Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Favorite Topic!!!

I love homeschooling philosophy discussions! My favorite!!

First of all, I was beginning to wonder if you were "normal," Andrea (which we both know you're not, but that's okay), because this is so normal to have these thoughts . . . and I think this has to happen in order for us to best teach and train our families. Secondly, most of what I might say here is stuff you already know, don't need to hear, other than the validation that YES you are doing a GREAT job and YOUR expectations for YOUR family are right on! :-) I just went through this whole thing a couple of months ago myself and realized several things you are currently questioning.

#1) Keeping our kids to public school level (not letting them get too far ahead). I have to admit I've done this with my children up until now for two reasons. a) I didn't want them to be too far ahead for that what I thought to be inevitable day when they'd go to public school. So far, no public school AND I'm realizing if it does happen my kids will be just fine. b) I never wanted to be the mother who was saying, "My kids are homeschooled and therefore they are two grade levels higher than they should be, and look at all the wonderful things they do . . . " Etc...etc... I just didn't want to gloat about my decision, nor make other think that my decision was better then their decision. It's just different, and better for MY family. :-) SO, with that said, this year I've come to grips with we are 100% homeschoolers and we will be until told different, so stop comparing to public school standards and teach your children!!

#2) Most of the things you were questioning, in my opinion, involved your CORE standards. WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!? If you start making movies now, most likely the kids will continue. However, that doesn't mean you won't have at least one child who pretends to be hating it the whole time (just say they're the wicked stepsister/son). IF saving that 1/10 is important, that is what you require. If knowing every date in history is important to you, that's what you require. If playing music is important, that's what you require. I think the key is to INSPIRE NOT REQUIRE though. So, I'm learning it may be a requirement, but I'm trying to require in an inspirational way rather than a force-down-your-throat kind of a way.

FOR ME: What I have learned in the last couple of months is that I have a few things that are MUSTS in my home. Love of the scriptures/having gospel discussions; Service (my goal: to work with Special Olympics once a month); and love of reading. Those are the things that are most important to me. Those are MY passions. So, if I focus on YOU not THEM then I will hopefully INSPIRE those types of things. I'm also gaining a love for reading math books! I never thought I'd be able to say that. BUT because of TJED I'm really starting to "get it" and I love it. Still, I will most likely always have a math cirriculum to follow. That's just me, and one thing I will require.

So, again, I think you're just questioning YOUR CORE VALUES. That's what you're supposed to do. WE all need to do it. I look at your list and think that is so awesome! Before I had my own CORE VALUES LIST I would have looked at your list and thought, "Oh, I'm not doing any of that, I'm such a loser mom." Instead and I can look at it and say, "Way to go Ans! You're getting your CORE list a lot earlier than I did . . . Bonus for you!"

#3) I was also worried about the loss of childhood/growing up too fast thing. I don't think being educated is what causes that loss of childhood. I think the CORE & LOL Phases are all about having a way cool and FUN childhood. I love what the DeMilles say about how teenagers are different than scholars. Whose to say that because we had 'normal' teenage life, that that was fun and a scholar life isn't? We have a program here called Running Start where at the age of 16 the youth can start taking classes at the local community college. I so wish we'd had a program like that growing up. It's great, and it inspires higher education!

SO, long story short, I think your goals are right on! I think reevaluating time and time again what our kids are learning vs. what we want them to learn is a vital step in truly educating them. I'm not one to push too hard, I don't think I'll have those genius children who know their times tables at the age of two! I have a struggling reader at the age of 8. I have a boy who doesn't test well (and yes, we've worked on test taking skills). I have a 4 year old who knows how to tell time (didn't expect that to happen). BUT what I'm saying is that MY family is MY family! It's up to me to set those standards (and generally they are at level if not higher) and it's up to me in how I execute the plan.

One word on music: I started John at 8 on the piano. He was doing fine. Then, we switched books (because it was supposed to be the BEST way to teach piano). Well, it was fine, but nothing special. Then, a few months ago it became a horrendous chore! Holy cow, neither of us were happy. Finally, he played an Easy Hymn for family night and it all changed. I took away all the other books. I told him we were just going to play hymns. He gets to choose the hymn. He now knows several and can play them for FHE. Then, we discovered Book of Mormon Stories in the Primary book, wow! He learned that in just a few days. So, I think that is where the inspiring comes in. You watch, wait and listen for what they do latch onto. I also try to practice every day, so he sees what can become the future. I know he'll be ready to move on from the easy hymns someday, and he'll know, too. Different story: With Brooklynn I started her on Suzuki, more by ear. We were so impressed! J. and I were so excited and Brooklynn could play beautiful songs. Then, it just go too boring for her. She stopped wanting to do it. Since, I've completely taken her off of piano for now. She likes to write her own songs. Next year I'll start teaching her the notes, and then maybe she'll learn more by writing her own music rather than playing what others have already done. Either way, I've learned that I don't need to stress about piano. It is my goal to have my children play, therefore it will happen (in each of their own way). True TJED stuff there! :-)

So, overall, I think your goals are where they need to be for YOUR family. I think you're doing great! And I so wish we all lived next to each other. I need a good TJED group here to mingle with!!!!


P.S. If you don't want to force practicing (music), find a local bell choir for kids . . . they just play together once a week, no practicing at home needed. To me, the PERFECT instrument for children! :-) (but that's not until they are 8+)

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