Friday, October 11, 2013

A Willingness to Learn

difficult children
Parenting children is a never ending time of learning. Truly. Once you figure out one thing it will all change and you are at square one again. But that's OK, we are up to the challenge!   
Aren't we, Mommas?!!

I have had enough in-depth conversations with the kids lately where I was sure that something was going on with both of them that we couldn't quite put our fingers on. Both of them were feeling down, lethargic, bored, unhappy, but neither of them could identify a problem.  We talked and talked. 

Our discussions went from self-esteem to depression to wanting to go home to several other topics that escape me right now. When I stumbled on a thought that was like an AHA!!! moment.

You see, while down here in Australia we have really let go of formal lessons. I might even call it unschooling if I were so inclined. So we haven't had a single lesson in a very long time. (Though we have been very busy and very involved with friends and activities.) When I suggested to the kids that we start back up with lessons they both smiled and cheered.

You see, it seems that in order to FEEL GOOD, one must feel a sense of ACCOMPLISHMENT. And to feel a sense of accomplishment, one must face challenges that one sticks with and masters. It would seem that, for my children, doing lessons brings about a feeling of well-being, facing challenges brings about a feeling of achievement, and building one's own skills and knowledge brings about a sense of being a smart person!  
Who knew?

Tonight, after three long, long days of lessons, chores, and activities, I have two very satisfied children who are feeling very proud of themselves and very positive about who they are and what they can accomplish.

Over the many years of our homeschool journey I have cajoled, begged, lectured, threatened, bribed, supported, and generally hoped for these two kids to participate in, no, to own their own curiosity and learning. There was no willingness to learn in their lives, until a few days ago!

Today, both of them, separately, have taken me aside and have waxed on about how wonderful it feels to be bettering themselves, to be taking responsibility for their own efforts, and to be feeling confident in their own abilities. Elizabeth is expressing feelings of anticipation of, yearning for, and a thirst for learning. She wants to feel smart. (She IS smart, actually. Quite smart.) She is willing. And John is loving the organization and structure of our days. He thrives with a schedule, with expectations, with plans.

WILLINGNESS is the key. The KEY to success in this house and in life.  

There is only one thing required to change your life:  willingness.  
As someone wise once said:
If you are unwilling to learn, 
no one can force you. 
If you are determined to learn, 
no one can stop you.

Now, if only it lasts... How do we maintain this? Where does it come from? How can you get it if you don't already have it? Where does this willingness hide? How can we get it again if it goes? What are the secrets to foster a willingness to learn?   

In the meantime, while the house reeks of eagerness and zeal, our family is very engaged with wonderful materials in math, history, geography, current events, reading, and science. Children are thriving. Chores are getting done cheerfully. And children are happy. Happy.

The kids are more productive and enthusiastic during their free time too... 
Who knew.

 The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life 
is the source from which self-respect springs.
~Joan Didion

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:
Seasons of Homeschooling 
Homeschooling Strategies 
Top Ten Habits of a Happy Homeschool Mom 
Advice from Expert Homeschoolers 
Gaining Independence

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