She misses science most

My sweet Joy wants to be an inventor ….  I mean a scientist …… I mean a biologist ….I mean  a writer … I mean an actor ….  when she grows up.   She’s quite diverse in her interests.  And though school is really not what she thought it would be, she tells me that one of the things that she misses most about homeschooling is science.  She says that science in her current situation consists of the teacher talking about the terms listed in the book and then a video (almost every day?) of SOMEBODY ELSE doing a science experiment.  She said, “So, we sit and watch … and none of these kids have probably ever even gotten to do a science experiment. It makes me so sad, Mama.” Little red insects

We’ve been so blessed.  In both of the co-ops in which she has participated, she has gotten to do something hands on every single week that she has attended. Each co-op met once a week for group activities with assignments at home for the other four days of the week.

In reality, we live science.  We talk about it day in day out…. WHEN she is with me.
Therein lies the crux of the problem.
She is not with me any more.

We were a part of a Classical Conversations co-op for two years.  I was her tutor/teacher there, so I got to lead her through science experiments at the co-op.  We were also part of an independent co-op here in Augusta for two years.  She had a different teacher each year at Westminster’s co-op.  She LOVED their classes and her instructors. We used Jay Wile’s Apologia curriculum written by Jeannie Fulbright. We studied swimming creatures one year and flying creatures another.   The books are absolutely excellent.  Joy & I both ate them up.  Each is written to the child, with a strong God/Creator focus.  Out of all the books that I am culling, these two years of science books WILL NOT be traded, sold or given away. I believe that Joy could tell you about many of the days in science and what she did, if she was given a topic prompt.  She was a part of everything from building bird houses to classifying shells.  We learned about refraction and osmosis, energy, condensation and inertia.

And so, she pines for touchable, breathable, movable, participatory science. .... Joy finding a praying mantis on the bay window .....Let me be clear here:  I do not blame her science teacher for less-than-exciting science classes.  He has twenty six students in his class, and he teaches alone. I have spoken with him and like him very much.  He is personable and likable. I’m sure he would make an excellent science teacher to a smaller group of children where he did not have the state standards, state issued books and national tests to be his motivator and guide.

In co-op, there were between ten and eighteen students in each class. There was always a helper/mom in the classroom to support and assist the teacher/tutor in anyway that would be helpful.  It is the nature of the beast that “traditional” school  to teach to the middle and hope that the bottom catch it and top aren’t bored. May I add here: Traditional school is not truly traditional.  Our current way of teaching children in groups of 15-25 students has only become popular in the last one hundred years.  During the 2,000 years before, children were given individual or very small group {ie: family sized}  instruction. Our current public/private school set up does not lend itself to exploration of the outdoors. It does not lend itself to rabbit trails of the currently applicable, as there is a set goal with a test to come at the end of the chapter, and a national test at the end of the year.  ... close up of the Praying Mantis ....Just as God put an insatiable curiosity within Joy’s being, He put an insatiable desire to help within mine. I had someone point out that I didn’t have to feel disconnected from Joy just because she was in public school.  The public school teachers are always looking for help and support and would likely embrace my desire to help in someway.  In my heart of hearts, I’d love to offer to help someway, but know that I that I know that I must muffle my heart desires this year and truly focus on school…. especially if I want to bring Joy home again next year.  I do not know if there is anyway for this to happen, but what I do know is that I must finish school well.

May I confess that, in reality, I feel like a cheater.  I am using the public school system as a babysitter while I get my education because I have had stripped from me the freedom to fulfill my responsibility which is to teach my child. The repercussions of being a single mom feel deeper and wider than I expected.

This past quarter has been exceptionally difficult.  My classes weren’t hard, but my distractions were great.  With Joy at home with older siblings while summer fun should have been my priority, I was leaving home before she even rolled out of bed.  Rather than spending my energy on exploring with her in our last weeks of her freedom, I found myself distracted and a myriad of single mom tasks. There simply was not enough of “me” to go around and I know that I must use this school year of Joy’s to focus on my school year, so that I can learn and become skilled in the areas that I want to use to earn an income. The better prepared I am, the more I will be able to choose my job and secure some freedom for my years left with at home with Joy.

My point is that I don’t believe Joy had expected that she would ever be less than enthralled when someone mentioned science.  But, as she pours her heart out to me, she shares that she misses touching, digging and exploring.  She misses catching skinks, watching slugs leave trails and finding out what bird is sitting on the bird feeder.   Her classroom just isn’t set up to come across these things … and I empathize with her fully.

I wish things were different.
And maybe they won’t always be like this.
But for now, she misses science most.

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