Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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Academics vs Values

If you follow my blog you know how very important academics are to me.  When I talk about our homeschooling experience with other homeschoolers I often hear "that's nice, but we are not so competitive academically, it is more important to me that my children's values are in order.  I've always felt that such a comment was a slight towards me...  You ask me how my kids are doing in homeschooling, and I rattle off their academic achievements.  Then you make a smart -alecky remark that says what I just told you was unimportant.  Meh.  Whatever.

I used to feel that people were threatened by the impression I gave that book-learnin was the single most important value in homeschooling.  Now I don't really care.  But, with that said, you should know that values are indeed very important in our homeschooling journey.  But if you ask me what my kids are doing homeschooling wise, I am going to talk about math and reading and such.  That's just how I'm wired.  That doesn't mean that my kids' hearts aren't of the utmost importance to me.

This is how I have tackled values with my kids.  Every year, I have spent the summer evaluating them. How they act towards each other.  How they act towards their parents.  How they treat their friends. How they manage their lives.  I pinpoint the thing that I feel needs the most improvement and I choose that as the value of the year for that child.   This year, with my remaining homeschooler, in her last year, I have chosen time management.  I think that is the only thing about her that I feel I can affect at this point.

Things I am doing to help her with time management:
  • Writing a daily checklist with times on it.  If left to her own devices, she will do math all day (or any other subject) and never get to the other subjects... she just sometimes has no idea of how long she's worked on one thing.)
  • Making her responsible to be ready in time to get to things that are important for her.  I will not remind her over and over to be ready for her to stay on her schedule that she set. 
  • Allowing her to drive (reward) if she is ready to go somewhere with a 10-15 minute cushion. 
I pray that that is enough to get her more aware of and respectful of time.  I hate to say it, but she gets it from her dad (yes, I said that)... He's got that laid-back Jamaican vibe and he is only respectful of time when its on his agenda.  That's probably why I haven't tackled this value until now... it has been an uphill battle.

I am sharing this mostly because I have counseled with a couple of homeschoolers lately who have had a laundry list of value-type items they want their homeschooled kids to comply to.  Things like, spend more time in the family room and less in the bedroom, play more outside and less video games, complete assignments on time, and yada-yada.  My advice is always the same thing I have been doing all along.  Pick the one item that is driving you completely up the wall, and work on that.  When that value is tackled and improved, you can move on to the next one.  Pick your battles.  You will all be happier for it.



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