This has been an exceptionally hard re-entry to a schedule. I know pictures on Instagram or posts on a blog make everything look peaceful and happy and joyous, but the reality is that even while we do have moments of bliss, the back story is that there may have been moments of anger or frustration or exhaustion just before the shutter snapped.
However, there are days that are just about as perfect as one could wish. We need these days to cling to on the days that are less than rosy, when the air is bitterly cold, and the body is weak, and the mind is tired. These days are our anchor. They hold us steady and show us what we are capable of. These are the days that reassure us when doubt creeps in. These are the days that we strive for, knowing that if they happened once, they will most assuredly happen again.
My struggle right now is how to do I reconcile the life I have chosen, the one that I know is best for my family, with what I know other children, those that attend school 8 hours a day, are doing? For some reason letting go was almost too easy for elementary and even for middle school. But now, now with high school right around the corner, the comparisons are creeping in. Unfair comparisons, for we made the decision not to school at home, not to choose a boxed curriculum, not to do correspondence school, not to school at all in fact, but to unschool.
As I’m sure is the case everywhere in the homeschool community, lots of emails are floating around the homeschooling Yahoo groups. Emails about whose child got accepted into which elite ivy league school and which homeschooling philosophy or method was used to achieve this accomplishment. Emails about homeschooling workshops being given by parents who have “successfully” homeschooled their child (success being defined as college acceptance), and who are now offering workshops on how I too can achieve the same level of success. Emails about potential classes for high school freshmen that will ensure success on AP tests -- at 14 years old. Success again being defined as a score, a 5/5.
I am so sick of these emails. I am so sick of the parental peer pressure and competitive nature that we parents have and pass down to our children. How do I define success? Being capable of making sound, healthy decisions. Having enough money to cover your needs and some of your wants. Waking up every day and knowing that the next 12 hours will not be wasted. Making a positive difference in the world. Having love. Having friendship. Having interests. Knowing your talents. Being kind. Being generous. Being true. Being honest. Knowing joy. Knowing faith. Treating yourself with kindness. Treating the world around you with kindness.
When my children experience something that meets these criterion, then they are successful whether they are 11 and 13 or 41 and 43. I cannot continue to worry about the minutia. I cannot continue to stress about the insignificant for I know that the days like these are the ones that truly matter. The days that matter define who we are and what we are far more than any test score ever will. We do not walk around with a test score scrawled in Sharpie on our foreheads. I do not know, nor do I care, what my friend’s SAT scores were, or how many AP tests they took, or what their high school GPA was. Why do we identify teens and value their worth as students and ultimately as people this way? Why is it so very hard to let go of this standard that we all grew up with? Why do we continue to buy into a system that is designed to make money off our children and cause them stress and anxiety then score them, and grade them, and rank them, and turn them loose to compete in the college marketplace?
|Applying for a grant to create a vegetable garden to feed those in need.|
|Writing a collaborative story with a friend in Alabama.|
|Making a musical instrument during a chemistry lesson.|
|Delivering cake pops and a donation to a local fire house. 30 individuals lost their homes in a horrible fire. The girls wanted to give back through their cupcake club.|
I don’t want to pay for a college advisor. I would rather pay for baking supplies. I don’t want to pay for test prep courses. I would rather pay for gas to transport my children to their volunteering activities. Sometimes I think I am just naive and sometimes I think we (parents and students) should just say "no more, I am not playing by these rules anymore". Accept my kid because she has a great portfolio packed with book lists, projects, volunteering photos, has studied a variety of subjects, has watched documentaries, worked with mentors, interned at cool places, held a job, designed her own courses, participated in the community, participated in sports, plays an instrument, knows a foreign language (assuming she keeps it up!), has interests, goals and dreams. Or don’t. But don’t determine her value based on a score. She is so much more than a number.
|No caption needed!|