Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm Letting Go!

Maybe I can catch up now.  Maybe!  hee promises on that

I had to take an extra week off for winter break to get things back in order.  Alex's ordeal just set us back and zapped my energy so much that my to do list did not get done!

Thankfully, I got a burst of "let's get things back in gear people" and, like a whirlwind, I or-gan-ized!  Of course all the guys I live with LOVE when that hits momma, but they are good sports and helped!

I especially needed to regroup with school.  This has been my hardest year homeschooling.

Yes.  Even more than the first year.  Even more than the year I had my two nieces and nephew.


Well, I think it is because of a couple things:  1) my neck/head issues which hinders our progress and enjoyment some days and 2) I did not realize how much my oldest son taught himself!

I have cried tears of frustration, but more than that, I have fought feeling like a failure more than ever.

This is the hard thing about homeschooling.  YOU, as the parent, are to blame.  No teachers or administration or fellow students to point to!  Nope, it's you and you alone!

So, like all things in life that start to overwhelm me, I took my feelings and thoughts to my husband and my Savior.  What would I do without them?

Tom has this amazing ability to center bring me sweetly and softly remind me of reality.  I believe my Lord works through my husband.

How am I now?  Well, I am very happy to tell you that I am doing really well!

I have been on a good run physically.  I'm not headache free, but I am much better than I have been.  I have been able to start working out again which always helps everything!  And...I am gaining momentum with school again.

Math has been a major source of my issue...our issue!  Alex and Trey need different things, even though they are at about the same level.  They learn in different ways and, much of the time, I feel like there isn't enough of me to go least in the perfectionist way I like to accomplish things!

Yes, I know my friends with 11 and 9 and 6 children or those trying to manage babies and toddlers are laughing at me when I say there is not enough of me to go around, but when you are fighting illness, it all feels so suffocating!

So we reevaluated math AGAIN and we are now using

I love it!  I love it so much we are using it for many things.  We are enjoying it and making progress now.

At the same time, God has been speaking to me about freedom in our learning.  I HATE how much time some things take.  I HATE standards and teaching to the test!  I don't have to test my kids to get money.  I don't have to worry about whether they are learning the exact same things all the other kids their age are learning.  I mean I do to an extent, by law.  I have to make sure they have a competent and comparable education, BUT I don't have to go about it the same way.  I don't have to copy what school has become in our society in MY home.

I actually had this revelation some time ago, but it is hitting my heart even much so that I am reading a lot about Christian unschooling.  If you are a veteran homeschooler, even you may have just gasped right?!  Unschooling has the ability to scare even the most lax homeschool parent!

Aren't you tired of it though?  You know, the rat race, the keeping up, the tedious schedules, the fear of falling "behind?"  Whatever behind is!  I mean, I am right now praying about whether I should have my boys take an achievement test.  The ONLY good reason I can come up with for US is to give them practice in test taking for the SAT/ACT later!

I know thoroughly how they are doing.  I know their strengths and weaknesses in many areas, let alone "standards of grade level."  I fully know that they may lack in one area, BUT I also know that they could test above and beyond in areas that the "system" couldn't begin to teach them or test them in.

Every year we choose to fast as a family in January.  We don't force this on our kids.  We don't have to.  They know the Word of God.  They know the benefits and the reasons why it is a GIFT to their body, soul, and spirit to do this.  We do want to set an example of giving your first and best to God who chose to give you so much...of prioritizing things in our lives...of taking time to cleanse ourselves and gain a fresh start!  This has become a precious time of reconnection for us.  My kids see it and they like it.

AS A FAMILY...A UNIT...ONE...we made goals.  We decided to take on the Radical Experiment this read through the Bible in a year, discuss it, pray for the nations, give sacrificially, and spend our time in more worthwhile ways.  We chatted about what last year was like and what this year could hold for us.

The Lord is speaking FREEDOM to us.  We are not bound by religious tradition of man.  We are understanding that we may never understand the depth of grace.  We are learning why we have been given grace and what to do with it.

I long to see this carry over into our "school" too.  I long to merge school with life in a greater, more natural way.  I believe that my children each have a destiny that is unique, and I am seeing more reasons why they need to be trained up in the way they should go INDIVIDUALLY so they can most benefit the whole.

I know a standardized test can't begin to tell me what I need to know in order to accomplish the ultimate goal.  I know that spending our days mimicking a failing system isn't going to better my sons.

So, I guess where I am at is...I see the possibilities.  I am learning the ways to reach the real goal.  I am excited by the thoughts of my children being able to explore more of what interests them!  BUT, alas, it is so hard to just jump.

I need the boldness to just go for it and throw off all that hinders!  I feel it bubbling.  I have dipped my toe in the river of freedom!

If you share my personality type, you understand the shakiness and hesitancy to just let go!  You get the nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach that makes me want to keep control and orchestrate everything possible!

I just know there is more awaiting us though.  I have to do it!

And I did start.  Last night!  Alex said he wasn't ready to go to sleep...was aggravated that he had to even try and was convinced he would lay there for two hours awake and wasting his time!  I knew he was right too.

He didn't want to read.  He had done enough of that anyway.  He asked if after he did his daily Bible reading (his personal, chosen goal for himself this year, by the way), if he could put in the Art curriculum DVD and learn more about drawing.

Okay...test time for Mom!  I had PLANNED to do that all together this coming summer.  BUT I DID IT!  I let go and let him!  I know!  I know this is nothing big to many of you, but an hour later, he came in our room and said he loved it and had two drawings to show us.  The drawings were great.  BUT HIS SMILE WAS PRECIOUS AND FOREVER BURNED IN MY MIND!

And today, he was back at it...along with his little brother.

Something so simple.  Something he is passionate about.  And I was hindering it because it didn't fit into the "plan" that someone else has said is correct???

Wanna know the saddest part?  I love art.  I love creating.  I took art classes all through school and looked into art schools for my college degree.  I understand how Alex thinks and why he wants to create with his hands.  And I was stifling him.  ME...who should've understood better than anyone.

So how much more am I preventing from coming forth?  What else could we be accomplishing if I threw off the notion of "teaching to standards" and filling our days with planned to the T activities?

I just read a book written by people who analyzed 8,000 studies that followed childrens' learning paths and overwhelmingly, the evidence shows that children forced into formal schooling at young ages (as in before 12!) do worse in the end....worse in many ways.  I don't want those kind of results.

I'm letting go...

of old mindsets

of expectations

of opinions

of worries, anxieties, and fears

of hurts and wounds

of trying to please

of all that keeps us from being who we were made to be!

Wanna join me???

(And PLEASE, PLEASE don't be offended when you read this if your kiddos are in public or other schools!  I am not bashing you or your kids or their teachers or schools!  That isn't the point.  The point is that we have all bought into certain ideas that aren't proving fruitful...ideas that are stifling kids and making them more like robots and people unable to think logically and stressing out families with little time to be together in enjoyment.  So whether you homeschool or not, what CAN you do differently to change the tide?  What have you bought into that is just pushing you and your kids along, keeping you from an abundant life?  Just something to think about!)


Katie Ashcraft said...

wow Mindi!! (actually I'm pretty excited I can finally comment on your blog, for some reason I haven't been able to for a long time- my computer kept saying error message, but I look everyday at your blog for updates!!) thanks for the kind words about my grandma, I hope I am there when she passes but I'm also kind of scared cause I've never been thru something like that EVER... anyway, about the homeschooling- I'm just glad I'm done aaahhhhhh, well almost! but I definitely understand the pressures of trying to make sure they don't fall behind the standard... of what right? what the schools say they should know? so stressful, just glad I'm done, all you can do is all you can do and everything will work out, sounds like you're doing a fantabulous job! also I've been wanting to say FOREVER that I love your family pic at the top of your blog- how do I get one of those? :o) I have family picutures all over my house!! so glad I have finally been able to comment! so if you don't hear from me for a while it's cause my computer decided to freak out again! love ya, Katie

ZimboUSA Girl said...

Dear Mindy,
You need to take a look at my my friend Cindy's website. She used relaxed learning techniques and her son and daughter are amazing e.g's of God's goodness and grace. . Cindy's son is a Green Beret and her daughter is married to another military man and is an author.
Cindy has emails you can subscribe too and not everything on her site costs money. She has lots of freebies there. When you get back from Nicaragua read some of her stuff or download and read on your laptop whilst away.
Love to you, in spring I will ask Walt if I can drive down to visit perhaps for a night!

Mindy said...

Katie! Weird that you couldn't comment! Thanks for all the encouragement. Send me your address and I will hook you up with a picture. Just send it here and I won't post the comment. Are you on FB too?

Mindy said...

Julie...thank you. I will def have to check out your friend's site! Sounds great! Keep in touch about spring. If it's warm enough, we can take the kids to the fossil beds!