Today, I took a Mom day. My husband gave it to me, and I have sure enjoyed it!
What do you think I did all day, while the guys took off to do some shopping and hanging out? Sat around eating bon-bons? Not quite, although I did indulge in some of the treats that my sweet (he knows I love sweets) husband brought me.
But, that’s not all! My focus of the day was have time to think, spend time in quiet, (which rarely happens otherwise), and remember what the importance of what I am doing, as a teacher to our boys. I was talking to my best friend today, and we both admitted that without some time for a mom to get away, even mentally, things really spiral out of control quickly. Maybe not outwardly, but, as moms who are responsible for so many areas of our children’s growth, the demands can literally paralyze our thought processes, and we just can’t do our best. If can’t do our best, then we have not much to give to our children or our husbands, and everyone ends up feeling stressed and frustrated!
If this doesn’t make sense to you, just think that for a homeschooling family particularly, and for any family/parent, there are multiple levels of demand placed upon us from all directions. Three different math levels is enough to scramble a teacher’s mind, trying to stay ahead of who needs what kind of help in what area. Add language and grammar times three, writing–are they writing neatly, are they punctuating properly, are they speaking clearly, and on and on and on. Science and history are fun, but am I providing enough experiments so that they really understand it? Are they learning their Bible verses, and do they really understand those; can they apply them to their lives? Are they having their quiet time? What about lunch? And my husband’s lunch for tomorrow–is it packed? Are they riding their bikes too close to the road? Are they riding too fast? Did they brush their teeth? Did they brush them right? Did they drink enough water? Did they take out the trash? Oh, no! They all need haircuts again! And so do I! Can I read a story right now? Can I help someone fix their bike? He’s not sharing with me! And on and on and on…
And I wonder why I feel like I need just a little time of quiet mental time, every so often! There are just so many things to think about! If a mom does not purposely take some time, at least for me, I get very overwhelmed, and start to feel like I am trying to do it all. Which no one can do.
I needed time to think, time to pray, and seek direction.
Who am I educating my boys for? For other people’s expectations? For the way that “most people” do it? I find that without some refocusing, I begin to cater my expectations to what other people think I should do, but what really may not be best for my own children. Then, I feel stress, the boys feel pushed, and school is not enjoyable for anyone. I need to push in some areas, but not because someone else says I should. Especially if they don’t even know our situation. A bystander may say I should do this or that, but unless they know my boys and their personalities, abilities, and maturity, then they are not the experts. Only God is the One who really knows what our family needs, and I am seeking His wise counsel. Because I don’t want to force a bunch of information into my children that they aren’t ready for–I want to kindle their fires so that they go after what they want to learn for life!
So, I am watching some DVDs on child development and education. I’d gotten these a couple months ago, but never took the time to sit down and watch them. Very eye-opening. I highly recommend them. Here’s a trailer.
As I watched, I was reminded of the parable, which I have included below. It’s a good reminder that there is more than one way to approach education, just as there are so many different children themselves.
Can you see yourself, or anyone you know, in this parable?
An old story tells of the creation of a school for the animals. In this
school, everybody took the same four courses: flying, swimming,
climbing, and running. Among the students were a duck, a flying
squirrel, a fox, and an elephant. These friends were highly motivated, and
wanted to get good grades, so they all tried very hard.
The duck did fantastically well in swimming and flying, but he lagged behind his
classmates in climbing and running, so focused special attention on
those two subjects. However, his feet became so sore from trying to
run and his wings were so bedraggled from trying to climb that by the
end of the year he not only failed both those subjects, but made C’s in
swimming and flying, which had once been his two best subjects.
At the beginning of the school year, the squirrel was first in his class
in climbing and running and was second only to the duck at flying. But
as the months wore on, he missed so much school from catching pneumonia
in his swimming class that he failed everything.
To make matters even worse, because the squirrel constantly squirmed and chattered in
class, and had difficulty paying attention, he was diagnosed with a
learning disorder. The squirrel eventually was placed in remedial classes and had to be medicated in order to continue with his school work.
The fox was a natural in his running class and scored well in climbing and
swimming, but became so frustrated at his inability to get good Grades
in flying that he began assaulting his classmates. He even tried to
eat the duck. His behavior was so disruptive he was expelled from
school. He fell in with a rough crowd and eventually wound up in a center for animal delinquents.
The elephant, meanwhile, developed low self-esteem because he couldn’t do
well in any of the subjects. When he sank into clinical depression, his
therapist persuaded him to try a different school that focused on subjects such as lifting
and carrying. The elephant was disappointed, because careers in lifting and carrying were not as
prestigious as careers in flying, swimming, climbing, or running. Even though he always felt inferior, he managed to make a decent living and support his family
The prairie dogs, of course, stayed out of school and fought the tax levied for education because digging and burrowing was not included in the curriculum. They joined the ground hogs and gophers, schooling their children themselves with alternative education and apprenticing them to the badger.
(The original parable of the Animal School was written back in the 1940’s by George H. Reavis, an Assistant Superintendent of the Cincinnati Public Schools. Over the years, variations of Animal School have surfaced, however, the message stays the same. It’s content is in the public domain and free to copy, duplicate, and distribute.)