Tag Archive | homeschooling

They’re Just Words

I had an eye-rolling moment this afternoon.  One of those times when you think, “You didn’t just say that.  Oh, no.  You did just say that.  Wait…really?????” and it’s also an extremely squicky moment.

I had taken S to a class and was prepared to sit down to wait for her outside the classroom.  I even brought my laptop, fully intending to get some writing done.  I found a good spot, booted up, and…yep.  Chatty Mommy sat down next to me.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I love to talk.  All right, that may be an understatement.  My husband says I need to get my 10,000 words in every day.  Writing takes care of a lot of that these days, but if I’m in the company of good friends, I let loose.

I do not love talking to complete strangers, or listening to them talk endlessly.

To be fair, I had no idea she was so talkative.  I politely asked if she had a child in the class too (hey, she could have been randomly stalking classrooms).  Right there was my first mistake.  My second was failing to turn right back to my computer as soon as she’d answered me.

For the next hour, I listened to her talk about her kids.  How they were so different from each other.  How homeschooling was proceeding for the oldest.  How she writes her reports.  Her fears about her five-year-old’s progress in reading.  And on…and on….and on…

Until she finally asked me about curriculum.  We don’t use one, though we do use a few workbooks and some other materials.  I shared that, and mentioned that I want to avoid full curricula because I want a bit more control over what we teach.  She began telling me about how she’s had to modify the information in some of the lessons.  And therein lies the squick.

This conversation is now on my Top Ten Things I Absolutely, Completely Did not Need to Know about a Total Stranger’s Children.  Apparently, she didn’t like that the health book had children learning the differences between male and female bodies and using proper terminology for male and female anatomy.  At which point she told me that her children don’t use “vulgar” euphemisms, but that her daughter calls it her “front butt.”

I thought my head might possibly burst.

I have a boy and a girl.  They share a room.  They took baths together until they were four and six, and we only stopped so they wouldn’t kill each other in the shower.  They are completely familiar with the difference between boys and girls.  They know and use the correct words for their body parts (all of them).  They are not ashamed of nudity or embarrassed about bodily functions (in a good way).  They are very comfortable in their bodies, thankfully, and I hope it remains that way.

I shared the “front butt” story with the fam at dinner.  Of course; who wouldn’t share that kind of thing over a plate of homemade lasagna?  When my husband asked S if she would like to begin referring to her anatomy as her “front butt,” she frowned at him and emphatically said, “No!”  And because we have now reverted to age ten, this caused hysterical giggling in all of us.

There is no reason why kids can’t be taught from an early age to respect their bodies.  This includes using correct terms, knowing what their bodies look like, and being aware of what their bodies can do.  We don’t need to fear that using the anatomical terms are somehow going to lead them astray; the opposite is much more likely, in fact.  They’re just words, people.  Get over it.

Making Progress

One more post about the kiddos and then I promise, it’s right back to brilliantly scathing commentary on fundamentalism.  Okay, fine, it’s back to somewhat grouchy and disapproving commentary on fundamentalism.

It seems that we are in a good place with J and his school.  Thankfully, he has a wonderful and caring teacher who wants to see J be successful as much as we do.  I was amazed by some of the things she said to me today, particularly in regard to helping kids feel like they are making progress rather than always punishing the negative.

One reason we have been able to work through these tough issues is that I feel it is my duty as a parent to keep our son from being in the middle between his teacher and us.  We’re not on opposite sides.  We all want the same things.  J and his classmates have the right to an education, and it isn’t fair for one child to lose out for the sake of the rest, nor for the rest to be disrupted for the sake of the one.  I believe it is the responsibility of both parents and teachers to form an alliance in order to ensure a positive learning environment.

I have taken this approach with homeschooling as well.  From the time we began homeschooling four years ago, I went into it with the mentality that it was important for us to work with the local district in order that our children’s needs be best met.  Although it is not required by law to use them, I created J’s and now S’s IHIP (basically a homeschool learning plan) based on the school district’s forms.  I found the forms to be helpful not only for keeping in touch but for my own record-keeping and lesson plans.

The evidence of how well that worked came when J went to school.  School personnel were impressed with how well we communicated and J’s first teacher said he was well prepared to enter the classroom, in more ways than mere academics.  We had instilled in J a love for learning which carried over into his time at public school.  We are on a similar path with S, though she learns very differently than her brother.

Unfortunately, although this has been the approach that worked best for our family, I’ve faced a good measure of criticism.  The vast majority of homeschooling parents have told me that I provided the district with too much information, that I would “ruin” it for others because the school would expect more from them, that I was making too much work for myself, that it’s us against the evil public school world.  Nothing I said in our defense made any impression.  And once J was in school, I was actively shunned by some families I had known when the kids were younger.  Never mind that S is still learning at home, I had become a traitor to the cause.

The thing is, I don’t think it has much to do with homeschooling.  There are some people who simply view life as a series of battles.  The nuclear family is seen as an army or two, three, four, or more, and the enemy is anything on which they declare war:  Public school, teaching methods, mainstream physicians, food, religion (or lack thereof).  It’s not even a matter of fighting injustice.  For example, take the hostility over public school.  It’s usually about the belief that one’s own children are being harmed or neglected in some way.  It’s rarely about the need for reform within the schools that would improve things for everyone, such as smaller classes, higher quality food, and adequate resources.

We’ve chosen to see things differently.  We believe that if we support the teachers and the other staff, they will go to bat for us.  So far, that’s been proven true time and again.  As we work together to help sort out what needs to happen with J, we’re all keeping open minds throughout the process.  My husband and I have a great support network of family and friends.  It’s our job as parents to let J’s teacher know that we want to be a team in creating the best possible school experience we can for everyone.

It may not work out perfectly every time, in every situation, for every family.  I don’t want to paint a rosy picture or imply that if you just do all the right things, magic will happen.  Sometimes, needs are not met and changes must be made.  Sometimes there are real battles to fight.  But if every detail and every aspect of life is a battle, how can one ever hope to come home from the war?

Top 10 Reasons I Wish I Still Homeschooled

I do still homeschool my daughter.  But I have to admit, I wish I had my son home again.  I could make him homeschool, but he does enjoy school.  I’m trying to do what’s best for him.  Still, when certain things happen, it does make me long for those days back again.  So here’s my list:

10. Head lice, strep throat, colds, flu, and puking

This is the worst winter we’ve had in years.  I would like to send my kid to school in one of those biohazard suits.

9. Bullies

J came home a few weeks ago and said a kid in his class is picking on him.  Of course, homeschooling is no guarantee against that issue.  When J was still at home, he was bullied by a couple of kids his age because he takes dance class.  I guess I was foolish enough to believe that certain cultural stereotypes and attitudes might not be present among homeschoolers.  I was wrong; teaching your kids at home is not proof against being a nasty individual or having stupid ideas about what boys “shouldn’t” do.

8. Lady Gaga

Well, okay, not Lady Gaga herself.  But one of his classmates came to school with a magazine clearly intended for teens that had a photo of Lady Gaga in her meat dress.  I’m not really concerned that he saw too much flesh (pun intended), just that I know that whatever else is in that magazine wasn’t intended for his age group.

7. The playground

The weather has turned nice here and the kids should be outside playing.  Sadly, at J’s school, that means playing on the blacktop.  The playground is literally under water–several inches.  It will be awhile before anyone is playing on it, especially with more rain predicted.

6. School lunches

Yes, I know I have the right to send my kid with his own lunch.  And I do, nearly every day.  So I’m not really worried about J.  I am worried about the kids who get free lunches.  That may be the only thing some of them eat that day.  So shouldn’t it be a little more nutritious than chicken nuggets?

5. The bus

I suppose I could drive J myself.  And mostly I don’t mind the bus.  His morning bus driver is a very sweet, motherly lady whom all the kids seem to like and respect.  It’s his afternoon bus driver that scares me.  He is a very strange man.  Not to mention the kids J rides with in the afternoon.  J exchanged phone numbers with one of them.  The boy called and was incredibly rude to me.  Apparently, no one has bothered to teach that kid phone manners.  And one of the other kids managed to make trouble for J at school.  He threw snow balls at him, then ran away to watch while J got in trouble  with a bus monitor for dodging them.  Judging by what his teachers say about him, I don’t doubt J’s story for even a minute–he’s the last kid to get in trouble for anything.

4. Reading

I was told by the reading teacher that J needed to catch his reading comprehension up to his decoding (reading the words/sounds on the page).  Huh.  Doesn’t just READING MORE do that??

3. Budget cuts

We can’t know the future, of course, but it doesn’t look good.  The first things to go are usually the arts.  We talk a lot about how kids need physical education so they don’t get fat.  True, but should we let their brains atrophy, too?  Kids need art, music, and literature, too.

2. Getting the facts straight

So far, J has informed me that your heart stops when you sneeze and several other urban legends.  Apparently, the adults in the school are telling the kids this stuff as facts.  But the kids believe it because a grown-up they trust is telling them.  It’s hard to compete with that.

And the number one reason…

1. I just plain miss my kid.  ‘Nuff said.