Friday, November 18, 2011

My guinea pig boy

We have a video tape of our brand new baby Jonathan just before leaving the hospital at 2 days old. He is fresh out of the womb and is laying in one of those clear plastic portable isolet thingamajigs. He is crying his little tiny pink head off and his pathetic mother is patting him lightly saying soothing things like "you're ok" and "be a good boy, Mommy and Daddy are going to take you home soon". In spite of having babysat and worked with kids endlessly for at least 10 years before having Jonathan, I had no idea what I was doing. {Remember this is pre-stroke. By the next evening we would become model parents not setting foot outside of the hospital for a full seven days to be an advocate for our little baby every step of the way. (actually I lie, I walked out one night with my father to move the car...Mike litterally never left the building)}

Jonathan was the guinea pig. Thankfully for his siblings sake he had that stroke at 3 days old and we learned first hand how to put our baby's needs first and how to be the best parents we could possibly be. Putting his (and subsequently Madi and Jake's) needs first included a whole list of family dynamics including co-sleeping, extended nursing, and homeschooling. I can for the most part sit here 16 years later and say I have no regrets. I parented in a way that felt right and made sense in light of almost loosing our little guy, and I've never looked back. I don't question our approach to delayed academics with Jonathan. I don't question the fact that we had to be a "short order cook" type family because of his bloodsugar issues as a toddler and preschooler (though I do wish his siblings weren't so picky because of it). We did what we had to do with what God gave us. I've never questioned our choices for curriculum and our way of learning through life in general.

UNTIL... High School! Now I'm second guessing myself daily. Not about homeschooling. Not even about the materials and classes. Just about when and how and how much and...and... Jonathan sat in front of his computer from about 10 until 4 today with a small break for lunch and a shower. He did three subjects. I'm not hovering over him to make sure he's on task every second, but he can attest to the fact that I certainly lay eyes on him and ask "what are you working on now?" at least a few times an hour. Like I said in my last post, we're playing the game. It's working out ok. Here's the thing though we only have a few more years to homeschool. 'Working out ok' doesn't really cut it for me. Up to this point in his high school career he's taken all the same classes kids in brick and mortar schools are taking. (plus the really important ones like Theatre and Theology of the Body) We're not going to change anything this year (except maybe our attitudes), but next year I'm thinking maybe we should really shake things up a bit. We homeschool, so we can right?! I've never given a lick about whether or not the public schooled 4th graders are learning about state history or world cultures. We don't have to worry about what "they" are doing, we can do what we want to do. Why does all that have to change with high school? Let me digress enough to say, I still think it does have to change with high school, just maybe not all the way. I don't want to 'play the game' if it means losing the love of learning. On the continuum of 'school at home' versus 'whatever floats your boat', when it comes to high school I'm much closer to the school at home way. Here's what I'm proposing though...maybe Jonathan won't take Spanish 3 next year (he really doesn't like flvs Spanish)...maybe he won't even take Chemistry (maybe he'll take Astronomy or some kind of science that he's actually interested). Maybe he'll make it to the gym more than once a week and we can turn that into not only a credit but a healthy habit that will serve him well for the rest of his life. Maybe he'll take a computer class, maybe Psychology. Maybe I'll change my mind 50 more times before we choose classes for next year. One thing is for sure though, by the time Madi and Jake get to this point I'll know what I'm doing. Once again they'll be able to thank him for being the guinea pig.


Melissa said...

Great post! I have my own home school high school experiment going on here - and struggle on a regular basis about whether I'm getting it right or not. sigh. It's hard - but I'm glad my little (not anymore) guinea pig is still home with me.

MelissaB said...

If you live near a state (formerly community) college, you might want to look in to dual enrolling. For most of the core high school courses, dual enrolled students can take a one term college course and earn a full year high school credit. Saves lots of time on the high school subjects and saves money and time at college. Email me if you want more info. My oldest is graduating this spring with her high school diploma and AA degree at the same time, earned via dual enrolling and that includes meeting the 24 credit public high school criteria, which you don't have to do.

Sonya said...

Funny, I call my oldest the "rough draft." I am editing and rewriting as we go for the next ones in line.
Keep up the good work!

ann marie said...

Jane is our guinea pig, but I still never feel like I know what I am doing when it comes to the next ones. So I think they are all guinea pigs here at my house. Maybe when I get to Maggie I'll have some inclination. One can hope anyway.

Terri said...

Thank you for going before me. Tell Jonathan that I thank him for being our guinea pig too. :)