Showing posts with label homeschool. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homeschool. Show all posts

Dazzled

A had her first day of Iowa testing today.  It took place in a church with a bunch of other homeschooled kids.  I helped out as an assistant proctor.  The kids were so great that they inspired this Facebook status:

"Helping to supervise the Iowa Test,  Homeschooled children continue to dazzle me with their good behavior and excellent manners."



I've dealt with kids all my life.  I always liked them and wanted to work with them.  As a teen I babysat, nannied, and worked in a daycare.  When I got older I was a youth counselor.  When A was a baby and toddler I helped head up a playgroup and those little ones were great.

Then school started.

Volunteering in classrooms, scouts,  and seeing some classmates outside of school gave me a different perspective on kids.  I wasn't really sure I generally liked kids anymore.  I now liked only some kids.

I honestly feel disrespected by most children these days.  When I state a rule or request a behavior I get snickers or disobedience.  I am not talking about from my own kids, this is from other people's kids!  When I lead an activity, I get eye rolling and insubordination.  This is not from everyone, but there are always one or two (or three).

I remember one time A's kindergarten teacher asked me to watch the class while she had a meeting.  There were kids standing up on their desks and throwing paper.  Yes, it was a little funny and, yes, I got them under control, but it just shows you how much times have changed!  I would not have dared to do the things I see kids do today!

In the public school preschool a kid hit the teacher and was shipped off to "behavior school."  First grade was peppered with stories of daily meltdowns and tantrums.  By second and third grade there were fist fights and violent threats.

At school functions if a tray of snacks was placed on a table a few kids would run up and fill their hands with all the food so that nobody else could have any.  Once at an elementary school dance, I had to stop some kids from jumping out of the bathroom window (it was the first floor- but still).  Kids have come to my home and stolen things or rummaged through my cabinets and drawers as if they own this house.  Other people's kids expect me to take them places and buy them things with some sort of strange sense of entitlement.

No, I was not sure I liked kids anymore.  I only liked certain kids.

However, this year reminded me that I do still like children.  Seeing the good behavior of the kids in the homeschool band, even the younger siblings who have nothing to do but wait quietly, gives me new found faith in child-kind.  Observing friendly children at park meetups warms my heart.  Today at Iowa testing to have kids listen, sit quietly, and speak with perfect manners, solidified the rediscovery of my love of children.  Every kid I talked to today had engaging stories, unique interests, and a good heart to share.  All the students had books with them and every book was age appropriate.  Nobody argued or tried to manipulate to take a break when it was not break time.  Nobody whined or fussed.  When they were let out for a breather they all returned on time with no big scenes or destruction in the hallways.  I was truly amazed.

Some people think of homeschoolers as being overly religious and unsocialized.  Well, if that is the case then sign me up for ten more years because their results are much better than the alternative.

Again, not saying all schooled kids are bad.  As I said, there are always just a few that seem to ruin things for the others.  But the keyword here is always.

While the kids were taking their tests I pondered why the homeschoolers were so different.  I also thought about what was different today from when I was a kid that seems to have made schooled kids display more issues.

What I came up with was this:

1) There are more families where both parents work which means less family time for kids.  A lot of children go to before and after care plus school and often they are in daycare from a really early age as well. When they do get home there is not much time before bed and in that time parents are usually bogged down with things to do or with technology.  Without that family interaction maybe certain social graces come up empty.  Think about it.  Where are you going to become better socialized:  A) In an institutional like setting where you are one among many wild children being shuffled from place to place and told what to do, where you have to fight for your share and for your turn, or B) At home working one on one with a parent with the freedom to be yourself?  At home you're being guided by an elder, having conversations where you are fully listened to, learning from example, feeling always loved and cherished.  There is also no fear of bullies or feelings of injustice at home (usually). 

2) Technology is probably the biggest difference in childhoods when comparing past to present.  I did watch a lot of TV as a kid, but I also have a lot of memories of being outside in the woods, riding my bike, and exploring nature.  Outside you connect to something real.  You find creatures, you feel mud under your nails, you build bridges across creeks, and you attempt to climb trees.  These experiences affect specific parts of the developing brain.  Using a tablet and a DS affect different parts.  My kids do both of these things.  I have to say that I see a decline in mood and behavior when they play too much Minecraft or watch too much TV. They get edgy and then I ban them from screens for a while.  My personal,  un self-educated opinion is that if kids are spending more time connected to a computer or game than to people and nature, then they are going to behave differently, maybe have less empathy, maybe think differently, maybe feel more disconnected.

3) There is less religion/ spirituality (at least around here, I hear other parts of the US are different).  I am not as religious as most other homeschoolers I know, but I am very spiritual.  I raise my kids Catholic as I was raised, but teach them about all religions and try to instill some meditation, some lessons in karma, some nature loving, and more as we go.  I also tell them what is right and what is wrong.  I praise them for doing nice things and helping others and I correct them when I see them act selfish or rude.

I know when I worked with people in recovery that I was taught that they simply had to have a higher power.  It wasn't an option.  They would not be able to get through life and maintain a better lifestyle without this.  It did not matter what the higher power was, there just had to be one.  I believe this, too, not just for recovery but for life in general.  Nobody can go around thinking that they themselves are the end all and be all to everything.  The world does not revolve around us and we aren't that special.  This does not have to be a dog eat dog world where everyone is out for themselves.  It should be a world of kindness and sharing.  Somehow that perspective has to get across.  When I was a kid, everyone in school had a religion.  We'd talk about it and compare. Nobody would have dared to say that they did not believe at all, at least not in elementary school. That would have been shocking!  Of course, when we got older it was different.  Older kids question and have conflicts over their faith and the moral codes instilled in them.  I think that is healthy and all part of the process, but I believe it's necessary to have something there in the first place to even be questioned and reevaluated.  Without any sense of right or wrong and a respect for something bigger than yourself all you have is a sense of "how to get what I want." Sadly, I hear a lot of kids today say that they do not believe in anything.  Not God, not Allah, not the Universe, not a Higher Consciousness, just nothing.  I see their parents always pushing them to "hurry up and get in the front of the line."  "Hurry and get over there and make sure you get your goodie bag, snack, or free gift."  They're saying, "Screw everyone else, you just make sure YOU get YOURS."

I guess most people's higher power these days is money: Money to buy stuff and all kids want "stuff," mine included.  The media does this to them and maybe we do to if we use bribery certain kinds of reward systems. But it's our job to tell them that things are not what they really want, that things are not the way to happiness or peace.  It's our job to instill in them a higher purpose than "making a lot of money someday."  School is not going to do this. There is even brand messaging showing up in tests and curriculum now!  Why do we even tell kids they should go to school?  I think many of us make the same mistake: Instead of saying, "So you can make the world a better place." or "So, you can enrich your life," we say, "So you can go to college and get a good job and make a lot of money someday."  I know I'm guilty of this!

"Okay time's up!  Put down your pencils and close your test booklet."

I'll have to ponder more another time....

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