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My Blog – Version 3.0??

I’m BAACCCKKK!!! Probably. I mean… I don’t want to really commit myself because then I’d start to feel pressured about this whole thing and that never leads to any kind of good place for me. So tentatively, I’m going to give this whole blogging thing another try for the third time.

This blog has seen many transitions and versions of Crystal. There was the “Perfect Mom Crystal” from back in my Blogger days before we shifted over to WordPress. She was the ultimate mom and homeschooler. Welp. At pretending anyways. Actually… not much has really changed. There was the “Nervous Breakdown Crystal” when shit was hitting the fan. She’s still here hanging out strong these days. There was “Going Back to School Crystal.” She totally quit. “Politically Aware Crystal.” She’s currently living a hole because the world freaks her the fuck out right now. Then the “I’m feeling flaky, so bye blog Crystal.”

Crystal is a fickle fickle girl. Still totes true.

The reboot of this blog shall start with ” Sarcastic, Bitter and Struggling Crystal.” Let’s see how long she sticks around.

Side Note: I’m not really feeling the name Explore. Dream. Discover. anymore. Nope, nope, nope. That sounds entirely too hopeful. Who was that person that gave this blog such a ludicrous name??!! Ugh. Many changes are coming cause this baby needs a complete design overhaul and with it a new name. But what will it be…. I’ll get back to you.

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Immigration Detention: The People Along the Way

As you know this weekend was our much-anticipated immigration movie screening event, and trip to visit immigrant detainees at the Stewart Detention Center. Along with the hospitality house, El Refugio in Lumpkin, GA, which houses families coming to visit loved ones.

Through my endeavor to learn more about immigration, I can officially say from the other side that I was successful. Possibly more successful than I expected.

I learned that Stewart Detention Center is the largest detention center in the country, detaining about 1,800 immigrants at any given time. I’ve learned that it is one of MANY detention centers scattered across the U.S. that are for-profit, owned and run by corporations, such as Corrections Corporation of America, which is the owner of Stewart. I’ve learned that the CCA makes $100 a day per detainee that resides in their facility, which offers great incentive to keep detainee numbers high, and that money is paid to them from our government straight out of your tax paying pockets.

Stewart Detention Center falls in the top 10 worst detention centers in the U.S. Detention centers have ongoing issues and complaints for inadequate medical care, sexual and physical abuse, insufficient food, and high costs for communication to those outside of the facility, making contact with family members hard. I’ve learned that breaking immigration law is considered a civil offense, and not a criminal one, so detainees are denied the right to government provided legal defense.

Detention centers are primarily built in impoverished areas, away from major cities to make it difficult for families to travel to visit their loved ones. In Lumpkin there are no hotels, or public transportation options, not even a regular grocery store.

I’ve learned that our immigration policies and our high rates of deportation have destroyed many families. Thousands. Nearly 45,000 immigrant parents were deported in the first half of 2012 alone, separating them from their U.S born children. It is estimated that at least 5,000 of those children (in 22 states) now reside in our foster care system, which doesn’t account for the number of children in foster care in states unaccounted for, or those that have been orphaned by these policies that now reside with other family members living in the U.S. Husbands separated from their wives, mothers from their children, and fathers from their children.

These are just a few factoids though. Stats. Just a few, since there are so many more I could be throwing out there. And while they are disturbing and sad, they don’t put a real face to what is really happening here.

So, more important than what I’ve learned here, is what I saw.

I saw how difficult it is to navigate the detention system without guidance, and you can wholeheartedly expect to get little to no help from those running or those employed by these bureaucracies. We can mince words all we want about how detention centers aren’t prisons, but only those that haven’t been there would ever make that assumption. Or those that have a monetary or philosophical interest in them. They are very much prisons.

Stewart Detention Center is completely surrounded by high fencing topped with barbed wire. Not only one fence, but two. You can’t walk into Stewart without being buzzed into their two-gate system. You enter the first gated door, and it closes you in before allowing you to enter through the second. Detainees are only allowed one visitor per week, and families sit for hours waiting for the opportunity to visit (I waited 2 ½ hours.) Each visit is one hour long, and only 5 visits can take place at one time. These visits allow no actual contact with the detainee and take place over phone, while being separated by glass. When you go through to visit they require that you remove your shoes, empty your pockets, remove you belt, and place all belongings in a bucket so that they can be scanned. After you walk through metal detectors you are allowed your shoes back, but must replace all belongings inside a locker for the duration of your visit.

However, it wasn’t the inner workings of Stewart that made the biggest impression on me. It was the people along the way.

It was the story I heard of one man’s personal experience in hiring a coyote to take him to the border to get here. About how his group was lied to about how long it would take, so they were inadequately prepared with food and water. About how merciless coyotes can be, and that they were not allowed to rest, even the children. He described the fear of stopping, because their guide would leave them behind with no way to find their way forward or back. He described the experience as a nightmare that still haunts him today, I could hear his pain, and I cried for them. All of them. In my lifetime I will surely never understand the fear or necessity that drives so many to make that trek, or the level of bravery that it takes to make that choice.

Most of us, those “lucky” American born folks never will.

It was the people who traveled from all over to visit their loved ones. Mothers. Fathers. Wives. Children. Sisters. Brothers. Friends. The woman I spoke with who was trying to visit her husband, but was turned away after 40 minutes of waiting because they realized that he had been visited earlier in the week, so was not allowed to see him. The woman that was almost denied visitation access due to her shirt baring too much skin. The woman I met that travels every Saturday from Buford to see her husband, who has been at Stewart for the past 8 months.

And it was the man that I had the privilege, along with my husband, to spend an hour talking with that I gained the most insight from. The man who has been fighting his case and residing in Stewart since Sept. 2011. The one whose mother died from cancer shortly after his visitation request was denied to go see her. The one whose wife suffers from a heart condition, who has been without insurance since his detention began, and can no longer afford the expensive medications she needs. I listened as he expressed his fear for her, as she has been in and out of the hospital. His fear that he may never see her again, and his fear that she will die before he ever has the chance. I listened as he told us the story of how they met, and fell in love. I watched him as he cried for his life being denied him, the loss of his mother, for his wife, and I cried with him. He is scared (like so many others), and he has every reason to be.

So, those are the faces. The people behind all the stats and facts and articles. And it makes me angry. And so so sad. And scared too.

Because as my new friend, Jose described to me – the American Dream has become a nightmare.

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This is me… throwing down.

Today, I sat idly flipping through a Star magazine, trying to kill a few minutes while I waited for my stylist to finish up with another client so that I could get a trim. I can’t say I was shocked, when the 2 stylists closest to me and their clients started talking about the Chick-fil-a controversy. I mean, who isn’t talking about it right now??!! I wish I could say they were saying things that made my heart happy and caused me to think, “Hey! Kindred spirits!” It was more in a way that made my blood pressure go up and I felt an extreme urge to throw down. However, I refrained. Barely. In the end I knew it would be a pointless battle, just like many of the others I’ve had this week. Or in the past. And will likely have again in the future. The one I’m waging at this very moment…

I sat there easily listening to their conversation, while they took no notice of my being there. No care for the teenage girls listening. What if I were gay? Or one of those teenage girls? Or both? Or even one of the people participating in that conversation? How would all of these little conversations make me/them feel?  The one today or one of the thousands I can find just about anywhere on the internet right now. If there is one thing that this CFA controversy has surely succeeded in doing, it has been to pull down the walls that made being anti-gay socially unacceptable. That used to be one of those things people *mostly* just kept on the down low. Oh, but no more! “CFA” has deemed being anti-gay a wholesome Christian value and that has everyone with the same values(however misguided), stepping over lines they wouldn’t have once crossed. I miss those days.

Yesterday, thousands of people flocked to their local Chick-fil-a’s, so they could effectively and “on their turf”, support CFA and give the gay community the finger. A message sent out to the roughly 9 million people that identify as LGBT; it was surely a job well done. I wonder how many LGBT youths were dragged to CFA with their parents yesterday and forced to show their support for a mentality that treats them as if they are less than people? That there is something WRONG about them.

 

So here’s the thing…

Research from the Family Acceptance Project… “shows that LGBT youths “who experience high levels of rejection from their families during adolescence (when compared with those young people who experienced little or no rejection from parents and caregivers) were more than eight times likely to have attempted suicide, more than six times likely to report high levels of depression, more than three times likely to use illegal drugs and more than three times likely to be at high risk for HIV or other STDs” by the time they reach their early 20s.”

And now, not only do they get to feel that rejection in their homes, they can blatantly feel it everywhere they turn. Great job, folks!

My brilliant friend, Amanda, gave me the idea of trying to take away from all the negative that is being put out there, and do something good. So, instead of throwing my money at hate, I’ll opt to take the money I could have blown on chicken sandwiches and waffle fries yesterday, and give it to the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBT and questioning youths. With the influx of hate spreading right now, I would place bets on the fact that they could use the extra help.

[box] BTW, for those that think this whole thing is still just about one guy’s religious beliefs, then you obviously haven’t given any of this very much thought.[/box]

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Rethinking Education

After my son was first born, I remember spending hours snuggled up with him, enjoying the feel of his soft skin, and that fresh baby smell. I took pleasure in the newness of motherhood, and reveled in my feelings of protectiveness and love. In those early days I indulged in daydreams about all the things we would eventually do together; I developed this vision of how I wanted our lives to be, and the opportunities that I wanted my children to have that had been lacking in my youth.

During that time, one of the things that caught my attention, were my feelings about my experiences in public schools. I felt that public schooling had few positives to offer me, and many negatives, so I began to worry about how these things would potentially impact my son and my future children. My hopes for my children have always been for their childhood to be centered in family, and for them to learn through living. Ultimately, I felt like those things couldn’t thrive to their fullest in the public school system, so I began immersing myself in research, trying to learn about alternative forms of education.

The information that I found astounded me, and the culmination of my exploration into the world of education, left me with the conviction that homeschooling would be the best choice for us. For parents that are concerned about the quality of their children’s education, homeschooling provides many of the things that seem hard to find in our public schools; the potential for quality-rich curriculum, approaching children as individuals with different learning styles and needs, and a more positive social environment for children to grow.

Public education has always had the goal of being “a pathway to opportunity” by giving education to all children, many of which might not have otherwise had any (Ravitch 241). While this is a noble goal, and a necessary part of society, we seem to be missing the mark on giving children an education of worth, as we rank average in education among other developed countries (“USA Today”). In her book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Diane Ravitch, the former Assistant Secretary of Education writes, “At the present time, public education is in peril. Efforts to reform public education are, ironically, diminishing its quality and endangering its very survival. We must turn our attention to improving schools, infusing them with the substance of genuine learning and reviving the conditions that make learning possible” (242).

The president, leading experts in education, teachers, and even parents admit that our education system isn’t working for our children, but no one can seem to agree on the best ways to implement positive change. School reforms that actually work could still be many years off.  For those of us with school-aged children, these reforms might not come into effect until after our children have graduated.

Our current reform, No Child Left Behind, has it’s main focus on accountability and assessments of schools, teachers, and curriculum, which is judged primarily through statewide-standardized tests. (Popham 14 -18) In theory, holding our schools to a higher standard sounds like an excellent idea. However, since the implementation of this reform, there has been great pressure put on schools to show adequate yearly progress through testing scores, else they are labeled as “failing.” This has influenced many schools to follow strict curriculum guidelines, with the purpose of bringing up test scores. While other schools flounder with no set curriculum, leaving children to a “regime of basic skills and no content at all” (Ravitch 237). Emphasis has been put on the subjects of reading and mathematics, leaving less time for history, science, music, art, and physical education (Rubenstein).

Programs, such as these, don’t allow for variation or creativity. There is no flexibility, as the structure of the system is built around “average” children. This leaves many falling through the cracks. The innovative teachers, the ones willing to think outside the box and inspire learning, are the ones we most want to be teaching our children. Yet, many of those very same teachers don’t stray from the rigid rules set forth by administration for fear of being labeled “failing.” This results in children and teachers with little enthusiasm for school.

 Horsey, David. “Dismal learning is not the path to success” Cartoon. Seattlepi 7 Oct. 2010. Web.

There are amazing teachers in the public school system, schools that are above average, and even entire states that seem to fair better in the department of education, than the rest of the country. Sadly, we have little way of guaranteeing that our children fall into the category of youths that receive those benefits. We are bound by the school district that our homes sit in, and by the teachers assigned to our children. It is a small majority of people that can pick up their homes and move, just for the right to be in a better school district. Ultimately, we have no choice in the quality of education our children receive in school, leaving us with only the hope of lucking out.

As of 2007, the government estimates that there are 1.5 million children homeschooling in the U.S. In the four years since those figures were acquired, that number has likely grown considerably, as homeschooling has become more widespread (Toppo). While you lack in choices in public schools, you overflow with choices in homeschooling. Today, due to the popularity of homeschooling, there is no end to the options you have in curriculum for your children. All children learn differently, and families prescribe to different methodologies when it comes to education; there really is something for everyone. You could spend hours just researching the different philosophies, and investigating the curriculums available.


We are all individuals. Do you know anyone in your life that is exactly like you? Someone that learns the same way you learn? Someone that enjoys or excels at the same things you do? Well, children are the same way. One might excel in language arts, and flounder in mathematics. One might be an overall slower learner, or someone that churns through new concepts at a fast pace. You have to meet children where they are at in their learning, if our goal is to have well-educated children. With classroom sizes of twenty students or more, how can public school teachers accommodate everyone equally?

Children instinctively want to learn; sometimes this instinct seems to be defused in the school system. Children are typically in school six to seven hours per day, and can sometimes look forward to upwards of two hours of homework time at night depending on grade level, and the curriculum being used. When you are homeschooling, you can free up many hours in the day for self-motivated learning. Self-motivated learning is one the biggest qualities I aspire to instilling in my children, because I feel that is how information is best remembered. Think about the things that you know the most about; even as adults, we tend to retain the things that we actively sought to learn.

When self-motivated learning is encouraged, and then flourishes, it never fails to amaze me what you will see children accomplish. When left to their own devices they might take on projects like writing and acting in dramatic plays, starting websites or blogs, building and repairing computers, wood working, community service, and other experiments in life. It isn’t unusual to see them start their own businesses at a younger age. I once met a very impressive 9-year-old homeschooled girl, running an exhibitors table at an event, selling beautiful jewelry that she had created. She was quite passionate about her work, and for me that was a perfect example of what I wanted for my children as they grew.

Proponents for public schooling tend to hold strongly to the belief that being in the school system is the only way to socialize children; homeschoolers don’t know how to interact with people or function in the “real” world. I wonder if being surrounded by their still-maturing peers for the majority of their time is really socializing our children in a good way? The socialization of our children in violence, profanity, drugs, peer pressure, and blatant sexuality are very realistic expectations during the school experience.

Bullying in schools has become an epidemic in the United States. Although, not a new problem, the far reach of the Internet has made it possible for bullying to follow children home, and suicides caused from bullying are showing up more frequently in the media. According to a 20/20 special called Bullied to Death in America’s Schools,  “160,000 kids per day miss school because they are too afraid to go. (Dubreuil, and McNiff)” This is a very disheartening number to me, and realistically it is important for people to understand that many kids that are being bullied do not speak to school faculty or parents about the problems they’re having.

It is the responsibility of you, as parents, to ensure that your children are exposed to a variety of different social situations, and have the opportunity to grow friendships. Homeschooled children actually tend to spend more time in the “real” world, while other kids are stuck in an institution for the majority of their days. They interact and form friendships with children of all ages and backgrounds, as well as adults. It has been my experience, as a public schooled person, and someone that has been living quite successfully in the “real” world for many years now, that there is not much correlation between your experiences in school, and the ones you will have once you are no longer there. Now we have new longitudinal studies that are showing that, “Not only are home-schoolers actively engaged in civic life, they also are succeeding in all walks of life” (“Washington Times”).

The social outlets available to homeschooled children are numerous, especially when you live in an urban area, you tend to have multiple options on groups to associate yourself. The size, goals, and philosophies of individual groups will vary, but typically you can expect a sense of friendship, support, and community within them. They plan outings, such as park days, field trips, and parent’s events; while some other groups, like cooperatives, may have parents volunteer to teach classes for the children in subjects that they excel.

My family keeps membership with a large homeschool cooperative, which has about 90 families total. Very diverse families make up our group, and it has been an amazing resource for us. Every Wednesday morning, my son takes three hours of classes, taught by other parents. This affords us the benefit of being able to spend time with friends, take advantage of the knowledge base of others, and gives my son the experience of a “school-like” setting, in which he is learning how to take instruction from someone other than my husband or myself.

Picture from my son’s Fun with Nature class, performing community service by cleaning up the park.

Another strongly held assumption is that parents do not have the ability to adequately teach their children at home. Although, I don’t believe testing is the only way to determine how much a child knows or how successful their schooling has been, the most recent large scale study done on the success of homeschoolers showed that, “the average home-schooler scored 37 percentile points higher on standardized achievement tests than the public school average” (“Washington Times”).

You are your child’s first teacher, and regardless of whether you have any specialized training in teaching, no teacher will ever know or understand your child the way that you do. This within itself offers a strong foundation to build a child’s education upon. We are parents. We will never get things just right, all the time. We will make mistakes, and we will learn from them. We can always look for help; resources for parents abound, including the Internet, tutoring, and online school options with access to experienced teachers. If you need it, you can find it! You should view homeschooling with your children as an adventure, one where you both learn and grow together.

Lastly, some people feel concerned about homschooled children’s ability to get into college. As the number of homeschooled children rises, more colleges actively seek them for their schools; you will find no shortage of colleges working tables at large homeschool conferences around the United States. Colleges are also reaching out to these children in other ways, such as advertising in homeschooling magazines, and offering specialized scholarships.  Prestigious schools such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and MIT, now all accept homeschooled students, making the choice of colleges for students fairly unlimited (Romanowski 127).

Homeschooling is a time investment, and is surely not one that every parent can or would be willing to make. It requires that you spend most of you time with your children, which let me be honest, can be emotionally and physically draining at times. This is a huge commitment, aside from doing actual schoolwork, you also have to take on lesson planning, field trips, and researching topics on which you need a better understanding; it can be a very timely exploit.

Every parent has to choose what will work best for their family; maybe homeschooling isn’t for your family. Parents can offset some of the potential negative aspects of public schooling for their children by keeping the lines of communication open. Talk to your children, and see if there are areas that they are struggling. You can involve children in extra curricular activities, community services, and tutoring as you feel your children need or would enjoy doing them. There are also other education options, such as charter schools, private schools, and schools of educational philosophy, like Waldorf or Montessori. Remember that all of life is an educational experience, and take advantage of those teachable moments!

My son is in Kindergarten now, and we are only in the beginnings of our homeschooling journey. Having experience in reality, and not just in theory, has left me with many revelations. I must confess, homeschooling can be hard, and is rarely convenient. There are days when I just want to give it up, days when I want to cry in frustration, and days that we fight.

Then, there are those moments that make it feel worth it; we have our leisurely mornings, still snuggled in bed when the school buses drive by, our impromptu educational moments, and all those times that we get to experience as a family that would otherwise be lost. Though, my absolute favorite moments are the ones when my son realizes he just learned something new, that he “gets it,” and the look of pure joy and elation that I get to see on his face. That is when I feel like I come full circle, and I know that despite some of the sacrifices, ensuring quality education and experiences for my children, and living life experientially with them is worth it.

* This is an academic paper, originally written for one of my English Composition classes. 🙂

 

Resources

Types of Homeschooling

Charlotte Mason

Classical

Eclectic

Montessori

Online

Traditional 

Waldorf 

Unit Studies

Unschooling

Books

Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything

The Everything Homeschooling Book: All you need to create the best curriculum and learning environment for your child 

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home

The Unschooling Handbook : How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom

Websites

Homeschooling Reviews – Reviews on curriculum

Rainbow Resource Center

Home School Legal Defense Association

 

Works Cited

Dubreuil, Jim, and Eamon McNiff. “Bullied to Death in America’s Schools.” ABC 20/20. ABC, 2010. Web. 23 Feb 2012.

. “HOME-SCHOOLING: Socialization not a problem.” The Washington Times. N.p., 2009. Web. 23 Feb 2012.

. “In ranking, U.S. students trail global leaders.” USA Today. The Associated Press, 2010. Web. 24 Feb 2012.

Popham, W. James . America’s “Failing” Schools: How Parents and Teachers Can Cope with No Child Left Behind. 1st ed. New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2004. 14-18. Print.

Ravitch, Diane. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education. 1st ed. New York: Perseus Books Group, 2010. 237-242. Print.

Romanowski, Michael H. “Revisiting the Common Myths about Homeschooling.” Clearing House. 2006: 127. Print.

Rubenstein, Grace. “No Child Left Behind: The Good And The Bad.” Parenting . Parenting Magazine, n.d. Web. 23 Feb 2012.

Toppo, Greg. “More higher-income families are home schooling their children.” USA Today. USA Today, 2009. Web. 23 Feb 2012.

 

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Tit Terrorists?

Breastfeeding Nazis. Being called superior, condescending and judgmental. These are just some of the not-so-nice things I have heard said about lactavists.

I have counted myself amongst lactavists for the past 4 years. In the beginning, my first thoughts when hearing those kinds of insults about lactavists were defensive ones. People that would say that about lacatvists obviously don’t understand. They don’t understand that we are coming from a place of passion! If they really knew what I KNOW then they would feel the same way I feel. Blame it on ignorance, because we all know that if every woman were as smart as me, then they would obviously think exactly the way I do. (Sarcasm) I say that sarcastically now, but there was a time where I really felt that way.

Some people might assume that those kinds of remarks would come only from women that are hard-core promoters of formula feeding. The mothers who formula fed all their children and firmly believe that there is no notable differences between the two. I have been noticing though, that that doesn’t alway seem to be the case. There are many women that support breastfeeding, have breastfed their children or are currently breastfeeding their children, that don’t have positive feelings towards lactavists and wouldn’t want to count themselves amongst them.

Why is that?

Recent events have shown an upsurge on Facebook amongst  lacatavists , posting about the horrors of formula feeding. I really have to take a moment to thank a friend of mine. Reading her blog this past year about her trials, her thoughts & feelings about a breastfeeding relationship she had originally wanted and ended up not having and the emotions she has felt through it all, has gone a long way to opening my eyes about the WAY we talk about breastfeeding and the profound effect that it can have on all different types of women.

 

These ads were created to demand honesty in formula advertising. Who is the demand being made to though? Are formula companies seeing these ads? Or just thousands of mothers across the internet? False advertising isn’t a new idea. Check out most items on any given shelf in your grocery store and you will see some. If we want there to be more honesty in advertising, is this the most productive way to try and achieve it?

Is this about educating mothers? Pretend for a second that you are a mother who doesn’t know about the awesomeness of your breasts and how amazing breastfeeding is… yadayadayada. What would you think if you saw this posted somewhere? Do you feel educated after reading it?

Does it strike you as condescending? Or would it?

This is the ingredients off of the back of a formula can. So, what if this were captioned along the lines, “Another baby died from formula this week. Crap in a can.”?

So, what does that make mothers feel? To read that? For us breastfeeding mothers, it surely makes us feel even more awesome and superior for our choice to do “what is best for our baby”. What about every other mother out there?

Do we care?

I love breastfeeding. I breastfed my son until he was a few months shy of 4. Those last 3 months for him, he was tandem nursing with his sister, who is still nursing at 22 months. I probably have quite a bit more nursing to look forward too. I think that it is important for women to breastfeed in public so that other women can see it. The more often it is seen, the more it will seem less of an oddity. I think sharing the positives about breastfeeding is important. There are so many. I just also think that the way that we approach talking about breastfeeding and formula feeding should be and can be done in a more thoughtful and considerate way.

Think… COMPASSION. Because at the end of the day you can’t force women to think the way you do. You can’t strong arm them into it. You can’t treat them like they are stupid in hopes that they will believe it and then want to be “smarter”. Just like you. And many of them do know what you know. Maybe they made a different choice or they didn’t really HAVE a choice.

Obviously, not all women will be offended by those kinds of lactavist tactics but I think the numbers are higher than most of us would  think. Some people will be offended no matter what you say or how you say it, but I know it is hard for me to remember that not everyone thinks and feels the way I do. Or the majority of the people that make up “my world”. My world view has become very narrow. I know that in the past I have made similar types of posts or said things that weren’t very thoughtful. It makes me wonder how I have made people feel. My friends? My family?

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I’m Making The Rules NOW

A follow up on my Until further notice… NO MORE SCHOOL blog post that I did in another blog….
In the world of homeschool we are still doing nothing. Haden seems much happier, which for now is what I need. I have managed to try and “sneak” things in as I see the opportunity but I feel like I really suck at this not having a plan thing. I am trying to put what he needs above what I need on this though. It is tough. It sucks. My hope is that with more time I will adjust and all will be good.”

I wanted to add more to that, so I will start from there. In an attempt to try and embrace unschooling I decided to read another unschooling book to hopefully help pump me up about it and renew some enthusiasm. I have read a couple in the past. The Unprocessed Child: Living Without School and   The Unschooling Handbook : How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom. Both very good books but at the time I just could never see myself being an unschooler even though I liked much of the philosophy. I don’t think I ever really let myself take it all in. 


Actually, let me back track. Lets go back to the very beginning. Haden must have been about a month old when I first thought about homeschooling. I more mentioned it to Michael in a joking way because I was so enamored with motherhood that I didn’t like the thought of Haden ever being away from me for extended amounts of time. Just mentioning it though was all it took to spark my interest. So began my researching and the realization that there were MANY good reasons to homeschool. So it was decided. From that point on I was a hardcore supporter of homeschooling and very much against the idea of ever sending Haden or any future children into “the system”.


So here is where I will mention my first mistake. I think the very first one I made was getting too excited about my future as a homeschooling mother. Thinking about what curriculum I would use when he was old enough to school, having pretty much “decided” how I wanted to homeschool long before it was relevant. I had it all planned out before Haden was one. Of course as soon as I could justify doing so, I started doing preschool with Haden. Trying to inspire learning through play and other activities. None of this is particularly bad. I think it was more my motivation behind my actions that started my problems.


When you start researching homeschooling, you read all these accounts of how smart homeschooling children seem to be. And who doesn’t want their child to be smart? I had grand ideas of starting early with Haden but making it fun so that he could be an early reader like so many I have heard about. For every story I have heard where kids started reading at 4, I have heard just as many about kids not reading until 7 or older. All of that seems to fall with the range of normal, when it comes to homeschoolers. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel like I wanted Haden to be on the earlier end of that curve. Because didn’t that mean that whatever I was doing was working? That homeschooling really is the best option?


Who defines my definition of smart? Not just mainstream society but some of homeschooling society as well. I am seriously getting tired of other people’s opinions defining my life. Obviously I am the only one that can control that and so that is the decision I have come to.


So searching around on Amazon I decided to try out this book, Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education. It actually isn’t about unschooling as we think of it in the homeschool world. Just more about getting away from what we “think” education is supposed to be like when defined by our education system. I didn’t learn anything inherently new but it did serve to remind me of some things that I would do well not to forget.


Learn something because you need it or because you love it. This seems like a no brainer but it made me start to think about who defines what children “need” to know. I know many homeschoolers that base their curriculum choices and what they do each year around a set list of things that children that grade level “should” know at the end of the year. I know. I did it while preschooling Haden. What each child NEEDS to know is completely up to them. They will define the course of their lives and what information will be the most relevant for their future. 


Throughout life, everyone unschools most of the time. Most of the things we use in our adult lives, we learned through trial and error. Real life experiences or self-motivated self-study on something that interests us.


And a BIG one. There is no answer to how to educate a child. There may not be any answers. All I know is what is working right now. Who knows what will work next year or the year after that. What Addsion will be like as she grows and what I will need to change to be able to meet her needs.


All of this rambling to say that I am making my own rules now. I have lived my life in a very black and white type of manner for the past 4 years. Life isn’t black and white. There are not always definite rights and wrongs. Things in life are situational. I can plan every second of every day, if I want to try but I will spend every minute of those days feeling inadequate and never quite meeting my expectations. I’m just done with it.


I am giving myself the ok to hold one opinion about something RIGHT NOW and to be free to change my mind about it tomorrow. That doesn’t make me a hypocrite. It makes me an always growing person that is willing to admit that I am not always right. Mainly because I don’t think there really is a “right”. This blog mainly started out being about my feelings on my educational approaches with my children but I think it may have ended somewhere else…