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My Way In

What is that book, podcast, article, blog post that reassures your beliefs? Reminds you that you're not crazy. As you're listening or reading you want to yell, "YES!" and share it with everyone you bump into. That's what The 1000 Hours Outside Podcast, by Ginny Zurich, is for me. Every episode affirms a belief, makes me ponder a new idea or thought, and catapults me into action.

This week, I listened to an episode with Todd Wilson. He is an author, speaker, podcaster, husband and dad to 8 kids, homeschooling parent, and more. He is new to my circle of influence, but man did he make a profound difference in my day. The thing I admire most about Todd is his confidence and boldness to say and live out what he believes. The podcast began with a bold statement Todd made at a conference. He said this below.

"If your kid doesn't want to do algebra, then don't do algebra."

This did not seem like a bold statement to me, but I can see how some parents might gasp at this statement. In a public school or even a private school setting, there are certain classes you take as a freshman, sophomore, AP classes, etc. There are specific classes you take if you want to graduate with academic honors and so forth. I am not saying these classes are pointless, but who made these up? Who said you have to do this and this, to earn this? I know the point of public education, is to educate the masses, and maybe I am ignorant on how and why this standard was made, but this seems like a very old idea and concept that needs reshaping.

For example, I had to take a Physics class in high school to graduate with acacemic honors. I cheated my way through this class because I could not grasp the material and concepts. I spent a whole semester finding ways to pass this class so it wouldn't mess up my GPA. Did I need to graduate with academic honors? No. Did I feel pressure to, yes! I know the pressures now seem even higher. I am not saying this class, or any class isn't important, but I definitely don't use it in my day to day life or in my career. It makes me wonder, what could I have spent that time and effort on?

Now I know Todd and myself are not saying whenever your kids say they don't want to do something, just give in. How often are we fighting to finish an assingment, homework, etc? But, can we rethink what is important down the road? Do you use your algebra 2 skills, calculus, sentence diagramming, or your history 2 knowledge in your career? My guess is that the majority of people do not use these skills. We use our basic addition, subtraction, divison, and writing skills, but possibly not those skills from the more advanced classes. Can we build a healthy foundation and then move towards our children's talents and interests? Can we give them a leg up in that specific skilled area and use that desire to motivate?

Todd spoke about his second oldest son who is now an animator. He is currently working on a wing span project. How cool! Todd and his wife knew he was an art kid. They homeschooled and gave him opportunities that allowed him to dive into his talents and interests. Todd briefly spoke about how this gave him an edge over other people when it came to the job market. He had years of exploring, fine tuning his skill and craft. What could we be doing if we honed in on our talents and interests earlier? Maybe you are just now discovering these or you are seeing them start to appear in your children. Is there a way to mesh their talents and interests into their schooling? Could this motivate them more?

Many of you who have been following me, know my oldest son Riggs. He has to work hard at school just like his dad and I. The social aspect of school is more fun than doing the actual hard work. When we began homeschooling I dreamed of finding ways to combine his talents and interests with our school work. Riggs is highly creative. He loves to build and draw. You can see his mind thinking and processing all of the different ideas when he is working. He is defintely a visual learner. He also loves video games. This is a new avenue for us to navigate as parents. He are currently finding that balance of how much is too much or enough. Parents, you understand, right? But I know if I can find a way to leverage his interests, that will be my way in. My way in to motivating him by combining his talents and interests with academics. I love the timing of this podcast and my goal for the week.

My recent goal while homeschooling is to find more games that include academics. Fun ways to practice telling time, numbers, addition, subtraction, reading, etc. So this week we headed to Goodwill to search for games. We found the game Bloxels. It is a board game where you physically create a video game board with small squares. It is so cool! Riggs was in heaven! He created this video game board for an hour. He built, rebuilt, and rethought his plan. I knew this was my way in. My way to add in math, reading, and writing into this game. Or not and just let him enjoy this strategic game. This game interests him and motivates him. Why would I not take this opportunity to combine learning with his talents and interests? It will be authentic and meaningful to him.

Why are we wasting so much time? We could be setting kids up to learn and develop their talent, and get a job with that skill. Yes, we can wait until college, but couldn't we start earlier? Some of these skills do not even need a college degree anymore! Their work is proof enough. How often do you sit at your kitchen table and fight about homework? How many times has your child asked why they need to learn something? Our answer is usually, because you have to. Which is partly true, but do they really have to? Can we start asking the important questions of why, talking to teachers and asking for alternatives? It can be different if we start advocating for different. I am going to leave you with this quote that Todd shared.

Life is like a quarter. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once.

What are we spending our time and our children's time on? How can we develop and put time into those interests and talents that we shouldn't waste? Can you find a way in? A way in to combine interests and academics? A way to spend more time on what we love rather than just checking a list.

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