How many times have you walked into a room that your kids were “done” cleaning only to find 12 things still on the floor and beds not made? I’ll be honest, it happens here a lot. Yesterday one of my sweet kids was emptying the dishwasher. This seems pretty straightforward. It’s either empty or it’s not, right? As she walked away, dishwasher not quite empty, it dawned on me, “They don’t see things the way I see them”. I was reminded of that picture of the old woman/pretty young woman. You know the one, what you see depends how you look at it. Trying to see the world through the eyes of my kids can be incredibly frustrating, not seeing that toy that’s been in the same place on the floor for 3 days. It can also be incredibly humbling, actually noticing the beautiful drops of dew on a flower petal. What does God see when He looks at us? I bet it’s not at all what we see. Does He pause and think, “They just don’t see things the way I see them”? The plans He has laid right in front of our eyes, the beauty and worth within all of us. I wonder what things are right in front of me that I don’t see. This week I’m going to try to appreciate my children’s view of the world and I’m going to try to open my eyes to the beauty, grace and plans that God places before me.
Picture the well-equipped homeschool graduate of your dreams. What did they do all day at age 7, 11, or 15 to develop in the areas that matter? Only do that stuff. Learn to say no to good ideas that don’t fit.
In forming your ideal outcome picture, consider the traits that will likely cause someone to succeed in the new economy. A good place to start? Creativity. Critical thinking. Communications skill. De-emphasize the accumulation of facts.
A newly-minted grownup is entering the world to pursue their dreams. This person has been equipped by the homeschooling experience crafted by you. What tools do they possess? What kind of outlook? What kind of “leg up” do they have? Spend some time developing this picture. It will guide you when faced with tough decisions about how to spend your time.
My best friend growing up was the homeschooled son of a fiercely independent hippie farm lady and a chain-smoking amateur historian. While he lived in a house full of books and insightful conversation, no attempt was ever made to teach him to read, and he showed no interest. At age 10, he spent all day in the woods with his dog, making forts and cutting things down. He could bike, swim, and run barefoot over gravel. While I could do none of those things, the scales balanced, I thought, when it came to his alarming ignorance of basic academic skills. Hobbling in his wake as we traversed all things appalling to a city boy, I entertained a vague notion that permanent damage was being done to his mind by neglecting whatever it is that one learns in 5th grade. At some point very soon, I was sure that the world would give him a spelling test (or something) and that would be the end of his prospects.
Far from the utter destitution I had envisioned, my friend now brings down a six-figure salary and reads avidly for his own pleasure. Looking back, this is a predictable outcome. Here’s what I missed at age ten: By setting an example of intellectual curiosity and creating an atmosphere of learning, his folks had imparted something much more valuable than simply how to read: they had taught him to read. Before He learned the mechanics, he had already deeply internalized the lesson.
Conversely, many of the kids with whom I attended Ann Arbor public schools
show every sign of being functionally illiterate adults. They learned how to read in kindergarten and what did it get them?
Here’s a good question to ask: is it possible to grow up in my house and not read as an adult?
As you near the end of labor, someone, be it nurse or doctor or midwife inevitably say these words, “Now, give me one last BIG push”. It’s what we need to hear, an encouragement that this will not last forever. I was at that point with my third child when my doctor starting singing, “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”. That’s right. I thought about kicking him. He was in close proximity. Really though, I just needed it to be over.
That’s how I’m feeling with this school year. It’s been a really good year. We’ve completed a couple of subjects, are close on a few more. Religious Ed. and Explorer’s are wrapping up. I find myself wasting my days. I’m not playing with my children like it’s summer, but we aren’t accomplishing as much as we typically do “during school”.
I think what I need is just one last big push. I need to finish up strong. Complete what needs to be completed and achieve that clear ending. I’m afraid if I let our days slowly morph into lazy days of summer that we won’t really complete the last few things that need done.
How do you achieve that last big push? Do you tighten the reigns and buckle down, or do you slowly let go of the schedule and relax into summer? I’d love to hear how other families get through the final days of the school year.
Representative Stephanie Chang (District 6) has introduced a bill to be decided this Tuesday (April 21, 2015). Her letter requesting co-sponsorship states:
This bill would require that each person who is educating a child at home furnish the school district, at the beginning of each school year, with information about the child being educated. In addition, if a child is being educated at home, the parent or guardian shall ensure that the child meets in person twice a year with a physician, social worker, teacher or school counselor, regulated child care provider, etc.
Ms. Chang cites two severe cases of child abuse leading to death as the reason for her legislation. One is a recent case out of Wayne County involving two children who were dead in a freezer for years and no one noticed them missing, ostensibly because the parent claimed that she homeschooled.
It’s easy to look at a horrific case like this and say, “Something needs to be done!” But, legislating against homeschoolers is not the answer. Here’s why:
- The right to oversee and direct the education of children rests with the parent, not the state. I, as their parent, have the right to choose to put my kids in school or to homeschool them. I evaluate that choice for each of my kids. I make changes as I see fit. The state does not and should not have the legal or moral right to require that I notify or answer to them about my child’s education.
- It seems like a small thing, asking that we submit a form and have our kids get a physical and meet with a social worker each year, but it transfers the authority to the state from the parent. This legislation shifts the power and sets a precedent for future increased regulation.
- Let’s call a spade a spade. The people that Ms. Chang mentions, these horrible, horrible child abusers and murderers, are NOT HOMESCHOOLERS. They lie and say they’re homeschooling. Homeschooling becomes the scapegoat. Why validate the lie of a murderer by harassing and regulating a group of innocent people? The news is full of horrible stories of child abuse and child murder that have absolutely nothing to do with homeschooling. Child abuse is awful. Child abuse needs to be stopped, but regulating homeschooling won’t make any difference.
- My son (adopted out of the Michigan foster system) saw a physician regularly and went to day care, and yet somehow the doctor and workers all missed the three broken bones that were in various stages of healing when he came into foster care at four months of age. What Ms. Chang proposes is a band-aid fix. Our foster system is broken. Children are abused with no consequence to the abuser. Children are returned to the abuser over and over and over.
People call CPS because a neighbor lets her kids run barefoot, yet no one calls when they haven’t seen their neighbor kids for years on end? Wayne County, where the kids in the freezer were found, is home to 70% of Michigan’s foster kids, yet my experience with the foster system there was appalling. Legislators, if you want to protect our kids, begin by fixing the foster system and start with Wayne County.
Homeschoolers, believe me when I say that we don’t want caseworkers anywhere near our kids. Three of the ones I’ve worked with have lied in court under oath. We’ve had two great caseworkers; the others were dishonest, uncaring, and at times malicious. We saw false reports filed and policies violated repeatedly. While there are some great individuals, as a group these are not people I want talking to my children.
Legislators, don’t fix what isn’t broken. Homeschoolers are doing a great job. The test results show it. The graduated homeschoolers show it. No regulation is needed for something that is working and working well. Use our tax dollars elsewhere. For example: you could put laws in place to require prosecution and lengthy prison sentences for child abusers. You could introduce legislation to prosecute GALs who don’t do their jobs, or legislation that would allow foster parents to become a party to the case for children in their care. Creating a fair way for cases to be appealed on a child’s behalf, not just on the parent’s, would really do some good, as would better oversight of judges.
Everyone, please contact the state representative for your district before this goes before the Michigan House of Tuesday. You can find your representatives here: http://house.michigan.gov/MHRPublic/