Monday, April 13, 2015

Where We've Been, Where We Are, Where We Are Going

Homeschooling has been a part of our family's lifestyle for our entire parenting career.
As with most families, we have played, worked and learned together from day one. Despite the original plan for me to go back to work part time after my oldest was born, my husband and I made the choice for me to be a stay at home parent. That choice grew into our becoming a homeschooling family. A full time around the clock, growing, learning and asking "what's next" parenting choice that has been one of the most rewarding decisions we have ever made.

We have been there to show and describe expected behavior to our children and to set an example of a life long love of learning. We have been together day in and day out, to learn, work and love together, enjoying each others company and following each others interests as individuals and as a family along the way. We never tried to use bribery or monetary rewards system to create a desire to learn. The built in cheering section our family provides has been witness to the reward of learning itself. Being and learning together has been the positive reinforcement for continued learning, skills mastery and growth in developing relationships for each of us, myself and my husband included.

Learning happens at every stage.

It's interesting that the early days pre-K with our children aren't always considered homeschooling. Maybe it's the lack of formal instruction that negates the attempt to use the label homeschooling, for the early years of in home learning for the youngest ones, but those pre-K years are filled with continual and intense learning. Life with an infant is a quick start out of the gate into homeschooling. Fun filled and intense, life with a  baby demands learning of everyone in the family.

As Rahima Balwin Dancy said in 1989 in the title of her book published that year "You Are Your Child's First Teacher." The title, the sentiment and the book itself are all still relevant for families today. Rahima's book was one of my early parenting "handbooks" that led us to a homeschooling lifestyle. Thank you, Rahima!

"Here is an extraordinary work for those who want to develop a truly intelligent child and,
in the process, unlock new levels of their own intelligence and spirit" Joseph Chilton Pearce.

Our choice to homeschool almost two decades ago, was simply an extension of the lifestyle that we developed with babies, toddlers and young ones. A sudden arbitrary break from a fulfilling lifestyle that we had only just begun to build just didn't make much sense to us at the time. Plus, I was having too much fun and enjoyed my children too much to hand them over to someone else for the bulk of their waking hours.

And so the journey continues...

I didn't plan on homeschooling initially, but our children lead us to unexpected and exciting places as we support their interests, goals and dreams. I never planned on being a baseball mom, a gym mom or a dance mom. I never planned on having any interest in golf or being such a staunch supporter of local community colleges either, but here I am, loving the adventure of it all.

We've been through Little League Baseball, days in the sand box, park days, playgrounds,
ice rinks in the yard, bedtime stories and read alouds. We've included crafting, knitting, drawing, painting and creating from the cardboard of cereal boxes and legos. A few of these activities continue on even as my children enter the teen years and young adulthood. Some of the interests that were mine before following the uncharted, unplanned path of where you lead, I will follow, are still mine and I'm finally finding time for them again in a more uninterrupted way.

Now I create my own interruptions - another cup of coffee?

Art making, creative sewing, knitting, travel and writing about it all are just beginning to be at the fore front for me again. Being so intensely involved with my children didn't always allow me as much time as I would have liked for documentation. The thought of a blog 10 years ago was an entertaining one, but alas, I was at the baseball field or trying to show my kids where vegetables came from by planting them in the yard. Now there is the sense that documentation of life is a requirement. A life well lived is shared on the internet. The level of technology in use in our home was introduced to me by my teenagers and I am still learning to use most of it, compelled by the wonder of what can be done with it and by the cheering (chiding) of my teenager technology tutors. It's a tool, it's a tool, it's a tool, should be my mantra. I spend more time on it now than I should because it takes time to learn and I want to show my kids - I can do it!

I'm looking forward to writing more, blogging, returning to creating art in more "mature" ways.
I'm still homeschooling one, my beautiful and talented daughter. Because of her, I'm still a gym mom. There are still baseball games to attend (and it's finally good baseball to watch). Ice skating is still a winter family activity. I still try to grow vegetables in the yard though I don't get much interest from my kids anymore, they claim that they now know where vegetables come from and it's not our yard!

So, though it's based in my interest in writing, even this blog is a product of my kids interests meshed with mine, their time in history leading me down an unexpected road. I plan to blog about some of the unexpected adventures, some from the perspective of looking back, some from the perspective of looking forward and some from the thick of it right here and now.

May you enjoy my written meanderings, posted associations and maybe a few recommendations along the way as I look forward and back and hopefully, mostly, stay in the here and now.

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