Sunday, May 24, 2009

Learning Journey

I feel truly inspired in my quest to learn how to teach my children.  It is a marvel how one thing leads to the next.  I never really intended to or considered myself a "home schooler."  

Now, looking back, it seems like I have been learning about the art of education my whole life.  I was not home schooled, at least not exactly.  But I realize now that I had an unusual educational public school/home school experience.  My Father taught high school from the time my parents met.  He was an educator.  It was his job.  He pursued teaching for 10 years until he gradually switched to developing curricular software for the school district he worked in.  

During this time my Mother was very involved with our public school experience.  She was responsible for leading various committees of parents that even chased out a few teachers and principals to keep the education of her children at the level she expected.  Then in sixth grade, when problems at the school we attended persisted despite her efforts to solve them she moved us to a different public school.  Moving us meant that she would have to shuttle us across town every morning and afternoon.  This is not a small thing for a young mother of 6 children.  My Mother is a passionate person.  When she feels something is right she pursues it regardless of the sacrifice involved.  My siblings continued to attend that school even after our family moved  further away from that elementary school.  

When I entered junior high school my "radical" mother continued to strive for my educational experience.  When she felt the school fell short she removed me and substituted extra-curricular and home learning.  My friends thought I was so lucky to get to "leave" school early.  They didn't understand that when I got home I was still LEARNING and that my mother often  expected A LOT more than my school teachers.

I DID NOT ATTEND SCHOOL FULL-TIME from 7th grand in jr. high until I graduated from high school.   My mother and councilors made arrangements for me to leave and take college classes or receive credit for what I was doing elsewhere to make up the difference.I received the education that was tailored to me because my mother was willing to fight for it and because others were willing to concede that there is more than one RIGHT way to educate a child.  While in junior high my parents encouraged me to start my own business.  I did and I owned it for 13 years (when I had my first child I decided he was more important than the business).  While in high school I performed in China on a piano concert tour and participated in an international piano competition and was a member of multiple competitive dance teams.  I repeat: I never went to school full-time in all that time.

I went on to be admitted into a competitive university (funded by the revenue from my business and some minor scholarships) and receive a four-year degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy as well as 2 minors: one in Business Management and one in Folk Dance.  While in college I received an "Entrepreneur of the Year" Award and even gave a few lectures about entrepreneurship and received a business-related scholarship.  I continued to grow my dance studio and piano studio business that I had been running since I was 13 years old.  I also performed in Europe representing the USA for weeks and took my own students to perform in Hawaii, Florida, the Jr. Olympics, California, as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2002 Olympics.

In short, I believe I received a uniquely tailored education that would never have been possible were it not for my parents: parents that new the public educational experience can fall short of reaching the needs of every child.  My parents took their stewardship seriously to make up the difference.  I feel so very blessed to have been given this gift.  I consider my educational story a success for this reason: I LEARNED TO LOVE LEARNING.  Without that very important key I would never be where I am today.  

And that is what my mission as a Mother is today:  To teach my children to love to learn.  Teaching your children is so rewarding.  Hard work, yes.  But so worth it.  It is the thing I find myself so passionate about doing.  LEARNING is how we GROW.  Children innately WANT to learn.  My job is to feed their fire.

But it is only possible to teach those things which you have taken the time to learn.  This blog: "A Family Academy" is a chronicle of our learning journey.  Right now my children are "too young to be in school."  But you are never too old or too young to learn.  So I teach.  And they are learning.  They are exceeding all of my expectations.  And I am trying to learn all that I can so that I have the tools I need to feed their fire.  That is my job, as I see it:  To advocate for and provide the best educational experiences that will feed their fire of learning desire and keep it burning bright so that the light of learning lasts.

Next to life itself and faith in their Savior, a love for learning is the greatest gift I can give them. For me, it's a vital and meaningful learning journey!

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