Book Review: The Brave Learner

Another mom at coop was trying to get a group together to read The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart and discuss it. Why not?

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Parents who are deeply invested in their children’s education can be hard on themselves and their kids. When exhausted parents are living the day-to-day grind, it can seem impossible to muster enough energy to make learning fun or interesting. How do parents nurture a love of learning amid childhood chaos, parental self-doubt, the flu, and state academic standards?

In this book, Julie Bogart distills decades of experience–homeschooling her five now grown children, developing curricula, and training homeschooling families around the world–to show parents how to make education an exciting, even enchanting, experience for their kids, whether they’re in elementary or high school.

Enchantment is about ease, not striving. Bogart shows parents how to make room for surprise, mystery, risk, and adventure in their family’s routine, so they can create an environment that naturally moves learning forward. If a child wants to pick up a new hobby or explore a subject area that the parent knows little about, it’s easy to simply say “no” to end the discussion and the parental discomfort, while dousing their child’s curious spark. Bogart gently invites parents to model brave learning for their kids so they, too, can approach life with curiosity, joy, and the courage to take learning risks.

 

My thoughts:

Yeah. This was a good read. Lots of magical pixie dust. Lots of one size fits all answers.

Lots of things I have already tried with my child and had them not work. Which according to Julie means I didn’t do it right. If I tried her methods and they didn’t have the results she described then my tone was wrong, or my facial expression, or the way I presented it was wrong, or secretly I wanted it to not work and my child picked up on that.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on one human. Seems it might be more kind to admit that not every solution works for every child. If you are setting yourself up as the know all and you have to insist the other person is wrong when your solution doesn’t work, then I have to wonder just how much you really know. And are you really invested in helping parents or shaming them?

Wow, I had no idea all that was in the back of my mind when I sat down to review this book. I started out thinking I liked the book in general but clearly her approach of “dictates from on high” really rubbed me the wrong way.

Which brings me to the conclusion I have now come to after 5 years of homeschooling MY child. Every child is different. In fact, they are different on different days of the week, seasons of the year, and times of their life. No packaged approach will ever fit. I think I might just be done reading how wonderfully someone else’s approach to home schooling their children went because in the end, they didn’t home school my child.

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I’ve been thinking Thursday: Annual Testing

I home school my kiddo, which in WA state means you have to do a test every year once they turn eight. There is massive leeway on how you do it. But I found one online that worked for the kiddo so we do it every year around the same time.

And as we wait for the results I find myself casually appraising what changes and growth I see in my kiddo.

Last year at this time we had a never ending battle about him wanting a big birthday party and me being unwilling to give him one because of the heinous disaster his party was the year before.

This year, he gave up a huge party in favor of private one on one karate lessons with his favorite sensei so he can be ready to try out for demo team.

Last year testing I had to supervise him every minute because the second I walked away he decided he was bored and walked away.

This year, I actually left him and went to teach for an hour and he finished 3 exams on his own.

He’s growing and changing in so many ways that these tests will never show. Sure he now knows how to spell better and he can do more advanced math.

But he also is learning to show compassion. To be helpful just because he can. To have long arguments about hypothetical space and time travel. LOL

The test will probably show that same disparity among his academic skills that it shows every year. But it hasn’t the foggiest idea that he is starting to learn the stuff that really matters. I get to capture that.

Fiendish Friday: Summer Starter

For me summer officially starts tomorrow morning. Woohoo! I have a lot to do this summer. Two novels to finish to be exact. I know what you’re thinking, summer already?

Because I live in the PNW, I don’t gauge summer by silly things like the weather. We won’t see sun and 75 til who knows when. And because I home school, I don’t gauge summer by when the kiddo gets out of school. We, um, home school year round actually. LOL.

So I draw the line in the sand with the last day of co-op. Which is today. Tomorrow will be summer. Today is the day of goodbyes.

I hate the day of goodbyes.

Someone is always moving this time of year. And many kids go back to public school or on to private school or just decide the co-op is not for them. I never know if that smart kid with serious writing talent will come back next year. I even get nostalgic about the smart ass kid who challenges me daily.

Did I mention I hate goodbyes?

Usually when I must say goodbye, I just shut it down. I close off my emotions, keep the interaction short, and then cry privately later. I am not good at goodbyes.

Hours of classes and then a picnic to get thru…I might have to cry in public.

Did I mention I hate goodbyes?

Fiendish Friday: Work?

I’ve noticed this trend. Whenever I go somewhere during the “working” day, someone inevitably comments “but you don’t work right?” as soon as it comes about that I home school my child. And I have to ask, you – not them, what exactly do you think I do all day? Eat bonbons and watch soap operas. I can’t remember the last time I ate a bonbon (keto mug cakes do not count) and Property Brothers is not a soap opera despite the hi-jinx and twins involved.  So this is what I did yesterday while “not working” and to be honest this is pretty close to an average day for me.

Get up, make coffee

Walk Dog

check personal email, check professional email, read and respond to commentary on blog

home school child

hang dry wall

spend an hour pulling weeds

watch 4 additional children who’s parents (friends of mine) needed help (5.5 hours)

read 120 pages of a text on effective marketing

write wednesday words blog, write review of marketing book

quick 30 minute meeting on registration for the coop and what still needs handling

yoga for an hour

shower

cook dinner

dishes

pick up house

eat with hubs

crochet half an infinity scarf for xmas while watching home repair shows

research tile and wall paper options and prepare a slide show for the hubs to review so he can have an opinion on the bathroom I am renovating

write shopping list for home depot trip

pack my clothes, the kiddo’s clothes, keto friendly snacks, and vitamins for weekend trip to FIL’s birthday event

read 50 pages of a cozy mystery before bed.

 

There you go, my non-working day. Seriously, I miss the days when I went to the office for my job for 8 hours.

Then on the drive home I saw this sign. “Life sometimes hands you lemons but you don’t have to suck on them.”

Well crap. ROFL. Fine, I’m going to take them lemons, add butter, almond flour, an egg, monk fruit extract and make me a mug cake.

 

Fiendish Friday: Worst Case Scenarios

The kiddo is taking his first ever annual state exams. When you home school in WA state, they don’t have to sit exams until the school year in which they are 8, ie third grade more or less. So here I am, this week, proctoring online exams for him.

First let me just say this is flippin excruciating. I spend 7 days a week 12-14 hours a day helping him with things. And now I can’t. I have to keep all comments limited to the process of taking the test. My tongue has soooo many holes in it.

Back before the testing began, um, last weekend, LOL. The hubs and I were both worried about this. And we had a little “what’s your worst case scenario” discussion.

For the hubs, his worst case, is the kiddo does really badly. Especially since he didn’t get into the school we all wanted for him and our remaining options are slim. For the hubs, the idea that the kiddo is learning nothing at home, scares him to death.

I hear that and I think, hey, we’ll know what to spend more time on. We’ll get him some tutors or more classes or specialized teachers. It will be fine.  I can work with known issues. I can handle those.

My worst case scenario: He scores obscenely well and the arguements on why he has to do home school get worse. LOL

Waiting with baited breath for these results. LOL

On the plus side, all that proctoring left we with lots of time to edit crutch words. First novel in the Dismember Killer series is off to my critique partners.

Fiendish Friday: the ideal

I tried to explain it to my husband, and he gets it just enough to nod and say wow. But I think this is probably true for anyone who home schools their kids. When I first decided to pull my son from public school and I this whole IDEA in my head about what home schooling would look like. It never happens that way. Ever. It’s the impossible ideal. Except every once in a while, usually when I am at my most frustrated, it happens. So here is my real life example of the ideal day of home school. The normal is in parenthesis.

Wake up, kiddo is playing mine craft. Big hug. Drink a cup of coffee.  (Kiddo complains he is bored and wants to be entertained, wants waffles, a play date and new legos before I even get a cup down from the cupboard.)

We do our work book work. It goes brilliantly. No arguing, no complaining, no tears. (Arguing, complaining, tears.)

We do yoga together. (He interrupts yoga 19 times despite me checking that he has everything he needs before I start.)

Kiddo does his vision therapy.

Kiddo takes a shower while I write grocery list and clean out pantry.

I shower.

We meet up with friends at a local library to see the Washington State Old Time Fiddlers group perform. We sing carols. Kiddo cheerfully eats one of the snacks I have in my bag. (It’s never the right snack.)

We get books. He lets me pick several for him. (If it’s not Lego then no way.)

We go grocery shopping. Kiddo is helpful. Pushes cart. (runs into my ankle 3 times before I take the cart away, complains the whole time.)

He helps put the groceries away. (demands he needs food now before he perishes.)

We eat a nice meal and he eats the vegetables. (Do I even need to tell you how this normally goes?)

We lay down together and read a book I picked out, Frindle. This leads to an amazing talk about changing the world and how you can change the world you live in to make it a better place even if you can’t start a scholarship fund. (!!!!!!)

We put together a puzzle, happily. (Kiddo gets frustrated and spews but he wanted to do that part. this is stupid, he’s done.)

We clean two bathrooms, he actually cleans. (??!!??)

We fold laundry, he actually folds and puts it away. (ok this happens normally but usually with a lot of stomping and complaining which was absent today.)

We sit down to watch Worst Cooks and he cuddles nicely. (wiggle, wiggle, head butt mom, complain the dog is squishing him.)

I make dinner and he eats it and says it was yummy mom, thanks. (this is gross, I don’t like this, can I have a quesadilla?)

Tomorrow will be twice as bad to make up for it. LOL. But at least I have this day to remember.

Fiendish Friday: Cheating

Spoiler alert: this is not about marriage infidelity.

So the kiddo and I belong to a homesteaders club. The idea is to learn to do some of those skills that have fallen out of the main stream now that society can run to Whole Foods or Home Depot at will. We went to a Beginners Archery Class for example. The kiddo and I had a great time and decided to take part in a special tournament the club puts on every year at Halloween. Essentially it’s a newbie tournament. An instructor takes each group through a walking hunt course and helps you figure out where to shoot from, how to improve, etc.

So as we are making our way around, I notice I’m not doing as well as I thought I was. Everyone takes turns shooting. Then we all go to the target and figure out our scores. And I just was scoring not quite as well as I thought I was when I was doing the shooting.

At the 8th or 9th target I had this huge ah-arrownadsha moment. See the target was a werewolf and my second arrow had hit him in the nads. Everyone made jokes about it. But after everyone finished their shooting and we went up to score our arrows, this girl claimed my arrow as hers. And I knew it was mine, because HELLO, nads.

After that I started paying really close attention and she was doing it every target. Every time she could get away with it (if both her arrows hit the hay bale, she didn’t try to claim mine).

Really? Really? This is a newbie tournament where the prize is candy. Candy.

On the plus side it lead to a super interesting discussion on cheating with the kiddo.

Oh and I still had the high score for the group. na na na na na. LOL