Monday, September 26, 2011

Waving the White Collared Shirt

I remember when this article was written 8 years ago about the so-called "Opt Out Revolution." My master's thesis that I wrote the summer later saught out to shed more light on the topic from college students' perspectives. At the time even though I wasn't yet married, the question was frequently on my mind: "Would I leave the work force when I had little ones?" No. Not me. Or so I thought.

Today I resigned my dream job after being employed there for almost 2 years. It was the first job I got after I finished my PhD and has been the only job I've ever wanted. I still can't imagine doing anything else for pay except this job. Given recent circumstances, however, it is no longer the ideal fit for me that it once was.

My kids need me more than ever and I too want to be a bigger part of their lives. There just simply is no way to do this in my current position. I felt like I was giving it my all at work, which to a certain extent I really enjoyed. Personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment of doing a good job are huge benefits for my being employed. Thankfully DH has always been supportive of my educational and professional pursuits, as lofty has they have been and despite the sacrifices he has had to make while I go full speed ahead. But there comes a point when such benefits do not outweigh the costs of being employed, as backwards as that sounds. I have been shouldering a lot of responsibility at work, which I felt was under-appreciated (or at least differently appreciated than they way I want to be appreciated). Raises, future earning power, upward mobility and promotions (even if promised, which they aren't) that an employer can offer for a job well-done really have minimal value to me. So while I got a relatively good raise, it did not compensate (and no amount allowed in the budget ever could compensate) the cost to me and my family of my being employed. I was also expected to take on more responsibility at work. When? How? I most certainly would have to take time and energy away from my family, which I couldn't do and be the mom and wife I want to be.

In the end, I just want to know that I can make a difference. Despite lacking skill, experience, training and patience, I'm fairly confident that I'll be able to make a difference in my family's life while homeschooling. All I need is an "I love you," every once in a while and I'm set! DH sent me a message right after I resigned saying that he was proud of me and my just heart melted.

Tonight I also went to a lecture on this book "Glass Ceilings and 100 - Hours Couples" (I know, perfect timing, right?) and the authors said no mother they interviewed who opted out regretted it (yet). I, as well, doubt I'll regret spending more time with my kids, though I might more frequently need an alcoholic beverage :). When I again decide to  reengage in the work wars, I'm fairly certain that my time out will translate into lower status and earning potential in the long-run, but I'm willing to take those hits and resulting battle wounds. At this point, I surrender and just want peace.

"Do not work for food that perishes but for food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because the God the Father has set his seal on him." John 6:27

Singapore Math

For math, we are going to try Singapore's math approach. Undoubtedly, they lead the world in mathematics competence at the grade school level. But in all honesty, I could care less about who does better on standardized tests. Testing is not real life, nor practical.

DH and I heard, read, and watched good things about Singapore's philosophy and practice. Their Ministry of Education's rationale for mathematics instruction aligns very well with our approach to the subject:

"Mathematics is an excellent vehicle for the development and improvement of a person’s intellectual competence in logical reasoning, spatial visualisation, analysis and abstract thought. Students develop  numeracy, reasoning, thinking skills, and problem solving skills through the learning and application of mathematics. These are valued not only in science and technology, but also in everyday living and in the workplace."

This review breaks down the general topics for each grade level and gives some other details. Their method of instruction differs greatly from the typical American (Saxon) method taught in most classrooms, but because my kids will not know otherwise, I think this will be an easier and more logical approach. It's more like how I remember my mom teaching me math when I was little with understanding of how numbers work, remembering tricks of manipulating numbers, and not just memorization (though she drilled me on that too).

I am concerned with the format of the typical Singapore curriculum because it uses workbooks and Bean at times can loathe writing, though he can do it legibly. I have two tentative solutions. One is to do it more orally and the other is to buy a number stamp set so he can stamp the numbers and then trace them. Most importantly, I want him to have a love of learning and a basic grasp of math. I'm willing to forgo the battle of writing for a little bit, and then gradually I'll have him do it more and more. Tey is an amazing writer already at just under 3.5 years old, so I am less concerned about him with that. I'll work on this number recognition, sequencing, understanding quantity etc. and then ease him into Singapore.

So we've purchased the curriculum, which at this point I'm thinking will likely be our only one or one of few subjects that resembles a typical school-like approach to a subject (with a textbook and my teaching the material). I anticipate that more of our time we will be using math more practically: measuring while cooking, figuring out how much more money we need to buy something from the store, etc. With other subjects, I'm exploring other approaches, but that is for another post.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Adventures in Home Schooling

Over the past week and a half we've arrived at the decision to home school. If you know DH and I, you know that we never commit to anything without really thinking and praying about it for a looooong time (which is why we dated for so long that my mom was convinced we would never get married). Anyway, we've had home school on our mind for a little while but not very seriously until recently. Some events over the past weeks to months have confirmed that this is the next best step for our entire family.  We don't have all the logistics figured out so prayers are much appreciated. I anticipate a period of transition of us adjusting to this next chapter in our lives, which I hope to document here as best I can. Welcome to the ride.