Wow, I just realized that I have been posting my book since November. In a way, I think I'll miss the Katz', but I'm also ready to get back to posting about goings on in our area and homeschooling in general.
I think I'd like to start by letting you in to some of my ruminations of late. There has been a lot of ruminating, and stewing on my part. It's been a frustrating year so far and I've been feeling very dissatisfied with many things... the way my kids behave, the kinds of work we are doing, the amount of work that is getting done, my inability to get them to help much around the house... and yet I realize that a lot of this is just my own focus and perceptions gone awry. I see other parents do this and see how often it leads to the kids going back to school, and yet here I am doing it too. I should know better.
Our kids are often amazing, thoughtful, unique and wonderful people, and yet all we can see are the faults and deficiencies. It's a matter of being able to acknowledge and celebrate the strengths too.
I think I'll come out of this year seeing it as very transformative. By August, I'll find myself in the custody of two "middle schoolers" and I feel like we are in transition. The kids are growing and changing slowly into adults and I am needing to change my own thinking and viewpoints as a result.
I probably should take my own advice and "practice an attitude of gratitude". Even if the academic work isn't exactly what I had hoped for this year, it helps to get a reality check. What is most important? What is my most important role here? So many things vie for our attention as homeschoolers and there is never enough time in the day. It's so easy to get lost in the details. I feel like I've fallen prey to loosing the forest for the trees.
Here is an example. My daughter was required to take the ACT (or SAT) in order to get into a program sponsored by Duke University for "gifted" students. She is only a "7th grader", and so taking this test right now is very early. I spent a great deal of time worrying about this. I wanted her to study so she could do well. She didn't want to study it. A great deal of frustration ensued. What I forgot is that she shouldn't have to study for this, not yet. The intent at this point is only to give these kids experience. The test is made for high school kids getting ready to enter college, not middle schoolers. The scores won't matter. She'll take it later and do better. She's taken it, and made some serious mistakes on it (timing, direction reading, etc.), but it doesn't matter, she got the experience she needed, and I shouldn't have spent all that time worrying and pestering her about it. Just the fact that she was selected to have the opportunity to take it this early was an honor.
Foolish to waste so much time and energy worrying and fussing. Worry is a foolish thing, and yet we all do it.
Never mind the academics. My most important job here is still to be THE MOM. What I mean by that is to be PRESENT, ready to listen to the emotional ups and downs, to give a hug when it is needed, to be witness and supportive to what is important to our kids. Now, more than any other time since we have started this homeschool journey, my kids need me to be listening. A child who doesn't feel emotionally and physically supported doesn't have the will and confidence to go out into the world and reach for their dreams.
I don't think adolescence is a time to back off and away from our kids. Their world is changing as they change and they need their parents to be present and on their side. There will be lessons about self-responsibilty and time management and the like. Those lessons are going to be hard. I may have to back off on the militant schedule mongering, but not on the support.
Even if we did nothing academic this year, it would be a successful year if both my kids were to learn to take personal responsibility for their own schedules and learning. This will probably require some serious falling on their faces, but I truly believe that a student who is present and doing the work for THEMSELVES is a successful student. A student who is present and doing for others (parents, teachers, etc.) is just going through the motions. I've seen too many middle school kids with this attitude. It's makes me very sad. They don't care and don't feel any responsibility for themselves. They don't have choice. How can they learn to make good choices if they never have the opportunity to choose for themselves when they are young? Education is something forced on them and they don't want to have any part of it if they can help it.
Things aren't this bad for us, thank goodness. The work hasn't been as bad as I often perceive it to be. At the end of the year, I'm sure I'll look back and marvel at all of the emotional, physical and academic growth that occurred.
This Valentines Day give yourself and your kids a hug. Share respect for each other. Be there to listen and hear what they are trying to say to you and listen to your own needs and wants. Find a balance that works for all of you. This is the secret to successful homeschooling at any age.