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It’s hot here folks, and I am enjoying the rain today.  I finally have the pictures I promised.

The garden that is furthest along growth wise. We have 3. This is the only fenced one.  We are already eating spinach, swiss chard, and broccoli from this plot.

Aren’t these peas just gorgeous?

I can’t wait for the pods… well, if it means loosing these blooms I can wait for a little while. 🙂  They make me think of Alice in Wonderland.

We bought fencing yesterday for the other plot by the barn.  For the plot by the house (last year’s only garden), we are doing the low string and pie pans again.  I’m hoping to get to work out there tomorrow.  John’s uncle Ben suggested some barn repairs, and I hope that is underway soon.  I am also waiting to hear about Farmer’s Markets to participate in.

In other news…. Deladis is still going strong on her start to her kindergarten year.  I can most definitely say these few weeks have opened my eyes and made me realized that I have a lot to learn about teaching little ones.  We are using a curriculum that is for preschool, but it is akin to kindergarten.  The regular curriculum starts with Grade 1, but I haven’t seen a sample to know if I will use it for next year or not.  I like it because it is nature/domestic based and spirituality has a part.  The illustrations are non-commercial, but beautiful and real.

Deladis has been enjoying herself very much… when mommy isn’t being too uptight.  One of the parental instructions suggested in the book is that children should complete work neatly.  Proper posture and holding of the pencil should be practiced.  She is just learning to write.  Here we have dotted lines, and examples to trace.  For me the instructions translated into when making them on her own the characters should be as large as those she traced.  This especially came into play with the 3.  The top should be at the top line.  The middle in the dashes, and the bottom at the bottom line.  She would make lovely, perfectly legible 3s that were much smaller.  We’d erase and try again.  Before long, she was crossing her arms and looking at me.  I felt kind of ridiculous erasing her 3s that were out of proportion, but for some reason felt the need to make sure directions were followed.  I went to message boards for advice.  I found what I needed from the unschooling community ( I am looking into some application of that philosophy for our experience).  The next day, we did 3 again.  This time no erasing.  Just reading directions.  Deladis practiced on her own, and before I knew it, she was making a 3 similar to the one she traced.  I had decided that I wouldn’t care.  That I would let her explore the writing on her own after reading the workbook directions.  She loves the workbook.  She made me draw the riders on the horses in the picture.  As you can tell with her coloring, nothing is outside the reach of her ability to imagine, create, understand, and transform. 🙂

This is what I have to remember.  She learned to potty on her own.  It happened when she was ready.  On her own time.  All I did was explain how we went about it, and gave her encouragement and help as she needed.  There was no “training” involved.  No, she wasn’t 18 months old and wearing underpants, but she was using it on her own in a reasonable time frame.  After 2 weeks, there were no accidents.  Why should learning anything else we need for growing up or adulthood or creativity or spirituality or work be any different?

Others suggested that she is too young to learn to write.  They said I’m expecting too much of an almost 5 year old.  Deladis asked to learn writing.  She asked me to show her and help her to learn.  She showed signs of academic readiness that I read about in my study of Waldorf education, though before her age.  I had determined I’d follow her cue and embrace her eagerness as an opportunity for learning.  I just need to supply her with resources, be there to read directions (until she can read them herself), offer ideas, demonstrate things, answer questions (or help find answers), and offer my help as she needs it.  She will learn.  She will learn because that is what we do, and because I as her mother and teacher am nurturing that ability in her.  Not by erasing her 3s until they meet the criteria, but supporting her practice until they meet the standards that she sets, that is her personal best for her age, or until it is time to practice something else for awhile.  I learned to let go a little of the thought of “teaching”.  I watched that letting go help Deladis to learn through her own hand and observation.  The “teacher” in me was impressed with her.  Who knows where this journey will lead?

I had a post all ready for this evening on the role of women in today’s world.  Can we be at-home mothers and still be respected?  Can we choose to live the career life and not be looked upon as selfish?  For those who choose both, how do you make all of it fit in one day and still remain a healthy person and raise healthy children?  I wrote 1300 words on that topic, scheduled it to publish tonight, and now, I’ve decided to sit on it awhile.  It’s one of those things that sits with you, then you become emotional on the topic.  I’m going to wait for it to rest.  Clarity.

Ivy is tearing the house apart bit by bit, John is away practicing with a band, Deladis is watching me type, and I sit with an overwhelming fatigue that keeps telling me it is time to go to sleep… to give up for the day and rest.  This is despite the fact that I have made it to bed by 10:30pm for the last three nights and woke around 7:00am or a little after.  It wasn’t uninterrupted sleep, but nothing major.  That should be enough rest for a person – right?  I attempted to cozy up under a microfiber blanket my sister made me for my birthday last year and read my new book that came in the mail yesterday.

Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children by Sharifa Oppenheimer

Ivy hates it when I read though.  She won’t have it.  I have been trying to read since I opened the box yesterday.  I can’t wait to read this book.  To glean from its pages ideas, stories, a new outlook on rhythm, and help.  I know I will find some answers to my hopes of continuing to flush out the cabin and for creating some magical outdoor play spaces.  It sits beside me now just asking to be opened.  Soon.

I’ve been thinking of making a page here that will list the books I’ve read and maybe have a blurb about them.  I love sharing books.

I had been using the themes from Little Acorn Learning for our weeks of homeschool.  At the end of last week when we were erasing the chalk drawing from our board, Deladis asked if we could “do frogs next week”.  The look on her face was one of hope and excitement.  She was loving our themed weeks and wanted a part in creating them.  I knew I would need to order the September curriculum and it would likely not be frogs.  For a moment, I didn’t know what to say to her.  Maybe someday?  Not this time? What about something else – fall like? If I bought the curriculum, one of those would have to be the answer.  How could I break that news to a face like that?  My heart wanted to pat her on the back and say, “Sure that’s a great idea!”  I thought for another second and that is exactly what I said.

It didn’t take me long to gather enough fingerplays, songs, and verses from the internet to put together a fun Circle Time.  The crafts were all online too, and I got some ideas from SunnyDayTodayMama and her themed week with her sunny boy.  All this was completely free!  John drew a frog on our chalk board and we started the week like the last four.  It’s been so nice!  We even got to save a toad from the chickens!  I felt a bit of the Divine in that one. 🙂

To see the love of learning in the face of a child, makes you want to capture it and put it somewhere where nothing can destroy it.  It is that ingrained desire that all children are born with, and I think allowing Deladis to explore her interests through our schooling is keeping it natural.  It is using what she was already given.  Yes, that sounds unschoolish. 🙂  Who knows how we will end up.  I know I love the Waldorf approach to education and no matter how we go about it, that will be my prevailing philosophy.

We aren’t sure about next week yet.  Deladis hasn’t voiced an opinion.  Maybe it’s time to order the curriculum.

Deladis turning four this week means that I have less than a year to make one of the most important decisions I will ever have to make as a mother.  What will be the future of her education?  It is a very difficult choice for me and I have spent a great deal of time considering my options already, but now, I have to get serious.  Will Deladis attend public school?  Will we choose to teach her at home?  If so, what curriculum?  What about unschool?  Needless to say, I’m praying and weighing all the pros and cons.  The majority of my daughter’s next fourteen or so years will be spent laying the educational foundations for the rest of her adult life.  I want her to have a joyful experience and come away capable of achieving any dreams she may have for any path she wants to take in life.

The first consideration is public school.  It is the obvious choice for most people.  It is something we are all already paying for as taxpayers and will pay for despite whether or not we choose a public institution for our children’s education or not.  Our children are taught by trained professionals a curriculum that is designed by our respective states to prepare them to be competitive in the job market and to be productive citizens.  Not only that, but our children attending public school develops social skills with their peers and can be involved in friendships and activities outside of the scope that family life can offer.  One plus to public school in the mountains is that everyone knows everyone.  It won’t be hard to be fully informed.  It sounds lovely.

However, being a student in public school was greatly a miserable experience for me.  Sure, I had some awesome teachers, wonderful experiences, and lots of fun times, but I thoroughly believed then and still do that so many of those years were wasted time.  I went through school not having to study to pass tests, not being challenged, and I graduated somehow barely being able to balance a checkbook let alone do any kind of problems dealing in fractions or decimals.  Forget advanced arithmetic or mathematics.  I passed most of my math classes with As and Bs despite this.  I was endlessly with my nose in books and watching educational television trying to fill in the gaps on my own in the subjects I had an interest in – English Literature and Writing, World History, Geography and Culture, and Life Sciences.

High school was the worst, and my senior year frustrated me immensely.  For the biggest part of the year, we sat on the football field rain or shine because of endless bomb threats being called.  I took a current events class that was basically sitting and reading the newspaper while the teacher, the baseball coach, talked sports with the jocks in the class.  My advanced placement English class was assembling the yearbook.  We never took the AP test for college credit as we were supposed to.  One of my best friends quit school and started attending the community college in town.  I begged my dad to let me do the same.  He didn’t.  I often wonder what I could have done had that time not been wasted and filled with disappointment.

As far as peer interaction goes, it left a lot to be desired.  Yes, I had lots of great friends.  I’m so glad I was able to meet them and be with them throughout my days.  However, I was often made fun of in school by kids who thought they were better than me for whatever reason and I had to develop a thick skin and found myself taking up for myself and other friends more than I should have had to.  I believe those skills have helped me as an adult, but they also linger as a nagging self consciousness that would benefit me more if it would disappear.  I know I shouldn’t aim to shield my children from adversity, but they will get plenty of that just living life without the abundance of it so many of us meet in public schools.

Having taught in the public schools for four years helped me develop a perspective from the other end – the teacher.  My school system where I taught was very supportive, friendly, and caring in atmosphere, but we all faced our hands being tied.  I found myself trying to teach with limited resources, over crowded classrooms, and a looming state standardized test at the end of every year which dictated what I taught like a tyrant and measured nothing (in my opinion) about what the children were capable of.  I saw more state funding going to schools in wealthier areas while the rural systems received minuscule dollars and were expected to achieve the same results.  Then, the issue of discipline was tremendous.  I loved my students and thought highly of all of them.  Yet, there are always those times, especially in middle grades, where children will decide to act out in frustration or plain old misbehavior, and there was not much at all that I could do about it.  What I did do was futile?  Respect was a word that I struggled to teach.

It is hard for me to even write this, and if you can’t tell already, my heart is leaning me toward homeschool.  Living in a rural area where moms don’t network as much as in the cities worries me to some extent.  We spend days at a time not leaving the holler.  I want Deladis to have time amongst peers.  I do value the capability of being able to socialize with all age groups though, and I think homeschool will facilitate that.  I can enroll her in dance lessons, take her to events, and we do attend church where she has friends.

We are a Christian home, and I know many Christians are motivated to homeschool in hopes of shielding their children from a “vulgar” world.  That isn’t what is motivating me.  In fact, it would be one reason to send Deladis to public school.  I want her to be amongst all types of people with varying beliefs.  I want her to know different cultures and lifestyles.  I believe the right choice here lies within each family, but I believe a strong home foundation is the important thing.  I think keeping children from knowing the world is laying the framework for worse rebellion, disrespect for differences, and possibly social dysfunction.  I have to say that I think there are great values in beliefs different from our own as well.  She needs to be able to come to her religious and spiritual beliefs on her own for them to be authentic.  So, if I homeschool, I will make every effort to have Deladis be a part of multicultural acitivities.

The curriculum is another choice to make.  I so worry that I won’t be able to do justice to mathematics as I can’t do it myself.  But, they say the best way to learn something is to teach it.  I can’t be afraid.  When we spent time in Louisville, my choice was made.  She would attend the local Waldorf school where we took Parent/Child classes, or if we couldn’t afford it, she would be homeschooled in Waldorf curriculum.  I’m leaning toward that educational philosophy still.

Unschool is intriguing to me, and is something to consider with my lack of organization and absence of ability to stick to schedules that aren’t mandatory.  With unschool, you help the child as they develop a natural interest in a subject.  I fear, there, that she will miss out on too many things that she don’t naturally gravitate toward, but might need in life.

The other important thing to consider is, can I be Deladis’s teacher?  That is where I am struggling the most with this decision.  I’ve been trying to find more personal time.  Sending the girls to public school would allow me time to do my writing.  I would be refreshed and ready when they returned home to me.  It could help me mother them better even.  Then, I consider that that thinking is only me being selfish and skirting my responsibilities to my children.  If I ignore all the cons to public school and send her anyway to buy myself some time, I’m not being a good parent at all.  Yet, I can absolutely admire others making that choice and totally understand where they are coming from.  I know my thinking is flawed there somewhere.

So, the clock is ticking.  I’ve decided to order some Waldorf cirriculum for Deladis’s age and add some activities that would be homeschool like to our days starting mid-August.  I’ll give it a try.  If it is a disaster, I’ll register her for public school and be a fully involved parent.  Tonight, I’m attending a meeting of a possible homeschool co-op in our county, though the numbers of homeschooled children here are low.  I’m looking forward to the discussion.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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