Monday, March 5, 2012

Ready for the next challenge...

Life is full of challenges and milestones.  Every time we accomplish something, we find a new goal.  In work we are given tasks and when we master them successfully, we are given more responsibility.  As parents, as soon as we teach our children to hold a spoon, we move on to teaching them to eat...and to walk and to run...and to play and to share...every accomplishment is met with a new task.  The challenges we have mastered give us the courage to keep going and to take on more challenges.

When Jason was on vacation a few weeks ago, we started talking about moving...buying a smaller, less expensive house, having a smaller mortgage so we could put more money away for our future.  We realized that we could find such a house in an area that is farther from Manhattan, more rural, more like where I grew up.  In fact several people I grew up with live in this town now.  The day after we realized this, Jason found out that his company was transferring him to a branch of the company that is located very close to this town.  We thought it might be a sign.

The school system in this town is recognized by people who recognize such things as being "top-notch" a "blue ribbon school system".  The school system is the recipient of various awards and accolades.

Would we send the girls back to school?

There was some appeal to that initially.  The taxes are slightly less than here, but sometimes it irritates me that we pay school taxes but don't want to send our kids to the schools.  There was appeal in thinking of what an "outstanding" school could offer.  I had daydreams of it being EXACTLY what I had hoped and expected our school system would be like...inspired teachers, friendly kids, state-of-the art Mac computer labs (I saw the photo on the school website), opportunities galore...

But then I something didn't sit right in my stomach.  I felt uneasy...

When I told the girls, they were excited to look at the website of the houses, but didn't understand why they would go back to school.  Jason was excited about the prospect of having all that land and had plans for the girls to stay home and tend a garden and create an art studio in one of the outbuildings.  

We realized that we like this style of learning, we like this life, we believe in this.

We have been saying that we were not sure what we would do about high school.  But we have all decided together that we will figure it out as we go and that the girls won't go back to school for high school.  That was a HUGE relief.  In the back of my mind, I kept thinking...what if...

What if they go back to school for high school...I want them to be prepared.  If they go back to school for high school, I want to make sure they are proficient in math.  If they go back to school for high school, I want them to have the background information for science and history.  If they go back to school for high school, I don't want them to feel unprepared.  If they go back to school for high school, I want them to write at least as good as their peers....and on and on...
the girls made these flowers after watching how-to on youtube

We tend to follow a lot of rabbit trails.  I have always allowed the girls to read what they want, and they read across genres (currently A is reading The Diary of Anne Frank and so is my mom and they have their own little book club).  Our science is a mix-match eclectic selection of materials on the human body and we tend to not necessarily follow a book, but to let learning about cells lead us to learning about the brain lead us to learning about movement lead us to learning about the muscular system lead us to learning about bones...and so on.  Our history is always taking us on detours, currently we are doing independent studies on our Viking ancestors and Norse myths.  The girls spent January writing and editing stories on TikaTok and in February, asked to do Writing Strands rather than Writing with Skill/Ease, and I agreed.  We study Latin roots and read Bible stories together.  We are really all over the place in our learning, but the girls are enjoying it and I hear them talking about it and explaining what they learned to Jason, so I know they are retaining it.  But sometimes I worry that they don't know how to do a bibliography or they can't remember what a conjunction is (although they can use it in a sentence) or they haven't memorized certain facts that maybe they would have committed to memory by now in public school...and if they go back to school and they don't know that stuff...

BUT if they don't go back to school for high school...if we know they are not going to go back, it really doesn't matter what order we cover things in or if they have memorized certain things...we can really go about this at our own pace, in our own way, as long as they are retaining information, they are ahead of the game.

Over the next few days, I thought a lot about my goals for the girls' education.  I thought about what I see as their passion: design.  Since they were babies they have been interested in fashion and/or decorating or some kind of design.  They are creative.  We feel that creativity is best nurtured in a non-judgmental atmosphere, an atmosphere of freedom and acceptance, an atmosphere where there is not necessarily always a "right and a wrong".  We don't want them to be put in a box.  Creative thinkers should be encouraged to think outside the box.
magazine flower created from youtube tutorial

I have come up with a vision for high school for them, when I told them about it, they jumped at the chance to run an etsy or a website of clothing and home decor and jewelry that they create.  They were excited to design things and sew or knit or crochet or embroider items to sell.
change purse A sewed from scraps 

Since we brought them home to learn, the girls have always spent one solid day each week sewing with my mom.  Since we made the decision that we aren't going to worry about what they would need to be prepared if they go back to school for high school, we are free to find more time in our schedule for art. We work on art journals and do artist studies.  The girls take time out to knit and crochet.  We spend time creating jewelry together.  My mom recently taught the girls hand-sewing and embroidery, and they are eager to start more of those projects.

We continue to read and write, study history and science and Latin and geography and math, but we make sure we have time for art and creativity.

We are ready for the next challenge...