A Lee Learning Log

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Chocolate Milk

We are milking the goats this week so we are getting about two gallons of milk a day. If anyone wants to try some, pulllease come and get it!! We just tried this recipe and it's a winner with the kids.

1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup cooked sweet potato
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. stevia or sugar to taste
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder

Blend until smooth and creamy--yum

Look for a future "page element" with my keeper recipes.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Great Socializing

I knew a lady who said whenever she finished a book she would make herself read the whole Book of Mormon before she read another book. I could never do that but I do admire the principle behind her discipline: balance secular reading with spiritual feeding. Since January, I’ve been trying to read my scriptures every day for at least five minutes. I really have to acknowledge good friends who inspire me to make good habits. Some days when I would wake up a little early, instead of turning over and sleeping more, I would think of those gals I know who are really trying to read scriptures regularly, and then grab my BOM and spend a little more time reading. I know the best reason to keep commandments is because I love God, but it sure helps to have great social pressure to actually start the cycle of reading more and feeling God’s love more and loving Him more, ect.

There seems to be a common theme running through almost every book I read and every new idea that I hear about: the benefits of great socialization or support. I’ve always thought of myself as pretty capable and self sufficient. Occasionally, I get overwhelmed because of challenging situations so I seek out help to make it through the hard times, but other than that I pretty much just do my own thing. Now I’m learning that to make positive changes when things are going smoothly I have to seek out those that are ahead of me on the path. Even in prosperous, happy times I can evaluate and improve with the help of mentors to push and challenge me. These people help me see what I cannot see alone. Interestingly, I also feel more desire, patience, and compassion to reach out and “pay forward” the benefits because I feel so blessed myself. It’s a whole new way of being knit together with people.

My favorite book this week was The Well adjusted Child, the Social Benefits of Homeschooling. I admit, when I started homeschooling Mason two years ago I was a little concerned about him missing out on the socializing that goes along with public school. Since then, I have had so many positive experiences with his “socialization” that I truly started wondering about the “best” way to socialize a child. I wanted to understand more about proper social behavior and how a person learns it. Is the formal school setting the “Gold Standard” which all other social settings must strive to emulate in order to turn out a socially competent child, adolescent, and adult? This book helped me realize socializing happens all day every day and since I am around my kids the most, I can teach them the social lessons I feel are most important as they interact with lots of other kids who are homeschooled or not.

Even in our society today where most of us have been socialized through public school, there is a surprisingly varied definition of “proper socialization”. When people find out that I am homeschooling everyone asks me, “What are you doing about the social?” I’ve come to realize this means something different almost every time. They are really asking: Does he have friends? Is she comfortable in groups? Does he have table manners? Is he cool? Respectable? Respectful? Do they blend in with the other kids or rise above the rest of the crowd? Are they learning skills for successful relationships? Our family with some other homeschool families that have the same values are more than adequate to fulfill all these needs.

I kept Lena home for school after the spring break. At school, she saw more “friends” in one place in one day, but they didn’t actually play or interact at school very much. Lena said recess and snack time is when she got to talk to her friends. There are so many of our friends homeschooling that she has more interaction with friends now overall. And of course, she still plays with her friends that go to school, too. Consequently, she doesn’t "miss" her friends at school at all. (Just a side note: she stopped biting her fingernails since we started schooling her at home.)

I really didn’t understand that elementary age children have a real and intense developmental need to form a strong connection with an adult. When the child is physically separated from the parents most of the day at school, and the teacher is unable to form this kind of connection (too many other kids in the class/changing teachers every year) then the child looks to fulfill that need with the only other available person, the peer in the classroom. Consequently, a child comes to value the opinions of his school-age peers more than those of his family because his relationships with his peers are stronger than his relationship with his parents. It's called peer dependency and it has negative effects on families. However, if you are aware of this tendancy, you can make every effort to strengthen the bond with your child. It just seems so much harder with them gone for so long every day.

Here are my favorite quotes from the book:
Perhaps the greatest gift of homeschooling is a social one: that the choice to homeschool forces families to learn how to live together peacefully, how to maintain true discipline and relationships in the household (rather than just the ability to get by and periodically escape), and how to get along and enjoy each other’s company (rather than just surviving the finite periods of time between school and sleep).

“In homeschool, children are physically and emotionally close to their parents. They have the opportunity to observe their parents’ friendships and social interactions and model their own social behavior after that of their older, more experienced parents rather than after that of other young children who are only “beginners” like themselves.”

Unnaturally large quantity of exposure to interaction with peers, when not balanced with adequate contact, guidance, and relationship with friendly adults, is unhealthy. Certainly it is debatable whether the current system is socializing children into healthy adults, considering the rates of divorce, crime, suicide, and so on as they are today.

The idea that early and abundant independence from parents is desirable may be part of an overall societal pressure on kids and parents toward early, forced independence. More and more research is showing, and parents are discovering, that strong attachment bonds between child and parents, not forced independence, creates happy children and healthy socialization. Parents want to teach their children what they consider to be healthy social skills, rather than send them to learn whatever skills they might happen to learn from their peers.

Dr. William Sears refers to what he calles “the detachment snowball.” According to the idea, the more time parents and kids spend apart, the less parents know and understand their kids; the less responsive, respectful, and communicative both parents and kids become; and the more time both need away from each other.

Books Read in 2008

  • The Well Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole T
  • Leadership Education by Oliver and Rachel Demille TJ
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte TJ
  • None Dare Call it Education by John A. Stormer TJ
  • Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto TJ
  • Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard TJ
  • Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott and Wallace Goddard T
  • The Lonesome Gods by Loius L'amour TJ
  • The Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion by Oliver and Rachel Demille and Diann Jeppson T
  • The Chosen by Chaim Potok TJ
  • Laddie by Gene Stratton Porter TJ