Thursday, August 27, 2015

All Children are Homeschooled

During my big angsty time spent reading everything I could find about schooling ( at home or otherwise) I read a book called "Going Public"  by David and Kelli Pritchard.  Its a fantastic book if you are thinking about where to send your kids for school ( or not) and provides an example of a large Christian family who wanted to disciple their kids in the Christian faith but also chose for their kids to attend public school.

One quote of theirs when asked why they didn't homeschool their children ( i.e weren't they worried their kids would pick up all sorts of bad behaviors or be disadvantaged academically), they answered "we do! everyone does!" "Some just do it more than others".

I somewhat agree with this statement, and of course if it is said as a defence for not homeschooling its not something I am going to press home. No one can parent your kids for you, if your child struggles with a subject, your intervention and help is more important than the teacher's, even if it is the teacher who helps them grasp even numbers, your attitude, encouragement and cooperation is essential.

However, I also find myself squirm a bit when I hear this statement, because although all parents teach their children more than any other person at most stages of their life, homeschooling... I have to tell you, is different.

Now, I am not a teacher or school basher, or a 'homeschooling is everything' person, but I chose to do it for distinct reasons, some of them are because I think it is better for my family.  Now, this is not the place where you need to convince me that school is good.  I'm sure its fine, just not for us.  Just like you may choose not to do zumba, but you like crossfit, or you hate eggs but love chicken.  Its not about a personal attack on you, which is what often these discussions can turn into when we say it is just...different.

When you homeschool, there is no-one to give you a report of how your child behaved at school, you observe it in all its horrendous glory at a local park, when they push a child off the swing or shout at them with the volume and intensity of a wind tunnel.  There is no-one to tell you your kid is dyslexic,  gifted, aggressive, or struggling with a concept, you are there *dealing with ALL of it, ALL the time*.

 Its painfully true when you have a streaming cold but your five year has decided they want to tackle a reader aimed two years older than they are and doggedly pushes through learning to sound out and read words like "en-vi-ous" and "scam-per-ing". Its exhaustingly true when the science area out the back needs cleaning, and you have no lab assistant.  Its disappointingly true when you are not only the mum, but the chef, shopper, acting coach, an extra in every play, the designer of building projects, reading teacher, science teacher, phys ed coach and nutritionist.

Its also wonderfully true when you get to see your children master a new skill in your very presence, or your child automatically starts craft time and create something with some straws, an egg carton and rubber bands and its still true when you are the one who gets asked the tricky questions and you find them out, together.

So yes, there is no one right way to educate your kids.  But we aren't *really* all homeschooling.  I'm not saying homeschooling is the only way or even the best way, but it is a different way and it has different stresses.  There is no school run or lunchboxes ( well only sometimes) and there are no uniforms to iron, projects to complete the night before, costumes to make, forms to sign, school is also a challenge but they are different challenges.  The real commonality between it all is that we are ALL parents and all want the best for our kids, we just choose different ways to do that.

So, still friends?? :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Single Parenting

When the husband is away, as long as I have the luxury to, I like to drop all my usual commitments and really try and work with the kids on doing what we all want to do to make it special.  Daddy is away so we can go to maccas and have an ice cream, before playing in the darkened play area in their jammies right before bed.  It gives it all a holiday feel but it has its drawbacks. When daddy returns we need to slot back into routine and he might be too busy to give them the attention they crave, and I am children-ed out and need time alone.

I am an ambivert, or something, I love chatting to people, and crave adult chats but I would happily spend days at home, reading, pottering, cooking and disappearing into my room.  If the kids are happily engaged, this works a treat, if not, it turns into a house of stress and tension where I just hanker for some time along.  The the more I surreptitiously sneak it, the more my five year old torments her brother to extract me.  Or the more my 3 year old seeks me out and asks me to build an Octopod for his sylvanians.

My solution for this is first to give in for 10-15 minutes in the hope that they get engaged and I become unnecessary for their building or play.  The second is to go out, we go out alot. We drive to a place for a nature walk, or to a museum, or the wild life park.  With music playing in the car, the kids reading a book or drawing on a sketchpad or making up a song, I can snatch a whole half hour in my head.  Then, when I do get there, I have my thermos of rooibos and my book, so hopefully another snatched ten minutes ( in 1-2 minute lots sometimes) depending on their on how much I need to intervene with pushing on swings, preventing breakages or resolving disputes.

Reading aloud can be tiring and hard on the voice but I read 'The BGF' to the kids for half an hour today and for those minutes they were completely mesmerised and happy, before started climbing over me and doing somersaults on the couch.  Then I read two more chapters anyway, they were mostly upside down or wedged on my shoulder, but they could still listen.

Great thing about homeschooling, the kids don't need to sit still, be vertical or even the right way up, their ears and eyes still work upside down after all.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Travel Blog

I am briefly reviving this very neglected and confused blog for the purposes of reflecting on this particularly stressful time in my life.  Perhaps I should say *exciting* rather than stressful?

Luke is in the thick of a bunch of crazy busy-ness.  He is writing multiple essays for his presbyterian studies with Christ College, Sydney.  He is preaching weekly for Montrose, a series in Mark which he is writing for the first time.  Lastly, we are flying to two separate locations in two weeks to interview for Luke to be their minister - a process I don't fully understand but involves preaching, meeting the elders and answering questions and spending some social time with the congregation and in the area.

The first interview is in Horsham, a 1 hour flight to Melbourne and 3.5 hour drive from there.  The second is in the Atherton tablelands, a 2 hour flight to Sydney, 3 hour wait and then another 3 hour flight from Sydney to Cairns, followed by a 1.5 hour drive to Atherton.

Luke's Sydney trip is fairly common for us, he has been doing them to attend intensives since I was pregnant with Solomon, who is 2 now.  It was hairy when he was a newborn and I found them unbearably stressful and glad when they were done, now I have found a rhythm and the children enjoy the greater flexibility and increased mummy time ( and screen time ;)).

The other trips are entirely new, I have not flown with kids in tow since our first was 5-6 months old! I am excited, our kids are at a good age to enjoy things, a nap is not strictly necessary, they like to learn new things and they are good friends who play well together mostly.  On the other hand, not sleeping in cars and therefore on planes will probably mean cranky/overtired small people with relentless questioning and need for entertainment.

Gearing up for being 'needed' a lot, but also looking forward to being somewhere new.  Glad to not have to keep the home fires burning, my usual role, but knowing I will still need to miss conversations or other enjoyable things in strange homes that belong to other people while I take care of the kids so Luke can focus on the interview.

Praying for a good attitude, a good imagination and tired kids that conk out at the end of the day.:)

Also, in the immortal words of Wayne in Wayne's World -  "Fishy ears!!!!!"

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Christians and Discernment

I am a research assistant for a dental researcher.  While seeking to learn more about informatics and data mining, my boss said he was skeptical about data mining as he felt that people sometimes just 'punch in the numbers and believe anything that falls out the bottom'.

Now, librarians are all about using data properly, so this misconception struck me as important.  If we are using data 'science' and retrieving data and packaging it, we may expect that whatever we find is 'right' and true. However, data science does not work in isolation.  Mined data is not more intelligent that surveyed data just because it is mined and collected by intelligent systems, it still takes an intelligent brain ( or more importantly, a well trained brain) to assimilate that data and use it wisely.  If there are 'unscientific' people in research devouring data without the skills to digest and understand it, this is a real problem.  Intelligence is more than receiving, remembering and regurgitating data, it is critically assessing, analysing, questioning and applying data appropriately in a given context.

Bachelor students can be guilty of only learning 'whats on the exam', not learning for the sheer joy and enrichment of learning.  Learning to think takes more than attending lectures and reading course notes.  It takes an imaginative, innovative approach to the information they receive.

Christians, too, can be guilty of this failure.  1 Corinthians talks about wise and foolish people, intelligent people are frustrated by the gospel, its very simplicity and lunacy does not require great intelligence to understand - it is for everyone.

However the wisdom of the Holy Spirit is with every Christian, and it is the Christians' responsibility to wrestle with, analyse, enjoy and digest Christian teaching.  Acts says they 'devoted themselves to the apostles teaching'.  They could not wait to be together, to hear preaching, to discuss how to serve God in their lives, to share their griefs and joys.

The Bereans listened to the apsotle Paul's teaching and tested and analysed the scriptures to make sure that what Paul said made sense. They did not just give up their Jewish lifestyles, wholus bolus, at the first mention of Jesus.  They tested his claims against scriptures, and I imagine their joy in receiving Jesus was even greater as a result of it.

We can be guilty of going to church to 'have our batteries recharged' and sit in the pews, absorbing preaching into our cells like anenomies, instead of seeking out Christians afterwards to break down and digest the meal we give thanks for.  Some churches also unwittingly fall into a 'complacent acceptance is next to godliness' model where the preacher or elders are sensitive about feedback, criticism or challenge, rather than letting discussion be promoted by the teaching they provide.

Of course, we must also be wary of a congregation that continually complains about the kind of food they get dished up, like children who were hoping for pizza and got apricot chicken (again).  Yet turning a wary and fussy church member into a lover of vegetables will not be achieved through giving a double helping and refusing to explain what the funny looking green bits are.

I pray that church members grow in loving discernment and delectation of the gospel, all the better to share it boldly and lovingly, being confident that it is so very good and worth enjoying again and again with everyone who will receive it.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Lovely Bones

'The Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold has been on my list to read for some time.  I had read a review that intrigued me but I thought that it might also irritate or upset me so in the end I didn't make a big effort to find it.  Finding it in Shiploads for $3 made it less effort to pick it up than leave it on the shelf.


Unwisely, I began this novel at around 8pm in the evening, I tried to start earlier, but my children can sniff out mummy enjoying something they cannot very quickly and I managed less than half a page from the afternoon.  Despite sensibly going to bed around 9:30, I was still unable to put it down until around 11, around which time the emotions stirred up by the story were still charging through me and sleep was unthinkable.

Despite my intentions for an early night, I got up and devoured the rest of the book, gulping it a little too fast to deliberate over the latter chapters, as at this stage I was eager to get a little sleep. Spectres of the well drawn characters hovered around my mind until I managed to cleanse them away by googling technical facts about the filming of the story by Peter Jackson.

Although the structure and narration is not necessarily unique stylistically, I found myself completely drawn in by the story of a young girl, raped and murdered and in a ghostly presence, watching her beloved family and despised murderer living out their lives over the next years. She watches somewhat dispassionately, although at times she mentions her love or hate. We see details of the murderer's history as mildly as we see our heroine's back story, building up to who she is, although more than the sum of her parts.

It is a philosophical novel, a secular, semi moralised meta comment on evil, justice and human nature.  It is a visceral and wistful exploration of sensations; of the emotions, mind and body.  As the title suggests, the novel is concerned with the fate of her body, her blood leaves its mark in places, traces of her bones mark her story, and a few meagre traces of the lively, imaginative and precious girl she was are discarded or treasured by her destroyer at his whim. As with Abel, what has happened cannot fade away, despite the murderer's cover up.  Her blood cries out from the ground. Is justice achieved? Where does she go?  How does the rest of the family's stories conclude?  Am I satisfied by the resolution?  What of God? Is He watching?

This book is not for those who are disturbed by explicitly violent content, I am not usually one who can tolerate such scenes, but the righteous anger at the event fuels the story and guides the reader, like a helpless detective, to watch the story as it plays out, praying and longing for justice.