The following are some thoughts that were triggered in the last week. They run the gamut of topics so I won't try to group them. It has just been one of those weeks when all sorts of thoughts are stirred up.
We had our first full week of sunshine in a long long time. It was wonderful. I had started to forget what it was like. Once again we were able to go for walks (the neighbors tell me they think of them more as parades). We managed to get three walks in this week. I would have done two more except for appointments that disarranged the other two days. We did get some time for play in the backyard too... once the ground dried out for a few days. The kids and I always feel more energized and happy when we get some outside time.
through the years I have been thinking more and more that we need time outside among growing things. We need to become familiar with the land and sky. We need to acquaint ourselves with plants and wild life. We need to learn the ways of weather. It is when we learn more about these things that we become more acquainted to the God who made them. When we learn more about God and his creation, we start to understand the ways of God and how the world really works. When we isolate ourselves from nature in man made buildings, grouped into man made cities, doing man made jobs, for man made reasons, we start to lose our grasp on the character of God. We lose our grasp on reality and lose perspective on what is really important. Now I will agree that these man made things are useful and in many ways necessary for our survival. But they are not all there is and they can lead us to destruction if we don't open our eyes to that which was not made by man.
One day this week I took the kids for a playdate with friends while I had a dentist appointment. It was scheduled for our most productive time of day so I just let the kids have the day off from school. They loved that too. In some ways I got some time off too, but I noticed that most of the day was chaotic and the place turned into a big mess. I keep rediscovering that whenever we have a schedule or even a general plan for the day, everything goes much more smoothly and needed things get accomplished. But, every time that I let schedules or plans go out the window, nothing much gets accomplished at all. I even think the kids don't get to have as much fun in some ways. They get caught up in minor issues instead of the things that are more important to them. They end up never getting around to the stuff they said that they wanted to do. This theme keeps recurring enough that I'm tempted to go to a more year-round schedule than what we currently have. The main reason I haven't is because I have a tendency to over-schedule myself. I need the extra time to deal with days lost along the way for appointments, sickness, or other unplanned events. I need the time to consider what worked and what needs to come next. I need a break to get ready for doing it all again, even if the kids tend to get a bit chaotic. I guess I'll just have to give the kids a basic non-school day schedule to give them their needed structure.
Today, we had the Pillowfight Fairy's main evaluation to determine if she has Asperger's Syndrome. The preliminary answer to that is "no." But the evaluation was useful, because it did determine where she is having communication and social issues that can be improved upon. We will probably be investigating how to best integrate some extra training into her school schedule next year. And for those who are always questioning homeschooling's ability to properly socialize individuals, our daughter's issues are not the result of homeschooling. We know this because her siblings do not have these issues even though they are growing up in a homeschooling environment just like their sister. Rather these issues are individual to her and would be there whether she were homeschooled or attended a traditional school. In fact, it is her differences early on that convinced us that public school or even an institutional private school would be inappropriate for her. And it is her differences now, that made us wonder if there was something more specific that needed to be addressed. I like that we have the flexibility to find our way and follow the path that our daughter needs to go along. I like that we as her parents can weigh our options and determine what seems best for her, rather than trying to fit her into someone else's idea of how she should be educated.
I find it interesting that although we started homeschooling to fit the needs of our eldest daughter, we discovered that it fit the needs of the whole family, too. The only drawback I see to our homeschooling is the great effort that is needed to get it done. I don't say this to mean that I regret it. Homeschooling is one of the most challenging and yet rewarding things that I have ever done. I just keep coming back to the feeling that other people would also benefit from homeschooling, but they are afraid of the challenge and the work. Yes it is a lot of work. It requires discipline. It requires sacrifices in time, money, and numberless daily choices. But like the farmer working his land or the musician practicing his instrument or the businessman trying to succeed in his career, good results only come if you put in the work that is needed. I think if you asked any teacher they would probably tell you they wished their students, students' parents and everyone in the education process put in a 100% effort into the lives of their students. It would make a marvelous difference. We are nearing the end of another year of school and I am feeling drained and overworked. But I also can see the progress made and the good work done. It came little by little and day by day, but all of the work was worth it.
I broke down and joined facebook this week. Now that I'm in the inside, I can see how useful it is to help people manage their contacts. After only three days, I'm already starting to see how different people use it in different ways. I can also see how people can abuse it and how some people can have it become an addiction in their lives. I'm finding some of my library training is coming into use. After all, facebook manages information. People have to be wise about how they present their own information and wise about how they use other people's information. There are a lot of people out there who are not wise. By the way, if you want to be my friend on facebook, you will need to be my friend off the computer first.