Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Doubts and Discoveries Along the Way

About 3 years into our home school adventure, I began to tear myself apart when my youngest daughter did not know how to multiply fractions. Was I failing my kids? Shouldn't they know everything their traditionally schooled friends know?  Are they falling behind? 

Then my high school aged daughter (who was an advanced public school student) said, "Mom, I learned how to mulitply fractions when I was in public school, and I don't remember how." 

And my daughter who is a college graduate (and was an advanced public school student) said, "Mom, I learned how to multiply fractions in middle school, high school, AND college. And... I don't remember how to."

Then, I giggled, remembering that I, who was an advanced student all throughout my twelve years of public education, also learned how to multiply fractions, and no longer remembered how to.  

Don't get me wrong. This doesn't mean I don't think there is value in learning how to multiply fractions.  It just means what we don't use, we lose, and even public education does not ensure those skills be used and retained.  I stopped beating myself up, and started focusing on the skills which would be used by each of my children throughout the life they each choose to lead. If one of my children exhibits a deep interest in complicated math, I will make sure we find the program needed to fulfill that interest. In the meantime, I do expose them to multiplying fractions and other skills they will probably forget next year. But I don't lose sleep over them forgetting. 

One of the overwhelming benefits of homeschooling is that I can actually narrow things down to what my kids are actually interested in pursuing. I don't have to teach a large group of children a vast amount of information, hoping I touch upon a little something that sparks something within. I know my children's interests, and can help them dig deeper, rather than scratch the surface of countless things, which they will never pursue, and will soon forget.

My kids might not learn everything their friends learn. They may not learn some things in the same way. But they are learning. They are also loving the process, learning life skills, and implementing those skills.

Last week, my 16 year old son shared some interesting historic information. I told him I was really impressed he knew that. His sister was quick to blurt out, "He learned that from a video game!" as if that discredited his  knowledge.  I told her that when I was in school, I got all of my information for every report from our family's encyclopedia set. In the year 2018, I would venture to guess that about half of that information is outdated, has been updated, revised, thrown out, or just plain old proven wrong. I've also discovered many of my teachers had a very bias presentation of our history lessons. Is this a planet? Is that a continent? How many flippin' world wonders are there? Why was that Civil War fought again? Are we really always the heroes? Not to mention we're still debating whether the Vikings or Christopher Columbus discovered a continent already discovered and inhabited for centuries.

Where my children get their information from is not as important to me as the fact that it sparks their desire to learn more, delve more, cross-check stories and sources, etc. Video game? Encyclopedia? Google? The elderly woman next door? All good places to start. It's where we go from there that matters.

And not for nothing... But we paid over $100.00 to visit the "Vikings Begin" museum exhibit last week, and my video game loving son was more knowledgeable about Viking history, lore,  and mythology than the tour guide.

I still doubt myself some days. But I am confident that my children are intelligent, imaginative, confident, compassionate, well-rounded, emotionally strong, and skilled. It is my job to keep them motivated, challenge their limits and interests, and introduce other subjects along the way. 

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