Distractions on a Roller Coaster

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.