Lately I've really struggled with feeling rather like a failure in terms of pretty much everything I do. My house is a sty (no really it is). I'm behind on grading for my college class. The kids are so not where I want them in Math. I just feel really over-whelmed, and find myself thing "Why in the HELL am I doing this to myself?" "Why I don't just throw these beasties into school and let someone else do this?" After all, it really is just added stress on a life that is already pretty stressful. I have a part time job. I'm applying to five Ph.D. programs. I have a 7 month old baby. Who is one.of.four. I'm nuts as my friends often tell me.
And then I have this week where we do so much and it's just so cool. These weeks seem to come along when I need the universe to remind me that it's going to be okay. Beastie Boy and I have finally finished the first volume of A History of US. I had a rather lofty goal of reading them all by the end of our "school year." We're not even close. But we have had the most amazing conversations about war, colonization, etc. We've talked about explorers and imagined what it would be like to explore uncharted land. What happened this week was that Beastie Boy reminded me to slow down and enjoy the process. We don't have to meet a goal. On his own, he asked if we could study Thanksgiving. He didn't make an explicit connection to the book but since it came up while reading the book, I think the connection can be made. We sat down together and came up with a bunch of questions we both wanted to answer and then we brainstormed some ways to go about finding our information. We're both pretty excited.
Later on that day, I helped C plan out a design for a lapbook on Wolves. And her excitement over all the research she's done as well as the books she's already made were contagious. See C was "supposed" to be learning about the Ocean but she wasn't into it. Getting her to do projects on it was not happening. I got super buys and we dropped the ocean stuff for about a week. In that week, C became obsessed with wolves. She read every book she could find on them. Our house was/is decorated with pictures of wolves nursing their babies, howling, bringing down prey. If you want to know something about wolves, C is the person to ask. What's so great is that she choose this subject on her own and then she pursued it. She didn't need me pushing her or me designing projects. She learned the stuff because she wanted to know.
If my beasties were in school, I would miss out on all this learning. I wouldn't get to be a part of these big jumps. They wouldn't be allowed to follow their own paths and interests. Leanring wouldn't necessailry be a relationship. While we are not unschoolers, we do have a give and a take between what I feel they should learn and what they want to learn. Even with Math which is the hardest thing to motivate them in, Beastie Boy and I had a big breakthrough when during some word problems, he figured out why knowing Math might be a big deal. It was pretty cool because after this it was a lot easier to get him to do his math work. When I ask them to learn things I'm always careful to tell them why and they in turn will argue with me about what they want to learn as well. We negoiate this process and what needs to be done.