"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bouncing Her Way

I am shocked, stunned, surprised about this homeschooling adventure with my daughter, Maddie. A few weeks ago, I talked about the years I spouted never will I ever in a billion years homeschool. The reasons not to homeschool appeared starkly obvious to me: a) her precious life could be endangered—by me, b) 7th grade math includes story problems—sorry, dad, I still don’t understand, and c) my lunch ministry will suffer—okay, it’s pretty much nonexistent. The point is, we trudged forward, and guess what? She still lives, YouTube helps with math, and I escape every so often for lunch with a friend.

I’ve discovered a few things in this short journey thus far. I may or may not have made a premature judgment regarding whether a certain type of child could handle schooling at home. Okay, I did, all right? I always believed that if I were forced to choose homeschooling or be burned at the stake, I could school the older two who would’ve performed well since they have always been self-motivated, disciplined, conscientious students. Of course, I never entertained the outrageous notion of homeschooling them, and most definitely not Maddie, the distracted, unfocused, bouncing-off-the-walls baby-of-the-family who couldn’t sit still if a bomb was attached to her. Hence, what kind of crazy middle-aged mom considers locking herself in this prison cell?

Just call me “loco” because here I ruminate, pounding keys about the astonishing advantages of doing school with this independent, spirited tween. Throughout her years of public school, she couldn’t sit still, focus, or remain quiet. She disagreed openly with peers (mostly about the illogical arguments of the Big Bang Theory), visited the school nurse frequently (with a variety of ailments) and couldn’t complete tasks in a timely manner. At home, this girl stays motivated, works diligently and fidgets to her heart’s content. She bounces on an exercise ball while writing. Maddie studies in my bed, on the floor and hanging lopsided over a chair. She takes short lunch breaks because she has to “get back to work.” Her words, her idea, not mine. She takes responsibility for her learning. Maddie doubles up on her work during the week, so she has less to complete on Friday.

Frankly, I’m wondering if someone switched daughters on me because this is not the Maddie I know. Oh, sure, she still has those days in which she can’t focus. But, it’s not due to outside distractions of overfilled classrooms, hallway drama or girlfriend arguments. And, even if it takes her two hours to finish math, a bell doesn’t ring signaling she must move on nor does a teacher stand by her desk waiting to collect a paper she’s scurrying to finish. If she takes more time on one subject, she has the opportunity to quickly complete the next. The decision is hers. She’s realizing that in a traditional classroom, she was required to move with the masses. Now, however, she can move at her own pace, in a learning style that fits her.

What am I learning? I can be patient with a squirmy, non-traditional student with ants in her pants. Learning new things can be fascinating, like watching interesting YouTube videos of an octopus choking a shark to death.  Two years of high school Latin (thank you, Mr. McCraith) wasn't a waste of time. And, last but not least, I shouldn’t judge how someone will do in a situation until tested.

The bottom line regarding any school decision is to consider the needs of each child. At this point, we’ve run the gamut of private, public and homeschool. We’ve encountered positives and negatives in each arena. Do your homework, evaluate your children, ask God for wisdom in your decision and move forward in the direction you feel prompted. Don’t worry about others’ opinions. You do what’s best for your family.

I’d love to hear about your school experiences!

What school choice have you made for your children, and why did you choose that particular option? 

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