Friday, April 18, 2008

Questions we need to ask ourselves

Somebody asked me why I no longer post pics of craft projects and things my kids are doing in homeschool. The big reason there are no pics is because my husband needs to reroute my camera through the computer rather then the copy machine! And the reason there are no crafts to show you even if the camera was hooked up correctly is because we no longer do a lot of crafts.

This past week Tink and Peter have hidden behind the closed school room door making something for me for mothers day. I find glitter and snippets of yarn and pipe cleaner lying around as result, so yeah, they still do those kinds of crafts.

What we do not do anymore is the craft that is incorporated in our school day. Two years ago when I began to homeschool I had a 9 year old and a 5 year old. They loved to paint and make a mess. But now Tink is 11. She is in fifth grade. She is no longer interested so much in cutting and gluing. The school work has taken on an intensity and a life of its own.

Peter is going to school at the state charter school so he is not being homeschooled anymore. When he gets home its already 4:30 pm and four of the five evenings we turn around and head back out the door by 5:30 for swimming lessons and piano lessons. Before swimming it was basketball! The poor little boy no longer has time to do crafts at home.

When children are small there is much value to crafts. They need to learn to use a scissors and how to glue. Crafts teach them about dimension; planes verses solids. Crafts teach motor dexterity both small motor and gross motor control. Crafts also help to fill in the endless time that a young child has in their day. It keeps them occupied.

With a fifth grader those things are already learned and there is no extra time for cutting and pasting. I realize some children still love this at 11 but the value of it is pretty much a thing of the past. By 11 years old kids are doing crafts only if something really catches their interest. Around this age you also see that the beads the children once messed around with are now taking real shape and real things are being made and sold to friends; necklaces, wrist and ankle bracelets, key chains, etc. In other words kids are no longer crafting for the joy of crafting, in that the paper filled with glitter that hits the wastebasket is no longer their thing. They need meaning behind what they do and a reason to do it.

So then what does Tinks day look like? It looks like school for a child about to enter Junior High. Oh yes, I hear the outcry to make home a learning environment and I would say ours is but we do set aside a definite time to do school work too. Tink needs to know school has a beginning and an ending. All kids are different but this is how Tink operates.

We are reaching the end of our books. We've started a new book in Math. We are still notebooking our History. Tink is doing research on monkeys right now. I have no idea why she chose monkeys. When I put the idea out there for a research report I suggested things like; children in other lands, birds, trees, seasons, etc. But she wanted to research monkeys! This is the second research paper she has done this year. The first one was on giraffes. Tink loves animals!

I'm not going to start a new phonics book right now. Tink is finishing up Abeka's Letters and Sounds. Instead, through May we are going to focus more on reading for fluency. In June she will start the next phonics book because its worksheets and those she can do on her own without much input from me. In June I am busy with outside work so this will work well for us.

Tink does a lot of school work in a days time but I'm still pushing for more. Success is not achieved without great effort. I want my children to be able to put in a good hard days work at whatever they are doing. When they are adults I want them to know how to put in a full day of hard labor.

I'm afraid we are raising a society of soft people, people who have no idea how to work with the sweat of their brow. I'm especially concerned for the wimpy little boys we are raising.

Let me leave you with food for thought over the weekend. Ask yourselves these questions:

Have my children ever put in such a long day of physical labor that their muscles have hurt at days end? Does that sound like child labor to you? Think about it. Do you think Abraham Lincoln knew what aching muscles were when he was a boy? What about Daniel Boone? Do you think he could have blazed a trail through the wilderness if he hadn't learned about hard work as a boy? He led thirty men with axes from Virginia to the middle of Kentucky! Do you think it was the first time he had ever wielded an axe?

Do my children know that a job worth doing is worth doing right? Do you let them get by with work that is half done or sloppily done?

Do my children know what is required of them in the home? Do you even have requirements for them?

Does my son know how to use the tools on the workbench that are acceptable for his age? Have Legos, Lincoln Logs, and Tinker Toys replaced wood, hammer, nails , and homemade levers and pulleys?

Have I ever seen sweat on my children from hard outdoor labor?

Does my son know better how to operate a remote control then a rake, hoe or shovel?

Has my daughter ever worked all day in the house with me?
Does she know how to transition smoothly from one job to the next?

Do my children know how to see a job and do it without me pointing it out?

If you have answered no to these questions then the next question has to follow; are you really and truly equipping your kids with skills for the future? Is your laid back approach to life, school and work, really going to prepare them for life outside your four walls?

This is just food for thought.

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