Saturday, January 29, 2011

No Greater Joy

One of the hardest aspects of schooling at home is the desire to over-achieve on the projects you do. This has become very evident to me today as I did some preparatory work for Violet's class presentation. Her topic for this week is our solar system. As I worked hard to draw everything out on a poster board for Violet, I began to get frustrated. The great little protractor did its job by drawing perfect circles for the planets. I then drew out the individual patterns on the planets and sun and then I labeled each planet. The rest was for Violet to color and fill in. I'll admit, I colored the sun and one planet because (A) I love to color, and (B) it helped to move the project along.

Violet knows the planets in our solar system and she knows a lot of facts about the sun. We studied these things last semester in Classical Conversations... which planet is the biggest, which is the smallest, that out of the eight planets Earth is the cleanest (go figure!). When it came time to work on Violet's presentation there were some complaints and whining. It took some time but our little girl finally decided to give me her full attention and ran through her presentation. Hopefully, she'll remember everything we've worked on after she has slept. Hopefully, she won't hate me for pushing her so hard in order to get her attention and to focus on details that I KNOW she is capable of. Heck, if she can play Mario Brothers and get past five levels in less than ten minutes, she can give me a good presentation!

When you home school your children there is a certain pressure to perform and put out quality material when we do things. After all, we can't blame the teacher when things don't go well because I am the teacher! We have no room for error and failing is NOT an option. Because, if Violet fails then that means I have failed her, not only as her mother but as her teacher. No pressure!

You know what though? The rewards of homeschooling far outweighs the pressure and stress that I place on myself. I love being by Violet's side as she learns something new. I love hearing her sing her history sentences or math or English grammar songs as she plays in her room. Do I make her do that? No, I do not. She just enjoys the songs. I enjoy knowing that she's actually learning something that will be put to use when she's older. Am I a stellar teacher? Hardly. It's our curriculum that is fantastic and I love, love, love it! When Gregg suggested Classical Conversations, and I looked through their program, I thought he had lost his ever-loving mind. It looks hard. It is hard, especially for the older kids. But it's also incredibly user friendly. And the support we have in our group is amazing. We have accountability in our group that ensures we don't just sit at home singing Kumbyyah. We are actually working. Hard.

There's something about home schooling though that puts me on edge when people ask why Violet isn't in school. I don't feel guilty for home schooling my child. I just know that a lot of people look down on our choice. As much as home schooling has grown, and improved, over the last decade, many people still hold to the fact that a public school education is the only education; that if you home school your child you are doing a disservice to them or going to harm your child. I don't know how many times I've been asked, "Well, what about socialization? Aren't you afraid she'll be a social outcast when she gets older?" Honestly, those two questions grate on my nerves like nothing ever has before.

No, I'm not worried about socialization or that my daughter will be a social outcast when she gets older. Here's why: Violet has routine meetings with children her own age. She goes to a "class" once a week and has that classroom type setting. We get to go out on several field trips where she's with kids her own age. And let's not forget about play dates and church. Violet has so many opportunities to interact with kids her own age that we've had to say no to some things, otherwise we wouldn't get any school work done! Yes, Violet gets plenty of interaction with kids her age. But she has an added advantage that kid's in the public schools don't get, she's learning how to interact with people of all ages. She is not too shy to address an adult and actually loves talking with an adult. Violet loves to share with the adults in her life "all the cool things she's learning in school." As a matter of fact, she gave her G.G. (Great Grandmother) a pretty thorough lesson on the solar system tonight. I don't think G.G. was expecting that but she was a good sport and it was fun to watch Violet as she described all the planets and the different parts of the sun to her. Violet is very enthusiastic when she relays information to another person. She loves learning (for the most part) and she loves to share what shes learned with others. You can't ask for anything better than that.

Gregg and I have a great kid! Violet is smart, healthy, polite, quick to pray for someone, loves people and her family, and is respectful to others (for the most part). Even though she can drive me crazy at times, I wouldn't change this for anything in the world. Home schooling is hard work but it's worth every ounce of effort that you put into it. We didn't make this decision lightly. We prayed over this for years. We researched everything we could find on home schooling. We talked to countless parents who home school. And everything we received in return was confirmation that we should school our child at home. It has been one of the greatest blessings in my life to be able to do this. I will be forever grateful to my husband who works hard and provides a way for us to home school. And I will be forever grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to teach Violet in a way that she'll grow up to walk in the truth.

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
3 John 1:4


Kimberly said...

I can't even begin to tell you how much I admire you for the role you've taken on as Violet's educator. Just in working with Bryce over last summer I was floored by what a commitment and what time and dedication it takes. You have my respect, and YOU have an amazing little girl who is obviously thriving under your gentle care. :)

Yanica said...

Amen! Great blog, Kimberly! :)