Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shifting Perspective and Modes

Last month while my older son was at MIT's Splash event I attended some lectures for the parents. One was about the holistic college admissions process. The way the description was written I thought it was about the general holistic admissions process but it wound up being about MIT's admissions process. It was eye-opening and helped shift my perspective.

This fall I got wrapped up in confusion due to changing the way we homeschool to majorly focus on doing learning experiences outside the home. Each kid had four full days of being out of the house. The fifth day was a commute day for each kid while their sibling was in a paid class for the sibling's age range. So really we all had five days a week outside the house. Most of the academics at home was not lessons taught by me but me overseeing homework assignments for the outside classes.

This fall I became fearful of my abilitiy to homeschool the high school years for my older son. I started freaking out about college admissions. One of the challenges is that for his intended major the prep needs to begin in eighth grade so I am not wrong to start thinking about that now.

At the MIT lecture I was encouraged (even though the speaker kept saying a disclaimer that he was not speaking on behalf of MIT or the MIT admissions office) that perhaps the best thing about college for students is to find a good fit. I have heard that before, especially from parents who seem to not be in a race to get their kids into the top name colleges. However hearing it at MIT really helped me see the point.

What I'm doing is raising kids, I'm parenting kids and that's my primary role. My secondary role is homeschooling. Something happened while I listened to that lecture to help me step back and see the big picture. I really needed that reminder to think about kids as people not just thinking of kids as students with an aim to get into a good college.

So far my kids are turning out well. I think they are good kids with unique personalities and good hearts. In the long run that is what is important. I want them to find a college that is a good fit and that they will thrive at both academically and socially. I do not want them at a school where they will struggle and fail. I don't want them in a college that they will feel fulfilled academically but lonely socially.

As for homeschooling we have always custom tailored our "home school", taking full freedom of choice to sculpt something interesting and good. Too much outsourcing of classes this fall made me realize that I was giving away the very freedoms that drew us to homeschooling in the first place. I am looking for more of a balance now, some outsourced teaching but mostly home studies or even some studies done via Internet courses.

I realized also that abundance has a cost. When time seems infinite I seem to become more laid back (if not lazy) and I don't make the best use of our time; it feels like we have forever to get to do that thing or to teach that subject or skill. Then all of a sudden I realize, "My kid probably should already know that thing but he doesn't." When money is flowing it is easy to pay someone else to do something for my kids instead of doing it myself. It is easier to have someone else do the work then to sit back and complain if it is not as good as I'd hoped. This fall I also had a luxurious thought that I could send my son to private high school if homeschooling was not working out (like so many parents in my area do as they can afford to).

Now that the budget is tighter due to my husband's company downsizing I've shifted into another mode, to the "make do" mode. Now I am looking at the materials we own at home and saying "I can and will teach this" instead of "what co-op class can be created to have someone else teach that skill to my child". Now that the thought that I may have to return to work is in my mind I'm asking why I didn't make better use of my time with my kids when I had them all to myself? Now we couldn't use private high school if we wanted to. If my kids go to school it will have to be public school. Feeling like we have less options this month compared to last month is not a good feeling.

I'm in a good state of mind, feeling grateful for the time I have with my kids. I am happy to think of the new found time we have now that some of our outside activities have ended. More will end next week and then we'll have a couple of weeks without any appointments at all (but we'll be busy prepping and celebrating Christmas). I will nail down some homeschool lesson plans in that time so we can start off January working hard here at home with a firm plan in hand as to how we'll spend our time (so we don't go into lazy mode).

Despite the uncertainty of the income situation and not knowing if we'll move and be thrust into a new community, I'm feeling content and satisfied. I know I have done a good job parenting my kids so far and no matter where or how they are educated for the rest of their primary and secondary education and whatever winds up happening with college, they will be good people and we have an emotionally healthy family life. That's what really matters to me.

Enjoying Butterbeers
at the Three Broomsticks restaurant at
the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios,
Orlando, Florida earlier this week.


Sandra Foyt said...

We're all works in progress, right? Thanks for helping me also put things in perspective.

KC said...

What a wonderful post! I needed to read that! That is so true: We really are parents first instead of homeschoolers first! Good luck with the work situation! Krystal

Laney said...

Hi! Looks like your kids have a great MOM :)
Just wanted to say "thanks" for your response to my question re:SoulCollage. That is exactly how I was hoping/planning to approach it. I really appreciate your lengthy and detailed explanation.