Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Parallel Story

There is a whole other side to the story behind the story. And that is the story of Mack and our Homeschooling journey. We do a type of homeschool called "Thomas Jefferson Education" (TJED). It is based on the premise of Classics and Mentors, just like the education of Thomas Jefferson.

I've always known that educating my oldest would not be as easy as loading him on a school bus every morning and sitting him down to homework every evening after soccer.
He has ADHD and Aspberger's, making it virtually impossible for him to focus in a public school environment. So while he was still in first grade I started looking of other options. A friend suggested I read "A Thomas Jefferson Education" by Oliver DeMille, and after I did, I realized that that would be the only way to give Mack an education.

I've always been a great fan of reading the "Classics" in literature, I myself have had the privilege of learning from the classics, so I knew that it would work.
There's a saying in Spanish, "Del dicho al hecho hay largo trecho", which translated means: From saying to doing, there is a long road.
Homeschooling is not easy, especially when you have to shed so many preconceived notions about how schooling should be done. Here I had to trust the process, that if you "inspire and not require" your child will willingly learn to love learning.

As you can imagine, this is not something that happens in a week or a month--it takes years and it's been a bumpy ride. But I've learned a few things along the way.
One, you need mentors. So if you can't be a mentor, find one.
My sister-in-law Heidi, came to my rescue when we were just getting started. She took Mack on Fridays and played Math games with Mack and her kids. She loves math, so she was the perfect mentor for him.
Heidi got him out of his mental math block and freed up the way for me to do math again with him.

Then we had to tackle reading. This I could mentor him in, because I love to read.
I started to read to him out loud every day, from a children's classic. We read "Black Beauty" first, because he was taking Horseback riding lessons. Then we read "The Chronicles of Narnia" all of them!
He started reading on his own, books like "Ready Freddy" and "The Magic Tree House" and from there he jumped into "The Lightning Thief" and "Fablehaven". We still read books out loud, and we are currently reading "Johnny Tremain".

The last issue with school that I had to address was his complete refusal to write, and this is where my book comes in. As you can imagine a lot of these things have happened simultaneously for us, and writing has been one of the these things.
It was incomprehensible to me how he could hate to write, because I've always enjoyed writing. Right at the same time I started reading Oliver and Rachael DeMille's follow up book called "Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning". Here they give those trying to educate a recipe, their recipe. They say "you, not them" meaning if you want them to do something, you do it. If you want them to play the piano--you play the piano every day. In short, model the behaviour that you want them to have.

This gave me the courage to work on a dream of mine, that elusive dream "that one day I'll write a book". I always thought that I would have to put that dream on hold until I was retired or had all my kids in school! Well... that was not going to happen now, so I decided to start.
Every time I sat down to work on my book I would tell Mack, "I love working on my book! It's so much fun to make up stuff and write it down.". Yea...I laid it on really thick, but it worked!

A few months ago he came up to me and said: "Mom, I want to write a book too. Will you publish me, if I write a book?"
I told him that I most certainly would, and he has been writing on his own; full sentences at a time! I know that this might not sound too miraculous for you, but it is for me.

For him to sit down and willingly and happily to pick up a pencil and write is nothing short of a miracle! It is a thing of beauty that brings tears to my eyes.
If nothing else, this alone makes this journey worth it.


  1. I love the things you shared. Thanks Mack I can hardly wait to read your book!

  2. It's pretty good! I'll make copies and send them out to anyone who wants one! a good publisher/printer should.

  3. Silvina you are a mentor to me. Just from this one blog post you have given to me the gift of guidance and I thank you so much for that. I think that David and Mack have a lot in common. Tonight I was reflecting back on our day at co-op and I was talking with Mack and looking at David and I noticed that they are the meek. They are almost invisible to the other boys and It brings tears to my eyes a bit because they our boys are so strong. There is an inner strength and sensitivity that is hard to describe because you have to really look at them to feel it and sit with the feeling for a little while. Could they be the watchers the guardians? Maybe who knows only time will tell. I always love this quote from Marianne Williams "The meek shall inherit the Earth because their strength will take the place over." This thought brings me so much comfort. I saw Mack looking through the window of the door at the move it move it class today and I saw the pure joy and love in his eyes as he watched Liv enjoying the class.
    Jen W.

  4. Thanks Jen! Now you bring tears to my eyes! They are something else though aren't they? I don't know David too well, but from what you tell me they do seem to have a lot of similarities.
    I don't know what they'll be when they grow up, but they have been branded for a different journey in life. They will never fit the mold, and that's OK. Because by not fitting in they will one day stand out!