Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Strengthening My Resolve

It never seems to fail.  I post my fears, frustrations, and frailties about homeschooling on my blog, and within a short time, something shifts.  Whether it is permanent or not doesn't matter.  The encouragement of even a temporary shift is very welcome by me.

Yesterday was our CC day.  I had spent some time over the weekend preparing for the upcoming week.  One of the biggest helps was that many meals were pre-assembled and/or planned.

I woke up early (before my alarm, just because my body was being so very nice to me), got laundry going, packed orders for customers, got dinner into the crock pot, got the kids up, my hair was already done, my clothes were already picked out, the backpacks were packed and the lunches were made.  We got out the door at 7:30 and got off to our day.  I had a fun day teaching my class of kids.  My husband stopped by at lunch and I ran to do an errand while he stayed with the kids, then I returned to CC and I finished strong with the afternoon class, and we headed home.  Since dinner was already under control, I invited my mom and her husband to come for dinner.  The kids helped me tackle some severe kitchen clutter that had been sitting for days.  (It took us 8 minutes to clear it up when we all worked together.  Derp!)  I updated the marching band website that I administrate, took care of sending my tutor email to parents of the kids in my class, did laundry, and planned out the week of work for my son that's in Challenge, etc.  And I wasn't too exhausted to function.

All of those things made our day pretty good.  But then I got an even better gift: The Gift of a Strengthened Resolve.

My 16 year old daughter was sitting between my mom and me at the dinner table.  We got into a discussion about her school stuff, her AP Biology class, and some reading assignments she has had (and didn't do, and isn't planning to do).  In the course of the conversation she said many things which showed/reminded me that what she is learning about learning from being in her school is:

-if it isn't going to be on a test or quiz or be graded in some way, I don't need to know it or do it
-hard things are not worth doing if I cannot see how it will be fun or rewarding for me
-I do not see learning opportunities as opportunities, only as a thing that gets in the way of my facebooking and texting
-doing the bare minimum to play the game of How To Get OK Grades in High School is the goal

There was more, but those are some of the highlights.

My mom and I both tried to engage her and challenge her thinking about these things.  I know that usually she thinks more about these things later when she isn't feeling defensive, but in the moment she was quite resistant.   While keeping part of my mind focused on the conversation with her, another part of my mind was comparing and contrasting her educational experience with that of kids in CC.

CC kids learn early-on that big, hard learning goals can be reached, and that they can have fun doing it.

In the grammar stage, CC kids become accustomed to learning about things that they have no frame of reference for, but they embrace it, memorize it, have fun with it, and then are delighted when they learn more about the world around them and they see where their knowledge plugs in, and they love it.

CC kids are getting an experience that I believe (hope?!) helps mold their attitudes about learning into that of acceptance and enjoyment of challenging things, confidence that they can do tough stuff, and the pride and satisfaction of achieving big goals.

CC kids are learning that what they are given to learn, memorize, and, in the upper levels, debate and discuss are things that are worth knowing.  The develop trust in their tutors, and an appreciation that they are being lead through an educational process that is worth their time and efforts.

My oldest son was in high school for 9th and most of 10th grade.  I saw his attitude go in the same direction as I now see in my daughter.  He resisted being homeschooled again, but I prayed like crazy and eventually one day toward the end of his 10th grade year he told me he was ready to come home, and he did.  While I was waiting and wishing and praying for a way to get him out of public school (without starting a war with my kid) I remember thinking that I would gladly pay whatever ransom was necessary to entice him to leave.  We found a little cottage school option with a la carte classes for homeschoolers, and we enrolled him there so he could have some time with friends and another teacher to answer to.  Ultimately, that didn't turn out to be as great as we had hoped, but the point is that we were happy to do whatever we needed to do to get him out of the environment he had been in.

So here we are.  As my daughter was spouting off her lackluster philosophies about doing as little as necessary to get by, my resolve was strengthened.  I do not know why hand-drawing the USA map and labeling 41 rivers is important to do.  But I do know that my Challenge A son had a good attitude about it (better than mine!) and he was willing to try.  He is surrounded by peers in his class who are also rising to meet these challenges.  He is surrounded by friends that have a good attitude about learning and hard work.  He is not learning that there is a bare minimum "game" to play.  He is not learning that being dyslexic means he will learn less.  He is working very hard every day, and I have been reminded that these habits and attitudes are so important to develop.  They will pay off for the rest of his life.

On we go!  This was a great reminder.  I am paying the ransom for my children's minds, not only in money, but also in the effort that we put together as a family to master these things.  Today, I feel good about it.