Distractions on a Roller Coaster - Eva Varga

April 14, 20083

The past two weeks have found us in a slump, once again. It seems that just as we get on a roll and are engaged in a variety of learning activities, something will come about that pulls us off track. I can’t really pin point any one thing in particular… sometimes it is just my own enthusiasm or lack thereof. I feel I should work on that but then again, it is nice to relax once in a while, too. To let everyone have a chance to absorb everything and rejuvenate themselves for the next ride up.

Theresa at La Paz Farm recently wrote about an article she read in regards to inspiration and reassurance. Her post was very timely and I immediately ventured forth to read the article in its entirety. The following excerpt really spoke to me and helped me to accept that what I am doing is the right thing for us.

4. Consider everything educational. We must stop dividing the world into activities that we deem educational and activities we deem not. Everything we do – whether we call it work, play, veg time, or study – has value. Their minds are growing and processing information, each at a particular and unique rate and process. Don’t panic when all they do is play. Look intensely at that play and know that there is value in it.

When I first declared my intent to homeschool my children, my friends and family would comment, “You’ll do so well. After all, you are a teacher.” Alternatively, they would say, “Oh, I couldn’t do that. I don’t have the skill or the patience.” I have to admit that I always feel a little twinge of uneasiness when I hear this. Being a teacher isn’t a guarantee for success. There are many successful homeschooling families that do not have a teacher leading the way. In fact, I don’t feel that I am leading the way at all. I want the kids to take the helm.

5. Let them lead, but don’t be afraid to offer some direction. Just because we have decided not to set the agenda, doesn’t mean we, as parents, are without good ideas. It’s okay to introduce new topics and ideas for daily activities, but also be prepared to change course and let go when our ideas are not well received. If it was a really good idea (in your mind) go ahead and do it yourself, without the kids.

A Standards Based Education tells everyone—students, parents, teachers, and administrators—what all students are expected to know and be able to do at specified grade levels. Oregon has developed academic content standards in English/ language arts, English language proficiency, mathematics, science, social sciences, physical education, health education, second language, and the arts. As a former teacher, I am very familiar with these standards. On the other hand, I don’t feel that the cookie-cutter educational system is what is right for my children.

Here is another post by Theresa at La Paz Farm that puts my thoughts into a historical perspective. I couldn’t agree more. As the world becomes smaller, it is becoming increasingly apparent that my own education was lacking, particularly in the areas of the classics and world history. I think we covered the American Revolution in fifth grade but we didn’t touch upon it again.

The current trend of environmental education is lacking the truth that in order for one to feel compelled to protect the environment, one must first have first-hand experiences in nature. A love for the outdoors. With our societal fears of lawsuits and stranger-danger, children are less often exposed to the world at large and more frequently their entertainment is largely based on technology (television, portable DVDs, game systems, etc.). This is one of the biggest reasons why I desperately want to continue to provide my children with the experiences we have doing living history… but that is subject for a future post.

For more on this topic, read Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv or my previous post on the same topic.


  • Teacher of One

    April 14, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Your post sounds as if I could have written it! As a teacher I get less flack for homeschooling. And I too see the holes in my own education amplified. I am so excited to start history with G next year. I think it will be a great adventure for us both. I check our state standards out of habit and reassurance… We were done with K standards in October except for counting syllables and the term vertices (through that one in this morning LOL). I think eventually they will be of no use since public schools do not follow a classical approach to history and our Math U See does not spiral through multiple topics.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Eluciq

    April 15, 2008 at 9:22 am

    WE are so on the roller coaster heading down hill…the excitement has dwindled…and i am not sure if it really was there in the first place.

    I am jealous of families that make it work…I thought we were going to be that family. Both my husband and I are teachers by trade(for the last 17 years–off and on). It seemed natural to pull the boys’ out of school…as there was so much wasted time during the day. However the truth is…it has been extremely challenging…and I have not enjoyed it like I thought I would…we do have good days…but in the big picture it has been tough…the lack of enthusiasm, joy of learning, resenting being with my children 24/7, the pressure of acting like a teacher(cuz’ that is how i think i should be…), etc. WEll it has all gotten to me…and I feel like it is ruining my relationship with my children.

    anyways i think our roller coaster might take a turn towards the public school classroom once again…but we hope to have a voice in their classroom…and maybe someday down the line we will revisit homeschooling if the boys’ would like that…maybe my husband will do it…as he has the patience of a saint.

    I have to admit it is a little deflating to see what everyone does with their little ones…but then I think about the time I was home with my boys’ from infancy to 6 years old…and I LOVED all the learning that took place…but that is my age group…Early Childhoood Ed./Kindergarten…I just didn’t blog then…to share all the happenings of a time that I was in my own element.

    I Love your blog…and sorry for the ramble…guess i needed to put it down somewhere…and admit it to myself that I am not cut out for this…and I think that it is okay…???

  • Barb-Harmony Art Mom

    April 16, 2008 at 2:41 am

    I think the hardest part of homeschooling is learning how to balance my need for structure with my children’s need to learn as the opportunity arises. I will have things planned out and then they discover a bug they want to find out about or they get caught up in a Lego project or when my daughter was home it was an art project or sewing project.

    I sort of loosely plan our year and then build in times where we can take a day off here or there or in these last few years, I plan a week off every season for our family to take time off together and have adventures. It seems like I am better at keeping on track when we have a future week planned to do something really fun.

    The other part is that I daily build in time for myself to charge my batteries. I am an early bird so I get up before everyone else and have my quiet reading/meditating/prayer time before the day gets ramped up. I also exercise every day in some form and that helps my spirits too. We take walks on a nearby walking trail, walk on the treadmill at home, or ride the exercise bike while I read. Just 20-30 minutes and I’m good to go.

    It is hard to find a balance when you are a homeschooling mom and are around your children 24/7 but I am reaping the rewards of really solid relationships with them…even my 20 and 22 year olds.

    Anyway, love your post. It was funny because I actually read Theresa’s post earlier today and enjoyed the thoughts there too.

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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