‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Friday, November 09, 2007

Home Schooling, One Week In

I think I'm moving towards a middle ground between typical homeschooling and unschooling - at least that seems to be how it's taking form right now. An online friend who also homeschools, reminded me "remember not to underestimate her - and remember it is easier to pull back expectations than do the opposite." I need to remind myself of that every day. Regardless of what I am feeling worry-wise, it is all very exciting.

Tonight we researched a few traditional Russian dishes she missed and then went shopping for ingredients. I let her write out the list, figure out the money we needed, choose the items, and pay for the items. She's still in the kitchen working on another recipe and it's 11pm at night! I think this foray into Russian cooking was inspired by our current book, which is a history-based, fictionalized diary of Anastasia Romanov and her life in Imperial Russia. It's bringing up a lot of memories from Russia, but mostly the good ones.

Regarding memories, we walk the dogs each night down to a local elementary school, and our new ritual is, we stop at the swings, and she swings for about a half hour while the dogs run around, and she does her own unique version of therapy. She climbs onto the swing, swings VERY high, and talks non-stop about experiences at the orphanage . I'm allowed only to listen...no questions. It has just kind of evolved over the past few weeks, and I'm learning her 'rules' as we go along, but she seems to really enjoy it. On the way home last night she had her arm around me all the way home and leaned her head on my shoulder.." Mom, I really like my swinging therapy...It feels good." she said. I, of course, according to the rules, was silent, but gave her a hug of recognition.

Cute phrase of the week (because these slip-ups are happening so infrequently now ...)

'Mom! Have a patient !' ( when I was rushing her to get her shoes on...)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Homeschooling (er, unschooling) Begins!

The New England Academy for Highly Spirited Russian girls named Anastasia has officially opened.

After a week visiting family in Florida, we are home and settling in to our home school routine. I have to admit, Anastasia is getting used to it far faster than I am. I'm still struggling with worry -- Will I be a good teacher for her? Will she actually learn anything from me? Is it ok that we do actual schooling during after school hours? Will I even survive the first week?

But I'm trying, oh so hard, to be easier on myself. Why? Because Anastasia is positively radiant with this change. Her personality has truly blossomed . She is more open, more hopeful, more positive, and best of all...more willing to say yes to things like emptying the dishwasher when asked! (Of course I'm kidding. I'm far happier about her current state of happiness than her willingness to do chores...) Anyway, it is like watching a chick emerge from its shell. It's fascinating to watch.

Still, we are taking it very slow. We are focusing mostly on reading, handwriting, and printing penmanship now - as those are her most glaring weaknesses, and the areas that bother her the most. We are also spending lots of time together walking the beach & through the woods. She asks me a thousand questions about each plant, each shell, each animal we see. And where she was always sullen and withdrawn after school, now she is so energetic and up for adventures when she gets up that I'm completely exhausted in two hours time. I notice she interacts much more with others and in a positive way. She had the mattress salesman in hysterics yesterday with her very witty banter, when usually, upon meeting a stranger, she would sulk behind me with her arms crossed. So, I guess I am writing this as a reminder to myself - that this is a good change for her.