Thursday, March 24, 2011

2 Girls, 1 B ox

I took it upon myself to clean out a closet today.

Our tiny little house has only two coat-sized closets, and unfortunately, the closet in the girls' room is for storing things like the vacuum, linens, gift wrap, and my awesome stockpile of deodorant and bodywash. I have no idea what I will do when they become teenagers and demand more space. Hopefully we will have moved, but for now the deodorant is staying put!

The closet is getting out of control and it seems that every time I remember I need to do that task, someone is taking a nap in the bedroom. Sam was just poking around in there the other morning, huffing and puffing about how he couldn't find whatever it was he was looking for. He came out of the closet all crabby so I thought I should make it a priority to get the closet in tip-top shape. Nevermind the 50 loads of laundry in the family room that need washed, folded, and put away- I'm cleaning the closet.

What my oldest doesn't know is that inside of her closet is my gift reserve. I try to collect things when I find them on sale and have been chucking little trinkets in there for Easter, birthdays, Christmas, and what-not. All it would take is a quick peek in there for Ava to figure out who the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Santa are in one moment.

Total Devastation.

So I got started, wheeled out the vacuum, swiped the prizes out of the room before the girls noticed, and began to take inventory of my small deodorant mountain. Thankfully, we have enough deodorant, bodywash, razors, shampoo, and tampax to get us through a nuclear holocaust; just missing the bomb shelter. I also found golf balls, copy paper, and more gift bags than I dare admit/

I'm one of those people that hates to throw out a good gift bag. As long as it's not ripped or wrinkled and doesn't have someone else's name on it, then it is ok in my book. The part I really don't want to admit is that I also save the tissue (I know, I'm one old pumpkin away from being on hoarders. Did you see that episode? The rotting pumpkin lady? GR-ROSS!). I fold it up nice and neat and slip it in a little bag, that way I've got bags and tissue at the ready. You'll NEVER see me pay $3.99 for a gift bag! I was recycling when recycling wasn't cool.

So while I'm consolidating linens, making yet another pile of duvets and shams to give away, I turn around and here are my girls-

Ava had stopped momentarily from dumping build-a-bear workshop junk all over the floor to build a "trap" for the baby. She put her blanket over the top of the box and lured her in with hairbows. She's a smart cookie alright, because it only took a second for Lyla to stop emptying q-tips out of the box and come check out the shiny objects.

And before you know it, they're both in there having a blast, giggling, and mauling each other. It's moments like these that I am so happy we have two kids.

It would have been just me and a box if it were my childhood, I love that they have fun playing together.
Even if 15 minutes later Ava coaxed the baby onto the rocking chair, started rocking it like a rollercoaster, and set the box underneath to catch her head first.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Socialization and Homeschoooling

There was a new post over at The Pioneer Woman's blog today that got me all fired up thinking about homeschooling. The post was titled, "Do homeschoolers experience true socialization and academics?"
It was asking other homeschoolers take on the whole topic of socialization and homeschooling. Well, I have an opinion for sure, and I thought it would make a worthy post. So below is my little ditty on the whole thing.

“The idea that children need to be around many other youngsters in order to be ‘socialized,’” Dr. Moore writes, “is perhaps the most dangerous and extravagant myth in education and child rearing today.”

Read more on FamilyEducation: Social Skills and Homeschooling: Myths and Facts

I found this article several years ago when we were pregnant with our first child. Later, as my husband was finishing work on his senior project for his bachelor degree, this article came to mind again. He chose perceptions of homeschooling as his topic and we continually came over the socialization issue during his research (of course I helped, what good wife wouldn't?).

I had always planned to be a homeschooling mom, as I remember giving the speech to my husband before we were even married (that was his opportunity to flee). I have a cousin who homeschools, and she has been my greatest example of successful homeschooling. My husband was weary at first, but after a close friend raved about his child’s experience- he was sold (sometimes, it just takes another dude’s opinion).
We had to tackle the socialization issue as a married couple years before we even had children.
Once my in-laws got wind of our "great plans," they were very unsupportive. We experienced a lot of criticism for even considering the idea (we’re not equipped, disciplined, or able to provide what a school can, we are shielding them from the “real” world, over-protecting, etc). I’ve had to sit and bite my tongue through many jokes about having weird, socially inept, awkward, denim-clad, french-braided, homeschooled children. It kills me because these are their grandchildren they are making fun of!
As time has gone on, however, their acceptance has changed. But now I hear comments like “Well, we would have considered homeschooling if we couldn’t afford private school.” They still don’t see that our choice is not about being able to afford “better, private education,” rather the fact that we prefer homeschooling over ALL methods of primary education (Personally, I think my MIL's insecurities ride the line when we say that we are choosing homeschooling for our children. I think she feels that we are putting down the choice that she made for her own children). Not so.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, this article is about socialization. The greatest thing I've gleaned from it is that children are best socialized by their parents. And the research proves it! It points out that we are best taught by example, and really, I would rather my children learn from a life-experienced adult than thrown into a setting where they are learning form peers who are just as socially inexperienced at life as themselves. I want my children to learn how to treat others from our family’s moral perspective, not by the example of another kid’s reaction to life.

Also, while there is a teacher present, I would never depend on them to navigate my child through the murky waters of social discovery. Teachers are there to teach subjects such as math and reading. Teachers in the public education sector are very LIMITED by policy as to what is appropriate teaching regarding any sort of a moral compass. I think that socialization is primarily a part of parenting anyway, not a skill learned in school. It falls along the lines of etiquette and manners. Social situations (good or bad) are the perfect opportunity to explain biblical principles, and application is key in our children's education and faith!

Does this sound like something a classmate is capable of teaching your child?

It also points out the truth that in no other time during our lives will we be put in the same peer to peer age group as in public school. It shows that there is greater damage to healthy socialization skills in a large group setting fostering a “pack mentality” rather than a smaller setting where independent thinking and creativity is encouraged. My husband and I both attended public schools and are aware of the affects peer pressure can have on a kid.

I thought that I was on board with homeschooling before, but this article just solidified my stance.
Now I see that public school is actually the untraditional method of schooling. Previously, children were schooled at home and in smaller groups. It has been within the last 100 years that schooling has evolved into what it is now. With the industrial revolution, long work days, travel time, and both parents to work, public school has become the norm; but it is hardly “traditional” at all.