From the Teachable Moment November 1996
"It sometimes is the best of times and the worst of times. Referring to homeschooling, of course. As I've observed our homeschooling track record over the years, I recently realized we seem to follow a cyclical pattern. There are times we seem to be learning so much and I can point specifically to certain areas and know learning took place. Then we seem to level out and just plod along for awhile, no great leaps and bounds, but I can still see learning happening. Then, and I only recently put this all together, we seem to take a nose dive! Everything seems disorganized, we seem to be running in circles and enthusiasm for homeschooling hits a low point. It truly seems the worst of times! I question why we're doing it and have endless discussions with my husband about what is best for the kids.
However, after pulling out of one of these bleak spells recently, I noticed what happens next! We almost always jump right back into the best of times! Not even the level plodding along, just a fast jump!
Bear with me as I share one great day from the last week. Since Lindley (our eight year old) was under the weather this particular day, she only participated on a limited basis; so most of it refers specifically to Jared (14) and Shelley (12).
We started the day finishing up a study unit I pulled from the newspaper based on a 10 part series entitled, "Who Stole the American Dream?" Since terms such as imports, exports, tariffs, trade balances and others were included in this series as well as graphs, statistics, government offices and their functions and the effect upon everyday people. I found this to be an ideal economics and government unit. (2012 note: Is this applicable to this year or what?)
This was followed by another unit using the newspaper as a resource, the Kids Voting Section, which was supplemented by materials from The Weekly Reader. Jared and Shelley then spent time predicting the electoral vote outcome and marking their predictions on a map (use that sibling rivalry to your advantage when you can!). I was impressed to see the logic they employed in trying to make these predictions.
They then went on to work on their separate activities, such as Saxon Math lessons, journals, Writing Strands, plus reading whatever books they're currently into, listening to a Spanish tape and practicing piano (Shelley) and typing (Jared).
The rest of the day was spent working on making a video documentary about the squirrel project we had been involved in for a couple of months. Lindley was feeling better by this time, so was able to join in. As they each did a separate section on the video, I realized they had learned quite a bit from the activity. I knew we had all learned a lot at the beginning of the project, but was really wondering if anything new was being absorbed by the end of it. ( 2012 note: I might have been hoping to justify a way to end the project early?)
Can you believe that in the days preceding this particular day, I was at a real low point,wondering what we were doing wrong? I realize that we can't have wonderful learning days all the time, feel okay about the times we're level, but I still just don't like the low days. However, it has helped me immensely to realize we seem to have a pattern here, and believe me, I plan to review this article next time we're in the worst of times! If you're having some of these low times, ponder and see if you're following some sort of pattern also. I don't know that everyone follows the same cycle, but I do believe that the best of times is worth going through the worst of times!"
2012: I now apply this to everything in life, especially marriage and family relationships. : )