Tuesday, January 06, 2009


[Fall is incredibly busy for me and I apologize for my lack of posting the last few months. Hopefully I'll be back to my normal routine and blogging more regularly again.]

I am a pretty good self-doubter. I admit it. I second guess nearly every single decision I ever make. And even when things go as well as I predicted they could, I still second-guess that something else could have made it better. Is that my inner perfectionist or just being human? I'm not sure. However, I can honestly say that I've never really doubted our decision to homeschool our kids. Oh sure, there are days when ever fiber of my being screams, "That's IT - I'm signing them up for school tomorrow!" but those moments/days of frazzled frustrations pass and I realize I wouldn't change this lifestyle for anything, even on those really bad days.

But I also must confess that I doubt our method of homeschooling from time to time. Is unschooling the best way for us right now? This usually only comes up when a friend mentions what their children are doing in school and I realize my kids haven't even touched that subject matter yet. Sometimes, the realization comes through other channels.

Matthew had some Christmas money that has been burning a hole in his pocket. We looked through the Bionicles (the Christmas toy of choice this year) at Wally World and Target but they didn't have anything he wanted. So he got online, looking through Amazon's selections and suddenly that hole in his pocket was a flaming fire. He was looking at things that, I thought, were pretty well out of his price range.

So on Monday night, I caught a glimpse of a Time and Money workbook that had been passed to us at some time. [Why is it that they usually teach those two concepts together anyway?? I remember having trouble remembering which one was based on 60's and which was based on 100's. Math. ick.] I made a mental note to get the workbook out the next day to teach Matthew how to count his money, and promptly fell asleep.

But Tuesday morning was off to a jump start as I realized it was the day of my annual MRI and I was quite nervous and totally forgot about the workbook. I had my scan in the early afternoon and by that evening, I was still wiped out and not feeling well. I laid down on my bed while the girls played in my room. I dozed off and on and at some point, Matthew came in to ask me how much a dime is worth. I answered and when I was feeling better, the girls and I headed downstairs.

I found Matthew on his computer. He was searching Amazon's toys again, having stumbled across the marketplace where people sell them second-hand (and at reduced prices). As I looked behind him at the kitchen table, I saw his bank dumped out on the table. He had different piles and a tally sheet in the middle of it. He had actually counted every quarter, nickel, dime and penny. And he'd found out that he had $3.42.

What if instead, I'd woken up that morning and shoved the workbook at him? He might have enjoyed it but I'd be willing to bet that his own method of discovery about money is something he enjoyed more and will be something he'll remember for a long time. It was important to him at that moment in time and I bet he won't forget it. Whereas a forced lesson might not have been interesting in the least, this was all his idea and something he enjoyed discovering on his own. I did show him the workbook for follow-up material and he said, "Wow, Mom, thanks! This will be great for me to refer to next time I need to count my money."

Silly me, for doubting our real-time learning lifestyle.


Heather said...

Oh absolutely brilliant. I have barely been posting either (too crazy busy) but I have seen numerous similar things recently. In fact our New Years goals surprised me--the kids are intent on learning all sorts of fun things, even more than what was in their original lists.

Jena said...

Doubting makes us good parents, you know. It keeps us reevaluating and paying attention. Great job working through all that. I like your perspective.