Sunday, January 11, 2015

A few thoughts from a homeschool workshop

Yesterday I attended a three-hour workshop called The Art of Homeschooling, held by Diane Flynn Keith and Barbara Phillips, meant for beginners and those still considering homeschooling as an option. I'm realizing how important it will be for me to attend these sorts of events every once in a while, at least while I'm still so new at all this, as they help me feel refreshed and renew my confidence in what we're doing. I also found out about some cool new resources that I want to explore for us.

At one point Barbara asked us what were our top values-- what are the things we most want our children to have when they are grown? The answers included things like creativity, curiosity, independence, authenticity, empathetic, passionate, being able to advocate for their own needs as well as advocating for marginalized groups, what one mom described as "happily ambitious" (having ambition and passion working towards a goal, without being so driven as to be overly stressed about it), being able to manage their money and their time well, etc, and being able to focus on the journey and the process vs only on the end result.

After writing all our answers on the board, Barbara then remarked how none of the things we had mentioned were academic. It served as another reminder that the priority is on helping our children develop and flourish, not on whether they learn to read or write at a certain age.

I've been feeling frustrated sometimes over how I will find things that I think would be so interesting, and D will just be like, "meh" about them. It's hard to know what may be worth putting effort or money into, what could be something that sparks a new passion or if it will just sit ignored. Then I remembered my approach to food-- my job is to put a variety of good food in front of them, and it's up to them to choose how much of what to eat. The same is true for any other interest or activity. In Montessori we have this thing called "indirect preparation" where kids work with something first on a casual level, then later will come back to the same material and use it to build new knowledge based on the familiar concepts. I think of a lot of what I do now as "indirect preparation"-- I want to expose my kids to all sorts of neat, interesting things. They may spark an interest now, or perhaps they will be stowed away somewhere in their minds and rise to the surface again at some later time, or perhaps never at all. But it's not my job to make him be interested in anything particular, just to expose him to it, give him the tools and guidance needed should he explore that thing, and then rest is up to him.

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