Friday, May 29, 2009

What are you going to do about a second language?

Neil & i were visiting with a work acquaintance of his when the subject of our children's home education was brought up.
He asked what we were going to do about second language.
i felt pretty confident when i replied, "They will have holes in their education."
He nodded - i could tell he thought i was a fruit loop - & i hate defending my decisions to people who think i'm a fruit loop - so i refrained.
When i got home & was better able to think through my response, i decided i said just what i would have wanted to say. (Love it when that happens instead of the usual, "Doh, i wish i would've said___")
i grew up in french immersion - so learning french in our home is not out of the question - & we've done a bit here & there with different words & phrases. We've also explored the latin & greek roots of many of our words, but i wouldn't say that any of them have had nearly enough training in any language other than english to say that they had a second language.
So, there's a hole in their education.
There. i've admitted it. & i do feel better for it. i can't defend homeschooling by saying that my children will have a far superior education to children in the public system... (although, some homeschool moms certainly could - i've seen them in action, these gifted teachers & it is a thing of beauty to behold...)
i'm also not giving up before our horse has even left the start gate. i'm learning right along with my little ones & i'm definitely giving them as many opportunities for learning and growth as i can. i'm delving into some of the subjects that (can i admit it?) constitute the holes in my own education.
What??!! Holes in *my* education? But, i went to public school... French immersion for the most part, - surely there can be no holes in a public school education?? *grin*.
The thing is, we all have holes in our education. None of us has arrived. There is always new territory to conquer - languages to learn - history to remember - science to discover. What i want for my children is to foster a love of learning. i want to give them the tools to find the answers - and to be able to communicate ideas. i want to give them the freedom to explore their interests - and to be challenged by the mastering of the tools needed to get to that place.
But, most of all -
i want to give them *home*.
i want their childhood memories to be full of each other - with their friends playing supporting roles, but their family playing the lead. i want to show them that learning doesn't just take place in an institution - it's something that we can take with us into each & every situation in our life. i want to expose them to our worldview - to saturate their childhood with conversations *with* and *about* God.
i want them to grow in wisdom and stature and favour with God and man. (Luke 2:52)
& this is a goal that for *me* is best carried out in this little green house.
I find i need that volume of time. The quantity seems to be a vital ingredient for me.
Can i rephrase that a third time for emphasis? :)
Those hours are imperative for me to work towards my goal...
i want to tell you a funny little daydream i had the other day - because i sound all hard-core homeschoolish in this post & i hardly even recognize myself.
i daydreamed about putting a certain little person in public school.
We're struggling - yeh - all those beautiful ideas about fostering relationships, & giving them tools to learn, & igniting the passion for learning... it's hard work sometimes. So, the day dream came. Someone else could take the reigns of academics & i would be free to work on the fun stuff. i smiled as i dreamed of this freedom. Ahhhh, no more taking it to heart when i have to explain something for the 8th (hundredth) time. No more shame when they write a note to their friend that is completely illegible. Maybe magically, this child would now find academics to be *easy*. Suddenly, the gears on my day dream started to grind. i imagined something a little more realistic. i go to parent teacher interviews. My child is still struggling. They ask me to make sure that we are working on x, & y at home & i'm hit with the realization that *some kids struggle* - in public school, in homeschool, in private school...

& mine is one of them.

Will all of those problems magically disappear if i decide to send that child?
Not likely.
Will i have to sacrifice a lot of the good stuff we're doing here to make an effort for it to happen there?
Is it worth it for me?
Not a chance.
So, to end this incredibly long pep talk to myself - i will soften my seeming 'hardcore' stance by telling you that Neil & i consider *each and every year* what we will be doing with our littles the next year. Some years, i'm vibrating with anticipation for the year ahead & to set my plans in motion - some years, i'm full of self-doubt & quaking fear.
Holes can be darned (hehe) second languages can later be learned.
For, now i am going to give my children:


deborah said...

Yikes, I just realized that I spent 18 years of my life in school. And honestly, there were (and still ARE!) many holes in my question about it.

Giving your children the tools to learn I think is awesome. So what if there are holes - there will be regardless of the 'type of schooling' in my opinion - but at least they will be equipped to 'deal' with them! Koodos to you!

Lisa said...

That was such an awesome post Paige! You've described exactly how I feel about homeschooling right now!
Of course it took me many years to realize this was homeschooling (with holes and fears and everything else) and it was okay :)

Stephanie said...

Interesting that I received a letter saying if I did not complete the French program with the kids, I would be forfeiting my $100 deposit and it would be taken from my fees. I guess I'll count my loss and there'll be holes in my kiddos education. :)

The Nieboer News said...

Great post Paige!

jessica jespersen said...

I know i said i was going to post simultaneously... but copying yours to my blog and signing my name would work much better i'm thinkin'. I was told this week that Greek and Latin don't count as learning a second language even though i'm not just doing the roots next year but delving into translating Greek....I guess second language in Canada only counts if you're learning French. This post mirrors my heart as well. Great job hammering these thoughts into words P. smooches--j

mamalena said...

What french most of us learned in high school you could teach your children in two weeks...haha. On the other hand the Latin and Greek...which no-one has been learning for several generations now, will help them be able to decipher lots of languages and English word meanings. Anyhow, if or when you decide to give them some French (I think it might be fun) you should all do it at once (say at Medeival camp)You are certainly all capable of it if you want to.

Your post reminds me of Paul Simons lyrics, "When I look back on all the c**p I learned in high school It’s a wonder I can think at all."...haha...A song that truly resonated with the class of 1970. We all have holes in our education...We can't all be Stephen Hawking.. =)sorry so long...I think you are doing a great job!! mama

Anonymous said...

I found French class in Junior High a complete waste of time... of course it didn't help that I didn't take Grade 7 French because we lived in BC and it wasn't offered at that level in that province. In Saskatchewan kids got French at Grade 7 so when we moved I was put in a Grade 8 French class with no preparation whatsoever. And yes, the poor teacher tried (kept me in and extra homework etc.) but I barely passed in Grade 8... Grade 9 I took it again and failed the course... Then I got to University and had to have a second language so did French in the spring and summer sessions. I passed but immediately upon completion forgot everything I ever learned... so there are worse things than not learning another language. I did regret that I didn't know more French (or some other language) when I was with YWAM in places like Belgium where it would have come in handy for communicating.

And, as far as homeschool goes... there have been some days lately that I have felt like a homeschooling Mum, despite the fact that Alisdair goes to public school Grade 4. The amount of homework (especially Math and spelling) he brings home is crazy... as John says "Why is the teacher getting paid for YOU to teach him how to do this...." -- and the "new math" seems like a weird way of doing it -- but maybe it IS easier for kids to grasp, I don't know.... I suppose she has so many kids to deal with that when he doesn't understand he sits there staring into space and twiddling his thumbs... and then comes home and needs one-on-one assistance to get the assignment done! A few nights ago I was trying to explain with Math -- "just follow the pattern" and he said several days later that my one little piece of advice had helped... so maybe there is a little "teacher" in all of us... And then there are the days Ally phones "Teacher Granny" for advice (when Mum doesn't know the answer!!)

If any one has good ideas for drilling multiplication tables into a kid's memory... let me know. Probably half our struggles right now are because small boy hasn't learned the tables yet and doesn't really want to do it...

Good luck with your educational endeavours... one day at a time... keep on keeping on and "one day the light bulb" will come on and the understanding will come to each little head! Since we live in a small town and the school is pretty good (only 187 students, I think) I've sent him so far. But if I had to, maybe I'd try the home instruction... I guess it all depends on the kid and the circumstances of the institution in question. So far, so good, but I'll keep my fingers crossed!!

Sherilyn said...

There will NOT be holes in your childrens' education. Instead they will have a richness that kids who go through the system will not. The holes are found withing the system itself which is not designed to meet individual needs. Your little one who struggles is MUCH better off with you!


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