As I said in my last post, when I undertook the task of writing an Educational Philosophy, I was not thrilled about it. But it proved to be enlightening. The first section of the Educational Philosophy is about the child. It gives you an opportunity to think about what you want your child to get out of the homeschooling experience.
Since we were removing Emily for medical reasons, it seemed obvious at first. We need her to get a nap…every day. But there were other things as well. The school she attended before had a rewards system based upon circles: red, yellow, green, silver and gold. The child’s name moved from circle to circle based upon behavior. You could be on gold all day, then have a tantrum over picking up toys at the end of the day and end up on red. Needless to say, last year Emily ended up on red or yellow at the end of almost every day. She did so because by that time she was just too tired to make good choices.
It was a system that did not recognize the individual’s needs. It had some pretty devastating effects on Emily’s self-esteem as well. I can’t tell you the number of times that I picked her up and she said…I’m on red, Mommy. Like I was going to love her less because she was on red!?! To make matters worse, there was the day when she asked my why the little boy who was bullying her on the playground was on gold and she was on red. Try explaining the fairness of that system where because he picked up a couple of toys he was gold after saying mean and hurtful things to her and others.
This section encouraged me to think about Emily’s behavioral issues, which on a bad day can be horrifying. What message did I want to send to her? I recognized that some of her actions were the result of her tiredness, but others there simply a five-year old testing boundaries. Not easy to discern the difference. If the school had applied a one-size fits all standard of conduct, I knew that I wanted to communicate a wider range of acceptable. But I also needed to challenge her to give it her best shot.
I made a decision not to have a behavioral chart at all, but rather to deal with each situation as an individual incident, handle it quickly and move on. There are some times when it is easy. Last Wednesday was library day, but we had to stop at the bank first. I could tell her patience was short. So rather than place her in a situation that set her up for failure, we went to the store bought some Play Dough and went home to make things. We had an early lunch and nap too. Homeschooling allowed me the flexibility to meet her individual needs something that no school could ever do. That is why we have sacrificed so much for this decision.
So as you sit down to write The Child section of your Educational Philosophy ask yourself what did you like about your child’s school, what was not so good, what makes your child unique and perhaps most importantly…what kind of person do you want your child to become. From there, you will be better able to state your reasons for choosing to home educate.
Below is an excerpt from The Child section of our Educational Philosophy. Perhaps it will give you some ideas:
Emily’s parents began to re-examine their values in terms of her medical and educational needs. Emily’s mother had long felt that many of the hyper-excitable and almost uncontrollable behaviors that the school dismissed as discipline issues were in fact effects of her medical condition. In addition, the pronunciation difficulties that had been observed and tracked since nursery might in fact be directly related to seizures. The most obvious problem was of course how to manage the tiredness. Since Emily was getting more than the recommended number of hours of sleep for a child her age and had a well-structured bed-time routine, there was little that her parents could do to augment her sleep other than to provide an afternoon nap, a strategy that had proved effective over the summer term. Yet the school routine did not allow for the implementation of this intervention.
After considerable discussion, Emily’s parents decided that it would be in the best interest of their daughter to remove her from school and educate her at home. This decision would allow Emily’s mother to monitor her health condition and make adjustments to her learning schedule on a daily basis. It would also enable her to optimize learning by scheduling core subjects of reading, writing and math in the early mornings when she was most alert. Most importantly, it would allow for Emily to nap and/or rest in the early afternoon when she was at her most tired and hyper-excitable.
Next week, we will get into the nitty gritty of the Educational Philosophy, the nuts and bolts of the how and look at options that we choose with Emily and why.