Sunday, May 27, 2012

Personalities and Philosophies Response

Okay, I am responding to a few posts with my own thoughts. I have six children. I have a personality that as a kid only saw black and white, right and wrong. I had my plan by 16, which was to be a stay-at-home mom to 6 or 7 children on a farm and homeschool them the "right" way. Yes, I know, don't laugh. At 18 to 23 I studied homeschool philosophy very intensely and slowly came to grips with the fact that there is no "right" way (not even TJed). There may be a pretty good way for this particular child at this particular time, but the minute everyone must follow TJed or anything else we are back on a conveyor belt and we've blown it. So in 2007 I found myself back in school full time getting a teaching credential with the intent to work when I was done, and I now do. I leave my kids to go work outside the home 10 to 20 hours a week and I put in another 10 inside the home. By not being allowed to follow my own conveyor belt/plan I have learned a lot. I can rely on others, and it is okay for me to not be the only one who plans holiday stuff or reads the bedtime story (I am still not entirely okay with all this, but I am working towards it). Still no farm either. Throughout this process I have learned that different ways to help my kids learn, work better with different kids and at different times. For instance, I have a daughter, 12, who when Mom got busy stepped up and showed leadership skills I did not know she possessed. She relished having power to plan meals, chores and do things her way and the youngers loved her school projects and the novelty of sitting in lined up desks and saying the pledge and making construction paper human bodies with all of the body systems labeled. And I knew, here is a child who I can give her head, direct a little, occasionally play the school marm with assignments, and occasionally give her projects which she feels are so hard she cries, but then does-but for the most part I know she is going to take on things because she wants to and she'll do it. I also have a boy, almost 14, who wants to do big things, and mentions them. He then waits for someone else to walk him through it. Through the course of his last idea I learned something about him, something about me-a pretty big piece of the puzzle. He stayed with two boy cousins who fight whenever they get together. When my son is on his own with either there is no fighting and he doesn't know where to begin or what to do, because he is great friends with both. At an interview he asked to study personalities and how to help personalities get along so he could help these two not fight ever again, by Friday please. I gave him a book, which he did not open. A couple days later we discussed the four humors (his study for the Shakespeare speech this last year) and other ways people define personalities. So on a whim I said let's take a personality test. We found this one and all took it. And the piece of the puzzle came-my son wanted and could do things, big things, ambitious things, but his personality was such that he needed someone else to start them, to give him a framework and he was much better at working within it. So I gave him an ambitious summer framework, very ambitious. For the next three months. I also gave him a plan he could follow and a reward and consequence and I've never seen him have such purpose before. "You and I want me to make an animated video, by starting with just learning 20 things about the software, okay I can do that. You want me to learn to cook three days worth of meals by starting with a menu box, okay got it." And then I saw him begin to write out a daily schedule and turn down a trip to the city with cousins, because he had important stuff to do, boxes to check off and he was moving forward. So what I think I am saying is that everything you do to educate your kids needs to be based on not a philosophy of education but the needs, goals and personalities of you, your family and each particular child. If you are in a spot where you are frustrated because you are not doing something you think you should be doing pinpoint one or two of those things and add them in, whether that means a math program or a daily walk, whatever it is that would make you feel like you are moving towards your goals and the best goals for each child, regardless of if it is a canned curriculum, a time of busy-ness and reliance on more independent kids, an experience, a class or whatever. If it is the thing that moves you forward then so what. This also means accepting your own personality-do you sleep in, but still need 15 minutes to yourself even though the kids are already awake. What are the possibilities that can be done but still get you to your own goals. I know one mom that let's her kids watch documentaries first thing in the morning-they can explain all kinds of crazy things, another mom let's her kids stay up until 10, because she reads to them for hours at night. Your kids won't do their morning stuff, what would motivate-at our house it is no breakfast until your morning stuff is done, great motivator for us (certain kids at certain times I will give a glass of milk and/or fruit before).