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I am starting to get it….
By Heather Furhiman
Picture from here.
I remember when I first started homeschooling and around that time I was first introduced to Thomas Jefferson Education I knew it was right but wrapping my poor mind around the concepts seemed difficult. As I read them on paper they made sense but implementing them seemed to be like a brick wall for me. For one of my book club readings we read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, you can also watch the video here. You will enjoy it, I promise. But in it he mentions brick walls. I assume here that you know what I am talking about. He says, “Brick walls are there for a reason. They are there to let us prove how badly we want something.” So for me… homeschooling was a big brick wall. I knew it was right but….. there it is the proverbial but. Talk about information overload. So many approaches to homeschooling and this was not Anthropology that I studied in college. I did not study education, I just studied what I thought was fun (little did I know, that this was one of those things that was mine). Yes we have digs in the back yard, just in case you were wondering. Back to my brick wall. Hours of research… Montessori???? Waldorf??? Charlotte Mason??? The Well Trained Mind ??? Robinson Curriculum???? The list could go on. What we ended up initially deciding was that we wanted to have a classical education with some influences of Waldorf and Montessori so we started out with the Well Trained Mind until we came across TJed. And immediately I knew it was right but the implementing of it was a great challenge for me. The four biggest hurdles were:
1. “It’s about you, not them.”
2. “Structure the time, not the content”
3. “Secure, not stressed.”
4. Inspire, not require.”
To address number one… what???? How can I give them an education on what I like. So I send them off knowing how to knit, crochet, cook and scrapbook and how to properly excavate a dig site? So when I started studying myself, I was able to increase what was mine. I had more to share… things I didn’t know I would like. Books I never thought I would read. The books that I thought we too hard for me or that they would be boring. Ask yourself at the end of that book that you have been dreading… Les Miserables? The 5000 Year Leap and oh…. The Abolition of Man. I painfully read them only to love them when I was done. Though I have yet to reread them! My newest “mine” has been to become a Naturalist. I have been reading books like mad on Leave No trace Ethics…. yeah, my Cub Scouts find me a little annoying, but they all get their Leave No Trace Award. And i have learned so much about Colorado Wildlife. That’s when my scouts think I am so cool. My children came along for the ride. I see my oldest intensely studying Great Horned Owls and he is obsessed with being prepared and learning survival techniques. we visited 43 different locations in Colorado this past summer during our nature school and it was awesome. When you stand at the top of Mt. Evans (the highest paved road in the continental US) and literally touch the clouds with your children beside you. You just can’t get that in a book. We felt the clouds we saw a red fox sniff our stroller, a black bear cross our path, peer at deer feeding and relieving themselves and avoided a skunk. We found the stars hiding in the branches of Gigantic cottonwood trees and felt the power of the wind sweep through them as they blossomed their cotton puffs and swirl around us. We caste molds of animal prints and retrieved water by tying a bag over a branch. Ok… list could go on… but it worked. When I shared what was mine and what I was learning…. they learned too.
Uhmmmmm how can I do that with math????????? Another Brick Wall….
Ok… structure the time, not the content. Time…ok. I set time that worked for us, but content. Well this is still a brick wall that I am working on. Brick Wall 1 math. Partial accomplishment for math has been the family store. We got some play money and I set up a store. They have to pick out the correct change for a specific item. Paying for computer time, snack, a new book, other items in the store. It works well and is still very new. Even the two year old participates with his own price list. 2 pennies for snack for him. But the rest… they are still doing math facts until I come up with a better way for this. But the reading is going well and they study what they want to. Once a week I go to the library and they get two topics to find books on. It is working well and we are still refining it.
Secured, not stressed… this is my biggest wall. As mothers we worry about all aspect of our kids lives, at least I do. I worried that I would mess them up educationally. I want them to grow up to be successful adults. To be confident in their ability to learn and provide for themselves and future families. This wall was just conquered over time. As I saw them succeed as I developed, security naturally took over those stress. Sure I have had times of STRESS…. tried out public school… went back to homeschooling. But today… the security is more constant and the more time passes the better it gets. I would encourage you to hang in there… it gets better and better when you trust in your parenting instincts.
Inspire, not require. As I develop, inspiration for them comes naturally. Not to mention time on my knees in prayer is vital. I have found that when there is an area, like my recent thoughts on developing their math skills, I need to spend the time on developing them myself. Its time to tackle that brick wall. It works, but finding the ways to inspire requires my constant research, study, pondering, and prayer. This shows my kids… that you never stop learning and that you will love all the other stuff you learn on the way.
Perhaps you have heard this quote from a religious perspective, “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” Look at it from a TJED perspective. It is.. it is so worth it. Of course ask me in 10 years when my oldest is 18.
Anyhow… I am starting to get it… the brick walls are being scaled, because I really wanted it. In the end… they are worth and I won’t get these moments back.