*Image via Co.
I recently read a stirring blogpost by a mother who homeschools her four children. I find the subculture of homeschooling fascinating, principally because I cannot even remotely fathom doing it myself. I’m being flip here*, but for one thing, I am already getting sweaty palms waiting for math homework advice from my daughter. What is a quadratic equation? PEMDAS? I don’t have faith in my own foundations outside of the language arts. I’d need to re-learn everything. Case in point: I am transferring mini to a Catholic school this upcoming fall because I feel I am not doing justice to my goal of raising her in the faith. I take her to Church, try to bring God casually into everyday conversations, hope that I explain and live out its core tenets, but — ! I don’t even know that she could recount the basic Bible stories. Anyhow, these misgivings are ancillary to my point in mentioning this blogpost, which is that I was tremendously moved by a section in which the author, Rachel Ringenberg, writes about a fourteen year old boy, Cole Summers, who recently died in a kayaking accident. The boy was homeschooled because his parents were homebound due to disabilities. The boy wrote about his educational experience as follows: “I started unschooling specifically because I started watching videos of Warren Buffett on YouTube at my father’s suggestion after I asked him, “Daddy, how do people get rich?” I was fascinated by Mr. Buffett’s teachings about how he uses the process of elimination in his decision-making. I guess I was an odd six-year-old. At that time, my parents were trying to copy public school curricula. I asked if I could make studying people like Buffett my school instead, and they said yes. That’s how I spent my first grade year. I learned about business, but I focused on decision-making processes.”
Ringenberg responds to this by saying: “I couldn’t help but contrast Summers’ obvious joy in his work with the message many young people are given today: not yet/you don’t know how/there’s nothing left to discover/wait until you’re older.”
Wow. The insight has followed me like a shadow since. Mr. Magpie and I have always been on the same page, aspirationally, about empowerment when it comes to our children. I remember many early parenthood conversations about this, and how our intentions even shaded things like which color scooter to buy mini, and balancing the purchase of STEM/building toys with dolls, and nurturing the strange interests small children seem to cultivate. Mr. Magpie in particular is mindful about explaining what he is doing in accurate (not dumbed down) language when fixing something, cooking, gardening. He often engages the children in these tasks and his tone is matter-of-fact, as though he’s talking to a peer. We openly and regularly discuss business in front of the children, specifically our inquiries into why companies are doing what they are: “they must be trying to acquire a new customer segment by doing y” or “why would they be selling these? that seems ancillary to the business.” We welcome their participation in these conversations, however meandering they are. Reading Ringenberg inspires me to take the intention further. For starters, I know I will now feel a little “PING!” go off whenever I reach for language like “wait until you’re older” or “you don’t know how yet.” But the most practical imperative I am taking away from this thought exercise is how to continue to cultivate mini’s interest in the visual arts. She is a prolific and talented artist — always scribbling, painting, drawing comics, tracing shapes, doodling, writing notes — and is nearly always sitting at her little art table in her room when I pause in the doorframe. She will often tell people she is an artist, or good at art. She says this without the faintest hint of squeamishness or self-aggrandizement — she recognizes her talent and tells it like it is. Clearly, I have impressed upon her the possibility, discipline, and joy of pursuing creative work, but I could do more to scaffold this interest: classes? new media? trips to museums? books on art? all of the above?
With micro, I could do a better job observing his interests in the first place — these poor second children! He has a mind for puzzles, sets with configurable parts, and sequencing in general. I will need to do some research into activities and programs that scaffold these budding talents.
More to come. I’m writing this very much on the fly in the hopes of cementing the intention here and revisiting over time. In the meantime, I plan to reach for responses like:
you can do it
there’s so much to discover
*I know homeschooling, for many, is a philosophical undertaking, and there are many inputs in the decision that stretch far beyond my surface-level discomfort with my foundations in math.
+I must sometimes remind myself to “write in soft pencil.”
+What to do when you’re feeling run aground?
+Love these affordable wicker x-benches.
+Have no idea how, but this cute striped sweater is under $10.
+Fab white top for fall.
+On the theme of child empowerment, I love the book “Julia, Child.” It encourages children to see that they have a unique, valid, and valuable perspective that rivals and occasionally supersedes those of adults.
+Love this gingham dress.
+Also love this dressier white blouse!
+This gold heart pendant is engraveable — so chic as a layering piece.
+If you’re not a color manicure gal, people love this sheer pink nail conditioning treatment from Kur.
+This gorgeous Ulla dress is 70% off – perfect for a bride to be!
+These seamless bralettes look so comfortable.
+Chic cashmere striped sweater for just over $100.
+Cute, affordable shelves for a nursery.
+Newborn mamas: people are raving about these inexpensive, solid colored burp cloths as THE most absorbent, soft option.
+This linen jumpsuit situation is wildly chic.
+Love these pretty jewelry rounds — great gift!
+These personalized blankets are adorable.
+This $35 dollar bag!!!