If it weren’t for Mondays…

we surely would dread Tuesdays.

Warning: Candid post follows.

Here we go…another school year underway.  If my math is correct, and it actually very often is, this is year #22.  Yes, that has to be correct.  We started homeschooling the year Hannah was born because seriously, why not start a HUGE new adventure with a brand new baby? Actually it was pretty smooth, all three of the older kids had been in public school so they were used to sitting and doing work.  Which we remedied as soon as we were able.

But…and there is always a but, what did I learn from this romantic notion of student led teaching/learning?  That at times it causes more stress than necessary because you will have a student (no names but her first initial is Rachel 🙂 ) who really and truly and honestly thinks you have to learn and retain every word of every text book.  One who must be fluent in Algebra as well as English and French, US and World Geography, American History, World History, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and everything in between. They will not only have to read ALL of the classics, but as many banned books as can be bought or borrowed.  AND  have a part-time to full time paying job as well as some sort of home business (she had her own soap making business at 8 and made more money than I did that year).  And one must have beautiful penmanship, type 160 wpm, use words most college professors would have to look up, be able to identify 98% of any artist’s work one comes across, be an accomplished artist both by hand and computer.  That student must also be able to write code by 9 years old, build websites, learn photography and take brilliant photos AND write books (her first book was written and illustrated when she was just under 4 years old) and somewhere in there NOT have migraines and sleep at least 6 hours a night, and NOT have crippling test anxiety.  And while suffering with crippling test anxiety, to the point that you actually turn white and almost faint when you step into the ACT testing room, you still make an extraordinary score and ask after attending a week of college, “Why does the professor repeat himself?  I mean really if you are in college, shouldn’t you know some of this already and if you don’t couldn’t you figure it out? And if not, do you really need to be wasting your time and money?” And added, “I really, thought it would be harder than this.  Why didn’t you tell me I didn’t have to know everything in the books?”  I did tell her.  I swear I did.  But you know, nature and nurture clash sometimes.  My theory has always been, why should I cloud my brain with things I can look up? So you know they didn’t get ALL of this from me.

And then you have the student just older than her (again not calling names but she answers to Hannah, Hon-Yah, Hanny or Hanny Hole), raised in the same manner, same books, same atmosphere, same everything, who WANTS all those things, but knows it will interfere with her movie watching, bad TV (she loves horrible TV), online friends, traveling, reading, writing (several of my children are great writers – this one has 780 pages of a novel written), and napping. With test anxiety to a slightly lesser degree, who truly believes EVERYTHING is a competition if with no one but oneself, frets over a 92 on a homeschool quiz and explains it by saying, “Well, I could have done better.  What if that thing I didn’t know comes back to bite me in the bum one day?” What if, indeed.  Who went to vo-tech to try and help her find what she wanted to do, and found accounting to fit very nicely with her OCD and Anxiety disorder and drove both herself and me crazy if she missed 1/2 of a point on any assignment and finished with a 4.0 -DUH. Who also held down part time and full time jobs alongside school.

AND oddly, these two made exactly the same composite score on their ACTs.  Different strengths.  But it all came out the same…sort of.  One got 3 hours credit in English going into college, the other 6 hours.  Neither has any remedial classes and the one class they have together, both have over 100 percent.  Overachieving is a hobby of theirs.  And when one of them was told by the professor, “no one gets and A in this class,” they saw that as a personal challenge and their response was, “We’ll see about that.”

What I am trying to say is teaching to the test is not always a bad thing and quite possible the most efficient.  So I stand corrected on my theory of child-led learning being the ONLY right way to go.  At the end of the day (or school career) there IS a test.  Several – and scores are important.  To everyone.  Sad but true.

So how is this going to affect the next 4 years of Benjamin’s life?  Adversely, I am afraid.  He WILL be able to take tests like a professional 😉 We ARE teaching to both the ACT and SAT.  He WILL get as much math mastered as is humanly possible in this length of time.  He WILL be able to ace the English part of any test given, because, well, it is our native tongue.  He WILL have three years of a particular foreign language because when he makes 2380 on his SAT (I am trying not to put too much pressure on him by expecting a 2400), foreign language credits will NOT interfere with any college application.  And somewhere in there, he is going to learn to write legibly without aid of a computer.  Just paper and pencil…old school.

Now, here is the rub in all this.  Each of these children thinks one of the others is my favorite because of their differences.  I don’t have a favorite.  I coddle who needs coddling, I am a hard-ass with the ones that need that.  The whole multiple personality ability most moms have comes in handy at times.  However, each one thinks they are not being treated as they should be.  But, everyone that should be is gainfully employed, no one has a police record, and all are still speaking to me, so…so far so good.

I have had what I have considered failures in my parenting.  However, for the most part no one could be prouder of their children.  Like it or not, all 6 of my children are extremely sarcastic.  No idea where that came from.  All are extremely opinionated and vocal with those opinions. Again, who knows?  All are competitive with themselves.  They truly want to do their best at all times.  They all have a thirst for knowledge.  Differing subjects but thirsty none the less.  All are extremely devoted to family.  Do NOT pick a fight with one unless you have back up.  Right or wrong that sibling WILL be defended.  As much as they are all different and are quite capable of running their noses up in each other’s business, they love each other and feel pride in each other’s accomplishments.  They hold each other accountable and have trouble accepting things when they feel like one or the other is not living up to their potential.  They are also at times snobbish, elitist, prideful, and even hateful. They have even been known to feel entitlement because of the standards they hold themselves to.   All these things they DID get from me.  But my gene pool wasn’t the only one they drew from and if any two people were more alike than Jerry and I, those people likely couldn’t live together.  Even a month at the time.

Okay, got to run.  Edgar Allen Poe is trying to whip my youngest.

Edited by Hannah for spelling, grammar and to add Oxford Commas. 🙂

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I think it is wonderful that you have such well rounded, smart, children…and I think it is wonderful that they have such a well rounded, smart, parents.

Loved this Susan. I think you are a wonderful mom, and you have some pretty special kids there. I once read a book entitled, Parenting Isn’t For Cowards. Oh how very brave we need to be as parents. Being a mom has probably been my most fulfilling role in life and also my most frustrating! I wouldn’t have it any other way! xxoo