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What Public School Gets WRONG About Socialization

I thought we were past this but here we are having the Great Socialization Debate…. again.

I was pretty annoyed to read this post entitled What Homeschool Gets Wrong about Socialization on PopSugar Moms.  It can be equated to nothing more than an opinion fluff piece as the author backs up her opinion with ZERO facts or data.  She claims to be a former public school teacher and she bases her opinion on a handful of “previously homeschooled kids” she encountered as a public school teacher.

Now, here’s a logic exercise for you.  Not all homeschool kids that go back to public school are failed homeschoolers.  But if homeschooling is not working for a child, where do they end up?  Back in public school. 

I want to stop here and say I love all my public school teacher friends and my beef with the system has nothing to do with them.  It would be like being mad at my doctor and nurse friends because medical insurance is a mess.  

So in the article, she is saying that homeschool fails at socialization based on a few (she never says how many – my gut says she only encountered one or two) children who had to go to public school that, quite possibly, did so because homeschooling wasn’t working for them.

Again, let me rephrase what I said a few paragraphs up – not every child returns to public school because homeschooling didn’t work.  There are many reasons why a homeschooled child would return to the school setting.  HOWEVER – if homeschooling does not work for a child or is not done right, then there is only one option for that child – to return to a traditional school setting.  The writer of the article in question had zero experience with any homeschool success stories.  The extent of her homeschool experience consisted of a couple kids who had trouble adjusting when they entered public school.  (Which begs the question – did she actually help said children adjust to a new setting or did she just sit back and watch them flounder to prove her biased opinion that homeschoolers aren’t socialized?  Also, if she’s a former teacher, how long ago did she encounter a homeschooled child?  Homeschooling has changed a lot in just 5 years and has changed DRAMATICALLY from what it was a decade ago.)

Ok, back on point.  Her assessment of all homeschoolers based on meeting a couple kids is basically her judging an entire group of diverse people across the country based on 0.000001% of said groups population.  

(Do the math: roughly 2 million current homeschoolers in the US, not counting already graduated success stories – 2 people out of 2 million is 0.000001%)

So here is what I think PUBLIC SCHOOL gets wrong about Socialization backed up with, you know, facts, and data and stuff.

What Public School Gets Wrong About Socialization

1. “Forced Association” is not “Socialization”

When you say kids need to go to school to “socialize”, what you are saying is that kids need to be put in a room of 20-30 other kids based solely on the fact that they are the same age and live in the same general area.  That’s forced association.  The kids have no real choice in who they choose to be around.  And they may make a friend one year and the next be separated because they don’t end up in the same classroom again or they get split into different schools (for example, there is a middle school in my area that serves two areas but then at the high school level some kids go to one and others to another)

Is that really how you want your child learning their manners and habits?  From other kids that are chosen randomly to be in the same room?

2. Bullying and Peer Pressure

The “kids need to be bullied so they know how to handle it” argument does not fly with me.  And, yes, I have seen that argument thrown around.  Bullying is so commonplace and prevalent in schools that people EXPECT their child to be bullied!  There is something wrong with that.

And while US schools don’t rank very highly in education compared to other countries (here, here, here and here and more I got tired of linking to) – they fall in the top ten for number of bullied teenage girls.

And peer pressure was in schools when I was a kid and it hasn’t gone anywhere.  I want my child to learn and grow in an environment free from worrying about if his shoes are the right style and his jeans are the right brand.  I don’t want him worried about girlfriend relationships (having a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” starts RIDICULOUSLY young!)  I don’t want him exposed to drugs and alcohol (even if the drugs aren’t present on the school grounds I don’t want him exposed to talk of it by the kids who do use).

And really, when kids are at their most impressionable ages, do we want them surrounded by peer pressure and having that shape their minds and teaching them to take the advise of other kids?  Or do we want them in the home where we can model our moral values as a family and impress them on our children’s moldable minds and character?

3. School Violence is on the rise

As if bullying and peer pressure weren’t enough, school violence is on the rise.  So much so that the CDC considers it a public health problem.    In 2013, 12% of students 12-18 years old report gang activity at their school (according to the CDC).  Also, from the same source, 4% of students surveyed admitted to carrying a weapon (gun, knife or club) to school in the last 12 months and 6% reported having been threatened or harmed with a weapon in the last 12 months.

No, not every school is that bad.  Yes, there are some good school districts.  But still, it feels a lot like playing Russian roulette with my kid’s safety.

4. Sexual Misconduct

It’s a shame I have to even put this one in here.  It’s bad enough that you have to safeguard your children from other children.  But it’s a whole other atrocity that you have to safeguard your children from the ADULTS behaving badly in schools. I can’t even link to the articles on teachers behaving inappropriately with students because, one, it makes me sick and two, I didn’t even want to Google it.

5. Sitting behind a desk all day is not the “real world”.

I get so tired of hearing that kids that are homeschooled are sheltered and don’t get out in “the real world”.

Since when is being confined in the four walls of a school sitting behind a desk the “real world”??

I would argue that it’s HOMESCHOOLERS that are out in the real world.  This myth that we stay locked in our houses all day every day is nonsense.

G isn’t 9 yet and he can order and pay at a restaurant or for small items at the convenience store.  He’s learning how to make bank deposits. He helps me shop for groceries – he knows how to pick eggs, check dates on milk and find the freshest produce.  Why?  Because he’s with me every time I do these things.  

He’s had several opportunities to work alongside me volunteering during “school hours”.   We get to travel more because we’re not confined to school hours and days – he knows how to read a map and is learning how to travel and navigate a new area.  Not only is he learning important life skills but he’s interacting with adults and learning “real world behavior”.

We enjoy going to the park on nice days during “school hours”.  He’s an only child so he knows that if he wants someone to play with at the park he has to find someone.  Unless we happen to bump into other homeschoolers, his playmates usually consist of kids under 6 that wouldn’t be in school.  And you know what?  He’s fine with that.  He’ll walk up to a kid and ask them to play.  And he’s kind to them, finding some common ground for them to play on.  (My favorite time was when he was playing follow-the-leader with four-year-old twins at the playground.  He was leading them around the playground and they were all having the best time!)   At our fabulous co-op, he regularly plays ball with a group of boys that range in age from 10-16 that treat G the way he treats those kids younger than him on the playground.  With kindness and encouragement.  Treating him like he belongs.

When you divide and group children by age you’re setting them up to gravitate toward that grouping and to look down on younger kids (they’re so “babyish”) and then the kids older than them look down on them also.  And suddenly, they view kids older than them as “cooler” and something to attain to be.  (I can’t wait until I’m such-and-such age so I can be like this person/do what they do).   Instead of teaching kids that they can associate with kids of all ages and get along and work together.

So G regularly deals with “real world” situations with kids younger than him, kids older than him and adults.  Situations that would not happen in school.

It’s kids stuck in school buildings that are missing out on the real world.

6. There isn’t really time to “socialize” at school.

How many of us had a teacher in school that told us we were “there to learn, NOT to socialize”?  I know I did!  And to make matters worse, schools are cutting recess!  (Here and here, also.)  With no free time, how do they “socialize”?  Lunch?  How is that possible when lunch periods are as short as 20 minutes and when you factor in getting to the lunchroom, standing in line, etc, some kids have less than 15 minutes to eat?  That’s hardly enough time to chew and swallow a nutritious lunch.

So recess and lunch aren’t even social times anymore.

So with these SIX reasons why Public Schools are getting Socialization wrong, let me tell you what ONE thing the author of the PopSugar post said Homeschoolers are getting wrong….

They don’t work well on group projects.

Yes, that was her complaint based on her limited experience with previously homeschooled children.  They struggled to do group projects.

Now, in my experience in public school, “group project” meant, “oh great, I’m going to do all the work because I’m the only one in my group that cares about my grade”.  So one could argue that public school doesn’t even get this right.

Again, I’m very skeptical of her opinion because of limited experience with homeschoolers, AND I’ve seen plenty of homeschool kids work together as a group.  We do it every week at our co-op.  And it seems like the majority of homeschoolers are active in groups and co-ops.  So learning group skills is possible as a homeschooler.  It’s unfair to such a large portion of the population to make such a broad generalization based on preconceived notions and a small frame of reference.

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My Thoughts on the Movie Everyone is Talking About

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My Thoughts on the Movie Everyone is Talking About

If we could all learn to love like Belle….that’d be great….

I know all sides have an opinion but I just saw it today and I wanted to wait until I had seen it to chime in also.

I’m not here to debate what the Bible does or doesn’t say about certain sins.  We are all sinners and I thank God that He had mercy and sent Jesus to save my eternal soul (and yours!) because without that we’re all in the same sinking boat.

I want to tell you what we should be talking about from the movie.

But first…

If there hadn’t been a “news story” (or ten) about the infamous “moment” you would’ve missed the moment.

There were two, (maybe three?) “moments”.  (I’ve decided to include them at the end of the post if you want to know.)  But I wouldn’t have thought anything of these “moments” if I hadn’t been looking for them.   And I hate that I was looking for them.  I hate that my favorite childhood movie brought to live action was tainted by someone trying to push an agenda.  I spent part of the movie seething at the fact that a politically charged comment and the backlash that came from it almost ruined my movie.

I’m mad that I had to be cautious about being excited about the movie.

I’m mad that I had to think twice before I told people I was going to go see it.

I’m mad that people that are supposed to represent my community tried to make me feel shame for wanting to see the movie – BEFORE they even knew what was in it.

Guys and gals, the knee-jerk reaction that people of faith responded with has hurt our witness.

I feel like the “comment” was made before the movie came out just to invoke that knee-jerk reaction from the conservative crowd.  The progressive crowd wanted us to loose our heads so they could point and scoff and use this against us from now on.  “Remember when those loving Christians went bonkers about 3 seconds of a movie?”  “Remember when people boycotted a movie no one had seen yet because of what someone said was in it?”  The collective “we” played right into it.  The “worldly” crowd pushed a button and made all the “Jesus freaks” heads explode.  And for what?  Nothing.  Nothing at all, I tell you.

I’m reminded of something I’ve read within the last year and I wish I could remember where so I could give proper credit.  But the essence of the comment was, Christians need to stop acting surprised when the world acts like the world.  Guys, this movie was made by worldly people.  So unless you own zero books or movies published by anyone other than a Christian publishing company and you never turn on prime time network TV or cable, unless it’s a Christian network, you need to get your knickers out of a wad.  Because you can’t be okay with one worldly show/movie/book and not another.   There was no foul language or sexual content in this movie which is more than you can say for network television.

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So what should we be talking about when it comes to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast remake?

I’m glad you asked.  There were so many beautiful things about this movie.  Like the enchantress says in the story, “Beauty is more than skin deep.”  The “beauty” in this movie goes deeper than what a couple of interviews say.

There is a solid 10 seconds of the movie where there is a giant crucifix fully in the frame. Let’s talk about how beautiful that is.  Christ’s sacrifice on the cross on screen for 10 seconds (which in a fast-paced movie is a significant moment) or possibly more – it didn’t occur to me until the scene was almost over to count how long it was.  They didn’t have to include that.  There were no crucifixes in the cartoon version.  The “bookstore” that Belle visits in the opening song, in the live action film, is really just a shelf of books inside the town’s church kept up by the priest. There is no real reason for them to make that scene that way.  But there it is.  There is a priest, a church and a large CRUCIFIX in the film.   Did you see any of the “worldly” crowd blowing a gasket over that?  I didn’t.

Aren’t we all “beasts” – “cursed” by our sins and in need of the redemption of love?  In case you’re not sure how to answer that, it’s yes, yes and YES.  My gosh, we are all ugly in our sin, hideous creatures until the love of Christ changes us (like Belle’s love transforms the Beast at the end.)

Aren’t we all “Maurices”, trapped in the prison of our sin until someone comes along and takes our place?  Again, yes.  We are trapped by our sin, just like Maurice was trapped in the Beast’s tower.  Then Jesus comes along, just like Belle did for Maurice, and takes our place.

The Beast was essentially her enemy and yet in his time of need (after being attacked by wolves) when she could have run away, she saved him.  Wow.  How many of us have a hard time being nice to a co-worker that annoys us?  Could you save the life of your enemy?  How many of us look the other way when there is someone in need?  Belle shows the compassion of the Good Samaritan when she choose to save the Beast even though it means losing her freedom.

Belle shows sacrificial and redemptive love.  Can we focus on that?  Can we talk about that?  Can we talk about how she tried to find the good in the Beast?  Do you try to find the good in everyone around you?  Yes, even the ones that annoy you?

Can we look more than skin deep for once?

The beauty of this movie is that we can say “Look at that.  THAT’S what Christ did for us.”   If you know someone that is not a believer but that has seen the movie, you can use that as a gateway to a conversation with them.  “I saw the movie too.  It was beautiful.  The way Belle’s love transformed the Beast at the end reminds me of what God’s love did in my life.”

See how much nicer that is?  How much nicer than “I’M NOT GOING TO SEE THAT MOVIE BECAUSE ONE OF THE CHARACTERS DECIDED TO ACT A LITTLE GAY!”

Maybe, just maybe, even we, followers of Christ, could learn a little about showing love from this movie.

Don’t let your witness be ruined because you sided with the group that is yelling the loudest.  That’s not how you win people to Jesus.  Boycotts don’t win hearts.

Don’t be afraid to go see the movie.  Read my “regular review” here.


What are the supposed “moments” in the movie?

Well, first off, let’s be clear, LeFou obviously has something for Gaston.  Whether it’s “hero worship”, a serious man-crush or romantic feelings we all know LeFou follows Gaston like a puppy and does whatever he asks.  That’s evident even in the cartoon version.  The live action version makes it seem more romantic – but again, I don’t know if it’s because I was looking for it to be that or not.

In the tavern during the “Gaston” song, LeFou is singing to Gaston – again, we know he holds some form of idolization/affection for him.  During some parts of the song he gets uncomfortably close, but he’s always rebuffed by Gaston for doing so.

During the fight scene between the villagers and the castle residents the wardrobe attacks three guys and dresses them as women (in the cartoon it was just one guy.)  Two of the guys run off screaming (like the cartoon version) but one guy smiles before he runs off – giving the impression that he would rather be dressed like a woman.  It was less than two seconds.

In the final dance scene the whole ballroom is filled with dancing couples doing a choreographed number.   They switch partners back and forth occasionally and in one part LeFou and another man find themselves mistakenly matched up and they choose to continue the routine.  It’s at most three seconds of the film.  

 

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Why Did I Choose Homeschool?

I see articles all the time called “Reasons Why You Should Homeschool”.  But I’m not here to tell you why YOU should homeschool.

Instead, I want to tell you why I homeschool.  Maybe some of these reasons will resonate with you.  But some of them might now.  Some people homeschool for one reason…whatever it may be, that one reason is enough for them.  Others, like myself, homeschool for MANY reasons.

A lot of homeschoolers site religious reasons as why they choose to homeschool.  And while that is important to us and our homeschool day centers around our faith, religious reasons are more of a “perk” of homeschooling and not one of the initial reasons why we chose to homeschool in the first place.

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Why Do I Homeschool?  My Reasons for Choosing Home Education

This article originally appeared on Saving Toward A Better Life – my non-homeschool blog – before I had a homeschool blog.  Some moderations have been made.

Number 1  – Common Core is scary.

Early on, naysayers of Common Core were considered nuts, paranoid, annoying, uneducated and probably some other words I can’t think of at the moment.

We were told “It’s just a set of standards.”

But I think truth is coming to light.  Please be aware of what’s going on.  From data mining our children, inappropriate sex education, “teaching to the test”, complicating math, endless hours of homework, to shorter recesses and eliminating arts and music.  I could link to hundreds or articles.  I could talk about it all day.  But none of it is good!  (I have many teacher friends and MOST of them very much dislike Common Core.)

Number 2 – Socialization

You’re probably thinking, “Wait…what?  Isn’t socialization one of the arguments against homeschooling?” 

That is the go-to response from people who have no idea what homeschooling really is.  “But what about socialization?”   Because if your child doesn’t go to public school he’s going to be a weirdo.

Honestly, the idea that grouping a bunch of emotionally-immature same-aged children together and insisting that they’re learning appropriate social skills from each other is about as antiquated as believing that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

That is to say, it’s been proven time again to not be so.  “Mean girls”, bullies, school shooters, hazing, children committing suicide, self esteem issues, teen pregnancy, peer pressure and drug use are the results of “public school socializing”.

If you think I’m only pointing to extreme examples, fine.  Just look at the day-to-day examples.  With rigorous class schedules and curriculum schedules and little time for recess, short lunches and rules against talking during class, in the halls and even at lunch, when do they get to “socialize”?

Instead my son is being socialized with peers, older children, adults and role models of my choosing, or at the very least my discretion.  This includes numerous church activities, our local homeschool co-op group, families with whom we share like-minded beliefs, play dates and field trips with other homeschoolers, as well as 6-10 hours of karate training each week.  Our social calendar is full.  We have time for more “socialization” opportunities than if he went to school for 30 hours a week with an additional 10 hours of homework.

Number 3 – More relaxed learning

Public school has become a 40+ hour work week for kids.  It shouldn’t be that way.  (At the time of originally writing these reasons) My son would be a little more than halfway through kindergarten if I had sent him on to public school.  At a rate of 40 hours a week all he would have to show for it is that he is halfway through kindergarten.

But because of choosing to homeschool and being to evaluate his level and tailor his learning to him and him alone, in half the time (roughly 20 hours of school a week – and that’s really pushing it, it’s really more like only 15 hours of school a week) he is almost halfway through 1st grade.  We are by no means looking to rush through school.  But why hold him back if he’s perfectly capable of doing the work?

Homeschooling is more school, more learning, in less time….but still at a relaxed pace.

Number 4 – The thought of going to school made my child anxious

At 5 years old, my child panicked if someone mentioned how excited he must be that he would get to go to school soon.   I don’t know why.  Even though homeschooling had been on our minds for a while, we never spoke of school around him.  And had been in daycare as an infant and toddler,  and went to half-day preschool as a 3 and 4 year old.

But he was terrified about going to school.  And I do not subscribe to the theory of “just send him and he’ll adjust.”  Why should I if I don’t have to?  Why would I WANT to cause him more agitation and anxiety.  (Since originally writing this, my son, now 8, has made improvements by leaps and bounds in his social anxiety issues.  But he did it in HIS TIME.  Not because I shoved him through the door of a school at 5 years old)

Number 5 – My boy is all boy

That is to say, he is active and wiggly.  He can’t sit in a chair to save his life (he stands at the kitchen table during 80% of his school work).  When he’s excited about something he can’t contain his enthusiasm.  And if he wants to “talk it out” he’ll pop if you don’t let him.

If you add that to reasons 3 and 4 above you’ll get reason #6:

Number 6 – I wanted my child’s first educational experiences to be positive.

I know there are some really wonderful teachers out there.  But then there are ones that aren’t.  And I hear stories from parents of public school kids of the years their child gets a teacher that just doesn’t mesh with their personality or their learning style.  With so many children in one classroom and no child exactly like the others, I know it’s hard to cater to each personality.

Bug loves to learn, always has.  I wanted him to be challenged academically at his level, to not be anxious, and to have the freedom to be him.  I feared him being labeled a problem child because he can’t sit in a desk, always refrain from blurting out, or has to bounce up and down because he’s so excited to answer a question.  After all, he’s barely 6.  Those skills will come with age.

For now, the most important thing is that he loves to learn.  And I didn’t want a bad first year at school experience to squash that.

And finally Number 7 – The most important reason we chose to homeschool

Homeschooling is right for our family.

I understand that homeschooling is not right for every family.  But I have a feeling it may be right for more families than actually do it.  Many families tend to dismiss the idea without giving it real thought because they feel they are unqualified, don’t have enough patience, or think it’s too hard.

Let me let you in on a little secret…

We all start out unqualified.  Seriously.  Homeschooling is one of those things you just have to jump in feet first and learn as you go along.  I don’t care if you have a college degree.  You are no more or no less qualified to homeschool as the mom with 2 semesters of junior college under her belt (that would be me by the way…)   It’s a learning process for everyone.

None of us have enough patience.  But we have the Grace of God.  And on those days when it feels like the patience is gone, we lean more on God to get us through…and he does.  And every day is new.  And once you learn your rhythm and what works for your family, you’ll find the patience testing times fewer and farther between.

And it is hard.  But it is twice as rewarding as it is hard.

I would love to hear your reasons for homeschooling, your thoughts or any of your comments below!

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“Thanks for teaching me, Mom!”

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I shared with you back in the spring about what was hands down our absolute worst homeschool day in the history of ever.

That was a hard day.  There are lots of hard days.  I wish I could say it was sunshine and rainbows all the time.

But it’s not.

Homeschooling is a very beautiful thing when viewed in hindsight or from a distance.  But often, while you’re in the middle of it, it’s a very messy thing.

The hardest thing we’ve hit so far is that BigG has pretty much up to this point had such an easy time learning everything that he doesn’t know how to handle when something doesn’t click right away.  And it’s very frustrating and upsetting to him.  We’ve gone through a slew of emotional issues in the last few years. That’s another post of another day.  But just suffice it to say that handling frustration calmly is something we must work on.  Most of the time he KNOWS the answer or solution but he gets so frustrated that he has to think for a moment about it that he becomes totally incapable of thinking.  WHEW.  Just writing that exhausted me.

Flash forward to week 2 of basic multiplication and division (2s and 3s times tables). I decided today we will just talk through the problems over lunch (he can’t have too much of a meltdown if he’s eating, right?)

So I was giving example after example about how if 4×3=12 then 12 divided by 3 equals 4 and he says, “Wow, I get it. It’s starting to make sense.”   It was wonderful.  It was one of those beautiful moments that looking back will outshine the mess.

Then when we were done eating and discussing math he hugged me and said, “Thanks for teaching me!”

Oh my heart!  Don’t we all long for those words?  “Thanks for teaching me, Mom!”

Thanks, Mom!

Sometimes the thank yous are few and far between.

Even if we raise our children with good manners to say please and thank you, how many of us expect to hear “thanks for teaching me?”  Sure, “Thanks for taking me to the movies, Mom!”  “Thanks for washing my smelly soccer uniform.”  “Thanks for making my favorite dinner!”

Thanks for teaching me, Mom.

In that moment, it wasn’t that he was glad I was teaching him multiplication and division.  He was glad that I was there.  That I was his teacher.  That I was his safe place when he was frustrated and that I was there for the “light bulb” moment.

So let me tell you something, Moms out there.  Thank you for teaching your kids.

It may be a LONG time before they say those words.

They may never say the words.

They may thank you in deed or action one day.

But no matter if, when, or how long it takes for you to your “Thanks for teaching me, Mom!”  just know that you are appreciated.

YOU are teaching your children.

And you should be applauded.

 

 

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Our Worst Homeschool Day EVER and How We Got Through It

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Here I am, 48 hours on the other side of what was, hands down, bar none, the WORST day we’ve had in one and two-thirds year and 4 days of official homeschooling.  It was the WORST.

Bug is a smart kid and a sweet boy.  And homeschooling so far has been pretty great.  But I’m not going to lie, some of his coursework is getting harder.  He can DO it but it takes a little more effort that he’s used to.  Things until now have come so easily too him – I was afraid of what would happen when they don’t.

Math – he’s really good at.  I swear that boy sees the world in numbers.  He’s always figuring up this and that in his head.  Like the weather app on the phone says it’s 62 degrees right now and the low tonight will be 48.  He will figure up how much the temperature is going to go down and tell you.  He’s 7 and does this math in his head.  We have recently switched to Singapore math which I think is perfect for him.  But he’s having to think a little harder.  And he has a bad habit of shutting down if the answer doesn’t immediately come to him.  So now we’re working problems like 104+65+11 and he has to write it down and work it out and he hates that.  And word problems, heaven help us if he has to read a word problem.

Spelling – he’s a decent speller.  But again, if the answer doesn’t immediately come to him he shuts down.  And he’ll just start spitting out random letters.  And it makes me mad when he does this.

Writing/Language – Sweet baby Moses, this is his weak point.  He hates to write.  So I allow him to do a lot of diction.  But sometimes he doesn’t even want to think.  Make up a sentence about a cat using an adjective.  *crickets*    Now if we were driving down the road he’d be telling me fantastical stories he just made up in his head.  But if it’s for school…I can’t get a single sentence about a cat out of him.

Everything else he’s fine with.  He loves to read, to be read too, he loves history and he loves science.  But lately, he’s been throwing a little attitude in with his normal frustrations over the subjects he doesn’t like.  Which reallllllly gets under my skin.  I’ve been getting a lot of “I don’t LIKE school” and “I’m NOT going to do school today”.  In these moments I (try to) calmly go over the facts –

You have to do school – either here are home or in a “real” school.  It’s the law and Momma would get in trouble if you didn’t do school.

We are blessed that Momma can stay home and homeschool you.  We have a lot of fun and you get more free time.  Which he knows.  He knows that we get started waaay later than the kids in school and he always points out when the bus is rolling past the house and that he’s already finished with school and having fun with his toys.

He knows how good he has it.  But the ‘tude pops up more than I like it too.

So flashback to Tuesday.  It was 2:30 and we still had two more assignments to get through.   I was tired and things were piling up that needed to be done that I couldn’t get too because I was having to “hold his hand” through every lesson.  Things he SHOULD have been able to do on his own but wouldn’t.  And I wasn’t able to step away for a minute to make lunch, put clothes in the wash, go to the bathroom…

Everything that day had been a fight.  Math was a fight because I wanted HIM to copy the information from the word problems so I could make sure he could line them up correctly.  Spelling was fight because the new words were hard.  Even read aloud time (which is usually ok!) was a fight because he’s not fond of the book we’re currently reading.  Language was a fight because, well, I don’t know, because there were words I guess. I had painstakingly transferred all the assignments for language to dry erase lapboards so we could do our underlining, editing, and fill-in-the-blanks on dry erase boards with fun markers.  And he wasn’t having it.

And I had had it.  We both yelled, we both cried, we both took a timeout.  We tried again.  We yelled and cried some more.  And took another time out.

And here is how we got through it….

I did a lot of yelling.  I am not proud.  I yelled.  I was mad.  So he was sitting in his room where I had banished him too for his own good.  Because I was mad.

Did I mention I was mad?

I grabbed a book and asked him to meet me in my room.  Our favorite place to read during the school day is in the bed with extra pillows, blankets and stuffed animals.

So here he comes with his two favorite stuffed animals dragging his well loved blanket behind him.  And he climbs in the bed with me and falls against my chest, sobbing.

He was sorry.  “I am sorry for my bad attitude.”

Now I’m crying.  I apologize for yelling.

I ask him to take a deep breath for me.  And try to stop crying.  I want to read him a story and then we can talk when we’re both feeling better.

I can’t even remember what we read.  Seriously.  It was only two days ago and the book is probably still on my bedside table.  But I can’t remember it.

I do remember him cradled against my side studying each picture on every page as I read.

I do remember his deep, jagged breaths as he tried to calm himself so he can listen to the story.

I do remember breathing him in.  Oh, how many times we’ve snuggled and read a story in these past 7 years but this time I just wanted to soak him in.

I do remember squeezing him just a little tighter because I wanted him to know, to feel that Momma was sorry.

After the story, I asked him what we are supposed to do when we mess up, when we need help or when things are going badly.

“Pray.”

So I told him I was going to pray and if he wanted to add anything to our prayer I would let him.  I started by thanking God for loving us and blessing us.  I asked for peace in our hearts and to remove the ill feelings and bad attitudes.  I asked for forgiveness for our mistakes today.  And G chimed in with “I’m sorry for my bad attitude” before erupting in sobs again.  I closed the prayer and hugged him until he felt better.

And then I suggested that we end our school day and start fresh the next day.

I think that last bit made ALL the difference.  He knew we still had work today.  We had abandoned language in the midst of our bad moment.  Books still splayed open on the desk.  I can’t be sure, but I feel like he knew we were going to have to go back to that and it was upsetting him.  He wanted to be done.  He needed to be done.  And he was dreading not being done.

Oh, but grace.  I decided we needed grace.  I was in no mood to talk about nouns and adjectives.  And I knew there was no way he was going to absorb anything from the lesson in the state he was in.  No good was going to come from trying to do it.  Or even science which we hadn’t got to yet – even though he enjoys science – there are just times that you can’t even enjoy your most favorite thing.

So what do you do when you’re faced with the WORST homeschool day ever?

Or rather, what should you do to stop a really bad day from turning into the worst day ever?

1.  Take a time out.  Everyone.  

Send the kids to their rooms.  If you have tiny ones, secure them in a crib, bouncer or somewhere where you can step away for a moment and retreat to your quiet place.  Even if it’s the bathroom.  Cry.  Pray.  Breathe.  Take a few minutes to get it together.

2.  Come back together but not back to the situation.  

Bond over something.  Snuggle on the couch and read a book.  Or watch a cartoon.  Just be close for a few minutes.

DON’T go back to the school books.

3.  Pray together.

Now you might be saying, “Well, you should do this first!”  But I have to disagree.  Prior to the time out I was in no mood to pray.  And you say, “Well, that’s not how it works.”  Well, maybe it doesn’t.  But for the benefit of my 7 year old and using this moment to teach him about prayer I need to be in a better frame of mind.  I can angry pray by myself when I have my timeout.  Then I’ll be in the right frame of mind to lead prayer.

Also, allow your child to pray to if they feel comfortable with it.  Modeling prayer is something I’ve tried to do all along with G.  He says his bedtime prayers but in moments like this he prefers that I pray because he “doesn’t know what to say”.  I keep reminding him that he can say whatever he wants to God or whatever he feels like he needs to say. But I don’t push.  So his words he contributed to the prayer on this day were a welcome surprise.  It made my heart swell.

4. Call it a day.

Seriously, if it’s that bad, just let it go.  That’s the beauty of homeschooling.  There is so much grace in homeschooling.  Now, if you’re having a hard time on a regular basis, then I’m not advocating calling it quits after 2 subjects every day. At some point you’re going to have to do steps 1-3 and then go back to the books and power through it.

But if it’s occasional, sometimes you just need to reset.  We ended up having a wonderful afternoon together – just being together.   And later that evening while he was playing with LEGOs I grabbed our read aloud book, missionary stories and Bible story book and did the next days reading.  He was attentive and it was enjoyable and it got us ahead in those subjects,  which was helpful because I knew we had a little catching up to do the next day on the subjects we abandoned.

5.  Start Fresh the Next Day

We started our morning the next day with a prayer that our hearts and attitudes would be better and that our day would be blessed.

We had a better day.  🙂

What do you do when your homeschool day has been bad?   I would love to hear how you reset!

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The Tragedy in Paris and the Conversation it Sparked with my 7 Year Old

tragedyinparis

The Tragedy in Paris and the conversation is sparked with my 7 year old son about religion, safety and fear.

I would like to preface this article with two things.  I am pro-gun (I own one, I know how to use it and I carry it – legally) and I love Jesus.  If either of these things bother you, you might not want to read this post.

BigG just turned 7.  Some days he acts like a silly 5 year old and some days his maturity amazes me.  We’ve talked about “stranger danger” and “tricky people“, fire safety, tornado safety and things like that.  But a while back I was reading an article online about schools having “active shooter” drills.  And I thought, “Thank you, Jesus, that we homeschool and my kindergartner doesn’t have to sit through an active shooter drill in school!”

But the article I was reading was talking about how an “active shooter” situation can happen anywhere – the park, the grocery store – and that’s just the world we live in now.  And I thought, you know, we need to have a conversation about this.  But I put it off.  Because BigG can be sensitive sometimes…and worry himself to death over the worse case scenario (like the time he cried for an hour after we talked about fire safety and he was afraid the house was going to catch on fire and he wouldn’t be able to save his favorite stuffed dog.)

So last night I’m reading about Paris.  And I thought, you know, we NEED to have this conversation.  Part of me wanted to just go about our day today and not say anything to BigG about it and let him live in his oblivious little bubble.  I was almost twice his age when my oblivious bubble burst – I was unaware of this level of evil in the world until the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.  I was 11.  Of course I knew of wars in the past….but that was past.  I thought the world was sunshine and rainbows now.  Until Oklahoma City.  Then there was Columbine.  And 9/11.  And then, in BigG’s lifetime, there have been so many of these “events” that I can’t even keep up with them anymore.  More in the last 1/4th of my life than in the first 3/4ths.

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