So, the decision to home school the kids was taken and the thought began to settle in our hearts.
In May , the feeling was pretty much subdued as the month of vacations was on and kids were totally involved with well, boys’ stuff – cricket, video games, getting up late.
Come June and gradually it began to seep in. The routine began. Home learning felt as if we were moving house. You take with you all the memories …good ones …you can take a few things with you to relocate but some things attached and unmovable …unnecessary maybe you leave behind.
We too had to decide what we will take of school and what we could leave behind for good or …
Suddenly there was no need to get up early and rush for school and that meant no need to forcefully get into bed early too. We could linger a little and talk. We could watch a movie if we so liked. There were suddenly no Monday Morning blues. Each one of us could have a me-time after a long day of work and spend time with our electronic friends…if we so desired. Kids did not have pressing deadlines to meet and that meant there was no demand on every hour. We actually stopped looking at the clock to ascertain how much time did we have to complete this or that or whatever…What relief!!!!
However we still belonged to the strong conditioning in our minds that kids need the paper and pencil and structure so we sat down and asked this all important question “What subjects would you like to study?” Language, math, science… History, geography was plain rejected. Then came the time to discuss HOW??Again we put the ball in their court. They decided mornings and certain parts of afternoons were good for them…we were delighted to actually find that we could discuss a lesson more in depth and they could write answers at length in their own interprets and I stopped putting in markings as previously I used to do…My first lesson…what is written is to be appreciated and maybe added to with your own tones. It cannot and should never be restricted to marks.
That established, a lot of anxiety still lingered … anxious heart beats over “Was it still the right decision?” We began our day at our class and soon another dilemma cropped up. We were asking other kids to do those same things that we opted out of. Now that needed balancing. I had to compartmentalise myself first as a mother…strategies that I used for my kids was a direct parental decision making arising out of changing the way we thought what we want for our kids in life. For starters we wanted that they should not have to go through the stress of bags and burdens of other people’s dictates of how they should acquire knowledge. Knowledge is everywhere …not only in textbooks but in little things…in the visit to a doc….in watching a movie …in arguing and learning about pain and win and lose and make up or walk apart…learning is all around.
Yet come June and the kids in the class walked in with portion papers and exam time tables stating the dates when the stress period would begin. Announcing when and what the kids need to mug up. Kids as young as first grade walked in with long answers which they could not even read but had to reproduce. Their speed, their grasping, understanding not in question but, reproduce they had to, or remarks poured in:
“needs to write fast”
…and tuitions are meant to fix these so called errant behaviours. Tuition as a system is a direct consequence of school acting as the verdict giving faculty. No one questions the school that we put our kids in school so that they may learn to read or write or improve!! Then on whom is exactly the school putting the onus of all the education the child is to receive? As a teacher I could see where the child was, what needed work and how much approximate time would that require. Oh, but it had to now match the time tables of constant tests offered in school. I had to drop the mantle of mother within me. I could not give the same freedom and leverage to these kids whose improvement [good grades] I was responsible for. I had to drop my patience and agonisingly devise short-cuts so that these little ones could produce a good test record. On Fridays and Saturdays I could actually feel the tiredness in these kids eyes. To my little ones I could give the freedom and say if you do not feel like paper and pencil and book, just leave it. I could not give the same respect to these first to ten graders to let it be. If they did not write some certain pages their parents complained. “Give them heavy homework” WAS THE REQUEST.
Oh God!!! Was what they did throughout the week not enough? They needed to work even in weekends. And I needed to compartmentalise….on a war footing.
I had to tell myself “this is work” and had to follow the wily rules however much I did not agree with them. With my own kids it was a way of life. Our way of life! Two separate boxes and they needed to be kept separate. It took a while but I learned that bit by bit! I learned to tune out as soon as the last student walked off. I switched on when I entered the class. I tried my best to make it worth the class time, to be inventive in how I gave my lessons, to overlook a bit when Monday homework was not turned in.
With my own kids also I learned to relax. When they played heartily and came back perspiring and huffing…I truly relaxed. Suddenly the whole issue of Socialising seemed to fall into its place. I actually realised I did not have much to do. They had their own popularity. We had people constantly at our door asking for their company…wherever they went, at the class, at home everywhere.
We human beings still hate vacuum. We love problems and anxiety. We cannot seem to live without them. We cook them up when we have a smooth life…if one issue cools down we sort of create another…stay with me & LIVE MY CONFUSION.
Suddenly an unknown fear began gripping at me. What are my children’s interests that I can fan? I had met and was in touch with many home schooling parents and I saw them doing so much creative stuff. Someone doing scientific experiments…some maths…some were talented in dance or music and giving concerts…someone so creative with craft and arts.
My boys were well boys. They loved cricket, played video games, diligently followed textbooks that we provided and absorbed the material. That was that. I am not a scientific person, have no creative craft in my entire system, my work schedule did not allow that we take off to various destinations on whims, visit places.
What are we doing then with our kids? Will we ruin their life? What talents we can nurture? And I spent sleepless nights and harrowing days.
Then I decided to give myself a break. Absolute break. Went down to my basics. We were cool…chilled. Our routine well established and our decision affirming every day. So there was no harm in giving this anxiety a break. Stop thinking and just be.
I learned to appreciate my kids in a passive mode. Just observe and enjoy them. There was so much time for them to go and begin an economic life. Why the competition in my mind? What is the hurry? Are they not just wonderful the way they are? Why play at getting creative?
When you relax creative things happen. My elder one signed up at IndiBlogger and has kick started a series on chronicling his experiences in school and how he feels about home schooling. A dash of humour, tons of insight and there I have a thinking, feeling individual expressing himself as eloquently as he could.
My little one found his energy in a tennis class and was so super excited two days even before his class would begin. He is happy with his cricket bat. Tennis racquet. His video games…and his life.
Now can as a mother I not learn something so simple? They have taken birth with a mission…they have a long life to discover, uncover and explore. What is the hurry?
So I sit back and drop this mantle of worry. Only hoping that I have unlearned and do not go on to adopt another silly issue. Humans abhor vacuum you see.
With a silent mind and content heart,
I put my worries and concerns apart.
I begin to live.