Saturday, June 4, 2016

Awards, Passions, Real-world

    I read a post on Facebook this morning that I think all my homeschool mom friends and even my nonhomeschool mom friends should reflect upon. I know as a hs mom, I constantly have doubts about my kiddos knowing all the things that they are 'suppose' to know at this age and grade. Honestly, I can say no they don't know all the things that the STATE says they should know at their age/grade. But they know things that the STATE says they should know at a higher grade or not really need to know during their schooling process. The math will come when needed, how many of us use algebra on a daily basis or if at all? We are told it helps with logical thinking that is why we need to know it. I can think of countless other things that help with logical thinking, as well. Who came up with these arbitrary rules of when you are suppose to know something anyway?

    As I scrolled down my News Feed, I noticed a few homeschool mom's posting memories of school awards their child had received before they left the system.  They commented on how they missed these pieces of paper that acknowledged their child.  I cringed to think that those pieces of paper hold more value to the general population than to knowing the real child and the gifts that they do not give awards for in school.    No one remembers that little Johnny was top in his third grade class in spelling.  No one cares that little Susy was voted Most Popular in the fifth grade.  What has always struck me funny is that so many teachers give a class clown award to the kid that drove them absolutely crazy all year long, but think it is cute at the end of the year.

    Am I saying all this because I am jealous?  No.  When Egee went to public school she received achievement awards.  Were we proud?  Yes.  Did it define her? No.  Learning came easy to her.  She was a people pleaser and wanted to do her best and follow the rules and make good grades.  She would become frustrated at not achieving perfection and would rather give up drawing or writing than to not do well at those things.  She loved to read prior to second grade.  However, in second grade they started AR reading tests and she was so afraid of getting an answer wrong.  She started trying to memorize the books, so she could get 100s on the tests.  By third grade, she hated reading, hated the AR tests and self doubt started to creep into her mind.  My bright, passionate, creative child that was still a 'free form' was slowly being molded into another peg to fit the system.  This was when I woke up and developed a plan to remove her from the system.

   Fast forward five years and my 'chiseled' child has gained back her 'free form'.  It took four long years of undoing the system.  I hate to image what she would be like today if kept her in the system.  I thank God that Little Man never had to experience the system.  (Although, I will admit I have threatened on occasion to send him into the system.  He knows I would never follow through.)  This is our reality today:

    My kiddos know their passions. They are able to follow those passions and spend unlimited time pursuing those passions. Egee can draw and spend as much time as she needs to perfect the drawing for her own satisfaction and not for a grade. She can write her stories and develop them on her own time frame and not worry about a grade in the grade book. She can spend time studying dance choreography and steps. She can spend time learning the new song on her ukulele and guitar.  She is self taught in all the above.  It is my job to help her hone her craft, when I am asked.  She wants to learn more technique in Manga art, so I have found a summer class for her to take.  She wants to bounce choreography ideas with a choreographer, so I have arranged private classes.  I am her manager.  I help her achieve her passions and dreams.

    Little Man can spend countless hours perfecting a magic trick, a yo-yo trick, bicycle stunt, basketball trick shot, etc. (I know, I know, I know, tricks and stunts but as he tells me he is working on physics.) To think about it, he has constantly been telling me he is doing physics since he was four. Hmmm....maybe he is going to be a physicist.  He has announced he is going to be a professional gamer and go to college to be a gamer.  What ten year old boy doesn't?  He immerses himself in the game world and tries to find the shortcuts, the best strategy, etc.  He doesn't always play the game like it was meant to be played.  But then I think to myself, the developer of the game put these abilities to play the game, like Little Man does, into the game.  He must be like my kid - unconventional!  Who knows, Little Man may become a game developer.

    The post I read was stating the same types of things. She too, was a former teacher. She also has doubts. But, she said she looks at her budding artist and thinks Picasso. She looks at her budding dancer and sees a famous dancer. Do we know or care if famous artist got on the A honor roll? Did they make an A or B in advanced maths? What about your favorite actor, musician, heck Einstein was told he wasn't going to amount to much in elementary school. Do we question the diploma that hangs on the wall of our physician, demanding to know what rank he achieved in his graduating class?  Did he make the A honor role in fifth grade?  Do we ask the lawyer for her spelling achievement award from the second grade? Or if she made the Principal's honor roll in the tenth grade?  Do we ask our friends if they received the class clown award in sixth grade?  Does it matter?

     What if their passion changes? What if they need to know something that we hadn't studied to pursue a new interest? What if they decide to go to college and haven't studied Algebra 2 in their tenth grade year? What if, what if, what if? What if, they just learn it? That's right! My kiddos have learned how to seek out knowledge and learn something on their own without a textbook or a teacher. They know how to seek out help and learn what is needed to continue to learn what they need. I have been up at 10pm helping Little Man learn something that he needed to know to get to the next step of whatever passion it was at the time. I scour Pintrest and pin different drawing techniques onto the Art board at 11pm, so Egee can see them in the morning.  I have read and commented on stories she has written at 9pm to offer encouragement, so she can delve into writing the next segment later that evening.  Learning doesn't happen from 8am to 3pm in this house or August to May.  It happens 24/7, 365 days a year!

     Our kids have their own unique gifts. Don't get hung up in the grades (good or bad), the awards (whether they got any or not), or comparing one kid to the other. Nurture the gifts they have and let them reach their potential. The geniuses of the world don't always know everything. Read about Paul Erdos. Doubt less, spend more time investing, nurturing, and helping your child pursue their passion. You may just be surprised of the outcome!