It had been a rough morning. A Really Rough Morning. The kind of morning that left me searching the web for an educational consultant--or was it a psychological therapist I needed? It was barely 11:30, and I think our tally so far was:
- 1 screaming fit,
- 2 refusals to complete assigned work,
- 3 outbreaks of sibling rivalry, and
- several episodes of uncontrollable weeping.
I had somehow managed to keep my cool for the most part, and was now sitting quietly beside my older daughter as she struggled to come to terms with the fact that she could either complete her math problems now or she would complete them that evening while her sister went to karate class without her. After laboriously working through the next few calculations, she turned to me and asked, "Mama, do you know what I want to be?" Thank goodness, I sighed to myself, she is finally formulating a positive thought! "No--what do you want to be, honey?" I answered in my most nurturing-homeschool-mom voice. Her reply: "An orphan."
|Writing with homemade ink and |
I have been staying home with my girls (for the most part) since my younger daughter (now six-and-a-half) was born, and I have been homeschooling in some form since my eight-year-old turned three. I never would have expected that this is a path I would take. In fact, if even ten years ago, you had suggested to me that I might become a "stay-at-home mom and homeschooler," I likely would have laughed dismissively. Not me: college professor, academic administrator, international field researcher, political activist, writer, community organizer. I was doing consequential work in the world! How could I give all that up to spend my days reading fairy tales; singing "The Months of the Year Song;" wiping up endless globs of of paint, yogurt, toothpaste, and mud; and wrestling with my first born over math worksheets?
|Studying life in a pond with a|
It has also permitted me to be with my girls through their toughest struggles, and conferred on me the responsibility to help them develop the skills and wisdom to overcome those struggles. In my attempts to grow into this responsibility, I have done a great deal of research and reflection during the past few years aimed at becoming a better mentor of children--that is, a better parent and teacher. Fortunately, I have discovered some wonderfully helpful resources in a variety of literatures--not only from the fields of homeschooling and parenting, but also from psychology, sociology, education, child development, and spirituality. Of course, I still very often find myself unsure about how to best help my daughters when we're in the midst of one of our Really Rough Moments, and I'm afraid that more often than I'd like to admit, I make things worse. But at the end of the day, they seem to know I love them and that I am willing to work with them to find a better solution. Perhaps that is what it means to be an underachieving--but good enough--homeschooler.
|Making homemade paper|