You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2009.

I have developed a new appreciation for the seemingly impossible job we ask teachers to perform.

I am one parent, home educating two children. My boys are as different as you can imagine. They have unique interests, ways of learning, talents, strengths, weaknesses, and skills. My job, as their teacher/parent is to know these and use them as tools to help each child achieve their greatest success.

What works in my favor is that I’ve known them all their lives. I spend every day with them, I’ve observed them as they’ve grown and interacted with them more than any other person. But, it’s still difficult to find the balance…even just with two children.

How do I balance everyone’s needs? I sometimes feel like a juggler as I throw up the balls hoping to find a way to give each child time and space to explore things in their own way, sometimes with their sibling and sometimes on their own.

As their parent, I want them to both thrive and feel proud of themselves and confident in what they do. Sometimes, as siblings, they undermine one another and that is difficult to watch and navigate through as their parent.

What I’m discovering is that there is learning in those experiences too. And, even though part of me wants to separate things out so they can both shine in their own ways and own times, sometimes it is important for them to go through more difficult times too.

I continue to trust that everything is unfolding in a way that is best for us all. I do all I can to give each child opportunity to shine, encourage each other and be accepting and understanding of one another.

I applaud those teachers who make their best efforts to balance the needs of their students and see how impossible it is for them to do what they are asked to do in the school system. And in this, I’ve found another reason, I am grateful we are able to homeschool.

We stood at the cashier and as I finished my transaction, she looked at the boys and said, “You’re not in school?”

“We homeschool,” they replied.

She looked at the time and saw it was not quite noon and said, “Shouldn’t you be at home in school then?”

The boys just shrugged, having no idea what she was asking or how to respond.

I interjected that we were in school, we just moved our classroom to the grocery store that morning.

She then turned to them and said, “Oh, well in that case, what’s the tax going to be on this bill?”

My seven year old piped up and said, “I don’t know, but I do know these two drinks add up to $2.”

It was an interesting exchange and what I came away with was another opportunity to revisit what we are doing and why it works so well for us as a family.

The situation helped to remind me that we are walking a different path but that my alternative view of education and learning is something that really resonates with me and seems to be working very well for my children too.

And I enjoyed another opportunity to observe the kids continuing to just be themselves and feeling confident in what they do know and how they interact with others.

I have long believed that motivation is the most powerful tool in learning. I have witnessed in my own life how quickly and easily I learn something when I have a strong motivation. My son recently showed me another example of this concept.

My oldest is not a fan of physical activity. Since he was born, he has appeared to be quite uncomfortable in his body and often seems to have difficulty getting it to move and do physical things with ease.

I recently suggested the boys look into doing a class, activity or sport this year. My oldest heard a list of things and decided he’d like to try karate. I was a bit surprised, but looked into it and found a class that we could attend as a family and tried the first class for free.

It was an intense workout (just ask my sore muscles). My red-faced boy was panting, struggling at times and asking me when it was done, so I assumed it would be our first and last class. When we were done, I asked him what he thought and if he wanted to continue. His face lit up, he asked when the next class was and if he would get a Gi next time.

We signed up.

I realized later, his motivation seems to be getting the Gi and being able to show people what he’s doing. In fact, he asked me not to tell our friends and family because he wants to surprise them himself, showing up wearing his Gi and demonstrating what he’s learned. He even said, “I bet no one will believe I’m doing this.”

It’s interesting for me to see that this child, who isn’t comfortable with most physical activity and is not very coordinated is interested in doing a very physcial sport that requires a lot of coordination. But the reason he’s doing it is because he’s found some motivation stronger than his discomfort. It shows the power of motivation; and it really is incredibly powerful.

I am excited we’re doing this as a family.

I feel happy watching him be so excited about his new activity. I like the fact that he’s anticipating feeling proud of his skills and wanting to show and surprise others. I like that he’s found some inner motivation to do an activity that will benefit him in many amazing ways and is moving forward, even though it was difficult for him that first week.

I liked the reminder that even though I think I know him well, he knows more about himself than I ever could.

And most of all, I love the demonstration of the power of motivation and how it can propel us to do and learn things others may have never imagined. It’s been another gift for me in our infinite learning journey.

September has presented interesting personal challenges for me since we declared ourselves an infinite learning family several years ago.

At first, I tried to go against the current and rebelled against the cultural vibe of reorganization, planning and scheduling that comes hand in hand with the back to school culture. I refused to be part of it, but in my private protest, I still felt angst and a lot of shoulds…I should be planning something, I should be setting goals, I should be getting new workbooks or pencils or something.

Then I stopped pushing against the idea and just floated into our own little world where we were busy doing end of summer things and pretending like we could live in a bubble and not notice what was happening around us. That didn’t work so well either because when we returned from our little oasis, all the local activities, sports and classes were filled and had already begun.

This year is the first year I’ve embraced the planning vibe that occurs in September. I’ve stopped to admire the new notebooks for sale, sharpened a pencil just to smell it and sat down to see if there was particular direction we wanted to head this year.

And……I liked it.

I realized that doing something different than the majority of families doesn’t mean I have to push against it or remove myself from it. I can embrace the parts of it that work for us and step away from the others that don’t.

It was fun to sit down with the kids and ask them if they wanted to try something new, join a group, play a sport. I liked having a discussion about where they want to head and if there was anything they wanted to learn now or in the near future. I enjoyed sitting down to discover what local classes, sports and other activities are available and determine if it’s something we want to do or not.

I liked finding my way into a more comfortable place in September after all these years. I am enjoying the fact that we can still be infinite learners and embrace some parts of the school/community culture without denying what works best for us. I feel like we are really finding our way and benefitting from it in many ways.

Happy September everyone!