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Parenting – The Hardest Job


 

Let’s face it and be real here.  Parenting is not easy.  In fact, it is the hardest job we will ever have.  No one gives us an instruction manual when our children are born. Fact is, they can’t because there isn’t one. Each child is different and each scenario with each child within each family is unique.  Good parenting is also not “instant” and “without failure”.  We don’t know what we don’t know.  We must get “on the job training” for this position that is ongoing and often “on the fly”.  Truthfully, we will  faulter and miss the mark just like we will find we stumble into a what or a how that is good and works….A LOT.

Yes, there are basic principles and guidelines but all in all,  parenting is a whole heap of winging it as we wade through the new and never before experiences to learn how to parent and train our children in the way they should go. We are maturing, learning and growing right along with our kids. I’m not going to lie to you. There are cloudy days, windy days and even stormy days.  But there are also days full of sunshine when the sailing is easy.  Those tend to be far more and much brighter than you may think while in the midst of the cloudy, windy or stormy days.

Sometimes, parenting will mean we will have to make hard choices. Choices that our heart and mind does not easily embrace,  but are necessary for the good of our child, our family, ourselves and the future.  And then sometimes, it’s a breeze with no confusion as we ease through one situation to another.  Every day brings us moments of “I have never been here before.” with us not knowing what to do or say or how to act and react. That’s okay.  It’s all part of the process of learning to parent and our children learning from us.  We have to give ourselves and our children grace in the process of learning.

I must also say, contrary to what some may believe, parenting doesn’t really stop when our kids reach 18 years old or graduate from school.  It is a lifetime position that we take on from the very first.  We still “parent” our kids ling after the wonder and wander years subside.  Our position and job description changes a bit as the hands-on guidance, instruction and leadership decreases to a lesser degree as they step up and into their own just like we did.  That is the goal, right? To prepare them for adulthood,  training and raising them to be an asset to their world and step into their own identity and splendor? That’s how I see it anyways.  Truthfully, our children never stop needing us and looking to us for an example.  It all just changes in how it looks and how we all go about it. Our role of “parent” shifts from authority to assistant.  And here again, we have to give ourselves and our children grace in the shift.

When we know better....

So moms and dads, let me encourage you to stand in the knowledge and understanding that as you grow and learn to parent well, you are not alone and without help or hope.  There are solutions and places you can turn to when in need of more to go farther.  There is help in times of trouble and sources of encouragement in times of discouragement.

We need wisdom to impart wisdom. Wise counsel can be found in friends and others who are like-minded with compatible values and beliefs. So many in our small part of the world may have been there, done that and are on the other side of the lesson in similar circumstances. This is a great avenue for insight, workable solutions and encouragement if we are willing to lay down our pride and fears, share our hearts and situations honestly.  Just being real and vulnerable, asking for advice, help and inspiration can be a solution all on its own.

Without a doubt, wisdom and revelation can be obtained through prayer and most certainly through the word of God.  In fact, I personally think these are the sources where all wisdom comes from, even when it comes to us from a vessel with skin on.  The word of God is the closest thing to an instruction manual we will ever find for parenting and for living. If you need an answer to a question or a solution to a problem, it is in His word…somewhere.  If you just need encouragement, you’ll find that in the pages too.

One of my favorite quotes (shown above) is by the greatly admired Maya Angelou. She said, “When you know better, you do better.”  Isn’t that where we all are and what we are all doing? Yes, I think so.  I think we are all reaching for the “know better” so we can “do better”. …with parenting and with life in general.

Until next time….enjoy your at home world!
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Because We Can


English: Motivations regarded most important f...

English: Motivations regarded most important for homeschooling among parents in 2007. Source: 1.5 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2007 Issue Brief from Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. December 2008. NCES 2009–030 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

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As a home educator, I’ve been asked why we home-school by those who are genuinely curious. They often are considering the option to homeschool themselves or are admirers of anyone who educates their children at home.  I happily discuss our experiences and thoughts with those who really are curious in a non-judgmental way.I’ve also had the subtle and the not so subtle accusations from a few that just make me think, “Did they really just say that?” with as much stunned disbelief and sarcasm as is available to me.  If you homeschool, you know what I mean.  Those vary in degree and ridiculousness.   I’ve probably heard just about every “opinion” you can imagine.  Let me just show you what I mean.

One that probably sits on the top of the list is that we’re we are overprotective.  Really….Are they serious!?!  Just how is homeschooling being over-protective?  Until about 100 – 150 years ago, almost every child was educated at home.  Did parents teach at home then because they were overprotective?  Hardly!   They did it because they wanted their children to be educated…..to be able to read, write, cypher and know about the world they live in.    Just look at the truth for a moment. Those who were taught at home  have turned out to be some of the greatest innovators, inventors, literary and cultural icons and leaders in our history.  That’s not a small thing, in my opinion.  And for the record, protecting one’s child comes with the territory.  It is a reality that we must look at in today’s world.  What another may see as overprotective, I see as wisdom.  If our choice to educate at home means we’re being overly protective in the eyes of some, so be it. 

Going hand in hand with this one is that we must be afraid of this or that and that we are depriving him of life and learning about the real world.  That one just really amuses me.  Evidently these folks think we (my family) are living in a pretend fantasy world filled with marshmallow clouds, candy cane forests and rainbow pooping unicorns.  While it is true that we take our assignment of protecting our child seriously, we don’t shield him from the realities of the world or negative things in life in an unhealthy way.  We just choose to present them in a way that we feel is morally right, true to our faith and age appropriate as well as mental maturity appropriate. 

Then there is the “Oh, you are one of those people.” with the insinuation that we are somehow weird.  Ok, I’ll give ’em that one.  I probably am a bit weird by their standards.  No matter.  I like who I am and I like who my husband is.  I like who my child is becoming as he grows and matures too.  Weird is in the eye of the beholder, you know. 

And of course, I can’t forget to include the “you’re a religious nut” looks and comments.  First of all, I’m a Christian, born again by and through the blood of Jesus Christ. My faith and lifestyle is about relationship and trust, not religion. It’s not about denomination either so don’t even go there.  Secondly, It’s true that we (my husband and I) are not in agreement with much of what is advocated in today’s society from both a moral and biblical standpoint.  But we are not now nor have we ever been “religious nuts”.   We are children of the Most High and the only true and living  God, who are covered by His grace and humbled by His mercy.  We are no better or no worse than anyone else.  We’ll leave it at that. 

How about this one?  “Aren’t you afraid they will fall behind?”  Hmmm…..Behind what or who?  The majority of the public and private education establishments are turning out a high number of graduates that cannot even do simple elementary math without a calculator, have a reading level that is below the so called standard, cannot spell worth a hoot, do not seem to be able to write with correct grammar, do not know the geography and history of the US or the world and are basically not ready for higher education.  They can regurgitate information but what have they actually learned and mastered?  In my opinion, the focus is passing the standardized and required tests so that state and federal funding remains intact or is increased.  Learning doesn’t seem to be on the agenda.   Even universities are now seeking homeschool graduates because they are academically solid and more well rounded all the way around.  I’d say that publicly schooled kids and in many cases, private schooled children are the ones who have fallen behind the homeschooling community.

Some of my favorites would be the “When do you get time away from you child?”, “How do you put up with being with your child 24/7?”, “When do you get free time?”,  “Don’t you need time to yourself?”, or “When do you and your husband get time alone together?”  Well, let’s see.  I’m a full time parent and proud of it. I waited for many years to be blessed with my child.  He is my priority.  It was sort of understood that once I became a parent, free time or time to myself would be minimal.  It was a given that time alone with my husband would be less spontaneous and less frequent.  I don’t “put up” with my child and I don’t want to get away from him.  I love him and enjoy him.  In another’s eyes, I may have given up many of those things, but in exchange I got hugs, cuddles, sweet memories, amazing love and the greatest blessing I have ever received.  I  understand that the season will come when I will no longer be “on duty” 24/7.  And I know when that time comes, I will miss this season of raising him.  

How about the one that gets joked about the most in the homeschool community?  We are taking away the opportunity for socialization.  Uhhh….OK?  Might I be the first to inform you that you socialize pets, not children?  Humans interact and engage.  While I’m at it…..you do know that interaction or what you are calling “socialization” is frowned upon, discouraged and that kids more often than not get in trouble for this when they do it at school, right?  And you must know that there are other opportunities for interaction such as church, group activities,  participating in sports, and even the grocery store, family gatherings and the like?  Tell me….where did you go to school again?  

Then there’s the one that I really had to get past.  This one was like a slap in the face each time it reared it’s ugly head but is now funnier to me than you can imagine. I’m sure this extended out to include my husband but it felt as if it was a bull’s eye shot directed straight at me.  I was told in no uncertain terms that  I  was not qualified to educate our child because I don’t have a teaching degree.  And that I was not educated enough because I  didn’t go to college.  Excuse me!?!  I know of some with teaching degrees that have absolutely no business in front of a classroom teaching anyone, much less kids.  As for not going to college….SO!  As if a piece of paper somehow makes a good teacher or constitutes being smart.  I don’t know why some think a degree is an adequate and ultimate measure of qualification or intellect.  News Flash!  I have a brain and I know how to use it.  In fact, I’m very smart and even more importantly, I’m teachable.  And furthermore, I’ve been teaching others (children & adults) for more years than I can count in some way, form and fashion.  Sooo…that just doesn’t fly, hon!  Case closed! 

The reality is that my husband and I were our son’s first teachers and that didn’t stop when he reached school age.  We’re qualified to teach him because we know him well. We have an inside track on how his mind and interests flow and can take the time to broaden his horizons, delving into those areas in a way that a certified teacher in a public or private school with 25+ students can’t, but probably wish they could  Yes, it’s true that neither of us have a degree of any kind from a university but we are intelligent and have a common sense approach to life.  We have continued to learn throughout our life and are not uneducated or dumb by any measure of the word.   

The fact is, our child is flourishing academically with above grade level capabilities and has retained a love of learning.  He freely expresses his individuality with a wide variety of interests and a willingness to explore them.  He uses his imagination in fascinating ways and dreams big.  These are qualities that seem to be missing in many children that I’ve seen in recent years.

While public and private schooled kids are spending 7-8 hours in school classes, then another 2-4 hours at home doing their take home assignments every day with mom and/or dad sitting down to teach…errr….I mean help them, my son spends 3-5 hours max on his lessons with me or his dad by his side and the rest of the day he is free to be a kid.  By the way, we teach/learn to mastery in this home academy……so we make sure he gets it before we move to something new, no matter how many days that takes.  In addition, we live a lifestyle of learning everyday and with every opportunity. 

I’ve had frequent opportunity to see for myself that my son is very well adjusted and balanced in social settings .  He knows how to behave and interact with people of all ages and gender.  He has character and manners, is respectful and courteous, honest and adventurous.  

He doesn’t see or set limitations on himself that shouldn’t be applied because we don’t set or example limitations before him.  There are no molds here.  We encourage him to fly above the trees and see from a different perspective than what the world deems as acceptable.   He actively participates in both my business and his dad’s business, going with us to events and client meetings or deliveries, helps on an age appropriate level and enjoys it.  I don’t think he is suffering with a lack of anything. 

All these comments and questions used to bother me.  They don’t any longer.  You know what they say about opinions.  Umm Hmm.   I have settled in and refuse to let the thoughts and mindsets of others influence or upset me.  Frankly, these sort of “opinions” have become a source of entertainment to me as well as a matter of prayer.    Now, whenever anyone comes up with loaded questions about why we home educate, I’ll just smile and say, “Because we can.”  I know that regardless of what others think, this is the right choice for us and it is what’s best for our child.  And I’m grateful that we have this option.

I’ll be quiet now.  I really must get back to living and learning anyway.  Thanks for reading and I hope you share this article if you found it a good read.  Please let me invite you to stop by the At Home Woman community on Facebook and chime in with comments about this article, or homeschooling and education in generally.  You’ll find a link to this article posted to the page there.

Enjoy your at home world!

Ginger Moore 

 

No One Size Fits All


If I’ve learned anything in all my years, it’s that there is always more than one way to do anything.  There is no one size fits all in day to day life.

The same goes for home education.  In fact, that’s one of the most wonderful things about educating your children at home.  There isn’t a cookie cutter approach to teaching methods, learning processes or even the lessons themselves.  There’s no blanket protocol or massive list of must do or stringent schedules to contend with.

Each day will present a new opportunity to break away from the plan and escape the box that we often find being strongly endorsed.  Even if you have a much planned out lesson agenda and schedule for the day, it’s flexible (or at least it should be).

I didn’t get up this morning with a plan to teach what you’re about to see, but it fell in my lap so I went with it.  What is it, you ask?  It’s one activity, many lessons and loads of fun and learning.

My son has collected wooden Thomas & Friends, Thomas’s Railway and Sodor Island items since he was about a year old.  If you’ve read other blog articles here or know me at all, you know that I’m an avid endorser of children learning through play. So today, when he asked to pull our his Thomas bag, his much loved toys became his school lessons.

Everything offers an opportunity for teaching and learning.

Everything offers an opportunity for teaching and learning.

Here he is, learning about simple angles, directions, mathematics, how steam is produced, elementary physics like cause & effect, basic engineering (suspension bridges, etc.), how to use deductive reasoning, how to problem solve and of course, some history on the railroad system, train engines and train cars.  A Thomas dvd was popped into the dvd player for lessons about acceptable behavior, emotions and reactions to situations (yes, we’re still working on that) and the benefits of teamwork. That’s a lot of learning wrapped up in so much fun!

Minutes turned into hours as my son asked and answered questions, created scenerios that required solutions and we discussed and played.   5 hours to be exact. And we both enjoyed every second of it.  Isn’t that what learning is really all about?  Enjoying the journey to knowledge and understanding.  I think so.  No….make that I know so!

There’s much more to a well rounded education besides textbooks, worksheets and tests.  Of this, I am 100% sure.

 

Until next time…enjoy your at home world!

Ginger Moore signature

 

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Play To Learn and Learn From Play


I’m ready for school, Mom!

My son, whom I call “Little Man”, is loving school.   No!   Really!  He is!  Almost every day, he will come in to “the learning center” (aka. our living room), get into his chair at his desk or grab my hand to pull me out of my seat and happily exclaim, “I’m ready for school!” He’s excited and eager to explore and fill his curious mind with information about the world he lives in.  When I say it’s time to stop for the day, he will often beg for more.  There is something to be said for that.  Color me a happy at home mom and teacher!

Learning Can Be Fun

We play to learn and we learn from our play. We use all sorts of dynamic and interesting approaches to lessons that make them enjoyable. Kids are sponges and want to learn new things. Studies show they learn better when play is included in their lessons. When it’s fun and interesting, the time goes by quickly and the information tends to be retained better. Yes, we have “seat time” and we practice things like handwriting and do math drills. But we do it in such a way so that it’s not boring or an intense brain drain that he dreads and can’t wait for it to be over.  It’s very creative and alive.

Flexibility Wins Again

Let me explain. Although some may disagree with our approach, we’ve chosen to not be strict in our home education structure. We remain flexible. I make loose plans and set goals we wish to achieve for each week but I try to keep in mind that these are not set in stone. We flow with it to make it exciting and new every single day, even though we are doing lots of repetition. We capitalize on what I call “teachable moments”. If my son expresses an interest in something, we go with it and delve into that particular subject. One day it may be planets and outer space that catches his curiosity. The next day it may be koala bears or palm trees that may strike his fancy.

A Recent Teachable Moment

Circumstances will often dictate our days. For example, I’ve been fighting a terrible cold and struggling with little to no voice for a week or more. So I’ve tried to give “quiet” lessons each day in an attempt to save my voice. Last week, I gave Little Man my white board and told him to practice writing and drawing. Here’s a photo of what he did.

Encouraging creative fun encourages learning

Can you tell what it is? Don’t feel bad, if you can’t.  I couldn’t either.  Ready for this? It’s a mouthful of teeth! Cute, huh? Little Man also came up with a tooth brushing game to play with his drawing. The eraser was a toothbrush and the markers were used to color code different things the teeth needed to be happy and healthy. There were bits of food and stains that had to be removed and “sugar bugs” that had to go. The goal was for all the teeth to smile big and bright because they were being well taken care of. LOL….What an imagination that one has!

So I just went with it, taking the open opportunity to teach about why we have teeth, good oral care and why it’s important. We wrote out words like “tooth”, “mouth”, “brush”, “floss”, etc. We had a fun “made us giggle” creative story time with scenerios and characters we made up along the way and things they should do or shouldn’t do when caring for their teeth. I then printed out a couple of worksheets to further the lesson.

One Subject Matter Can Cover So Much

Home education or lessons don’t have to be stressful, complex, long or cumbersome. The goal is to learn and broaden horizons, right? One lesson can cover several subjects for your lesson time. In the impromptu oral health lesson, the drawing counted as Art for the day. The writing was part of his Penmanship and the words were counted as Reading and Spelling lessons for the day. The subject matter was his Science that day. The whole of the matter applied towards his Life Skills & Practical Concepts for the day. Six (yes, I said 6) school subjects were covered with one assignment, and all in 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

As my son grows older, I’m sure our teaching techniques will have to grow with him. I’m also sure that the fun and excitement will remain in our school days no matter how old he gets. For now, we’re keeping it easy and breezy, with lots of flexibility to tap into his interests and expand his knowledge horizons.

Playing to learn. It works for us.

Do you incorporate play into your at home education lessons? What ways have you found to help make learning fun?

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