Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Slump

We are in a bit of a homeschooling slump right now. Well, a Radical Unschooler would call it "life" and a Regular Unschooler would call it a slump while a School-At-Homer would call it just plain lazy. (And, of course, there are a thousand choices in between each of the three above!) Anyway, whether it is because of the new baby or the traveling or the nice weather, it has been a while since we have really done something "productive." That isn't to say the kids haven't done anything--they have been to Grammy and Grampy's twice, gone to the Museum of Science in Boston, done a week of camp (swimming, rock climbing, hockey, soccer, ropes courses...), and continued with all their regular activities (chess club, science class, yoga, and a new comic book drawing class). And when I see it all written out like that, it seems like a lot. To be fair, we haven't been bored!

But I feel like we are in a slump. Erin seems to be resisting all attempts to move her academic progress forward and for some reason, Megan seems to be unable to complete any projects...even the ones that SHE has chosen to do! I'm not sure if I have to change my ways and become more Teacher with them and go through the fights that ensue whenever you have a student who isn't exactly motivated to learn something that may or may not interest them, or if I have to just go with it and give them a bit of a break. It is very tempting to go with that choice, but, like all homeschooling parents, I feel the pressure to keep up...though with what, I'm not sure. Erin is well ahead of her peers in typical academic subjects, so maybe with her I just feel the pressure to continue to move forward from her particular starting point. Megan is probably above average for her grade level, but definitely not so far ahead that standing still is an option for her. Or is it? Or should it be? The Unschooler in me just trusts that my kids will learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it. The MustFitIntoNormalSociety parent in me thinks they need to be doing projects to prove mastery of a specific subject at regular intervals throughout the school year. I'm not sure who to give in to at any given moment, so lately, I've been doing nothing (except having a baby and managing a household with four kids who all, for some reason, continue to need to be fed, clothed, etc.)

The bottom line is that I don't know what the right answer is. I do believe in Unschooling--truly and deeply. And one of the biggest bottom lines in this family is that I will NOT fight my children to learn anything. If I have to yell at them or beg them or bribe them, then they are not learning whatever it is I "need" them to learn at that time. I simply won't do it. AND, in addition to that belief is the feeling that I would like to see some more forward progress from them at some point. So round and round we go on this roller coaster called homeschooling. At times we are up and learning every minute of every day and at times we are down, floundering around trying to decide how to proceed. In the end, I hope my kids will have found joy in the ride. But if they wanted to sit down tomorrow and write a book report, just for fun, that would be okay too!

Megan being a beaver on a recent hike in Acadia.

Super Evan down by the river.

Erin about to go night fishing in the Keys.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Erin is NINE!

We have just returned from our awesome trip to FL, but before I post pictures of that, I need to throw out our last birthday post for February...

February 27th was Erin's 9th baby girl, the one who started it all, the one who made me a mother for the first time, turned 9. in almost in nearly in the double in WHERE ON EARTH DID THE TIME GO???

On Erin's birthday we flew to FL and went directly to a beach. Erin promptly removed her shoes and began to run down this incredibly long and beautiful stretch of beach, right next to the water and into the wind. She was feeling totally free and so happy. She ran and ran without looking back and she apparently had no fear about how far she was going or where she might end up. Arms open wide, sand and water splashing all around her, she just radiated the joy that she was feeling at that moment. It was a beautiful scene...made all the more amusing by the fact that her father had to run 400 yards down the beach after her before she even remembered to look back. We played at the beach for over an hour and then changed into dry clothes and waited until precisely 6:33pm so that Erin could officially begin life as a 9yo on the beach. The sunset was beautiful and we headed off to my brother's house for pizza and cake. While I'm sure that easing into the double digits will not be bump-free, I'm confident that this coming year will radiate with as much joy as Erin had when she was flying so freely down the beach. I'm so lucky to be watching her grow!

Erin and her friend Nick on a hike at Acadia. Photo credit to Nick's mother who is a FAR better photographer than I am!