Monday, October 18, 2010
Through a Child's Eyes - The Purpose of Family
I am always on the lookout for curriculum for the kids, and seem to be pickier than many. Part of the problem is that an "out of the box" curriculum won't work for us at all with our language learning issues and our interesting blend of ages/life experiences (or lack thereof)/grade levels. Not only that, but I guess I am just a little eccentric...I don't want our kids just "filling in the blanks", which frankly would be a lot easier but does little to develop deeper thinking. Sure, for phonics, grammar and math we do workbooks along with a few other activities, but beyond that I have been trying to carefully select reading material and other items that are more open ended.
Whilst browsing the internet last week I stumbled upon a web site where I found some great study guides, actually an entire curriculum for K-12 if one so desired to go this route. It is called www.connectthethoughts.com and as I perused their site I was taken by A) Their unique approach to learning and B) The depth with which they require students to think about that which they are studying. Their curriculum is super inexpensive and instantly downloadable via PDF files.
I decided to give one a try, and selected a less "Schooly" one whose topic was "Manners". I thought this would be a little different and planned to use the questions as idea starters for writing practice. Wow, did I hit the jackpot on this! All 5 kids have raved about how they love this, and although we barely did one lesson on Friday, it was the first thing they asked to do this morning. I am not using it verbatim, and am picking and choosing what material to use from it, but it works wonderfully for my own style, and it has stimulated some of the deepest, most thoughtful dialogue of our school year thus far...and we barely started it.
Today I threw out the question "What is the purpose of family? What is the specific purpose of OUR family?". Sound like anything you'd pose to newly adopted kids 7 months off the plane? Ohhh...don't ever underestimate the ability of children to grab hold of concepts! This was met with such excitement, and I thought I'd share some of their thoughts. I can't scan right now so I will type excerpts of what was written by the kids to give you an idea of where we are in the development of the concept of "family" with the girls.
"I think our family purpose it's be together, be nice each ether (other). Be kind each ether (other) because sum (some) family's don't do these stuf. We work like a LaJoy family. We bild shed together. Sum family don't bild shed together, they think it's hard for kids."
"Are familys purpuse is are mom and dad adopted 5 kids and mom and dad loved all of us. Acshely (actually) mom and dad made this family. Why did God make familys? Because God wanted to have some people on the world and some kids on the whole intir (entire) world. Other familys don't think abot (about) the purpuse of their famly, some other familys don't even like echuther (each other). Some other famlys think work is a bad word but we don't think work is a bad word. we wach (watch) moves (movies) and play games and we help are family."
My family is nice. We dont fight. We are not rood (rude). We play games. Mom and Dad chose to adopited (adopted). Ather (other) people parant different. We are nice to each other."
Our family purpers is to be nice iech(each) other, do it God work, care about other people, work as a team, love iech (each) other, do what perents (parents) to do. We come to family because are (our) perents (parents) now (know) whot (what) a purpes (purpose) to be came good family. Our family is very diffrent they most family. We deffrent (different) because we do it whot (what) we post (supposed) to do. We came a good family because we work very hard and trust our self and dosnt (doesn't) care about whot (what) people senk (think). We deffrent (different) callers (colors) but we haf (have) a same hart (heart) and blood.
"The purpose of our family is to have people to lean on, kids can lean on their parents, parents can lean on each other. People who don't have a supportive family often have things wrong. For example, they might use drugs or alcohol. Sometimes there will be a divorce and the kids will only be able to lean halfway and their family will probably become messed up by parents giving more toys than love."
During times when I feel low, when I fear for the future for one or more of the kids, I will go back and re-read this. Way back when we were knee deep in tantrums and terror with Josh, I let go of my previous notions of success and prayed to God that we would merely be able to raise a child who wouldn't end up killing someone someday. Seriously, that prayer passed my lips more times that I can count, and I know that is true for Dominick as well.
Of course there are times when my old notions creep back in, when I have to fight back the comparisons to other families with kids who are straight A students, who are perhaps clearly Ivy League bound at young ages. I see the jocks and the ballerinas, the musical prodigies and the artists. I see kids and families for whom it is all so easy, or at least appears to be on the outside...and it is hard sometimes to not feel a twinge as we worry about whether a particular child will ever really be able to safely be handed over the keys to a car, or how long (if ever) it will take our older adopted kids to catch up academically...and how far that puts them behind their same age peers. We are looking at high school graduations at 20 years old or maybe even 21.
But it's not about bragging rights, is it? It is about soul building, it is about healing and wholeness, it is about safety and security. God doesn't look at GPA. God isn't concerned with football stats or music recitals. Kids leaning on parents and parents leaning on each other (and I'd add leaning on our Heavenly Parent), having the same heart and blood, being nice to each other, appreciating hard work...those are the yardsticks that make me smile. That is what we are working so hard to attain here at LaJoy University. I'll admit it isn't a classical curriculum, but as far as we are concerned it is the one that matters most...all else is secondary. What good does calculus, chemistry or creative writing do if a child grows up and doesn't have a firm grasp on their purpose here on earth, and the purpose of their family? What good does all that academic excellence count for if our children don't grow up to be God guided, spiritually connected, kind human beings?
We may never reach a pinnacle of success in the eyes of others, we may never celebrate an Ivy League admission letter. I am learning not to care about that. The teachers I have at LaJoy University are wiser than most and have taught me a lot...even if they are not yet even in their teens. They have a lifetime of wisdom to share, and a heart full of love to offer. That's enough. We have nothing to be ashamed of and everything to celebrate.
And what is my idea of the purpose of family? Well...I think you all have read the answer to that one for 4 years now :-) Family is sacred, family is holy, family IS God.