Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Freedom to choose

On Sunday night my daughter announced to me that she wants to go to school. She has made this statement off and on throughout the year. I have always maintained that my children should have the choice when it comes to public school. I imagine I could convince her to stay home, but I feel in the long run she would hit a point where she would resent my not giving her the choice. She is certainly different from her brother. She is much more socially extraverted and really feeds off of being around a crowd of people. She loved her 3 year old preschool class and has a positive association with school. So, I signed her up for the academic 1st grade prep summer school.

As I clicked the payment button my heart caught in my throat. How was I feeling? I couldn't put my finger on any one emotion. I was a tornado of emotions. My goal is for my kids to love  learning and to find their interest naturally by exploring and asking questions. How can I deny this reasonable request to try out a different way of going to school? Yet I fear her wanting to be there so badly she will sacrifice parts of herself to 'fit in'. I fear she is bright enough to know how to do enough to get by and desires attention enough to spend more energy on getting people to like her than to using her brain. I fear her emphasis on 'social learning', and it makes my heart race and ache.

I have talked to so many bright women who feel they stopped using their brains at a pretty early age. That is not to say their brains don't work, they just stopped getting exercise. The work presented was moderately challenging, but didn't really require full attention. But, the social scene that requires full presence. It is fun and exciting. It is a game and trying to figure out all the rules and how to play by them and break them successfully is fascinating. I was very good at that game, but I really regret that I stopped using my brain. I fear watching my daughter make my mistakes.

But, I guess that is what parenting is all about. I will have the opportunity to help her. I can provide some observations, support, and encouragement to stay true to herself. I can find ways to challenge her to really think. I can help her remember the person she is today and to know that person, that true self, is enough. She is bright, and funny, and sensitive, and caring and those qualities will remain no matter where she goes to school. I have to trust her and I have to trust myself.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Intrinsic motivation

One of my major premises for homeschooling is to instill a love of learning. The highest hope is to learn for the sake of learning, because intrinsic learning is fascinating and blissful. Now, not all of life will be about following your bliss. But, you should be given the time and space to follow your bliss because that is your path that is where your deepest learning will happen. How do you learn to follow your bliss if you are following a carrot instead? I think the idea of rewards to lead you in a direction of uninterested learning is confusing. Learning multiplication before it has any inherent use or interest is a waste of time and energy. Why worry so much about manipulating children with rewards to get them to do intellectual work of which they have no interest. Most likely they will not use it, not know how to apply it, or just forget it.

Learning to follow intrinsic motivation or bliss is a powerful teacher. We are doing our kids a great disservice these days to put so much responsibility for 'remembering' and 'executive functioning' at such young ages. Their minds are wondering and wondering about so much. They are taking in the world in great gulps and then little sips. They are not little adults, they are children and they need to develop their minds and learn from doing and experiencing consequences. Their minds should be given permission to roam and explore and make mistakes. They should have room to be irresponsible and make mistakes while we are watching so they can get feedback and learn from mistakes. They should be given encouragement when they fail and role modeling to learn the skills of goal setting and caring for one self, the world and for others.

I am so grateful to be homeschooling. I cannot imagine having to try and stuff my children into the box we call public education. It has gone so far off track. The learning that was so important to the early childhood educator (like sharing, eye hand coordination, singing, dancing, and so many other important developmental games that lead to a complete whole functioning body/brain connection) has gone to the way side for important 'standards' brain based outcomes. The other day my son said 'mom, you know what is wrong with the world? People don't help one another enough.'  I felt like I might not be such a bad teacher after all.

If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.

Going to India (3/14/17)

Well the travel adventure has started. I am getting ready to depart for a yoga pilgrimage to India with a group from my favorite yoga studio...