Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Secret Plan is Working!

(insert maniacal laugh here)

Little Professor hates to read fiction. It's been a constant battle since he taught himself to read at three and a half. He will read science books, encyclopedias, text books, and any other based-in-fact book he can get his hands on (and then recite it ad nauseum), but hand him a novel and it's "too hard," " too boring," and there's "no point."
This is particularly hard on me because I LOVE to read. I'll read anything I can get my hands on, and have been known to go through a dozen books in a week. (Who needs clean dishes anyway?)
I've been trying different genres with him and he has actually enjoyed some of them. He's reading Little House on the Prairie by request, because Little House in the Big Woods was required reading that he actually enjoyed. It's still non-fiction, since it's a sort of autobiography, but it READS like a novel, and he's still enjoying it, so I'm happy about that. That's still part of school work, though, since it goes along with our whole American History unit.
I really want to expand his reading horizons and help him learn to love it, and read not because he has to pick a book for school, but because it's FUN!
So, I browsed the library last week and found The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, which is a great book. Little Professor whined that he already has too much reading to do, but we checked it out anyway. And it's just been sitting around the house. So last night, I put it on the shelf next to his bed and just told him, "It's there if you're bored or can't sleep." Poor kid has insomnia, so he does often have trouble falling asleep. He told me, "No way, I'm not reading that!" but I just left it there, just in case.
Well...I just tucked him in a little while ago and he told me, "You know what, Mom? I read a few chapters of that Indian book, and it's pretty good so far!"

Monday, May 21, 2012

Why We Homeschool: Statistics

I found this handy graph today while reading an article titled "Why In the Hell Would You Homeschool?"
Despite the title, it is actually a pro-homeschooling article, and the parent who wrote it sounds a lot like me, and many other parents who have decided to go this route.

I don't really like this graph, though. Why did we decide to homeschool? How can I narrow it down to one choice? Honestly, I would have to give the same answer as the majority of other parents...I can give my children a better education at home. The reasons I can do that, though, are a mix of the other answer options. Kiddo with special needs? Yep. Behavior problems at school? You betcha. School not challenging child? Poor learning environment? Absolutely. Family reasons? Well, that's how Things 2 & 3 ended up staying home...they've never been IN school, so a lot of the other reasons wouldn't apply to them.
And (I know this might sound odd), but objections to things the school teaches and developing character and morality are definitely among my reasons to homeschool! This is not so much of an issue now, but at one point, we lived in Cobb County, Georgia, home of the infamous "evolution warning sticker."  This was also the district where my sister was being taught American History by a woman who called the Civil War "The Northern Aggression." Not exactly objective teaching.
As for developing character and morality, well, children learn by example. They don't need religion to be moral or to have good character, but they DO need good roll models, and opportunities to practice. Sure, these things can (and do) happen in school, but they also are exposed to a lot of negative influences and crappy roll models. My goal is to teach them how to figure out how to tell the difference, without just throwing them in and waiting to see if they sink or swim.
So, what's left on the list?
Religious reasons.
This still sort of applies, indirectly. We're no longer in a district where I have to worry about creationism being taught in school, or abstinence-only sex ed, but we are still in an area that is not very diverse in belief, unless you count the differences between the Catholics and the Baptists (of which there are many). I'm not planning on preventing my kids from learning about the beliefs of others, but I want them to have a rounded view of religion. They need to get some basics from all the major religions, past and present. We discuss beliefs that people have, why they have them, and whether or not each story sounds plausible to them (none so far!). If they decide to pursue a religion, I won't stop them...I'll just help them with their research.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Never Say Always

Always and Never. The two worst enemies moms create for themselves.
Before I had kids, I had a lot of never and always plans and ideals about motherhood. And I probably had a more realistic view of what motherhood was actually like, since I was the oldest of four kids and started babysitting at 11 for the neighbors, and ultimately had a job where I was teaching parents how to do a better job with their kids. Yep. Before I had kids of my own. So I thought I was pretty reasonable about knowing that I couldn't say I'd NEVER feed my kids frozen pizzas (although, thanks to food allergies, I couldn't for the first 3 years anyway), or that my kids would NEVER watch tv before the age of two. I knew that those things were unrealistic goals for any mom.
I had plenty of them, though. And looking back, it was just setting myself up for failure in my own mind, even if it didn't make me different from any other mom out there.

#1- I would NEVER co-sleep!
Yeah, that lasted about 3 days. To be fair, I knew nothing about co-sleeping except that the people I knew who did it, hated it. Also, I am such a light sleeper, I knew I'd never really get to sleep with a baby in bed with me. I sort of lucked out though, because Little Professor wanted his space when he slept, so he rarely slept with me after the first couple of weeks, and was sleeping in his crib, through the night at just 2 months old. So I understood WHY new moms would sleep with their new babies, but I also thought I was doing something superior because MY baby was so easy and sleeping 7 or 8 hours a night from an early age. Must have been my awesome parenting skills, right? Couldn't possibly be because he had sensory issues about sleeping next to someone or that he spent so much of his awake time studying everything he could see that he completely exhausted himself by night time.
Princess really taught me my lesson, though. She was a very needy, clingy, super-attached baby. When I would get home from work, she would attach herself to my chest and that was it for the rest of the day. I learned to do everything either one handed, or with her in a sling, because I couldn't put her down without heart wrenching screams. It was exhausting! We were both worn out. So, she just came to bed with me because it was the only way we got any sleep. And honestly, I *liked* snuggling and sleeping with her when she was tiny. Eventually she was able to fall asleep on her own, and started the night out in her own bed, but continued to come in to my bed sometime in the middle of the night until she was close to 5. And she really only stopped because I couldn't sleep with her in bed with me any more. I was waking up in pain from being squished all night, so we had to put a stop to it. So now I snuggle her in her bed at bedtime, and she comes in to my bed for morning snuggles, as long as she can refrain from laying ON me.
By the time Puppy came along, I didn't even pretend I was going to put him in his own bed. I pulled the side off the crib and shoved it up to the side of my bed so that I could keep him from being squashed by his big sister, but he was a co-sleeper from day one. Eventually, he started falling asleep in his own bed, but he still ends up in with me more nights than not.

#2- I would NEVER let my kids play violent video games!
This is one of those things that I've learned the "pick your battles" lesson over. Little Professor is playing Grand Theft Auto as I type. Would I prefer that he didn't? Hell, yes! And I stuck to this rule for 7 years, and even got backed up by my husband.
Last year, though, it all fell apart. The fact is, most of the other little boys that Little Professor plays with are allowed to play violent games. His cousin has been playing Halo since he was 3 or 4. I have no control over what other parents allow their children to play, and was losing the battle of keeping Little Professor for watching them play. And I had my husband buying games for himself and playing in front of the kids. I could have kept fighting about it, but ultimately decided that fighting over it constantly was probably worse in the long run than just letting him play the damn things.

#3- I will ALWAYS use positive behavior reinforcement and gentle parenting techniques.
Hahahahahahahahaha! Anyone who claims they never yell at their kid either has a baby under 12 months or is LYING. Or high.

#4- I will NEVER be a stay at home mom!
And here I am. Ok, technically, I still work. A little. When I feel like it. And some days, I am still not 100% sure I'm doing the right thing. But 99.999% of the time, I know I am. I was lucky; I had a job that I loved and was good at and was passionate about. And none of that really changed, but I left it all behind anyway. What changed was my priorities. Ultimately, Little Professor needed me to be his teacher more than he needed me to be able to pay for private school. He needed someone who was committed to helping him CHANGE his behavior, instead of just reacting to it and sending him out of the room. So, while I will continue working my 2 hours a week for my sanity break, I know that being a stay at home, homeschooling mom is the best choice for our family as a whole.

#5- I will ALWAYS have a clean house!
Ok. Just kidding. I was never *that* naive!