The letter “E” was a tough one this week. I was having such trouble coming up with something. Oddly, I had the song “Elegance” from Hello Dolly going through my head over and over: “We got elegance/If you ain’t got elegance/You can never ever carry it off.”
Aside from the grammatical errors, the song really made me think. If you are familiar with the film, you know that the characters of Cornelius and Barnaby are pretending to be successful, wealthy men in order to impress girls. Without money, it is difficult, so they convince the girls that doing less expensive things is what all the elegant people do. In a way, they are asking the girls to accept them for who they are.
I remember how much I wanted to fit in when I was in middle school and early high school. Three things stick out in my mind as status symbols: a Forenza sweater, a Swatch watch, and stirrup pants. Eventually–probably after they were almost out of fashion–I wore those things. I had a green sweater, purple and teal plaid pants, and a paisley watch with black “lace” overlay. Considering the frightening combination of those items, I hardly think I qualified as elegant. Or fashionable.
Unfortunately, the youth of today have new requirements to fit in. Besides trying to look like everyone else, a child can be asked to do dangerous or unethical tasks in order to be liked. The beauty of homeschooling is that there can be considerably less pressure to fit in. There is no dressing to impress, no bullying, nor bathroom rendezvous in a homeschool classroom. The student can concentrate more on his studies without such things to worry about.
With a variety of options available to them, homeschooling is the perfect system for teaching children to accept themselves. Parents can adjust the curriculum to their needs and abilities. In the sixth grade, I had a teacher who seated us according to grade average. A homeschooled child will never feel that kind of blow to their self-esteem. She will never feel embarrassed in front of classroom of peers. The whole experience will teach the children that they are important. And that is elegant.
We are on a homeschooling journey and the road has not been smooth. The road has been under construction. I’m not sure when it will look the way I want it to. The road is hardly paved in gold like in the fantasies of Oliver Twist. Instead, I am reminded of the poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Our bumpy road is covered in brambles and undergrowth.
Bumpy Road Ahead!
First there are the naysayers. Most homeschooling parents have heard similar concerns:
- We aren’t qualified.
- The public schools are good enough.
- You aren’t rich enough to homeschool
- Homeschooled kids aren’t socialized enough
We’ve done our research. We’ve weighed all our options. None of these things bother us. We know that we have made the best possible decision for our children and their future. I don’t waste my time trying to convince people anymore. I have a lot of supportive people on my side who I can talk to when things get tough.
It’s hard to start homeschooling, even with the most thorough preparation. Curriculum choice is tough. This year, we put together a mishmash of different materials for each subject. For some subjects, we had chosen wisely; they engaged our children and kept their interest. Some of the books I had chosen didn’t even hold my interest. Next year, our son will be attending a virtual school where all the materials will be provided. Hopefully, they will keep him interested. I am not sure what we’ll do with our daughter. She doesn’t seem to sit still long enough for much of anything.
It’s difficult to teach anything substantial to young children. They will be listening to a story one minute, then hear the garbage truck outside. I am learning to break up subjects into short, little sessions. That way, if they are distracted, we have covered the key points for that session. I am also learning that the flashier the lesson, book, or materials are, the more excited the kids are about sitting next to me for a lesson. I am slowly discovering their personal learning styles. My son is a kinesthetic learner, using his hands and objects to figure out solutions to problems, how to make states and countries, or how to spell a word. His sister is an auditory learner in a way; much of her knowledge comes from listening to her brother and modeling him.
As difficult as this first year has been, it has been so worth it to see our children learn firsthand. Whether it be from hands-on instruction or self-discovery, these tidbits of knowledge they are soaking up are valuable. I am very happy and blessed that we decided to homeschool our children. Although our road has been bumpy, I’m sure it will eventually smooth out.