Our family has gone through some serious upheaval over the past two years. We’re talking big city to small town relocation, major job changes, the birth of our youngest, and the final resignation of my job as I officially became a stay at home mom (SAHM) for an indefinite period to deal with our children’s special needs. Whew! I can feel my stress level rising just thinking about it.
Our family embraces change with the best of them, and we tend to take many things in stride. Dealing with two children with complex needs is just something we do. Homeschooling to support serious academic needs? Done. Countless medical appointments and therapist visits? You got it. An active and healthy life style? It’s even better, now that we’re relocated to a small town surrounded by forest and farmland.
The kids are happy, my husband’s happy, and I’m happy. So what’s the freak out about?
*gulp* I’m turning forty. Like really soon. (more…)
I recently left my job in a poverty law office to start a daycare and pre-school. Before opening my home, I researched every aspect of the business; at least I thought I did. Since I’d been homeschooling since forever, I thought that my new venture would be an extension of what I had been doing. What you can’t find written in pages of wisdom is how to get through the day with young children – that is something you have to experience on your own. (more…)
Over the past ten years, my daughter has read quite a few books. She started reading books like The Berenstain Bears series when she was two or three years old; it was a favorite activity to do with her grandma.
By age six she was really into the Magic Tree House series, devouring them as soon as she got them home. She also had some strange requests at age six, like the book Growing Up in Mississippi. Personally, I thought that was a fine book for her to read, except for the third part which talks about the main character’s high school years (and experiences that accompany that time of life).
Of course I was in mom heaven, having a child who was such an avid reader. Her interest in reading spilled over into school, and she participated in various reading programs, and won some medals; which she absolutely loved.
The majority of the books she has read since age six have either been on a required school list of readings, suggested readings, part of a competition (like Battle of the Books), or popular books approved by her peers and teenagers (e.g. The Hunger Games).
Two years ago we told her that she needed to read some classics as well.
We explained that there is at least one reason why certain books are internationally recognized, and how books like The Hunger Games are partially a product of these classics’ influence on the new authors. My assignment for her (as a part of homeschool) was to read Frederick Douglass, a child-friendly version of The Hunger Games.
Her father’s assignment immediately after Frederick Douglass was The Lord of the Flies. She lives with her dad on weekends, but there was no escaping this reading ‘thing’ her parents were making her do! Poor girl! No breaks on weekdays or weekends.
I really tried to get her to enjoy reading Frederick Douglass. She and I talked about American history and how this book was about overcoming enslavement, and that it was important for her to read this as an African-American girl. I told her she could read whatever she wanted when she was finished, or even read a book of her choice simultaneously with this one. Nothing worked. She went from reading a book a week, to taking six months to finish Frederick Douglass’ biography. Lord of the Flies took a year for her to finish, and she really did not enjoy reading it.
After these two parent ‘fails’, I really just wanted her to read. I wanted her to rekindle the passion she had for reading and so I let her read almost whatever she liked. Her choices are actually pretty good. Some books have deep moral meanings, and some just talk about fun stuff like fart powder for the bathtub.
We used to keep books organized by content, but now we have shelves that carry books about varying subjects. By doing this, we hope that while she’s looking for a book to read, her eye may be caught by East Africa’s History, or The Prophet, or The Human Body, or something else she wouldn’t typically think she’d like.
Do you have a set of boundaries on what your child/ren can read? If so, what do you base it on? Have you tried to introduce different books to your child/ren? If so, how were they received?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Sophia. You can find her blogging at Think Say Be and on twitter @ThinkSayBeSNJ.
Photo credit to the author.
I love this quote … “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead
In fact, I like it so much that I made you a pin.
We get so very caught up in the busyness of life, that it is easy to say – oh what can I do? Where will my voice be heard? How could just one person make a difference? And if everyone felt that way, then truly, nothing at all would be done and life would simply stagnate or deteriorate into some awful quagmire of miserable fate … or something equally dramatic.
But if you speak up, even just a little and find a cause that speaks to your heart – you will actually be heard. I know this for sure, and not only has my voice been heard, but my life has been enriched by the relationships forged with those who want to make a difference. Doors have opened and led me down new paths, and it is as though bright windows of light have reached deep into my soul for how very blessed I have been. (more…)
On her visit to our home last October my mother had a lot of one-on-one time with my three year old son. While I was in the hospital giving birth to my fifth child, she was asking some serious questions. In this short period of time my mother came to a serious conclusion; her grandson doesn’t know about God. (more…)
I always swore I would never home-school my children. I know many people do, and do it quite successfully, but I’m awfully fond of the quiet that descends on my house after they’ve tromped off to school. If that tromping were only happening from the bedroom to, say, the kitchen table, I think I might simply lock myself in the bathroom and never come out.
But as so often happens, my vow has collided with reality and I have found myself, in recent weeks, trolling home-schooling websites in search of teaching resources. My kids are now 9 (nine and a half, he would say indignantly) and 13; they go to a British school here in Abu Dhabi. That means they’ve spent a lot of time learning various English kings and queens, although they can’t recite them all in order. They study “maths,” and do prep rather than homework; they study English history and geography; they read mostly English writers in their literature classes. In addition to all those Anglo studies, they take Arabic language classes four days a week and once-weekly class called “Islamic Studies.” The Arabic classes are mandated by ADEC (Abu Dhabi Education Council) and I have to say, I’m much more interested in my kids learning Arabic than I am in their ability to name all the English kings and queens.
Having the boys be in an English system has been a learning curve for all of us. We’re learning two languages, actually, Arabic and, well, English: the boys now live in a world where things are “grey,” luggage goes in the “boot,” and we put garbage in the “bin.”
I’m not considering a dabble in the home-schooling system in order to beef up my boys’ appreciation of the Queen’s English, however. My kids, like every schoolchild in the country, have a curriculum that is at least in part determined by the UAE government, and that means there are things that aren’t supposed to be taught. I live in a place where censorship happens and where, unlike the States, the policies cannot be overtly challenged in the courts. So, for instance, in the States if you live in a town where they want to ban the Harry Potter books, you can take the school district to court. Not here.
We had to sign a permission slip so that our older son could get the science textbook that included the chapter on reproduction (with pictures of, you know, the embarrassing bits); his Latin class translates vinum as … grape, not wine. These are relatively small annoyances, although of course they are far from ideal.
There are, however, more serious concerns in terms of what shouldn’t be included in history courses and literature courses, and that’s where I find myself trolling the home-schooling sites for resources. The Holocaust can’t be taught here; Israel and Judaism are not supposed to be mentioned here; communism isn’t supposed to be discussed; evolution isn’t supposed to be taught; and the list goes on. Sometimes it feels as if we’re living in some kind of Bible-thumping town in the rural U.S and I realize, yet again, that fundamentalism can be seen as a global phenomenon that differs only in the nature of its prohibitions: the fear that motivates the prohibitions stays constant.
Before you leap to any conclusions, please know that the Muslim families I know are as frustrated by these government-issued edicts as are the non-Muslim families and many of us have talked together about what we can do to help our children gain a full picture of the world, regardless of what the government says. So it is that what in some contexts (living in Manhattan, for instance) would be a purely theoretical discussion has become in our household, a very pragmatic series of conversations.
Think about it: how would you talk to your kids about censorship? Is censorship always bad? Think about your children, if you have them, and the internet: are there sites you say they can’t see, or have you put a filter or something on your computer to prevent certain kinds of access? Do we agree that there is such a thing as “good” censorship? (Because of that whole teenage-boy-surfing-the-internet thing, I see a (slight) upside to living in a “nanny state.” I am fairly sure that if he wanted to look, my son wouldn’t be able to find basic porn–not to say that if he really wanted to dig around he couldn’t elude the censors, but at this point, I think his porn-directed vocabulary is still too limited to get around the government blocks. I guess we file that under “thank goodness for small favors,” right? )
My husband and I are both professors, and so we are able to bolster and supplement what isn’t happening in school, but we are also having a lot of conversations with our kids about censorship, politics, and the necessity of thinking about things in ways that are different from how we might think about them. We point out that the UAE isn’t Saudi Arabia; there is no Taliban here; the country is not governed by a theocracy of any sort. We know Jewish families who live here; I know gay couples who live here; a Mormon family lives next door to us. I see people on the beach in the scantiest of scanty bathing suits.
Living here means coming to term with nuance, with ambiguity, with living in a world that is organized around “both/and,” rather than “either/or.” The country is progressive and conservative; censorship is a problem that has a context; learning happens as much from what is not there as it does from what is there. It’s complicated and let’s be honest — no nine year old, no thirteen year old—and very few adults—really likes ambiguity. After all, if there is no “in-between” answer, life becomes much easier, doesn’t it?
No, of course I’m not happy that my kids have a biology textbook with the word “pig” marked out. Of course, I’m also not pleased that the Anglo-centric curriculum also neglects things like the US Civil War, other than in the most general sense. But I will say that I think it is, and will continue to be, a powerful learning experience for my children (and us) to have to confront and think about what it means to live in a place where the government attempts to exert such extensive control. I like to think that, paradoxically, these attempts at censorship will make my children more open-minded adults.
Have you ever been confronted with censorship? How have you dealt with it?