The Elephant In The Homeschool Room

I came across this interesting article, “Confessions of an Unsocialized Public Schooled Child”,  by Eliza De La Portillia, via HuffPost Parents at thee perfect time. For weeks, I have planned (in my head) the words to write for a post of my own on it’s very subject…

Socialization.

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For the first time in my homeschool journey, (a whopping 7 months now), I was asked about socialization. It was by a well-meaning, dear friend, who I have known since grade school. City girls, she and I watched our single moms work 2 or more jobs to provide for us outside of the home.  School/Career/ Work was our immersion program.

Getting married and having children were rarely apart of our childhood or young adult conversations, although we both are married with kids now.  Much less, staying home with our kids.  Much, much less, (like never) HOMESCHOOLING!  Who?! is going to do What?!  The tradition of school and friendships are ingrained in us.  After all it was through school that we met and remained friends these many years. So I understood her reaction to “homeschool” with a question about socialization.

Yet, I felt unprepared and offended.

Feelings of defensiveness rose.  I replied to her query in my best matter-of-fact, nonchalant way.  The truth is socialization never really played apart in my husband and I decision to or not to homeschool.  It is a non factor.  It is something I read about on other homeschooler’s blogs but never concerned myself with personally.

This direct question about socialization and the timely HuffPost Parent article was my call to action.  Not as you may suspect.  It woke me up to the need to educate myself on this subject further for the sake of those who are allowing it to be the elephant in their homeschool rooms or on their long distance phone conversations, as it related to me.  It’s probably the #1 question any given homeschooler is asked by a new, non or anti-homeschooler.  It’s time to demystify this reactive argument that is often bait for anxiety and worry.

There’s a popular saying: “The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”.  While I work on cutting up that elephant, why don’t you take a gander at Confessions of an Un-Socialized Public Schooled Child originally posted on www.TheTattooed Homestead.com. Perhaps you will be inspired by her perspective on socialization as I am.

Thanks for reading.

altesa

 

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5 Reasons Why I AM Digging This Homeschool Life and 5 Reasons Why I am NOT. (Part 2)

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This is my mid year assessment of homeschooling my 5 and 3-year-old sons, the first year.  If you stumbled upon this post without reading Part One, 5 Reasons Why I AM Digging this Homeschool Life.  Check it out here.

A 27 hour road trip, regardless of how much you prepare, will have it’s good and bad and even ugly moments.  Stretches of one road can have an amazing view while another stretch along that same road becomes isolated and uninteresting. Well, this is the stretch of homeschooling that turns a beautiful scenic road trip with a friend into a pain in the butt.

5 REASONS WHY HOMESCHOOLING IS  A TEST OF ENDURANCE.

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1.  THE FREEDOM: What freedom?!

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I can remember after having my second child and becoming a “stay at home”, sneaking away to a quiet empty bedroom just to hold onto a thought.  I remember thinking how unnatural it is to never have a moment to yourself. Well, welcome to homeschool. Non stop action and noise.  Once my son’s heads hit their beds, I tell them Mommy  is  off duty.  I will be available for cups of water and long-winded questions about birthdays in the morning.  Although they are amused by this declaration,  it’s my feeble attempt to carve out time to myself.

2.  FLEXIBILITY is necessary whether you want to be flexible or not.

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It’s home-school. My home now has a dual function and the lines are easily blurred.  Things do not always go according to well prepared, thought out, brilliant plans.  Besides being kids, they are MY kids.  Instead of a teacher, they see their mommy which means I get tested in ways a stranger may not.  They see their toys, their kitchen, their food.  And yes, all of those things are tools for everyday learning. Yet, distractions abound.  Because of the home dynamic, I have to make room for adjustments to take place moment by moment, lesson by lesson.  Let’s not mention the younger sibling, in my case, the preschooler, who subvert all lesson plans longer than 5 minutes.

3.  THE COMMUNITY of opinions, ideas and advice can be overwhelming.

I love to read other homeschooler’s experiences but I have had to narrow my daily or weekly intake to 2 to 3 bloggers that fit into my homeschool model.  I branch out to the others when I need to research something in particular. It’s easier on my brain that way.

4.  PERSONAL GROWTH: Education is in the eye of the beholder.

The word “school” has become a reason to “hem and haw” even from the comfort of one’s pajamas in one’s home.   I made the error of associating “school” with sitting down and being still to a child who can barely sit still in his sleep.  He is turned off by the “school” part as a result.  I set out to inspire a love for learning and may have done the opposite in my first 6 months. UGH!

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A friend asked my son during a park visit, what part of school he liked most.  My 5 year old’s response was a stunner.  He said, “The part when it’s over”.  Incredulous!  Yes I took it personal.  That’s the downside.  There is no one else to blame.  It’s all me. I am his teacher.  I am solely responsible for how he views school.  I wonder often how to engage my sons creatively while still personally trying to break free from the traditional school structure I’ve grown up with.

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I have yet to crack the code on what will make their home education more exciting and inciting.  I also grapple with the idea that every part of school will be fun and games.  Part of a full education is understanding some things are tedious but must be done.  Right?  Although I want my son to wake up each morning excited to practice piano and to take on reading lesson in the ways that I present it, I know I have some work to do in this area. My approach, experience, educational goals, my son’s personality and the circumstances surrounding his discontent is always under evaluation.

5.  SPIRITUAL GROWTH:   A battle zone.

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The burden of raising children can be daunting by itself.  Then to take on homeschooling too, in a land where traditional school is often hailed by the majority as the best and only option, is doubly intimidating. Yet, here I am.  Self doubt and all.  Fears come a’ knocking quite a bit trying to poke holes in my confidence.  Am I doing enough?

In spite of the onslaught of attack on me and my children and husband, I have to labor to rest in a God that I believe equipped my husband and I to pour into our son’s lives, teach and train them up in spite of our shortcomings.  They will be just fine– better than fine. Like most promising investment options, we will just have to wait until they mature before we can see the fruitful return God promises. In the meantime, I will trust.

I imagine most of this list is first year problems.  First year or twenty-first year, what has been a constant test of endurance on your homeschool journey?

Thanks for reading. Be sure to read Part one.  5 Reasons Why I am Digging this Homeschool Life.

5 Reasons Why I AM Digging This Homeschool Life and 5 Reasons Why I am NOT. (Part 1)

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Have you ever been on a road trip?  I did once.  A friend and I set out to travel back to California from a family visit in Kansas City, Missouri. We had our map, a plan, trail mix and water, money for gas and Gospel CDs on deck.  It was all pretty exciting… until it wasn’t anymore.  I don’t know when the shift took place but it did.  The excitement melted away with the scorching june heat.  The music became noise. The water turned into a need for bathroom breaks and we both wanted real food.  We argued about where and when to stop for gas and could not stand each other’s presence by the end of the trip.  What happened?

My heart skips a beat with anticipation at the thought of the road ahead and the two little people I will be traveling with on this homeschooling journey.  It’s been 6 months and the “trial by fire” of homeschooling has yet to melt away my excitement. Homeschooling has been everything I expected— for the most part–the good, the bad and the ugly. My road trip experience taught me that even with the best intentions and efficient planning, things can go sour.  Yet, it is the stuff worthwhile journeys are made of.  It’s what makes it memorable, teachable, and perhaps life changing.  Experiencing the good along with the bad and ugly has been the best teacher.  That friend I shared a car with on that road trip back to California became my husband.  That experience did not break us although it could have.  We had to regroup, yes,  but our resolve to be friends and eventually more than that was greater than the good and bad and ugly that took place on that road trip.  Now it is a fond memory that adds to the intimacy and history of our commitment to one another.

There’s value in keeping a commitment and apparently taking road trips.  (Side note: I think a road trip should be something every couple considering marriage should undertake.) On a road trip, there’s no quitting in the middle of a tiring 26 mile gap between Interstate exits even if that stretch of highway is littered with the beauty of majestic mountains.  You have to ENJOY and ENDURE at the same time.  Well not unlike homeschool, we have committed to enjoy and endure the ride.  The good is mixed in with the bad and the ugly and we stand to be the stronger, the closer, the wiser because of it.

This is my mid year assessment of homeschooling, the first year.  I have listed 5 reasons why I am enjoying the ride and in another post 5 reasons why it’s a test of endurance.

Lets look at the 5 REASONS WHY I AM ENJOYING THE RIDE.

1.  THE FREEDOM to explore interests.

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An interest in taking pictures turned into a photographic scavenger hunt for diamonds (the shape) in our neighborhood.  Equipped with dad’s camera and a goal, our son was on a mission to document his findings with pictures that he would later edit using IMovie into a slide show for the Grandma’s to ooh and aah over.  From space shuttles, cars to foggy mornings and photography to visiting Gramme in NJ… we are free to travel and explore these interests as we see fit without external constraints.

No one can teach this kind of confidence.

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an unusually foggy morning gets our full attention.IMG_0076

Clouds on a street level.  (My husband pointed out to me the irony of a school bus passing by in the background.)IMG_1958

 

 Out of bed and into the fog before most of the neighborhood was awake.IMG_1952

2.  THE FLEXIBILITY to have school anywhere.

One day, I had an audition and my car was out of commission.  I had to take 3 buses to get to the town where the audition was being held plus homeschool the boys. No problem. My sons got a great lesson on public transportation that day, reading a bus schedule, seeing different cities and exposure to a variety of people.  They were thrilled the entire 3 rides there, even if I wished for my car the whole time.  It was great to be out of the house and on the run the whole day. However, by the time our field trip ended, none of us wanted to see another bus again for a long time.

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Our first serendipitous trip to the park during traditional school hours after a summer of packed out playgrounds was glorious.  We had the place to ourselves and the kids took full advantage of the empty jungle gyms.  I took to a blanket and a $5 pizza and we were gone before the after school crowd rolled in.

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3.  THE COMMUNITY of people who have been there and done that.

The resources that are available through the blogging homeschool mommas out there is PRICELESS. I love those women (from the newbies to the veterans) who have dedicated their time to homeschooling sometimes 8 plus children (mouth open) then to take on the blogging world by detailing their experiences and testimonies for others to glean.  They are such a major asset to me. (If you are a homeschooling blogger mom reading this post— I am talking about you–THANK YOU). In fact, I am using a preparatory curriculum for my 3-year-old from a mom who is graciously offering it online for free.

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4.  PERSONAL GROWTH: An education empowers regardless of age.

I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know until I began to research and teach my own children.  Do you know how to identify a cumulonimbus cloud?  Me too. I am not sure if I was taught this stuff in school or did I just forget over the years? Either way. I am learning alongside them and it is SO COOL!

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5.  SPIRITUAL GROWTH- School is only the half of it.

“To teach is to learn twice.” That quote points to the 5th reason I am enjoying this homeschool journey. More than once, while I am teaching my son, God teaches ME–something about Himself, others or myself. I call these “parallel teaching moments” or learning twice.

My 5-year-old was having an especially difficult time during reading lesson one day.  After much frustration for us both, my son spoke out, “Why isn’t God helping me?”. I probed.  He continued, “Why won’t God just tell me what the words are?”  My son, who has proven the skills to read these words confessed he didn’t want to “do all the work” of sounding out each letter. Instead, he was expecting to divinely know the words versus use the phonetic technique he had learned and practiced almost every day for 3 months.  I explained how God has helped him, that God gave him a brain to store knowledge to use when needed. And that God gave him a mom who has committed to teaching him.  “God wants you to use all the resources available to you to read the words for yourself.”  In that moment, I had an epiphany:  I was feeling the same way as my son in a hard area of my life.  I was expecting the same divine intervention in my life from God in an area where God had already supplied my need. It was up to me to begin using what was already available to me.  This and the other “parallel teaching moments” have confirmed God’s call on my life as a homeschooling momma.

What is your favorite part of homeschooling?

Thanks for reading.  Be sure to check out 5 Reasons Why I am NOT  digging this Homeschool Life.(Part 2)

Happy New Year or nah

New Year’s Day is like a reset button for most of us.  It’s a chance to start again–fresh and focused!

While you are planning to start at 1 and do “life” differently this year, consider equipping yourself with these three timeless truths from the Bible, sure to keep the happy in your year long after it loses its new.

Monitor your progress by comparing yourself to your past and not to others.

“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.” (Galatians 6:4).

Positive change occurs best with slow, steady progress.

“A bonanza at the beginning is no guarantee of blessing at the end.” (Proverbs 20:21, MSG)

Sometimes we need to wait to sense God’s presence and help.

“Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work.” (James 5:7, MSG)

Thanks for reading!

 

Source: Bill Gaultiere, Soul Shepherding 

 

THE LAWLESS ONES

 

Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager shot and killed by Missouri police officer, Darren Wilson, and some of the “disruptive” protesters of his death in Ferguson, MO has often been called “lawless”.  It’s been the one consistent outcry among some folks in the days since this tragedy occurred August 9, 2014.

    I can’t see pass the rioting and the looting and violence.

Michael Brown is a thug who robbed a convenience store and was high on pot.

He disregarded the law and deserved to reap the consequences.

These are just SOME of the unnerving comments I am reading and hearing throughout social media.

While I agree the violence, looting and rioting in Ferguson, MO that followed the grand jury decision to not indict officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown was unfruitful, it should hardly be the center of our attention.  Let’s face it, besides the obvious, its greatest tragedy is that it DISTRACTS– giving the world an EXCUSE to be insensitive and judgmental, publicly shame, settle as unworthy and LABEL folks “lawless”.  It becomes an “acceptable” reason to WITHHOLD mercy, grace and compassion. It draws attention AWAY from the real, deep, ailing issues while justifying stereotypes, profiling, labeling and negative opinions. It becomes the Great Big Excuse to EXCLUDE and eventually IGNORE those who are crying out.

RIOTING IS THE LANGUAGE OF THE UNHEARD.-MLK

I get the wisdom behind the nonviolent protests during the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s. As aptly spoken by  SELMA film director, Ava Duvernay, “Someone standing up against a trooper with their hands behind their back is a more sympathetic image than someone with a rock in their hand.”  Non violence against injustice is a back door approach into people’s hearts.  It takes great spiritual strength to commit to it. Not everyone has that type of strength or understanding in the face of systemic oppression.

WHERE’S THE LOVE?

Michael Brown was allegedly caught on tape robbing a convenience store, unarmed, moments before his confrontation with police officer Wilson.  This gave a lot of folks the information they needed to conclude that 12 shots with 6 of those bullets to his death, by Wilson, was justified.  Despite popular belief, an unarmed Michael Brown did not DESERVE to die because he committed a theft and to narrow our focus on this act of “lawlessness” falls, once again, into the deep abyss of DISTRACTION.

This focus on civic disorder or “lawless” behavior reminds me of another time in history where a public outcry of “lawlessness” toward a woman caught in an act of adultery hid hypocritical hearts until Jesus exposed them.

Deserving of death according to the law, the adulterous woman was escorted to a public square by the law-abiders of the day, called Pharisees and Scribes, “put before the crowd” where Jesus stood and in a twist of fate, given grace instead.

“‘The Law of Moses says to stone her, What do you say?’, they asked.” Jesus knew the law, yet He approached her accusers with a directive that leveled the playing field and the “lawless” adulterous woman’s death sentence was reduced to a warning and her accusers silenced.  Jesus was the only one qualified to throw the first stone but he didn’t.

The public stoning was cancelled.

I believe the public stoning of the late Michael Brown, Jr., the rioters and looters would be cancelled too if we brought them before Jesus in our hearts. Because there’s a greater, wider, deeper issue at hand here that is being buried under the scrutiny and cry of “lawlessness”.

People are hurting in a real way and have been for a long time. Refusing to acknowledge the hurt hurts.  Pointing the finger at bad behavior does not in the least deal with the heart of the matter and is as unfruitful as the bad behavior itself.  Speaker/Pastor Ed Stetzer shared on his blog, “For many, this is about an incident. Yet, for many African-Americans, it’s about a system. It’s worth listening to why people are responding differently to the situation in Ferguson.”  The bible urges, “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”(Galatians 6:2). When we refuse to do so, does that not make us equally “lawless”?

It’s hard. It’s hard to see pass the burned out businesses, destruction of property, thuggish examples and rage as broadcast on the news.  It’s hard to see pass abusive cops and political cover ups. It’s hard to see pass all that is wrong. It’s undeniably hard. But we must.  According to scripture, it’s the law.

The law breakers, law-abiders, nor the upholders of the law are flawless. A flawed legal system indicted Jesus over two thousand years ago and a flawed legal system kept officer Darren Wilson from facing trial for the death of Michael Brown.

NOW WHAT.

However, it is worthy to note, the public execution of Jesus Christ was not cancelled.  He went to the cross and died so that all of us FLAWED, lawless folks would not have to.

 

 

Ordinary Glory

“Never believe that the so-called random events of life are anything less than God’s appointed order. Be ready to discover His divine designs anywhere and everywhere.”- Oswald. Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

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When I allow thanksgiving to invade my ambitious mind, I see strokes of beauty in the day to day part of life; the grocery store runs and Chipotle lines, the wet grass and playgrounds, audition slates, LA traffic (believe it or not), early morning piano for kiddos and last-minute trips to Target. It’s my life, in all its ordinary glory.

 

Taking Flight on Paper Airplanes

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We all know a paper airplane can only fly but so far, except in the hands of a 5-year-old.

Daily reading lessons with my five-year old son is so much more bearable (for him) when he has his newly made paper airplane in hand.  He plans flights all over the world when a nearby dresser top is not enough.  He takes flight to places like New Zealand, Africa, and Asia, making emergency stops in the middle of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.  This is the method we use to break the monotony of our 30 minute reading lessons. Short breaks are necessary particularly for a child who prefers moving around, telling imaginative stories and pretending to pilot a jet airliner over repeating short vowel sounds.

The symbolism of the paper airplane is not lost on me.   I see how excited he is when the airplane leaves his hands and into the air for .2 seconds before either gliding or doing a nosedive into a nearby bed.   I see his passion for explaining to me about rocket boosters and engines.  I see it and it connects me to my imagination and passion.   As I teach him to read,  I imagine with excitement the day he will take flights to faraway places through books.  As his mom, I imagine the many times I will, by God’s grace, get to release him from my hands to  glide over the deep waters of life or nosedive into them.  Like a paper airplane in the hands of a 5-year-old, he may look like an average kindergartener boy to the naked eye but in my heart and mind he is already that pilot, secret agent, engineer and world traveler.