a post to encourage some moms who are making the transition from public school to homeschool.  I can't have everybody over for some chips & salsa and talk homeschool whatnots, so I hope this does the trick.>>

"If you think you might and 
you think you should, 
you might should."

My friend, Janice,  said this to another friend, Rachel, who was considering homeschooling. We were standing in the middle of the Florida Parent Educator's Association (FPEA) Convention. I had encouraged Rachel to come check it out to see the many options available to us modern-day homeschoolers. We were bee-boppin' all around and I was showing her all the great tools out there and introducing her to all my people!

There was a slight problem: I'm pretty sure I was dangling on the proverbial edge of my annual Convention-induced meltdown. Seriously. I do this every year. Still!

(I'll get back to the meltdown in a minute.)

I blame this meltdown on our public school experience. I do. I don't mean my personal public school experience, I mean that of my girls. Every teacher we had was wonderful and, I believe, genuinely loved my girls. The school was in a small community with a lot of teachers and students we know personally. Before my oldest daughter's kindergarten teacher was assigned, I was on the PTA board. No joke. I got the position during the summer and I loved it. The sanguine in me was in my element. I volunteered at the school often and spent some time in the classroom with my girls. I could see first hand how great these teachers were. We had the best public school situation anyone could ask for.

Still, it wasn't home.
There had always been a part of me that thought I might should bring my girls home. It was always nagging at me that I could school them and I knew that our school situation wouldn't always be so grand.

So, I pulled them out. Out of the blue. You can read a little more about that here.
When my girls were in 2nd grade and Kindergarten, they came home for Christmas break and never went back. Our family knew it was the right thing for us to do; although, I'm pretty sure our friends thought we were nuts. We were all right!

I quickly mailed my Letter of Intent before I could change my mind. I cried when I talked to the principal and the teachers. They were so encouraging, really. I let them know that I may well be back there in the fall if I flunked as a homeschool parent.  I showed up at one of the teacher's houses to tell her. What? That's not creepy! I cried on her lanai and she asked me to homeschool her boys. I love that woman. She's also the reason I have a meltdown every full moon and Convention. I freak out because I know I don't do at home half of the awesome things she did in that classroom! Guess what?! I don't have to! It doesn't take all that singing and dancing (Kindergarten) to teach my two kids. They do that for the benefit of 20 different learning styles. I have 2. I only have to do what works for them. Praise Jesus!

I tell you all of this so that, hopefully, even without me serving you some chips and salsa, you will allow me to encourage you should you decide to make the transition from public school to homeschool.

You were the first teacher. -- This makes you the best teacher. Oh, how I play the game of "Finishing that education degree would have been the smart thing to do." I had Florida Prepaid College. I blew a great deal of it. My major is/was English Education. I've been a Senior at USF off and on since 1999. Guess what? I only need to be one day smarter than my girls. Sometimes only 5 minutes smarter. You can do this. I didn't have a 'school room' to teach my girls how to walk, sing their ABCs, or their colors. You don't, either. And our reading does NOT happen at a desk. It's in the bed, outside, at the pool, on the couch or in a fort. If I'm super lucky, reading happens at the beach!

Capture their hearts the first year. -- As an educator at heart, this advice made my head hurt. People would say, "You can't count the whole first year." What? The whole first year? I can't blow off a whole year of learning! Not on my watch! Here's the deal: I didn't know how much authority I had given away until I tried to get it back. For real. I had spent so much time building up the teachers as "THE teachers", my oldest daughter didn't think I could teach her. At one low moment, she actually said to me, "Mom, you only know how to teach high schoolers." She was in the 2nd grade!! So, as much as you can, just love on them the first year. Play Yahtzee for math, or UNO. Get Banagrams. Read, read, read. Read aloud. Cook. Listen to their stories! Go to the park.  Do the fun part of learning and just connect your hearts. Memorize passages of Scripture together. This will help minimize those 'low moments'.

Which brings me to...

The highs are high and the lows are low. -- Let's not pretend here. Homeschooling, like it's twin sister, Parenting, is not for sissies. The children are carnal creatures and they know what buttons to push and what buttons to dance around on for dramatic effect. They can smell weakness. They will test you. I don't tell you this to scare you, but to arm you! If you know that there are going to be some hellacious days, you will be less likely to quit when those days come! Only total spaztards like me quit every month.

Insecurity is the devil! -- We have to fight this one together! I have never been so insecure about anything as I am about educating my girls! I mean nothing! Not speaking in front of large audiences, not speaking on television, not cellulite. On the flip side, some of my friends are insecure about their choice to have their kids in public school, while their kids are doing just fine and love Jesus. We have to encourage one another! That said, I have to remember the encouraging words I have said to others and apply them to myself! I know that a good deal of my insecurity comes from the fact that I saw with my own eyes how great my girls' teachers were. Had we had a negative experience, I would probably be thinking, "Well, at least I'm doing better than that!"

The Curriculum works for you, you don't work for the curriculum. -- Now, you are NOT freaking out about curriculum right now, because you are just going to stock up on books from the library and games and grease that bicycle chain, but LATER, when you are ready, remember this statement about curriculum: The curriculum works for you, you don't work for the curriculum. And, remind me of it every now and again, would ya? Picture this: It's May 15th and your Language Arts book still has 3 months of work left in it. How did this happen? What a loser mom! It's not the kids' fault, they are just kids! I am so DONE with schooling right now, no way can we skip Summer!? I should have had more of a schedule! I shouldn't have let him do drums AND soccer! How will he be president??? Here's what you do: CLOSE UP SHOP! Ask any of your teacher friends if they do every single lesson in their books. Do it. Ask 'em! They don't! And, you don't have to, either! My hands are on my hips and I am using my best 4th grade voice saying to you, "The curriculum is not the boss of me!" You have been given dominion over the curriculum, not the other way around. Be free!!

I really wish we could munch on some chips and salsa face to face. I would tell you that I love homeschooling... most days. That anything worth doing is hard. I would tell you that I love being the one to read with my girls, and that we do that in our pajamas. I would tell you about the days we couldn't even FIND our math book. I would tell you that I blame myself that my youngest doesn't spell as well as my oldest and the only difference is how long they went to public school. And, I hope you would tell me how ridiculous that is and that there are plenty of PS kids that aren't great spellers. I would tell you that my kids are not at all socially retarded. They can hold their own with peers and adults alike. I would tell you how we love 'rain all day' days, because we just declare them 'Reading Days'. I would tell you that some of our best days have been doing reading and math out on the trampoline. Maddy's best poem was written there, too. I would tell you that many math assignments have been completed on I-4 on the way to Disney where we would practice our mapping skills and multiplication facts while standing in line. This is also a good way to work on lapsed time, i.e., "We got in line at 11:37am, it is now 12:10pm, how long have we been in line?" I would have to mention how flexible homeschooling has allowed us to be, this year in particular. It's been crazy; if you are so inclined, check some of the archives. Suffice it to say, we are following Jesus and our school goes with us!
I would tell you about the time that Meghan and I spent 12 days in a row on one assignment because she REFUSED to follow directions. (She very well understood, but thought it was unnecessary. We were at a critical moment.) I thought I was going to lose my mind and I was certain she was going to lose her head. We were getting ready to take a trip to DC and since we were 'behind' 12 days, I was packing our books to do school on the road. A friend of mine told me this, "Melissa, if there is any way you can leave those books at home, do it. If there is any way you can trust God with this time, do it. He will make up the time for you. Just focus on your girls and the Lord will bless the time. They are going to learn so much while you are gone. God restores time." But, I was mad. Still, I knew the value of just setting the books aside and regrouping. We left the books. We were gone for 10 days. When we came home it was another 3 days before we could get it together to crack a book again. Here's what God did: we finished that math book before Thanksgiving! Even earlier than expected! We had some great days in which my girls were motivated and focused and we got a lot done! There were things we could just skip because the concept was learned. God restores time.

Before we ended our chips and salsa chat, I would ask if I could pray for you. And, you would let me.

Jesus, Thank you for moms who follow your leadership into the unknown and tough places. Lord, please give these women peace in their decision to educate their children. These children are gifts, and I pray that we would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's guidance in what ways to teach our children academically each year. Help us, Lord, to have the courage to change paths when you tell us to. Help us to encourage one another to follow you with complete abandon. Thank you for homeschooling and the freedom to parent the way I see fit. Thank you, Lord, for being the perfect parent. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Carrying my sugar spoon around in my pocket from NOW on!!! Praying THE LORD will keep me one day smarter always! Thank you for praying for me and with me, encouraging me and motivating me!!! You are the Rightest!!!