How do I Keep Up?

This week I ran into an old homeschooling friend. Though we are often in the same vicinity, we haven’t stopped to have a conversation in a while. I was asking how homeschooling was going and we talked about that for a while, then she asked how public schooling was going for me. I said it was going great. She asked how on earth I keep up with everything. I said something along the lines of, “It’s easy, I just don’t care.” Which, while flippant and funny, probably did not really convey how I feel. It’s kind of been nagging me, and I keep thinking of how I should have clarified that statement…So, my dear friend whom I’m going to tag in this post, I’m going to expand a bit. 

 

Homeschooling is all-consuming, and mentally exhausting. Especially if you are trying to homeschool multiple children. In your mind, at all times, you have a working knowledge of each child’s abilities. You know what they can and can’t do in Math and English and Science. You have a list of things you are worried about for each child, and also a list of things you are proud of. You can’t have a casual interest in your child’s education because YOU are the Educator. It’s a big load to carry. It was too big a load for me. I went through a long depression and in the middle of it, completely fizzled out in my ability to school my children. We put our kids in public school. We’re in our third year with our younger kids. My oldest two kids homeschooled through eighth grade and then went to public high school. My third daughter is in her fourth year of public school. 

 

My view of public school is, my children now have teachers. I no longer have to keep up with all the minutiae. That’s the teacher’s job. Yes, I look at all the papers sent home. I ask my kids what they learned today. I go to Parent/teacher conferences. I look at report cards. But as far as knowing how well they are doing in multiplication or whether they are mastering their fractions or whether they used proper punctuation in their writing assignment, I have no idea. Since their report cards all say that they are getting good grades, I’m presuming that they are learning what they need to learn. 

 

As far as homework is concerned, I don’t believe in homework for elementary school kids. I’ve been upfront about it with the teachers. Sometimes my kids choose to do their weekly “homework” packets because they want whatever award the teacher is offering. And sometimes they choose to not do it. That’s fine. I think that several hours of running around our yard, playing make believe games, and creating things with legos is going to help them a lot more than sitting down and doing a page of math reviews. I do expect my middle-schoolers and high-schoolers to do their homework, but they’re old enough to be in charge of their own work, so I don’t stress about keeping up with it. 

 

Of course, you have to ask the question, What if they aren’t learning what they need to learn? What if they are getting good grades, but are still getting major gaps in their education? 

 

Well, this is where my philosophy on learning helps me out. I am a reader. I have been a bookworm since second grade. While I can remember a handful of odd facts that a teacher taught me in a classroom, most everything that has stayed in my brain, came from an interesting book. I believe that if I can foster a love of reading in my children then I’ve won half the battle for educating them. 

 

We are a reading family. I always have a book on my kindle app that I pull out whenever I have a spare minute. My husband reads a book most evenings to unwind. My older teenagers have long, loud discussions about characters and events in various book series that they have all read. We have eight large bookshelves in our house and books are scattered on every surface. My kids go to the library at school and bring their books home and have fights about whether they have to share their library books with each other or not. 

 

I have one child whose brain is wired differently. In three years of homeschooling I was not able to teach him how to read. In public school they put him in a remedial program and the reading experts got him reading pretty quickly. (YAY!) But, he still struggles. It doesn’t come naturally to him. He’s still getting extra help in this area. But, he read books. Maybe not at grade level, but he still wants to read. This past week I had to take him on a rushed trip to the library because he needed the fourth book of the series and we only had the first three books at home. So, while I know he may struggle all his life to read easily, I’m not worried about him. My kids all have a natural curiosity about life, and they know that reading books is an easy way to learn about whatever they are interested in. 

 

I see public school as an opportunity for my kids to learn about different cultures. It’s a chance to be with the kids from our neighborhood. Learn how to make friends. Learn how to work with all kinds of people. It’s an opportunity to put into practice everything that we’re trying to teach them at home about “Loving your neighbor as yourself”. It’s a chance for them to think about people’s stories. What are some of the reasons why that particular child might have a hard time behaving in class? It’s an opportunity for them to learn how to be problem-solvers: if you see a problem at school, what can you do about it? All of these things naturally come up in our daily conversations, so I get a good gauge on how the kids are doing in these areas. 

 

So, how do I keep up with everything? I don’t. But, it seems to be working well for us.  

 

A Poem by My Daughter

Something a little different today. We just found out that my thirteen year old daughter won a prize in a writing competition held by the Knoxville Writer’s Guild this past May. I’m so proud of her. She finally let me read her poem and I thought it was beautiful. I asked her if the poem proceeded from an in-the-moment emotion or if it was a place that she stayed in. She said it started off as an in-the-moment emotion and then it just morphed into describing other girls she knew and Middle School.

 

She’s a Girl

by Ruth Heneise

 

   This day 

That the lord made,

 She needs first aid

Cause she’s dying 

Of fright

She lives in the dark of night

 she lost the spark of light

And of potentiality 

She no longer wants to be

A doctor, dancer, astronaut

she stopped tryin to dream, stopped tryin to flaunt

Her body and her vocals

      You wonder why the locals

Don’t know she exist

Its cause she didn’t persist

They think she’s thirteen and lean

But she’s lanky and she’s cranky

Her feelins

Are wheelin

Out

And about

She’s beat on the street

Beat down she’s gonna drown

Cause she’s sinking

Cause she’s always thinking

Trapped

But overlapped

By the hope

That she could cope

With humanity

But that future is grim

As dim as

The light (that ain’t bright)

Behind the eyes

Of the girl in disguise as

A person

But the truth is worse than

The fear.

It’s clear

To see

Cause,

She doesn’t

Just 

Have fear of isolation

She isolates herself

Removed from the shelf

Of comfort

 which is dirt

Dirt cheap

She got her clothes from her bros

And her charm from karm

karma(if she believed in stuff like karma)

Would be on the down side

Of good to

AT LEAST I TRIED

But she’ll pause this ramble

Cause you stopped trying to unscramble

The message behind

This waste of your time

So she’ll give the explanation 

To satisfy your expectation

And she is

A poem

A world

    the essence

The presence 

Of words so beautiful

Words so tactful

Words so thesaurical 

The world is a poem

The poem is a world

She’s the world

She’s a poem

She’s a girl