Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A bit of a change from the curriculum reviews-  I was chatting with a home educating mom, who told me about a conversation with another mom who is worried that most home educated children grow up to become unmotivated adults who expect that everything will come easily to them.  That mom had become so convinced of this that she's sending her children to school in the fall.

I've been thinking about this, and of course I began by considering our own children, three of whom are now adults (24, 22, and 20 years old right now.)  All three of them have worked at coffee shops and often had to be at work at 5:30 to have the shop ready for 6:00 opening.  One son was a courtesy clerk at a grocery store and used to jog back into the store after putting groceries in someone's trunk.  All have been commended by their employers for being reliable, diligent staff.  So I really don't believe the generalization that home educated children and youth will be "losers" as adults.

There are a few things that I can link to our children's good attitudes.  They had reasonably good examples.  My husband and I do our own work.  We've never paid to have anything done that we could reasonably do ourselves, from housecleaning and yard work to home repairs and painting.  We expected help from the children as they were able, and they had regular chores.

Beyond that, they have had jobs to provide themselves with the things that they have wanted beyond their basic needs.  Our son wanted a quality bass guitar, so he took that courtesy clerk job, and earned it.  Our other son wanted woodworking tools so he has served up a lot of coffee.  Our daughter wanted more financial independence so she had a cleaning job at a church camp.  They know that there is a link between effort and financial reward. 

I think that their successes in post-secondary education have been due to their understanding that only their own efforts can take them to their goals.  They knew when they were applying to colleges and universities without any high school credits, with no diploma and no government issued transcript that they had to be exemplary students.  They had to work with us to prove that they deserved to be there, and they have done that.  They hand essays in on time.  They study for their exams.  They do more than their share on group projects because they do not want to receive a grade based on the slacker attitudes of others in their groups.  

I think we led them to that attitude of diligence by requiring that they have a daily schedule at home.  We typically began the educational part of our day soon after breakfast and we worked through the morning.  They used their afternoons for music practice, or independent study, and were allowed to watch television or play with friends only after the work of the day was complete.  Beyond that, the experience of home education kept them from adopting a standard that was "just good enough."  I knew what they were able to achieve and I expected that they would live up to that.  The job of a parent is to see and unlock the potential of their child, and that includes the expectation that they live up to that potential.

None of this happens every day or in a day.  There isn't a magic formula.  But it grows from daily attention to the daily work of life.  And it ends up in a generation equipped for their own lives.

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