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Jackhammer

When the topic of home education comes up with my non-home educating friends, I often hear one or both of the following statements (primarily from moms): “I could never do that.” And, “I would be concerned about socialization.” I don’t blame anyone for either of these arguments/opinions/thoughts…whatever you wanna call ‘em. I mean, these are two major points of contention to explore. Along with the aforementioned concerns, my friends or acquaintances usually follow up with something like, “You go, girl.” or “You’re a better person than I am. My kids wouldn’t listen to me.” But what they probably want to say is, “You’re crazy. What the he– are you thinking?!

For simplicity’s sake, let’s just pretend I’m not completely nuts…I know, it’s a stretch. Perhaps reading on is pointless. But if you can manage to suspend disbelief for a moment, read on…

Regarding the “I could never do that” statement, I thought the same thing and believe me, my children’s very lives were spared for their first 5 and 7 years because of that reality. So I get that argument…still wrestle with it. I get that it’s hard to come to the conclusion that perhaps it may actually be possible to home educate. I’m not saying it’s the right thing for every family. Actually, what I am in awe of are teachers (real people, even…I know many of them) who find it possible to spend 180 days in a classroom of 20-30 kids year after year. Now THAT’S nuts…er…uh special! Seriously, if so many people can make a career out of teaching dozens of kids for years on end, me teaching [my] two kids in the comfort of our home doesn’t seem so unbelievable.

That leads to another stem of this branching debate…okay so maybe this is just my own personal debate…with myself. When your kids are off at school and you and/or your spouse have left for work, do you feel like that’s the only time sanity is restored to your home…you know, when no one [else] is home? Why is that? For me, it has a lot to do with my expectations…of my family and myself. I don’t want my kids to be disappointed in me as a parent or in themselves. I don’t want them to see that we’re not perfect. I’m really in need of quite a bit of chiseling…jack hammering, really.

Clearly, parents aren't the only ones who face disappointment.

Okay, the fact that these are MY kids does have its set of issues. But it’s the “my kids wouldn’t listen to me” argument that seems to be where many naysayers hang their hats on the home education discussion. I’m not pointing fingers; I’ve been one of them. I also think I don’t want to disappoint my kids (by saying “no”, for example). And if I do that long enough, it becomes me not wanting to face my kids’ disappointed/inappropriate response, so I give in and the cycle continues. And then it has the potential to become a matter of my kids not being prepared for real life.

When things at home don’t go according to plan, disappointment lurks around the corner waiting to swallow its next victim. That disappointment can lead to all kinds of other ugly stuff.

So where’s my hope as a parent, spouse, and friend? Part of it is in admitting that, when I live in close, consistent, quality contact with others, I’m choosing to run headlong into challenges, chaos and maybe even insanity at times. Point is, I can’t escape every disappointment or tragedy, really. But I can often choose my response. And I need more practice at that. How I’m getting that practice right now is through this crazy thing called home school.

James 1:2-4

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Home School

 

Flex-ability

Week two, complete…successfully, even…if I could measure success by being flexible, getting our work done, exercising patience and for some crazy reason, still having pretty happy kids and being a relatively relaxed mom and wife at the end of it all. That doesn’t mean we haven’t had any challenges (i.e. that exercising patience thing). We’ve had some days with attitude problems, my own included. Some days we’ve been tired…see also attitude problem. Struggles with focus. Too much noise, not enough noise. Confusion over terminology that I know or that’s in their curriculum versus what the kids have learned in their previous school settings.

Some positive things…Rowan LOVES to read a good story. He blew threw his entire Language Arts reader (Robinson Crusoe stories) in 8 days…which was supposed to take him 4 months. Lily is an excellent reader as well and quick to pick up on new concepts. We get to get up and move around between and during subjects. If something’s not working, we change our approach or the task altogether. We go outside. Today, for example, we did some skip counting…literally…which also happens to be multiplication…tricky.

By 2s and 3s is easy...

 

 

Skip counting by fives becomes long-jump counting.

And things get a little competitive at times too…

Lily wins the long legs contest.

I’m learning a lot about flexibility…the kids’ need for it and my own. Everything’s not all sunshine and flowers, but it’s been good to be in this part of their lives. Loving these kids more by the day.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

And Away We Go…

First day of home school

I couldn’t have asked for a better first day of home school. I’m keeping the “one day at a time” mentality close though…they can’t all be this great. Got our official school day started at 8:30am and was finished by 1:00pm. Other than all the planning over the past several weeks, the mood was actually set the day before during two short moments.

Ken, the kids and I spent the day with my grandmother at the High Museum…we love our outings with GeeGee! During lunch Grandma reminded me not to be too hard on myself or the kids in this whole adventure…she knows me well. It really was such a simple yet necessary and timely reminder. Relax! There’s wisdom behind my Grandma’s advice. She’s a retired public school special ed teacher.

High with GeeGee

After a long day getting a little culture, Ken and I put the kids to bed and 20 minutes later down the stairs comes Rowan saying he can’t sleep. At first I was a little bit frustrated…I was doing some last minute prep that I didn’t want the kids to see before morning…and I knew he needed the sleep. So I sat with him on the stairs and he said with a huge smile, “I can’t go to sleep, because I’m too excited about starting home school tomorrow.” Talk about heart warming. That was huge coming from him. A hug, a little hot tea and a back scratch later, he was out like a light…and I was smiling too.

The home school moment of the day…

A boy's classroom

Rowan decided after math that he’d take advantage of the open (no-screen) window and cool breeze to do his phonics on the front porch looking into the school room. In that moment as he was getting out of his desk chair, I heard my Grandma’s words…take it easy. Rowan was more productive in those few minutes…knocked out this work and did his assigned reading plus self-initiated extra. He was engaged, learning and excited.

I couldn’t have asked for a better start to our home schooling experience.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Home School

 

Brown Academy

Hardhats: Important gear for any homeschooler

We will officially become a home educating (home school…whichever term you prefer) family this August. I’ve always liked the idea of it, but could never come to the conclusion that the Browns were cut out to be “those” people. Honestly, it’s been me that’s been the hold up. For far too long I’ve thought that hanging my kids off the roof by their toenails as a reasonable method of discipline would cause child protective services to come-a-knockin’. But then I realized that just about every parent thinks this way and as long as I don’t act on it, we’d probably be okay. The other holdup has been my attitude toward my kids. (The Pioneer Woman calls her kids punks…so I think mine need a more colorful name, too). I’ve limited Rowan & Lily far too often by their behavior and crusty exterior and have all too often insufficiently considered their hearts as the bigger part of the equation. Slowly this trend is changing, and I’ve started seeing them as actual people with real purpose and potential. And you know what? I’m beginning to like them…most of the time. What does home schooling have to do with all this? It gives us the opportunity to squash uh…encourage their potential and purpose more intimately.

So another blog is born…in our case, to chronicle a new direction for the Brown family. Our 4brownconclusion is a play on the phrase foregone conclusion, meaning “an inevitable ending”. It’s our family name and 4 for the four humans in our household. We didn’t really want to leave out the fifth element of our breathing household, our cat, because she is like another person (i.e. mouth to feed, doctor bills, mess maker) but to make our “school” more like a school, we see her more as our mascot.

So here we are: Ken, Erin, Rowan & Lily (oh, and Marble), embarking on a new direction in life seeing it as an experiment and taking it one day at a time. Our only foregone conclusion at this point is that we will need lots of God’s grace in the journey ahead. I just may be kicking myself in the rear come September.

I’m grateful for the input, encouragement and warnings of several people on this whole adventure in our most recent and life-altering family decision: Melissa T, Susie R, Kelle D, Lisa J, Melody B, The Pioneer Woman blog, Mary and Mom…and of course, Ken…the INFP to my ESTJ. Hopefully, he’ll blog a word or two at some point…but just know he’s the big man on campus.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Home School

 
 
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