Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pulling Hair Out

I gotta tell you that some days feel just darn horrid.  I just posted on a yahoo forum for kids home from Ethiopia that times like today I just feel like tossing h/school (or a specific one of the kids, who shall go nameless but is my male child not born in Canada who drives me a little around the bend with memory blips and language issues) out the window and shipping them all off to school like normal families.  What made me think that I could do this?  What made me think that I could be parent, and educator, and therapist to the child that most needs it?

Mostly we're in a pretty good/better/improving state of life around here, but there are days...

I think we just need to shut down school for the next couple of weeks so that maybe my hair will have a chance to grow back in.


  1. Dear Ruth,
    It seems wise to 'shut down' school and take a rest... or do something different that engages differently, like maybe play outside a lot, or do lots of things that engage the body and hands. This is very healing. Remember, S (and all children) is learning all the time. Considering his language challenges, one of the most important things to work on right now is vocabulary and increasing his number of words, concepts etc. You can do that all the time, in subtle ways, whether you call it school or not. A really good book that I have been reading is "Lifting Depression: A Neuroscientists Hands-On Approach to Activating your Brain's Healing Power" by Kelly Lambert. It's a really brilliant and inspiring book, and points to how wounded we all are by our technological/industrial way of life, and how our brains actually require something else to be well (which, she argues, is work with our hands). When I read it, it makes me think a lot of my work as a teacher and how understanding more about neurobiology/chemistry would have changed some things that I was doing in my classrooms. I guess now I can work with future teachers and practicing teachers on this. She writes a lot about stress and what it does to the brain (forgetfulness etc) and also what kinds of activities counteract this and circulate more positive, healing chemicals through our bodies. That's a terrible book review. The book is so meaningful, deep, elegant, and inspiring! I can't do it justice.
    Don't pull your hairs out! Enjoy yourselves and PLAY together. There is no rush to do the school stuff.

  2. Hi Ruth,
    Just today I was saying that I wished I could send my kids to school for just one week so I could get a few things done around here. And I'm not even making a pretense of doing anything formal these days. I say toss your school efforts out the window and survive the holidays in some degree of peace. You'd be in good company if you did! Warm wishes to you all...
    PS. My boys say hi to L,S and M

  3. First, Jackie, I have been hoping you'd respond and waiting for you to do so!! (Mostly about the book post, but I'm headed there again shortly to respond to you.) From here, I'm going to head to amazon to put this new book you're recommending into my cart and the next time I order I'll be buying it (might be a couple of months given the size of the order I just received pre-Xmas, but that's ok!). It sounds great. And it's interesting you should say what you did about taking a break and working with hands and playing. This afternoon, feeling rather bummed about the day today, I threw my hands up and (silently) conceded school for the remainder of the year. The boys immediately ran for the sunroom, where they are building beds and apartments for their favourite teddies, out of cardboard boxes and recycled paper towel tubes and other miscellaneous stuff they pulled out the recycles container. As they built rope ladders for their multi-level teddy home, and created bunk beds out of cardboard pasta boxes and duct tape, and as they laughed and chattered about the next plan they had for their teddies homes, and as they cut up some old rags of mine to use for custom-made blankets for their teddies' beds, and as they wallpapered the walls of the box homes with yellow construction paper....all I could think was 'thank God we're done school because this is what they need to be doing.' Then I sent them into the backyard for 45 minutes to shovel show into a pile to take their sled down. Then we played Go Fish and dominoes. It was waaaaay more fun than struggling through the first 2/3 of the day!

    ANyway, all that to say thank you yet again for your thoughts, suggestions, encouragement! You're awesome Jackie!!



  4. THanks Tammy...words of the experienced!! I'll tell the kids tomorrow about your kids' greeting...they'll love it, and I'm sure that their very next question will be when we're going to see you again. I hope it's early in the new year 'cause we (read: especially I!) really enjoy our time with you.

    Merry CHristmas Tammy...and talk to you in the new year!


  5. We've recently pulled back on our schooling to do just reading, and I've noticed a huge improvement in my daughter's stress level and behavior. Sometimes I think she needs a lot of her brain to process the emotional stuff, and sitting down for multiple school subjects just doesn't work for her when she's got other brain tasks to do. It's good to take a break sometimes, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who's doing that!

  6. Thanks findingmagnolia. That's good to hear. It's interesting, too, because given some of the conversations I've been having with Seth of late, I've been wondering if he's processing a bunch of emotional stuff. Maybe I've just been too slow to realize that this might mean that his brain just needs time to process and that it's not going to be able to focus as well on other school. Sigh - sometimes I just miss these things.

    OK, so let's both enjoy a break from school!!

    Thanks for the comment - much appreciated.


  7. Hi Ruth,
    I think that book will really complement Daniel Siegel's book that you are also reading. I wasn't aware of that book but I have read other books by Daniel Siegel. I really believe all this research by various neuroscientists will lead to the next revolution in learning and teaching. We have no idea what that looks like yet. Exciting times! Enjoy your readings and enjoy exploring what they mean for your own pedagogy with your children. I always think homeschoolers are lucky in that you are very free of some of the institutional bonds and so-called "accountabilities" that those of us who are in the schools face.
    Have a lovely Christmas,