Sunday, March 31, 2013

Adventures in Homeschool!

Ok, so it's not exactly an "adventure," really.

But so far, our decision to homeschool still feels like a great one.

Firstly, having both kids home all day long, instead of having them be gone for nine hours every day, has made great changes in the way we relate to each other.  The "shortness" and irritability seems to have vanished nearly completely.   Of course we still have moments where we'd rather drink bleach than spend one more minute looking at stupid mom's stupid ugly face, gawd.

Mom you are a freakin' idiot gosh!  
But those moments are rare, rather than being nearly every day.  A "bad" day at school for a teenager quickly becomes a monumentally shitty evening for the entire family.
We spend more time together than we ever have.  And not simply because we *have* to.  But because we enjoy each other's company.  I sincerely thought something was wrong with me as a mother, because spending extended periods of time with the kids on weekends and in the summer felt like a chore, rather than something to be enjoyed.  We all brought our funky attitudes, and made it nearly impossible to enjoy one another.  Embarrassing, and sad, but true.  It sucked.
Now that we're together every day, learning together, we're more supportive, more patient, and kinder to each other.   God, we needed that.

At the beginning of our "adventure," I kept hearing that learning happens naturally; that kids want to know, and they want to learn, and they want information.
I was skeptical.
And so, in order to avoid letting my helpless babies lead themselves into a life of ignorance and mouth-breathing stupidity, I set out trying to teach them much in the same way they learned at school.
"Here's this worksheet, and you need to do it whether you like it or not, because I need evidence that you're learning, and not just fucking around on the Xbox all day long."


And they did what they were asked.  But it didn't feel like "learning."  It didn't feel productive.  It didn't feel good...
So I backed off a bit.  I let things become much less structured.  I stopped trying to "make" them learn.

And suddenly, my daughter began to display an amazing curiosity.  She wants to be a part of preparing every meal, from start to finish.  She wants to learn how we cook certain things, and why we cook them that way.  She wants to learn.

And in between all the moments we've spent cooking, she's asked me so many questions.

"Why is it called a 'dragonfly?'"
"Is the mayor part of the government?"
"Why can't everyone get married to the person they love?"
"Where is Bangladesh?"  

It's as if her little brain is overwhelmed with all the things she wants to know, and she's only just realizing it.  It's as if she was so scheduled and so focused on learning what they wanted her to regurgitate for her standardized testing, that she didn't have any time to discover what she's really curious about.  And because her curiosities are so fast, and so never-ending, I'm forced to learn along with her.  I'm forced to seek out knowledge right along side her, and I find that she teaches me.

With our son, the changes are more subtle.  While he hasn't begun to dig into all the knowledge in the universe, he's showing a greater interest in documentary films, and he actually pays attention when his dad and I are geeking out on The Discovery Channel.  He comes up with questions, and "what-ifs," and has begun thinking critically about what he sees, rather than just accepting it at face value.   He is also a complete 180 from the scowling, brooding person he was before.  I have no doubt that the "drama" of high school occupied so much more of his brain than the education of high school.  He has also spent more time with his friends.  Because he doesn't spend 8 hours a day throwing spit wads with them, and having fart contests, he now makes a greater effort to nurture those relationships outside of school.  I think it's great.  And I like having his friends over, much to my own surprise.

We have yet to find a homeschool group to meet with regularly.  It's pretty much impossible at this point, since we still only have one car, and Dad needs it to get to work every afternoon.  But he is in the process of getting his truck running, so that will open the door for us to get out of the house, and go make new friends!  

I've had days where I've been overwhelmed and frustrated, feeling totally inadequate, and certain that I'm going to raise the two stupidest kids in the entire universe.  I suppose that's probably a normal fear, and one that I'll continually have to work to overcome.  But the decision, on the whole feels like a good one.  *snicker*

The pros still outweigh the cons, and watching them become interested in learning, and learning who they are in the process is a gift I will never want to give up.  

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