Author Archives: thehomeschoolingdoctor

About thehomeschoolingdoctor

What happens when a medical doctor decides to be a stay-at-home mom.

Ninth Grade Curriculum, Part II

Here are some pieces of our ninth grade curriculum. I’d be happy if anything I write helps you in your decision-making process for your own curriculum! I know I scour reviews and blog posts as I look for ways to teach.

Mathematics: Saxon’s Advanced Mathematics (Second Edition)

I selected the Second Edition of Saxon’s Advanced Mathematics because I want the program the way John Saxon designed it, with geometry integrated. Newer editions break away from integrating geometry.

Back in my school days, I used Saxon math from sixth grade Math 7/6 through senior calculus, and so I use my own positive Saxon experience to help teach. Art Reed’s valuable newsletters on his website also helped me tremendously: which books to select, how to address transcripts (You might find it interesting that my own high school transcript titled my year in the Advanced Mathematics book as “Trigonometry,” but when I read forums now, it is discouraged to call the class “trigonometry!”), how to handle bumps in the road using Saxon math, and other fascinating stories to get lost in!

Saxon’s math curriculum routinely defies all mass education norms, and his book Advanced Mathematics (second edition) is no exception:

  • It is not designed to fit neatly into a 180 day school year. (Was math designed for school–or school to teach math?) It is intended to take 3-4 semesters.
  • It mixes material from four different math classes: geometry, advanced algebra, trigonometry, and pre-calculus. (I did supplement geometry with a mix of some extra on-line materials I found for proofs and geometry terminology.)
  • It is incrementally and cumulatively taught such that material from the first lesson will be phased out and then brought back many lessons later for review. It’s not “learn and forget” with Saxon!
  • It continues to be graphically “boring.”
  • Its story problems contain advanced vocabulary and are quite humorous, if you get Saxon’s kind of humor.

My ninth grader seems to pick up math easily, and she has pushed through the Saxon books at a good pace, arriving at Advanced Mathematics. She does half a problem set one day and the other half the next. Since every student deserves a little autonomy (Ha! Such freedom!), she gets to pick if she does even problems one day and odds the next–or if she does problems 1-15 on the first day and then problems 16-30 on the second day.

In years past, since she grasped math quickly and fluently, I would selectively allow her to skip problems (which she knew how to do in her sleep while running from an axe murderer). However, when these old “easy” problems were brought back for review 15-20 lessons later, she had to do them to keep retention. Saxon discourages skipping problems, and I understand why.  This year, we have not skipped problems (and have even added in some extra geometry problems).

Composition: Time for Writing

We tried something different this year for writing, since I’m not a very good writing instructor. I tend to go a lit-tle crazy marking up my kids’ papers. They go a lit-tle crazy defending their work. It gets a lit-tle crazy around the house. (Best to find a new way, yes? Yes.)

We tried out two classes at Time for Writing, a program offering on-line writing classes. (I actually used it for two of my students this year.) How was it? I think that both students increased their writing skills, and I only had to put up with a lit-tle grief– instead of a lot!

  • Work was graded by a teacher, not me.
  • Concise, sequential lessons
  • Helpful deadlines
  • The classes are priced at $119 for 8 weeks, which divides out to be about $15 a week.
  • When I had to correspond with teachers, they were very helpful, kind, and seemed to like communicating with the students and their parents.
  • Actual grades were assigned.
  • Grading seems to be done on a rubric.
  • Variety of writing topics
  • Immediate start date
  • Can extend or pause a class a little bit if needed
  • Most of the actual work is paper writing. There is not much busy work, although there are reasonable on-line assignments and quizzes.

Now what about more of the cons?

Well, if you have a student who struggles with significant writing blocks, I do not suggest this program unless you have a writing tutor or the ability to work cooperatively with your student yourself. For a writer who is afraid to write (or who is motivated to start and has great ideas, but gets writer’s block as soon as she has to type, handwrite, or dictate words), this will still be a tough class and will not address that stumbling block.

However, if you have a student who has no problem getting started with the writing process when he or she puts his or her mind to it, but just doesn’t appreciate your awesome parental feedback or believe in your deadlines, then this certainly could be the program for you. It provides those things! It just doesn’t provide any help for writing block.

Speech

We used Institute for Excellence in Writing’s (IEW) Speech Bootcamp. Loved it! A small group of students met every Friday morning for one semester. The course comes with DVDs, a teacher’s workbook, and a student’s workbook. We followed the syllabus closely. It was clear and easy to follow. Very well designed and user-friendly! The videos were fun and painless to watch.

We added in extra, too: fun speech exercises; some psychology to think about that interferes with our ability to be ourselves in front of a crowd; watching and discussing some famous speeches and speakers; and a scientific presentation. Parents and siblings were invited to class to watch the students’ speeches.

This was a fun class. I liked the IEW Speech Bootcamp because it was so well planned and put together. As a teacher, I could have just followed the workbooks and videos without too much planning. Adding in more was super easy to do without interfering with the flow of what Andrew Pudewa (the Speech Bootcamp teacher) was trying to accomplish.

Closing

Ninth grade has been lots of fun, and it’s stimulating to see the teenage spunk and spirit culminating and exerting itself.

What I have written is not all-inclusive of what we read, do, or learn. We round out our curriculum with history, grammar, music, PE, and classes offered in our community.

Guess that’s all I have to say for today! If you have any questions on our use of Saxon math, Time for Writing, IEW Speech bootcamp, or anything else I’ve mentioned, ask below!

Take good care!

Ninth Grade Curriculum, Part I

De_Re_AnatomicaHere is what our ninth grade curriculum looks like. The ability to tailor education to the individual is by far one of the greatest strengths of homeschooling. Simply amazing!

I love to talk homeschooling and education, so if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I know it can be hard to decide which resources to use to educate your child. There are SOOOOO many out there!

Curriculum

Spanish: We use Spanish Honors Three with Señor Ray Leven via Pennsylvania : Great, intense, live on-line class which meets once a week for a year. During class, Spanish is spoken, and conversation is in Spanish. There is a lot of homework. Expect it. Students read Spanish literature, and they write papers in Spanish. Younger students may need to be coached on time management skills to ensure they keep up with Spanish and their other courses, especially if their other courses are a bit tough. Señor Ray Leven is an amazing teacher. He is honest, frank, and willing to work with you and your student to get them fluently speaking and writing Spanish; his expectations are high, so the student must be willing to give it all he or she has got. But his passion for teaching, Spanish, and student development is unparalleled. His classes are fun, interactive, and witty. If your student really loves Spanish, the financial investment in this class is exceptionally worthwhile.

Biology: We use Miller and Levine’s Biology curriculum. I bought the textbook, the worksheet book, the test book, and the lab manual. Sometimes I do not like the way the textbook presents things. There are gaps or the writing is not clear. When this happens, I supplement with the Campbell Biology book and the Preparing for the Biology AP Exam. I really like the Preparing for the Biology AP Exam book a lot. It takes everything that needs to be known and condenses it into outline form. I use this book to check myself as a teacher at the end of a Miller and Levine chapter/unit. Did I teach my student what was covered here? If not, do I need to? If I am not sure the depth to cover certain topics in, I try to find someone who might know. For example, I don’t like teaching about plants. I didn’t do much plant biology with my pharmacy and medical school background. So I found someone I knew who had a plant emphasis in her background and asked her. She kindly sent me her botany class notes so I would know what to hit well.

The Preparing for the Biology AP Exam book roughly follows the Miller and Levine topic sequence. It follows the Campbell Biology sequence even better, but the Campbell book is written at quite a high reading level and contains too much information.

I find the Miller and Levine worksheets very good, but my student gets bored if we do them for every chapter. So I mix it up. I find worksheets on-line for some chapters. I also use on-line videos and documentaries to try to keep biology interesting for her.

Lastly for this section, you may be wondering if my student will take the AP Biology test since I am using the AP Exam book I mentioned. I may suggest to her that she does this. However, I find the concept of AP classes and exams somewhat repulsive. I feel like it is a money-making scheme which boxes students in and squashes the creativity and fascination of learning. If my homeschooled students can do well on any AP exams, fine. But I feel like my whole 23 years of institutionalized education did nothing but make me a monkey who follows orders. I am hoping for better for my children.

Closing

I’ll get the rest of the curriculum up in posts which follow. I adore homeschooling, and I am super grateful that our country (the United States) allows it. I mean, it should allow it! But there are many countries in the world which I consider fine countries, countries which I love (or would love) to visit, which do NOT allow homeschooling AT ALL. But American independence and free-thought thrives, and I’m proud of that. Love to all. Be proud that your neighbor can have such radically different thoughts and opinions than you do. It is a neat thing! Go for curiosity, not animosity! Curious minds LEARN! Angry minds shut down.

Terri F.

Image attribution: De Re Anatomica is in the public domain. {PD-Art} {{PD-US-expired}}

How Long Does it Take to Teach a Fourth Grader?

Syllable notesA while back, a non-homeschooling mom friend was intrigued that my homeschooled, elementary-aged children were mostly done with “formal” school by lunch time.

To me, it was no big deal. It’s just the way it is with homeschooling. You move forward by capability rather than blocked off time and required busy work. But she thought it was fascinating, so I thought I would share how we get through a fourth grade school day in about 3-4 hours rather than 7-8.

We spend 20-30 minutes on math.

We spend 20-30 minutes on language arts (grammar, spelling, and writing).

Ten minutes on handwriting (cursive).

We spend about one hour on Spanish.

About 15-20 minutes on history and geography.

About 15-20 minutes on music.

We incorporate daily silent sustained reading.

We cycle through art, science, and poetry at different times of the year in different ways. Doing a sporting activity is important to our family, and we make sure the kids are exposed to and find a sport they enjoy.

That’s about three or four hours of school. A little more if you count the evening sports activities.

With the rest of the time, there are playdates, meal cooking, some laundry, plenty of giggling in the family, Lego building, and some technology time.

Not everyone would want to homeschool, but if you get the chance, it’s an amazing experience. If you love to learn, and you can share that with your child in such a way that sparks and inspires them, what a gift. I try to push my kids as far as they will allow me to, but pull back just before they burn out.

There are a couple of things that I’m really pleased with about our curriculum. I am really happy that we have time to teach cursive, which is being removed from the modern public curriculum. I really would like my kids to be able to read any old fascinating family letters and also historic, legal documents. (I would like my kids to be able to read the Constitution first-hand.)

I am also happy that my kids will be bilingual because we have started their Spanish instruction at such a young age. It does take the longest of all the subjects taught.

Lastly, although this post summary reflects the time it took my older kids when they were in fourth grade, too, it no longer reflects their current schedule. In addition to a fourth grader, I also homeschool a ninth grader and seventh grader (and a preschooler). The older kids’ work takes much longer.

Have a great day!

Motivation to Eat Better

Was eating better one of your New Year’s resolutions? It’s five weeks later. How are you doing? Do you need a little boost or a complete turn around? I’ll give you one.

Stop eating processed food. Go on, now, stop it!

“But how?” you ask?

Not will power. Not self-discipline. But facts. Stories. Emotions. Your religion. Those are the tools you’ll need to finally make the long-term commitment to eat better almost every day. Stop trying to use will power and discipline.

Fact

You are made of elements. And, for the most part, the only way to get the required elements into your body so your heart, lungs, brain, blood vessels, immune system, and kidneys can work right is through that 2 inch by 1 inch opening sitting under your nose and above your chin.

The elements you need, put together in the combinations you need them in, have been stripped out of processed foods. When you look at a box or a box of crackers, a loaf of squishy white bread, or a bag of crunchy chips, I want you to see the package as EMPTY! You’re paying for EMPTY! There’s nothing in there!

Stripped. Gone. Absent. Not there. Missing.

And you eat them. And then, guess what? Your body lacks certain elements.

Then, pick up an orange and see vitamin C, potassium, folate, and thiamine.

Pick up broccoli and see vitamin K1, vitamin C, chromium, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, and manganese.

Pick up some sunflower seeds and see selenium, copper, B vitamins, and magnesium.

Guess what is a part of your body: your brain. Anyone noticing an increase in mental illness around us? I am. The brain likes to have enough magnesium, enough potassium, and enough carbons put together just the right way. Eat real, whole food.

So you don’t eat right? Not pulling in those elements? Eating EMPTY? Oh, you’re lucky. It’s okay! The body does have some storage capabilities to pull from to get your organs the elements they need. Like… your bones! The body can pull from elements stored in the bones for its needs, leaving you with weak, crumbly bones.

Real, whole foods are rich in the elements you need, put together in the way you need them. They’re FULL! Choose real, whole foods for almost all of your food intake!

Use facts to keep you motivated to make good choices every bite and shopping selection.

Stories

Since I was a wee kid, I have always made up stories to make boring or unpalatable situations more fun and endurable! Fourth grade sucked, so I made up stories that I was in college going to classes. My medical school general surgery rotation sucked. So when I had to be in the operating room, I pretended I was the best retractor holder that ever existed, and the renowned surgeon wouldn’t do his surgeries without me. (It must have worked. I never got yelled at in surgery! Those general surgeons love to yell!)

Make up stories to make eating healthy and losing weight fun! Bring back your creative side, even for this!

Here could be a story:

Once upon a time, there was an overweight man. He was embarrassed by his weight and his eating. But he couldn’t stop. He was on four medicines for cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes. One day, he decided he was going to go on a diet for a year. He loved life. He loved people. He wanted to look good again. He had at least 100 pounds to lose. He joined the YMCA and the people greeted him every day there, making him feel special. He walked on the treadmill. He rode the bike. When he rode the bike, he knew he was Lance Armstrong in disguise. When he rode that bike, he saw the crowds all around, and he heard his phone ringing with financial endorsements rolling in. After about 6 months, he was still losing weight! He was excited when Weight Watchers (WW)  called him to ask him to be a spokesperson, and he saw himself speaking at seminars and on TV, sharing his enthusiasm for life and fresh, whole food. He lost that weight!

But, Terri, isn’t that a lie? Isn’t that lying to yourself? No. That’s fun. That’s imagination. That’s perseverance. That’s letting oneself dream. That’s what we did as kids, when nobody could stop us!

Make up your own story. Don’t latch on to this story as truth. The truth of your life and the story that comes along with your healthy living will unfold on its own. Don’t force a story. I’m just asking you to use your imagination to make this new lifestyle fun!

Emotions

Love is a good emotion here. Who do you love? Who loves you? If you were physically fit all your life, what could you do with the people you love?

Do you know people you love dearly, like maybe your parents, whose health decisions (or lack thereof) are affecting their lives? Are their poor health decisions affecting your life? How does that make you feel when they won’t change their health for you?

I love my kids, and I can’t wait to teach their kids all about volleyball. I can’t wait to hike with them in Europe and South America. (Notice the story!!!) I love my husband, and I want to be able to take care of him when I’m old. I want us to be little old people together. I love these kids and this man! I have to eat, not for now, but for 40 years from now!

Use anger to motivate you. Use hope to motivate you. But notice your emotions, and latch on to the ones that keep you excited to keep eating whole, real food!

Religion

If you’re not religious. Skip on. For me (who is spiritual), I had to realize that God cared about my physical body and what I fueled it with. I had to realize God is a jealous God, and that means He didn’t like me resting with a headache that came from eating too much junk. He didn’t like my constant fatigue from eating processed foods and not eating mostly real, whole foods. I don’t think He’s happy with our obesity problem. He loves us too much. He’s jealous for our thoughts, and too many of us (me included) put food before our bodies, which were made by and for God, to serve God and those He loves through us.

Closing

If you aren’t really going to eat real, whole foods and change, then get it out of your mind. If you’re not really going to do it, then put it down. Keeping it dangling in front of yourself while you go sit down, knowing you’re not really going to try, is only making you feel disgusting inside. That’s no good. I don’t want that for anyone.

But if you’re ready, then I hope that some of the things I’ve learned to keep me motivated through the years will help you.

If you want it, it’ll take lots of different ways to stay on track. Self-discipline and willpower are simply words for all the different ways that a motivated person figures out how to pull themselves out of (or stay away from) a rut.

Make it fun.

Terri F.

You See What You Look For

2015-10-21 14.28.04What are you trained to look for and sense? You don’t just automatically see things that are there. What we look for can be changed and nurtured. I wasn’t born recognizing goiters and melanoma signs or the way kids squirm or hide when they’ve soiled their diapers.

I never used to see vitamin D and omega-3 when I looked at grilled salmon. Nor did I think cellular phospholipid bilayer villains when I looked at fast food French fries!

What are your eyes seeing in yourself and your life right now? Do they need to be trained to look for something else? Are they seeing the wrong things in yourself? Are they seeing failure? Have you trained your eyes only to see failures–your failures, other’s failures?

What We Look For

Just think about all the fascinating things we train ourselves to see!

Has your kid ever had lice? Did you notice how quickly after they had lice that you became a lice-finding expert? It didn’t take long to learn to find those tiny brown, shiny attachments about 1/4 an inch up the hair shaft.

Do you hunt morel mushrooms? Really hunt them? Then you can come home with hundreds of them, while I come home with none.

Did you sell sweet corn every summer from your big corn patch as a kid? Then when you go to the supermarket as an adult, you don’t have to peel back the husk to determine if that ear of corn is ripe. You simply put your fingers around it and you know. You can tell if it’s overripe or not filled out.

Were your parents abusive as a kid? I have a friend who has an uncanny ability to pick out both toxic and angelic personalities the minute he spots them. He says it’s because he had to watch his parents closely when he was a kid.

Train Your Eyes

We’re trainable! We’re smart! We can train our eyes to look for lice, morels, perfectly ripe sweet corn, and even toxic people.

I don’t know. Just think about it as you go along today. What “eyes” are you using? Do you need a new set of eyes? Do you need to train yourself to see something in a new way?  How can you go about doing that?

If you’ve trained your eyes to see failure, you’ll see it in your food choices, your exercise, your family, and your work. You’ll notice the one day out of 365 that your car doesn’t start. You’ll see it after you had a bad night’s sleep. Failure.

So. What do you want to see? Is it there and you just don’t know how to look? Is everything running together and you can’t see what’s most beneficial for you to see?

Because I love examples, I ‘ll share what I’m training my eyes to see right now. I’ve challenged myself to start looking for two things:

  • The opportunity in things that don’t turn out the way I want
  • The fear behind my self-critical thoughts.

Well, I’ll close this Friday morning. Wishing you well! If all you see is defeat, frustration, and powerlessness, then that’s what you’ll see. Might as well move to the Amazon and step on the snakes you can’t see (but your guide, who has trained eyes, can). No, don’t do that.

It might take a LOT for you to see hope, opportunity, and success in each situation, but if you’d be willing to re-train those eyes and senses to start seeing hope, opportunity, and success, it is 100% do-able!

Crumbly Bone Alert

leonardo_skeleton_1511Crumbly bones. Who wants crumbly bones? Who has crumbly bones? Who even wants to think about the idea that they have crumbly bones? I  mean, bone is the scaffolding for everything you are!

My husband is still in the working arena of medicine, and his job requires him to fix tendons, ligaments, and bones in people of all ages. He has been doing it for roughly 20 years. Increasingly, he is bothered by the fact that healthy people of all ages (including high school athletes) have poor bone integrity.

To do his job properly, he has to drill and pound nails, screws, and rods into bone, and it has to hold for a patient to have the desired outcomes. In recent years, he has noticed that unexpected surgical patients have what he calls “soft, crumbly” bone. Bone that is not hard and dense. Bones that you’d expect in elderly or chronically ill patients! Bones that break.

Shockingly, he has seen healthy high school athletes with poor bone quality. He has seen young, thirty-something mothers with the bone appearance and quality of a seventy-year old woman with osteoporosis, and he has even seen middle-aged men with bone too weak to hold anchors and nails well.

The integrity of our bones is deteriorating! “Bad to the Bone” for you people who think in song! When the doctors in the trenches are seeing things, it then takes years for it to come to the consciousness of the medical journals and finally reach the public it affects.  I don’t want to wait for you to hear about it! Osteoporosis is no longer an elderly adult problem. It is OUR problem: moms, kids, active people, sedentary gamers.

This “crumbly” bone trouble is going to increase until we address our society’s lifestyle and nutrition oversights. You will most likely see more fractures in young athletes and kids because their lifestyle is rampantly opposed to bone health.

I just wish I could drive home the connection between food, lifestyle, and the function of the body so that it was not cliché to people, but REAL! I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to say it so that I’m heard by the people who need it.

So what are the mistakes that we can reverse to help have strong, healthy bones that will last 90 years?

Move. Move. Move. 

Our kids need to move. They need to get off of iPads and iPhones and cell phones and away from the television. We adults need to move. How many hours are you physically sitting all day long? I challenge you to COUNT the hours. Physical movement of arms and legs promotes dense bones.

Lift. Lift. Lift.

Lift your children. Move your couch. Move ten books at a time. Move the rocks around your flower gardens. Go to the gym and learn how to lift weights or use weight machines. Bones respond positively to physical work.

Outside in the sun. Don’t use sunscreen or coverings except to avoid sun burning.

We don’t want sun burns, but this advice to “stay out of the sun” has gotten to be sickeningly dogmatic and alarming. Taking a human out of the sun is like taking a fish out of water. The sun is the best vitamin D supplement on Earth. And besides vitamin D, it has other effects we are only starting to learn about. Don’t burn, but get in the sun so you can have vitamin D for strong bones!

“NO” grain-based (this includes white flour) processed foods or snacks.

I hate to sound absolute, because rarely am I an absolutist in any area of my life, but limiting processed foods is a very important point; they usually are made from grains. Do NOT eat or feed your kids grain-based processed snacks and foods as routine nutrition. WORK HARD TO LIMIT THEM!

These include: Cliff bars, Nutri Grain bars, Rice Chex, Corn Chex, Cheerios, Pop Tarts, bagels, granola bars, bread, buns, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, and please help me name some more so moms can raise their awareness that these foods are “bad!” (Again, I hate to use the word “bad,” because I am not a black and white thinker, but it’s that important to me that you understand!) These foods can decrease the absorption of calcium and other bone-healthy minerals! They also replace vitamin and mineral-rich vegetables, fruits, meat, nuts, and beans as food sources, because they are so cheap and so easy. Since these grain-based processed foods have become staples in people’s diets, it’s no wonder our bones are soft.

Do not rely on milk for calcium and vitamin D.

Make an effort to eat vegetables rich in calcium, like broccoli, arugula, and kale. Eat fish for vitamin D. Americans eat (drink) lots of dairy (particularly milk) fortified with vitamin D, and it is not decreasing osteoporosis or hip fracture rates. Something is wrong with our dairy picture. I don’t know what it is.

All I know is that despite the theoretical idea that our dairy consumption should be working to decrease hip fractures, the dairy we Americans rely on for bone health is not working. So use most dairy as a treat and to make your food taste better, but make it a point to get your calcium and vitamin D from other sources too! Please.

Doctors need to start talking about vitamin K2 and people need to start getting it.

There’s a vitamin that you will hear more about over the years, and I hope as people start making it a point to eat sources with it, that it does help toward improving bone quality. It’s called vitamin K2, and it helps vitamin D and calcium do their jobs properly, which you know helps bone strength. It’s not the same as vitamin K1 (in green vegetables); it has different effects. You can get it in liver; egg yolks; some hard, aged cheeses; and some fermented foods. Please learn about vitamin K2 and find out how you can incorporate foods with it into your diet.

Conclusion

We are what we eat, and studies show increasing rates of hip fractures and osteoporosis. Alarmingly, my husband comes home from a surgical day and shares with me that he is now operating on healthy young athletes with weak, soft bones. This shouldn’t be. Please, I beseech you! Look at your lifestyle and your food. Let’s work together to reverse this health crisis in our nation. It’s not up to doctors or the government. It’s up to you! And I believe in you! I know you can do it! I know we can do it together! It’s a trickle effect.

“They” told you to eat low fat and skp egg yolks. “They” tell you to not go outside without sunscreen. “They” shorten or eliminate recesses from kids’ schedules. Listen. You know what you need to do. Eat real, whole food, including eggs and diverse, unprocessed cheeses that you like and tolerate. Stay away from anything that you don’t make at home. Move. Get outside. Smile. Laugh. Forgive.

You want to be healthy. You want kids to be healthy. The desire is there, now put the foundation under it! If you don’t, the scaffolding WILL crumble. In fact, it is crumbling, even now in our youth. Let’s get at it!

Terri F

 

 

 

 

Stop the Homeschool Tears and Yelling, Part 2

Scathing words. Hard crystal eyes. “It’s your fault, Mom. You asked for it. If I was in school, we wouldn’t have this problem. If you can’t teach me, you shouldn’t have homeschooled.”

Well. Huh. This isn’t going well. Accusing responses build loudly, sounding like a jackhammer in my head. Somewhere in the house I hear doors softly close as siblings retreat out of the fray. Do I take the bait? I know this path. It’s easy to follow.

Nope. Not this time. I’m done with that. I make a mental HARD STOP. Immediately. I am not a fish! I do not jump on dirty worms hiding nasty barbed hooks. It is my job to bring out the best in my four children. It is my job to bring out the best in myself as I bring out the best in my children. (So help me, God. Because I am going to need it.)

I have been homeschooling for ten years, and I love it. And I’ll tell you what! My kids do, too. We have had our moments, months, or even years. There have been maybe two or three times when I finally broke down, couldn’t think of another thing to try, and offered to send a child to school for classes. (It is my full intention to homeschool all four of my kids through high school, but I am not here to ruin my children’s lives. I am here to help them thrive, learn, and be the best they can be, inside and out.)

However, my children have always turned me down in the end. They decided they liked the homeschooling education and opportunities, and they wanted to find a way to work together. I know I am the adult here. I know I can find a way to understand the dynamics. I was gifted these human beings. In today’s post and in the last post, I explain some important thoughts that I consider to keep me from antagonizing my children.

The Reflection of Me I Refuse to See

I am consistently beginning to notice that when my kids irritate me as I teach them, it’s because I am looking at (often subdued) pieces of myself. Every time tears glisten in my children’s eyes, there’s a good chance I have provoked them because “Big Terri” (that’s me) is reliving “Little Terri’s” life and school inadequacies. I’m not teaching math or grammar anymore! I’m covertly “teaching” my child what I had to squash out of me (or call forth out of me) in order to “succeed” in school.

Be quiet. Sit down. Do math faster. Lose math facts chalkboard races again. Quit counting on your fingers; you’re too old for that. Stop talking. No whining. Pay attention. You’re a good reader, but not good enough for that class. That’s bad handwriting; look at Melanie’s. Be number one or nobody will care or notice. How can you be so smart and not be able to add fractions? You talk too much. You’re trying to learn German, and we’re working on spelling. We’ll spank you because strong enough to be an example.

These are voice loops from my school experience. (And the paragraph got way too long, so I took half of it out! Laugh till you cry! And I was a good student! What kind of voices do non-conforming adults carry in their school memories?) Anyhow, I see an awful realization:

My teachers and lessons have become my kids’ teachers and lessons nearly thirty years later!

So often, whatever it is that I am losing my temper about is really about me. I am looking at a piece of me or my life somehow. It can take me months to see that I am so angry because my child is:

  • doing something I do,
  • doing something I have done,
  • doing something I have been reprimanded for or embarrassed over,
  • or showing me a trait of mine that I have squashed down so deep in me that I don’t even know the struggle is there anymore.

When I finally do see how it is not my child that I am punishing, but me, I’m dumbfounded. It takes courage and curiosity to see it. I have asked my friends sometimes about traits that I see in my children and if I have any of that in me. “Hmm. Never seen that in you, Terri. You’re perfect.” Thank you, dear friends. I know perfection surrounds itself with good company.

I must see that I’m judging myself when I judge them.

Stuff a sock in your thoughts and compliment your child.

Kids thrive on accurate, TRUE praise. I have very high standards, so I begrudgingly compliment my kids about their schoolwork. It’s expected work. But I KNOW that my kids do better when I tell them, “Great job!” Or, “You’re really good in multiplication.” The hard thing is, compared to all that is stuffed in my brain, they’re, uh, well, honestly, they’re not good at reading, writing, and math.

Whoa. I know. It sounds horrible to read. But I subconsciously base my evaluation of my kids on my brain after successful completion of thirteen years of public school, five years of pharmacy school, four years of medical school, and a medical residency. Plus living over forty years.

So, yeah, stuff a sock in your thoughts, Terri. I have to consciously tell myself that I need to encourage and compliment my children each day in each area. Sometimes it feels fake and like flattery, but I know that’s because I am thinking about it from a brain that has been educated already.

I must compliment more.

Sit with them.

This is the hardest for me, actually. Strangely, it’s even harder than all the others! And it requires nothing.

Sit. (That’s hard.)

Sit. Quietly. (Oh, just give me a kidney stone already.)

I’ve got lunch to make and supper to plan. Laundry to fold. Bills to pay. Mom’s birthday coming up. Other kids’ lessons to teach. A four year old to pull away from the TV.

I don’t have time to sit here for thirty minutes, mostly in silence, just waiting for my child to move forward somehow. What sixty minutes now? What? Two hours? Are you kidding me? She has accomplished nothing and brought me down with her.

No! This won’t work! I need to show my student how to her work, hurry her along to show me she’s got it, and then move on. Check-box marked.

But homeschooling doesn’t work that way. When there are struggles, especially coming out in anger and tears, I have learned that I must sit quietly with my kids as they work. I must not ask inflammatory questions or hastily push them along. I must be there to help. Not degrade. When they’re mad at me and trying to explain themselves, I must not interrupt. I must not even interrupt their silence! I must sit in silence as they formulate their words, sometimes requiring long, long tens-of-minutes of silence. I must sit next to them as they struggle through math, keeping my voice and thoughts calm and focused on them.

I must sit in silence.

School is an Option

When I’ve exhausted everything, every opportunity, and I still feel like what I’m doing is making us both worse people, then, I ask the hard question. “Do you think you need to go to school to learn this? Would you and I be better together if you took this class, and others if it leads to that, at a school?”

There has come a point in which I knew my parent-child relationship was deteriorating due to homeschooling interactions. I knew that in a particular area in homeschooling, I was letting a child down. I knew that even though I was trying my best, I wasn’t doing a good job! And I told my child exactly this. I think because of my exceptional honesty, my child decided that whereas she had been unwilling to budge before, she wanted to try it again with both us trying even harder.

I must be willing to let go if I have to.

You Should Have Made Me Do It

When I meet resistance in my children, I usually stop and assess the situation. I make some tweaks and changes in what we’re doing to coax them along. I don’t usually just plow through and make them do things “because I said so.” I’m a very strong-willed person, and this is a sure-fire way to lose me; therefore, I am cautious to treat my children how I would like to be treated.

I recently was in combat with one of my older children who was pointing out that I had let her slide through a school subject in her younger years. (I had tried everything throughout the years, and it only created resentment and anger. So I put it off till I could put it off no longer.) I asked her now that she could look back, what should I have done? She said, “You should have just made me do it.” Sigh. Easy for her to say.

At select times, I must be willing to push my child past the point she thinks she’s capable of.

Conclusion

And there you have it. Since they were born, I see my children as PEOPLE with futures. I just got lucky enough that these people got put in my arms to tend. When yelling and tears happen, I step back and take inventory. WHAT can we do here? WHAT is REALLY happening here? WHAT am I missing? God gave me these people. Their His people. What does He want me to know about them? What does He want ME to know about ME?

Best wishes to you! Find a way!

Terri F