Have you ever been so overwhelmed by the map that you get lost and almost miss out on the journey? Of course I am speaking metaphorically, but seriously, I am so there! So overwhelmed by where I am that I feel completely lost and the thought of what might be coming ahead scares me so much that I just stop and stare. How do I facilitate this? How do I inspire them to dig further? How do I get them to recognize all the steps between a and z? How do I find resources for this?
I am lost. At the point of freaking out. I listen to these interests and wonder how on earth do I facilitate this?
Little Man wants to know everything about chemistry…last year it was astronomy. I finally got to a place where I understood the questions he was asking and found him resources (entirely online because the curriculum that we found wasn’t deep enough for him and the encyclopedias all held the same superficial answers). We watched lectures from Princeton, watched youtube videos, NOVA episodes, listened to lectures and topics via podcasts and I finally felt like we had gotten into a grove of things when one of the lectures mentioned the chemical diversity of the universe. Well thanks mister professor man, now I have to find all new resources for chemistry. We have science encyclopedias that go into the periodic table, acids/bases, metals/gases, atomic structure and all that jazz. We went through all of that, the elementary aged sites and covered it all in three weeks. Well guess what, know he wants to know how to combine elements into chemical equations. He wants to know how to balance chemical equations. He wants to know how scientists use chemistry in real labs…he wants to blow stuff up. I live in an apartment, we are on a limited income…how do I even find all the stuff needed to help him without homeland security thinking we are building a bomb? He also recently decided that he needs to build a computer from scratch and understand how they work… Where do I even start?
…and thats just one kid.
Little Miss want to learn photography (we don’t even own a camera…just a smartphone), how to play the guitar (we have youtube and a used guitar but I have no idea how to help with that) and she wants to paint…several paintings, daily. She wants to know about people from other cultures, she wants to know everything she can about our family. She wants to write stories about people and she wants to learn how to swim (its almost winter!). While each of these are relatively easier to facilitate they still require funds and time. How do I help them both when they both require so much from me?
Add to this:
Curly Q is learning to read, she wants to know everything about the human body and how animals live in habitats, what their life cycles are and how predators find food. She wants to store every leaf,twig and “treasure” in the house while also having fossils and skeletons in our house…our tiny house. She is also obsessed with Pokemon, Ninjago and Digimon…I don’t even know how to begin.
Itty Bitty is obsessed with dinosaurs and marine wildlife. She wants me to hold her and read to her ALL THE TIME!
Honestly, I’m failing at balancing all four them. I can’t hold Itty Bitty and set up a chemistry experiment. I can’t help Little Miss write her stories and help Curly Q learn to read.
I get so overwhelmed that I sometimes shut down. I can’t do it all. We can’t afford to get tutors/lessons. Curriculums don’t work in our house. The energy levels are too high to expect them all to sit and listen to audiobooks.
So how do we get anything done?
I have to turn the questions back on the questioner. I can not find every resources. I can not answer every question. They have to be independent learners. They have to find their own answers too.
I help them find their own resources, they are still young and need help with search functions. I can not find the resources myself but I can hold itty bitty, answer Curly Q’s question and oversee a web search while Little Miss is painting on the balcony. We go to the library weekly, often checking out 20 books or more, but I don’t read every book. I don’t have the time, neither do they. Little bitty sometimes just looks at the pages (we get her ones filled with illustrations). We look up videos for some of them to watch while I work with another on something else. I have art supplies out for daily use and then special supplies intermittently. I ask daddy to tackle some of the subjects…like computers, I know nothing about computers. We go to zoos, museums and aquariums regularly, 2 -3 times a month. However, the biggest thing I have to do is let go. I just cannot do it all as well as I would like, but you know what…neither would a traditional school environment.
They are not loosing anything if they cannot answer every question right now. They have a lifetime of learning ahead of them. These questions will keep coming up. We will continue to find every resource we can afford, we will find every material that is possible. We will try our best to meet their needs and eventually we will have to outsource…maybe sooner than I would like to think.
For now, we let them ask the questions.
We google, youtube and library ourselves crazy trying to find answers.
And I freak out. Daily. It is now part of our rhythm.
I still feel like a failure, I am still overwhelmed by it all. I often feel completely alone. Lost and alone.
But I am not alone, I am not the only one trying desperately to meet the needs of my children. Others needs may not be the same as ours but every mother is struggling to find a way to meet the needs of their child. The online community has helped me to realize that I am not the only one freaking out. I am not the only one that feels like a failure even though the proof suggests otherwise.
I am not lost…I am just following the GPS in unfamiliar territory.
I don’t know what directions will come next, or when they will come.
I don’t know the area or the destination so I feel like I am lost, even though I am right on track.
It’s the journey that’s important though, right?
It’s the stops and sights along the way that make it great?