Control, A Curious Strategy

Many excuses come to mind as to why you haven’t heard from me in nearly a month and all are pretty good.

  1. The weather is gorgeous and we’ve been living in the moment.
  2. I’ve spent much of the past few weeks letting ideas for the new school year swirl around in my brain. I’m excited about all the upcoming possibilities and not as interested in rehashing the past year.
  3. I’m struggling a bit on how to describe the homeschooling transitions we made last winter.

See.  All good and all true.  And still I want to wrap up our story of our first year of homeschooling, partly because it’s a good story and partly because I’m ready to start writing in the present.

Deschooling through the holidays had given us some breathing space.  I spent a lot of my time researching and contemplating how to approach learning in the new year.  Even now I’m surprised by the strategy I decided to take, but it’s a common pattern many of us snap into, especially me, when feeling like things are out of control. I turn up the control.

Never mind that we had all had a pleasant holiday season and were enjoying ourselves.  That was not a consideration for me.  My driving force was, “Those girls are not learning enough. I need to get them on track!”

So I created a schedule less flexible than the previous one.  It wasn’t like I got militant or turned into an evil headmistress, I just enacted a schedule that had timetables for different subject matter throughout the week, like a traditional school schedule.  I felt that more structure was exactly what we needed for me to feel more secure about what we were doing.  And yes, I do know exactly what I said in that  last sentence and it’s only now that I know why I did what I did.

This is the schedule I announced at the beginning of January:













Gigi and Rue had been in a traditional school up until 4th grade and though they may have had issue with the strict schedule of a school day at one time, it was something they knew well and when I presented it they accepted the new schedule readily.  Like eating a big bowl of chili, they found it familiar and comforting, all of us conveniently forgetting that later there’s likely to be some negative kickbacks.

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  This is Newton’s third law of motion.  I think this can be applied to many facets of life.  For instance, try to control a situation and somebody will rebel.

We easily fell back into the “us and them” pattern.  Or more accurately, the “me and them” pattern.  I was innovative and fresh and they were non-plussed and complaining.  Gigi constantly interrupted me and Rue would whine about whatever she was working on.  One day I found myself at the computer Googling “what to do with ungrateful children”.  Seriously.

Little did I know my saving grace was just around the corner.  By mid-February I was on my way to my annual women’s retreat.  I was about to be enlightened.


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