Our Life Together

The beginning…

Advertisements

This is the first steps in our parenting journey.

It was the year 2000
We couldn’t get pregnant.  I needed pills and pills and tests and tests, and the whole time I kept saying, “we can adopt… I want to adopt too, so we could just do that now instead of waiting…”  Ron was in agreement, but he was also busy moving us.  We had a new assignment at a new church and we were moving back down closer to our hometowns and our parents.  We decided to wait until we were settled in the new house and then begin the process of adoption. (We were so naive about how all of that would work).

Year 2003
We move back near home and get settled into our new house.  I start to notice that I feel weird and that I’m cranky… well, more cranky than normal 🙂  I’m actually being super moody and freaking out for no real reason.  My mother suggests that I take a pregnancy test… I guess she’s had enough of my attitude. Ron was gone to camp to be a counselor during this time, so it’s good that he wasn’t around me during this time.

I bought a test but decided to wait until he came home from camp so he could be there when I took the test.  It was positive!! I was so excited.  We were busy getting everything ready for the baby, and then busy taking care of the baby.  That first year Ron graduated seminary and entered the Air Force as a reservist.  He was technically an IMA Chaplain, but that’s not what this post is about.  So let’s just say he continued to preach for the UM Church and do his regular monthly reserve duty at Little Rock Air Base.  I kept assuming we would adopt, but we would start it all when the baby was a little older.

Year 2005
Once again… I started taking all the pills… and running all the tests… this time we added in a fertility monitor someone sold us and bought our first pack of testing sticks… y’all… those things are expensive!!

Year 2006
One month using the fertility monitor and it told me exactly when I ovulated… I got pregnant.  This was 2 years after Price was born, so don’t think this happened right away.

Another baby on the way, getting everything ready for that, and Ron telling me he wants to go into the Air Force on active duty… meaning, full-time.  I was completely good with following him wherever he thought God was leading, so we started getting all of that ready and all of that training done.

We had the second baby, Wesley, and I settled in as best as I could with being a stay-at-home-mom with two kiddos, and Ron was still preaching and doing his reserve duties.

Year 2007
When Wesley was only 2 months old or so, we found out our first assignment with the Air Force on active duty… Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

We’ll start the next part at Peterson…  July 2007…

Learner – Not Teacher

Making decisions isn’t easy…

Raise your hand if you know what unschooling is!  First of all, I’ve violated one of the very few rules of unschooling by adding a “school” thing to the first sentence.  Raising your hand is something we learn in school.  Have you ever raised your hand as an adult and waited to be called on for anything?  I just thought about this now… we don’t stand in Starbucks and raise our hand to be called on.  We don’t sit even in lectures and wait to be called on by raising our hands… usually there are microphones placed around the auditorium and we are asked to walk to the microphone and wait our turn.  I guess there are certain places you might raise your hand as an adult… like a magic show (if you want to be the assistant), or maybe if Jimmy Fallon is walking through the audience and you REALLY want to talk to him and be on The Tonight Show… but in most normal circumstances we don’t raise our hands to be called on.

That has nothing to do with what this post is about… 🙂  But I ramble sometimes… it can’t be helped!!

I homeschool my children.  I want to say I’ve done it since Price (my oldest) was 4 and we started doing “school” at home.  However, with some of the research and reading I’ve been doing, I’d rather say my children have learned at home since birth.  All children are taught at home for the first 4-5 years of their lives.  They learn how to walk, talk, and go to the bathroom on the toilet (some learn this easier and earlier than others).  And that kind of brings me to the point of this, I think.

We are now telling parents that they should let their children potty train when the child is ready.  We are acknowledging that there isn’t one set age where everyone should be able to go to the bathroom.  One of my children was later than I thought was normal for the potty training and I decided to just stop pushing it… my motto became (He will eventually do it… he won’t still be diapers when ______)  I usually filled that blank in with “he gets married”  or “he goes to college”… I just stepped back and stopped pushing… and he did do it… mostly on his own, and moreover, when he finally did start using the pot, he never had that period of not being able to hold it overnight.  He just did it, and almost completely on his own.  This is the same child who taught himself to read by the time he was 4, just by listening to the rest of us read aloud and watching hours of Letter Factory videos! 🙂

The reading thing again… okay.  I brought up the potty training thing to say that I think it’s the same way with the reading thing.  Kids will learn to read when their minds are ready.  To say that every 5 year old in Kindergarten SHOULD be able to read these certain words by Christmas break, or that they will be reading certain short books by the end of their Kindergarten year sets some children up to be failures from the very beginning.  Imagine that you are one of these kids whose brain needs a little more time to catch up.  I don’t mean that there is a learning disability, although… I think some of those things we label as learning disabilities might just mean that they can’t learn the way they are being taught… not that they can’t learn at all.  I’m not saying there aren’t actual disabilities that keep people from being able to learn, I’m just saying if we offered more than “one way to learn” that we wouldn’t lose so many kids right from the beginning.

As a teacher (when I taught public school) I could tell almost immediately the children whose parents worked with them at home and had probably been reading to them when they were small children, and the kids whose parents used school as a babysitter because they had to work or just didn’t want to be around their children all day.

This post is getting too long, so I’ll have to do another post later to expound on these things more.  The point of this post was for me to explore unschooling.  I would like to say that we are “trying it out”!  But in order for unschooling to work, it kind of has to be an all-or-nothing concept.  So I will say that we are now using a child-led learning style that looks nothing like school and looks a lot like watching Ghostbusters a million times to see if we can see any of the people working the animatronics in Slimer.  And to see which camera angle they used to make the marshmallow man look so much taller than anything else.  It also means we have a “Wonder Wall” in our kitchen that everyone (almost everyone) 🙂  has written something they wonder up there… It means we wake up each day not really knowing what we’re going to do or what we want to do and end up having a great adventure laughing about some crazy thing we watched on youtube or some new book we finished… The 11-yr old ran in this morning and announced he finished the first Harry Potter book and wants to know who wants it next (we’re all reading through each book before we watch the movies)… When the possibilities for learning are nearly endless, there is a period of sitting around trying to get your mind around what you want to do, but when we’re all learning together and working together even the periods of sitting around are much more fun!!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

 

Teaching – Part One

New job… day One!

Let’s review this timeline in case we want to go back and see what music was popular during this time in my life 🙂

July 1999 – I got married and was taking summer classes to finish my degree

2000 – I had graduated from college and was living in a tiny town in Northeast Arkansas (near West Memphis) where Ron was preaching at his first church and attending seminary in Memphis.

2001 – I tried the whole “stay-at-home-wife” thing, but it just wasn’t working for either of us, we were trying to get pregnant on our own at this point (meaning, no fertility treatments), and I HAD to do something to get out of the house.  This is where today’s story begins…

I’ve always liked teaching, so that seemed like a natural thing for me to do as I found myself living about three hours from my parents with not much to occupy my time (you can only watch French Kiss so many times), so I headed to the local public school.

I didn’t care what subject I taught (although I preferred English, since that’s what I knew most about), but I just wanted to teach.  I went into the office (there was only one office for the Kindergarten through 12th grade because the whole school system was in one location — I told you it was tiny!)  I asked about a substitute position, and they told me that they had someone who was substituting now until they found someone to fill the position full time.  I asked what subject and grade and was told it was high school English.  This seemed fortuitous and maybe predestined, so I accepted it.  There was no application process, no interview except for a quick one with the superintendent of schools after I said I would take the job.  It was about lunch time when I was finished talking with him, and he told me I could join the afternoon classes and meet some of my students before I took over the class in the morning.

This is where I tell you that this was the FIRST day of school for the year.  So the kids were having their first day at the same time as me, and I had NO summer planning time or anything.  The superintendent’s secretary told me that there were books in my classroom and I could bring them home and start my planning.

I took exactly ONE education class in college.  We got to the part where we had to make lesson plans and those types of things, and I quit.  I dropped out of the only education class that I had and majored in English… not education… for this very reason.  And now I’ve stepped right into a job that requires the very thing I dropped a class because of… so I’m super excited! 🙂

Lunch is over for the students and the superintendent walks me into the high school building to meet the principal.  We’ll call him Larry because he will feature prominently in my teaching stories.  Larry seems friendly enough, and pleased to have a permanent teacher for his English class.  So he leads me down to my classroom.  We have to walk all the way through the main building and out to a smaller building at the end.  There are four rooms in this “extra” building (not counting the bathrooms), there is the band room, the high school science room, junior high English room, and my room… the last room in the last building on campus.

We walk in just as the kids are coming into class.  I quickly learn that this is my 11th graders.  They are the only class big enough to be split into two classes for English.  I will have one class of 11th graders who will come 2nd period, and then the rest of them will come right after lunch for 5th period.  If you didn’t have a school with seven periods a day, go find a history book or google is and see how things used to work! 🙂  I know they still have it in some schools today, but most of them have changed the way the day is scheduled.

Anyway, I meet the substitute teacher.  A VERY nice woman whom we will call Pinky.  I ended up growing quite close to her and her daughter (who happened to be in this class).  She tells the kids to sit down and maybe assigns them something to do, but I don’t really remember.  I remember thinking they were really loud, and feeling overwhelmed that I was going to have to get them to sit down and listen to me teach them.

Pinky sat with me at the teacher’s desk and got out all of the books I would need.  I was looking through the books and feeling even more overwhelmed as it really began to sink in that I would be in charge of teaching a lot of children every day.  My schedule looked like this…

  • 1st period – planning (this came in handy when I wanted to sleep late… I had first period off… it was a pain though that I really had NO break for the whole school day)
  • 2nd period – 11th grade English (only 9 students in this class!)
  • 3rd period – 12th grade English (the entire senior class had about 22 students)
  • 4th period – 10th grade English (the entire 10th grade came to this class… around 25 students)
  • 5th period – 11th grade English (the rest of the junior class… 28 kids… the bane of my existence)
  • 6th period – Speech (yeah… I had to teach speech… a lot of the 11th graders from 5th period just stayed for speech)
  • 7th period – Journalism (umm… really??  Again… a lot of the 11th graders from 5th and 6th just hung out)

I had about 11 or 12 of the same students from 5th through 7th periods… I enjoyed having some of them all afternoons, but some of them were just stuck with me because no one else wanted them.

What does this mean as far as planning goes?  I had FIVE different lesson plans to do for EACH DAY!!

So… I’m sitting at the teacher’s desk, next to Pinky, looking over the teacher’s guides for my classes and trying to block out the noise from the students.  It finally gets too loud and I look up to see Pinky pulling two children apart!! She’s not that big to begin with… well… she’s not that tall!  And she is pulling these children apart and yelling at them for trying to fight “on the first day of school”.

The kids were screaming and cussing at each other and still trying to fight, and I sat at the desk, uncomfortably staring at the scene in front of me… I should’ve run out right then and never looked back…

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda