Saturday, January 31, 2015

Let it go (It's not about that one movie, I swear)

This weekend there is a really cool event going on in down town SLC. It's called Start SLC and it's all about technology and entrepreneurship.

I received an email about it from the online charter the boys use for their curriculum work and saw that there were free classes.

Yesterday Alex chose to attend a class that was intended for adult professionals on the computer program Python. Class started at 9am and went until 12pm. He got up and Travis drove him to it and I picked him up when it was over. He seemed to really enjoy the experience and it definitely gave him some insight in to how intricate and open computer programming can be. He is even more excited about going in to computer science as a profession.

Today is the "Family Day" for the event and this morning there were kids classes. We all slept a little late so the kids missed the class on general programming. When we got up there was time to make it to the class on programming Mods for Minecraft. Alex decided that sleep was more interesting. Cassidy got up and ready to go and Travis dropped him off for the class!

Here's the thing... back when they were in traditional school, none of this would have happened. Alex would have been in school on Friday. Cassidy would have been so burned out from the week of school that there is no way he would want to wake up early to sit through a class on a Saturday.

Most days, now, I let the boys determine the amount of "curriculum" work they do. We're part of a charter school so we are required to send a weekly "Learning Log" that details there academics for the previous week. I tell the boys to work until they feel they've learned something. Some days that takes 15 minutes a subject. Some days it's 45 minutes or longer.

The more I have let go of "control" over their learning the more they have learned.

Let me repeat that a different way:

The less I impose standards and rules on their learning journey the more motivated they are to learn on their own.

It's been a slow process for us because I tend to want to push them towards certain things academically and I've been in "school" mode for almost my entire life. (If you don't drill vocabulary and spelling you'll never learn it! Math facts must be memorized or you will never succeed at life! Not true! Not true! Not true!) I also have a hard time letting them out of my sight.

Alex went to a class by himself for 3 hours on Friday. He had a cell phone for emergencies. He didn't get kidnapped. He had fun and got to stretch his wings.

Cassidy is at a class for an hour by himself as I type this. He has a cell phone for emergencies. He'll be fine. He has always been hesitant to try new things and I am so proud that he wanted to do this on his own.

Handing over the reins of my children's education has been slowly teaching me a huge lesson in trusting my kids.

The more I try to control them the less they take responsibility for their own lives. If I'm making every decision and hovering over every outing, they can easily leave the accountability for the way their life is going with me. I was, after all, the one making all the choices.

More freedom means more accountability. It also means more chances to screw up, but teenagers are humans too and deserve to make their mistakes on their own terms. Hopefully, the way we as parents have lived our lives with them to this point has given them a strong stable base to explore from and come back to when they need a break from their adventures.

The best I can do for my boys now is to be their safe space, their helping hand, their resource librarian, and they can be my guide.

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