Monthly Archives: March 2014

How I Used to Have a Paid Job

A long, long time ago, in a not so distant galaxy I used to have a job. That paid. It was a lovely bank job, using furniture that was not duct taped, enjoying the latest in technological devices, all with a boss that thanked me for my hard work. Then there was the money I received, every week! And the health insurance, retirement plans, vacation time and sick days. There was opportunity for advancement and reimbursement for educational costs.

So how the heck did I get here – sitting on a chair with ripped upholstery, using a pc who’s operating system will self-implode in exactly 9 days? It’s not like I don’t work. I work very hard at my jobs of parenting, homeschooling, community volunteering, coaching robotics and lactation counseling, not to mention house, yard and lately even road work. I don’t get paid a cent for any of it. Does that mean my work is undervalued? Am I receiving an appropriate compensation plan?

Here’s how I view  it. I can look at my kids and see intelligence, integrity and good health. That is absolutely the best benefit package I can imagine. I see my 11-year-old son tirelessly mentoring his robotics club, my 9-year-old-daughter helping out as a mother’s helper for our neighbors, and my 9-year-old son blossoming as a humble athlete. If I can ignore the lack of new material goods in my home; if I can forget about a vacation and try to remember that I live in vacationland; if I can just look my kids in the eye and know I did my best, then it’s better than any paycheck I ever received.

 

Restricting Video Games – Yes or No?

There’s been a lot of buzz about video games lately.  Are they good for kids or bad? Much information can be found online regarding the hazards of gaming (for example: increased rates of obesity, musculoskeletal issues, vision impairment, etc.) and just as much data touting the benefits (see relaxation, enhanced problem-solving skills and improved vision, etc.). It seems here there is huge gray area.

At home I have come to restrict video games pretty tightly.  Unschoolers may tell me that I am not respecting and trusting my child to regulate their own video games usage.  I understand that the more respect and trust the better.  But I am simply not able and/or willing to make the leap of faith to offer anytime video games to my kids.

My feeling about video gaming and children is this: The more time spent staring in to a screen, the less time my kids are interacting with every other environment other than that screen. Some may argue that video games are interactive, that they can be played with friends (or strangers for that matter) so that they have learning and social value. I feel that learning, coupled with movement and strengthening real life social bonds, is more important and beneficial.

My kids play video games twice per week, about 2 1/2 hours each in total and they always play together. Currently they play the Lego Chima game on a pc. We don’t have any other gaming devices. Each time after they are done I notice a change in their behavior. And you know what? They notice it, too. Here’s some of their comments when asked what it’s like directly after gaming:

“My brother is very hyper.”

“We don’t get along together as well and also my sister seems cranky.”

“It is hard to stop mostly because we’re in the middle of it. And there’s no time that you could stop, it’s endless.”

“There’s more teasing directly afterward.”

“I think they’re so addicting that after you play them we nag and nag our Mom for more video game time.”

“I usually watch my brothers start a cushion fight, or something like that.”

“Once we’re at the top level, I’m going to take a break from playing them and just build them instead.”

So I try my best to trust and value my kids’ opinions and we all agree that helping them restrict video games is important.  Except when my daughter says, “I think we should get more video game time whenever we want, especially me”!

 

5 Reasons Why Homeschooling is Hard

  1. Teaching our own kids is NOT the same as teaching someone else’s kids. Not to mention that most of us are not trained teachers (though several homeschooling families I know have a teacher in the family). Still, it’s not the same. Kids have a natural ability to tune out their own parents so homeschoolers have to recognize this and provide an interesting and dynamic environment while learning to take nothing personal.
  2. People may think you’re a freak. You may have already endured this conversation-ender, “Where do your kids go to school?”/”We homeschool.” Many people just don’t know what to say to this. Are they wondering if we are religious zealots? Over-controlling? Lazy? We don’t know. We’re just trying to make the best of things, like every one else. But facing the fact that homeschoolers are a minority may make it easier for us to cope, because most people just have no idea about homeschooling. Surrounding yourself with other homeschoolers can make us feel a little less freakish.
  3. The majority of homeschoolers in my experience are operating on one-half the average income with one parent at home. These families are still paying the same taxes as everyone else for public schooling, AND paying out of pocket for all homeschooling expenses. This financial part can be a huge strain.
  4. All the energy in our brains gets completely sucked out each and every day. I’m not sure how else to word this phenomenon but I do know that homeschooling should only be tried at home with a vigorous stress-management regimen included. Extra rest, optimum nutrition, fitness and relaxation techniques can give us the energy to pump up our brains again for the next day.
  5. It never ends. It’s a lifestyle, right? We don’t stop homeschooling our kids on the weekends. There are still the endless questions, discussions, and learning environments to be tended 24/7.

Like every parent we have challenges to face and it’s important to recognize and honor our ‘different-ness’ and take care of our needs. Then we can be the kind of parent we want to be, and be happy to live the life we want.

Homeschooling Memories – Spring 2012

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s the second week of March and we’ve had a brutal winter. With more snow and cold weather in our forecast, I thought it would be a good time to remind folks of another March day, back in 2012 when temperatures reached 80º F. A group of local homeschoolers headed for Lamoine Beach (one of the many benefits of homeschooling is the unexpected field trip). So there we were, white as ghosts each one of us, with our bathing suits, sunscreen, beach blankets and frisbees enjoying a mid-week day frolicking in the ocean. Actually, it was more like frolicking BESIDE the ocean, as we quickly learned the waters of the Atlantic were beyond bone-numbingly cold. The kids remedied the situation by building ‘hot tubs’ in the sand. They dug and dug and filled the holes with ocean water, which warmed easily in the sun. I wonder how other homeschoolers in the Northeast enjoyed that freak-of-nature hot spell in March of 2012……….