Saturday, February 12, 2011

Not Everyone Can Home School Successfully

There, I said it.

I should have been saying that all along. Instead, as a home school advocate who loves the opportunities for sharing life and learning with my own children, I have often declared that anyone with good reading comprehension can home school.

I was wrong.

I submit my list of reasons people should NOT home school:

If the teacher is depressed, he/she should NOT home school.

If you wind up depressed, send the kids to public or private school, take some time for yourself, and everyone will be happier. See a doctor, try medication, and find some counseling. If you are a 'fully committed, convicted Christian family', then by all means seek out some secular counseling. Get some balance in your life.

If you are truly sealed by the promised Holy Spirit, you have nothing to fear from seeking secular counsel. IF a counselor gives you advice you feel contradicts the Bible, reject that advice. Counselors do not have mind control powers; they can't brainwash you or anything.

On the other hand, if you are reading your Bible and studying God's Word everyday, or were before you got depressed, and you wound up unhappy and fatigued, then obviously you need more than Bible doctrine to recover your joy in living.

If you are sick with a fever, and prayer doesn't heal you, I hope you are smart enough to see a doctor. If the doctor diagnoses a bacterial infection, I hope you are smart enough to take antibiotics. Your brain is an organ of your physical body, and if it is stressed you will be depressed- physical fact. Get help for your physical body. It is not a sin to admit you are a biological creature, it's a fact. It is not a sin to take medications when something is amiss with your body, it is wisdom. Anti-depressants work most of the time.

Don't try to home school if you are weaning off of anti-depressants, and NEVER go off of them cold turkey.

If you think it's time to wean off, do it during the summer or put the kids in school for the semester. Walk in wisdom.

If the teacher is not enthusiastically excited personally about teaching, he/she should NOT home school.

Home schooling is a serious full-time undertaking. You wouldn't go to a job you hated for no pay every day. Don't home school for no pay everyday just because someone else convinced you that you "should". A reluctant, resentful teacher could put a child off of learning permanently. And don't kid yourself that you could hide your unhappiness about it forever, either. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Your students/children will know you don't like teaching/learning, and it will crush their own love for learning. Don't do it.

One should never home school because of someone else's convictions.

This is the flip side of the above adage, but well worth repeating. Too many moms have met someone like me, who loves home schooling and gushes enthusiastically about how great it is, and have tried home schooling only to wind up hating it. If you meet someone who is loving home schooling, and you "catch the bug" from them, don't immediately pull your children out of school.

Take the energy from that enthusiasm and channel it into research. Look at curriculum, read books all across the home schooling spectrum: from unschooling to classical education, eclectic to strictly religious. Go to conventions with your bulls*** detector set on sensitive. Look at home school teens and try talking to them. Seek out home school graduates and talk to them. Keep your eyes wide open.

Romans 14 says that every person should make up his/her own mind about disputable matters, like method of education and family style, and that we should each be fully convinced in OUR OWN minds. Make up your own mind, don't let someone else's enthusiasm or dogmatic demands make up your mind for you.

If you can't afford to purchase quality materials and helps, the little extras, or spend the gas money to get out of the house and into the real world on a regular basis, don't home school.

Experiential real world exposure is one of the great advantages of home schooling. You are free to get out and go places while other students are locked in a classroom all day. But if you can't take advantage of that freedom, then let your kids go places on the school system's dime. A few rushed, large-group field trips are not really adequate for a great education, but they are much preferable to none.

I used to say that you didn't need a lot of money to home school, but that is only partly true. You do need some money to home school adequately, and a nice surplus to home school well. I know I will really anger some people of limited means who are telling themselves that isolating their children in their country homes IS real world experiential learning, as opposed to isolating children in classrooms at the public school.

To those people, I say: Stop kidding yourselves. Most of the school year in one particular building is stifling and repetitive. It is just as stifling and repetitive if it is the family home rather than a school classroom. At least in school a student has a greater stimulation from other students interests and talents.

If you can't read fluently, use and understand good grammar for the official language of the country you reside in, and if you are not comfortably competent at math through the level you intend to home school, don't home school.

This seems self-explanatory enough. You can hire tutors in real life or on-line for higher math, but you must be able to give your students a sound mathematical foundation to build on for that to work. Ditto with reading and writing (for Americans) proper English. You can't teach what you don't know. If a child can read fluently, with good comprehension, they can learn almost anything they want to learn for the rest of their lives. The same goes with basic math. If a child can understand numbers and how they relate to real life and why we use basic math symbols to calculate and can do that well, they have a great foundation to learn higher math if they want/need to do so later.

But, if they can't read fluently, forget learning content while they are still decoding phonics. And if they don't understand that multiplication is merely a shortcut for adding the same number to itself a certain number of times, forget algebra, much less calculus. Do not discount the importance of these skills.

Finally, though there are probably other really good reasons NOT to home school, I must say this to all home school enthusiasts:

If your belief system is more important than your children's mental, physical, spiritual and social health, you should not home school.

If unschooling, Charlotte Mason, raising your children Ezzo's way or Waldorf's way, or any other philosophy of education or child rearing is your true cause, you should reconsider home schooling.

I have met unschooled children who were content and learning happily, and I have met unschooled children who were very unhappy and resentful that everyone else their age could read and they couldn't. Many students thrive with a Charlotte Mason education, but if you have a child who hates to draw and itches like crazy when they are out in nature, those nature sketches will be a nightmare. Always put your students needs above your educational/pedagogical theories. If you can't do that, don't home school.

Okay, well that's probably enough feathers ruffled for quite some time. I won't be checking comments right away, as I have a boat-load of studying to do. If I don't respond right away it doesn't mean I won't dialogue with you eventually, so be patient.

Peace and good will, SS

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

EMDR works/sharing the same therapist

I apologize in advance for the typos I will most likely make and not have time to correct, and any poorly constructed sentences/paragraphs. I really don't have time for this, but I think it's important to share, especially with others who may have similar problems in their personal lives/marriages, etc. So here goes:

EMDR is working. I don't really know how to explain it, I just know that situations that in the past would have been seriously emotionally upsetting are now only mildly upsetting. I also know that I no longer stifle my self as much as I used to, or maybe what I mean is that when I do, it's my conscience freely chosen decision and not something I feel I *should* or *must* do, if that makes sense. Also, when things are going poorly, as in the conversation with my father-in-law on his last visit, setting boundaries like "you can't talk to me that way" comes out of my head without emotion and there is no guilt or shame either. It's so matter of face, logical, reasonable- and I am loving this new way of being. I love it ESPECIALLY because it's automatic and am not coaching myself into it. Too cool.

The thing is, I am only in stage four (of lots of stages, either eight or sixteen, I forget) and all I have read says that if you cut therapy short and skip the end stages, you can lose the progress you have made. So I definitely don't want to cut it short.

Why would I even be considering this as a possibility, you might ask. Good question. Before I answer, I have to tell everyone that EMDR is working so well that the incident I am about to describe to you, while it once would have been extremely traumatic, was only mildly upsetting. I am quite positive the other person is way more bothered than I was at the time and that I was quite able to put it aside and get on with my life within oh, say, a half-hour. I am thinking not so much with the other person. Weird and wonderful both. Lolz.

So, a little background first. You know my husband went to Life Skills 26-week program through a local church. At Life Skills (by Paul Hegstrom, reformed philanderer, woman beater, and former preacher- hisstory is amazing and full of hope for all seriously messed-up misogynist Christian men, of which there are too many in the closet) my husband learned to take time-outs when he felt the tension rising, or when I called a time-out. After Life Skills, things were not all fixed, so he agreed to go to counseling with a man claiming to be skilled in domestic violence, among other areas.

Big mistake. Most people only think they understand domestic violence and domestic abuse. Anyway, the next time my husband was seriously in his reptile-brain, and I refused to let him back in the house until he called his counselor, the counselor was no help at all. He couldn't believe that such a nice guy as my husband could be at fault, and suggested I come into to see him too.

Now thank God my husband really wants to be healed. If he just wanted to evade responsibility for his own emotions and actions, this counselor was going to enable that. That could have been the beginning of divorce proceedings right then, but my husband was not wanting someone to be on "his side", he wanted to stop hurting his wife- emotionally, mentally, verbally as well as physically. So he fired the therapist.

We went and bought a twelve dollar book, titled (I think) How to Stop Hurting the Woman You Love. (I will edit this later, to add author and correct title if my memory is wrong.) The first chapter was awesome, gave us all we needed to know to successfully implement the time-out procedure, and it has been a great tool for us ever since.

It's a sports analogy, meaning stop the interaction ( the game) and take some time to go check with your coach/playbook. For my husband, this means prayer, journaling and going through his Life Skills paperwork. Life Skills recommends in thirty minute increments until peace and love are a possibility in the husband/wife relationship.

So, with the final pieces of the puzzle from the book, we wrote out a contract. Either of us can call a time-out at any time, the other agrees to honor it, we check the clock and agree to come back together in exactly thirty minutes. (PAPDs intentionally drag their feet to frustrate the other into anger, so this is an important point! Also, making sure the other knows you intend resolution, and are not abandoning them, is very important.) We even stipulated procedures for if the first thirty minutes wasn't enough, but we haven't had to put those into practice.

Okay, those of you following this blog know that we see the same therapist, but for EMDR, not marriage/relationship therapy. IT IS ALWAYS A BAD IDEA TO SEE THE SAME THERAPIST FOR MARRIAGE THERAPY IN A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SITUATION. That is my opinion, but you can verify that I am not the only one who has come to that conclusion. Therapists just cannot seem to get their head around the fact that the formerly victimized spouse needs to be in complete control of whether or not a situation is turning abusive. Your former abuser should be readily willing to cede that decision to the formerly abused spouse in perpetuity. As my husband says, "If I am in my reptile brain, why would you ask me to decide if I am being abusive or not? That's guaranteed to end badly. If I could tell I was slipping away on my own, I wouldn't be there. I need a friend to point out to me that I'm drifting to a bad place. That's just stupid, to ask me what I think about it if I am already showing signs of PAPD."

The first weird incidence with this therapist, where she made assumptions about our relationship and insisted on "advising" me about it, can be found here. It happened again last week.

The cool thing is how little it affected me. She bristled at the use of the term "time-out". I think instead of a sports analogy she imagines me shaming my husband by making him sit in the corner with his face to a wall? Not sure why that phrase got her going, but whatevs. Get going she did. She told me that instead of telling him he needed to take a time-out, I should ask him if maybe he thinks (feels?) he might need to consider if he thinks he needs to call a time-out.

Uh,no. If I am not free to call a time-out when I feel threatened in any way, then I am not safe. And if I am not safe, then I am not staying in the relationship. No, no, no, no, no, NO!

My adamant rejection of her advice was not angry, loud, or socially unacceptable. It was firm and direct though. This she could not handle at all.

It was extremely strange. I had to sit there with my lips pressed together, as anytime I tried to get a word in edgewise I was "talking over her". She basically wanted me to serve as my husband's therapist, helping him to reach a place of self-awareness. Uh, no. My goal is personal safety, not helping my husband evolve as a person. That's why he's in therapy, and beyond that the Holy Spirit and the counsel of those who have gone before (Life Skills) are there to assist him. That's what a time-out IS, for heaven's sake. I am NOT responsible for his emotional state. Those days are over forever.

The strangest thing of all was that what started this was the comment that things were going so well! As close as I can remember, my exact words were,"IF I have to correct him or tell him that he needs a time-out, he is not offended at all!" Seriously, that's the main reason my blogis so quiet and boring: we are living together in happiness. Peace, love, and affection characterize our relationship these days. It's wonderful!

Well, she totally tripped. I let her have her say, which took what seemed forever, as she kept adding and adding to her long litany of counsel. I wasn't allowed to talk. When it seemed like she was through, I asked if I could talk and she said "Not yet. I want you to answer this question, yes or no. Are you willing to consider my advice? Yes or no. Yes, or No?"

Uh, I'm pretty sure I know what the "right" answer is, duh. So I answered "yes" all the while thinking if I can't redirect off of this relationship and back on to EMDR, this is just a waste of my time today. Once I was allowed to talk, I told her that I didn't appreciate her treating me like a child, but I would set that aside to get to this other issue. I told her that she was making assumptions about our relationship without asking any questions, and that no I did not agree that my husband needed to be "in charge" of deciding when things were heading in a bad direction, and...all the time I spoke she was writing furiously, making faces and the sort of noises my grandma used to make when she was displeased. Huffy, I think is the word that fits.

So I looked at her and said, "You know, this is not working for me. This is not helping me at all. I think it's time for me to go".

Just like that. Calmly, rationally. I am so proud of myself. I gathered my things while she called on me to "wait, wait" but I knew I just needed to leave, so I did as politely as I could. I had already listened politely and been so calm the whole time.

As I was leaving I smiled at the receptionist and said some sort of goodbye. I know I was pleasant and kind. I was not angry at anyone, I was just matter-of-factly getting out of a non-productive social situation. Yay me.

The therapist came out and got between me and the exit. She said, "I was going to tell you there is no charge for today, but I guess you don't want to hear that!" Calmly, I replied,"No, not now, now is not the best time for that. And you are between me and the door." As I said this last sentence, she moved while I was talking and answered,"No I'm not."

And so I walked out the door. That was this past Tuesday, a week ago today. I called Ted in the parking lot and told him. Later that day the receptionist called to see if I wanted to keep coming and tell me, once I said yes, that my next visit was no charge.

And before you all freak out on me for going back, I want you to consider this: EMDR is a scientific technique. It works. If I were to switch therapists, I would have to go through weeks of intake again. Or, conversely, have my records transferred, which would include her no doubt the notes she scribbled furiously during our last visit. Legally I have the right to read those note and write a rebuttal which will also be included, but I just don't really want to go through all that, on either count.

EMDR is not like other therapies. I don't need her empathy or her counsel, only her training as an EMDR clinician. Sort of like a dentist, or an optometrist. It's a technique she is skilled in working, and switching EMDR clinicians now would be a hardship on me, not her. I am not going to let her emotional issues take EMDR away from me.

So I'm going to give it one more try. It may not work. She may not be able to act as a therapist since she made such an ass of herself last visit. I guarantee my husband is not impressed with her outburst and meddling. Thank God for that maturity on his part. He saw her yesterday and just will not discuss his current life situation with her. She asked how things were going and he just answered, "fine" and "let's get started".

I am going to try to implement his strategy from now on. The thing is: EMDR WORKS! We are the happiest we have ever been. Recent house-guests said we were like newlyweds. The last trouble we had was when my husband tried going off antidepressants around Christmas. Life is good for us now, and I credit EMDR with that. My husband is eating healthy and working out. I am freed up emotionally to go back to school and do things for me. Life is good. I don't want to quit EMDR before I've made it all the way through.

Oh, and the other reason I hardly blog is that "All I do is (study)! All day, every day." hee hee Put the word study in the appropriate place in this hilarious video, and that's my life now.

Peace and good will, SS

ps The video link below is poking fun at stoners. Warning for the sensitive among us: It contains the f-word and other cuss words. Since all I do is study, every day-all day, all I do is study, this video cracks me up. Don't watch if you don't have a healthy sense of humor.