Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Things I Think About When Alone In The House

Tonight I am single parenting. It has been a very long time since Brian has worked late or not been around in the evenings. Tonight he is being wined and dined and entertained. He is in the middle of the third period as we speak at the Sens game in Ottawa courtesy of the company that holds his contract. It is definitely a special occasion as they have never done anything like this for the guys before. I really hope they (his 3 co-workers and the contract manager) have a great time.

Today we managed 2 consecutive hours of school work. That is not including our reading. For those curious, and not in any particular order, each math subtraction facts to practice their proficiency; Kori finished the chapter work of the current chapter of her literature study (dictionary work, synonyms, parts of speech, crossword puzzle, opinion questions, characterization); we read one chapter of her book out loud; Rai silently read 2 Robert Munsch books (woohoo! he's reading!!); we read and discussed "The Making of The Paper Bag Princess" together as Kori is interested in the book-making process; Raiden did a page of printing (I figured it was about time he learned to spell his 3-syllable very German last name). During lunch I read 2 chapters of Farmer Boy and we looked at pictures of Almanzo and Laura Wilder on the internet. Kori spent the better part of an hour planning and cutting out the paper pieces required for the name tags she is making for her GirlGuide Hallowe'en party. Raiden and I spent some time doing logic puzzles ( Nonograms ) before bed. Kori went to swimming lessons with Nanny tonight as I am car-less.

We are looking forward to Brian's mom and her husband coming to visit tomorrow. As well, we are going to try to catch the storytelling at the local library. An Algonquin storyteller is going to share some stories and legends of his culture. Of course, I have high hopes of fitting in a house-clean, the school work and whatever else that is bound to crop up.

A friend mentioned to me this week that she is attending school with her son because the teacher says he can't focus and he figits. I also was reminded of my days in the classroom: I frequently heard "Bonni needs to stop chatting and should improve her listening skills". It is so hard to discuss my opinions or the situation in general as one of a couple of things are bound to happen. First, I am discredited as I know nothing about the current issues affecting the classrooms, the teachers, the students as I have no part in that as a homeschooler. Or second, I come off as being a big snot for bragging about my most wonderful and ideal set-up as a homeschooling family. It is really discouraging to think that these kids are being expected to go way above and beyond their abilities, to be little adults, to fit into the cookie cutter. It just seems so glaringly obvious that not everyone is going to do well in a sit-down-and-do-this environment. I know that teachers don't have a lot of space/time/resouces/magic to work miracles....but could some common principles not be adhered to consistently??? I guess there are so many things working against institutional education today that the smaller class sizes, better teacher:student ratios and the like are just not possible.

I see the same sort of problems in Rai's Beaver group. Out of the 12 boys, two don't show up regularly, two can't sit still/listen/behave, one is so loud it is painful and disruptive, one is too shy. Two are dropped off early and the same two are picked up late. These are the same two that never have parents present for any of the activities. The three leaders are forever trying to include everyone, keep them all safe and engaged, remind boys of the rules...multiple times, lead activities, wait for everyone to be paying attention, re-doing parts of the opening/closing to get it right, finding shoes, parts of uniform, coats and newsletters and then trying to get home to their families on time. I can't image a lone teacher with 25-30 students for six hours a day.

I wish society was more accomodating at times. If parents were able to take their kids to work or work an accomodating schedule, I wonder how many of them would simply yank their kids out of the system. Just to keep them safe and protected. I'm not even thinking about homeschooling them yet. Just take them out of school so they can save their children's self confidence and preserve their personality. I'm sure it must be very tempting to some...I'm sure for some kids it would be the best thing. After my public school experience (I unwillingly provided many young girls many hours of sadistic enjoyment) I can safely say that it will not make them stronger and it may come close to killing them. I wish that I had my act more together and was at a different place in my life when I hear stories of a parent's frustration and worry for their schooled child. I would love to be able to have the kids here to crash on the couch, to choose which math page to print, to pick up and go to the library with when the mood strikes. To learn to make scrambled eggs and bacon because that's what they feel like for lunch, to learn to divide 12 into threes and fours because you need to cut strips of paper for an art project, to teach the dog a trick, to play Dance-Dance-Revolution and really get what they mean when they talk about rhythm, beat and cadence. But we can't have our cake and eat it too. I guess I have to be content with the fact that there are parents out there that are an advocate for their children. I am glad for the parents that pull their kid just to make a point (ok, and to save them from the playground torture) until a situation is resolved. I would hazard a guess that even frequent interruptions in the school year are not going to negatively affect a child. In fact, I would wager that the child will understand the situation better and return to school better equipped after a day with mom. And there we are...back to the family. It is the family that should be a child's greatest influence - not the three other kids that your desk is mashed up against. Some kids are blessed with strong, outspoken, protective parents that are not afraid to explain, coach and lead their kids through life's tangles. These are the kind of parents that are going to override the classroom clutter. I wish there were more out there like that. It is the kids of involved parent's that are going to go out confidently into the world.

And on that note, I will sign off...Kori is not going to go confidently out into the world tomorrow unless she quits reading, shuts out her light and gets some sleep!!!

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