What do we tell the children?

I recently ran into a post on a home education forum that dealt with a mother's dissatisfaction with a simple and charming book about Pioneer life for one family. She was looking for a book suggestion that showed no negative behavior on the part of the characters in the book. The book she objected to is called A Pioneer Sampler and it was written by Barbara Greenwood. This is a book we have in our collection and in fact I have used it with 4 of my 5 homeschoolers since 1996. Our copy is well worn and well loved.

Of course I will now have to go back and reread the book since I am unable to think of anything that would ever raise an eyebrow in this book. And yet it seems the posting mother took offense to the fact that one of the children was sassy and the other rolled his eyes at his mother.

Oh shock... sassy pioneer children!... Honestly this seems pretty honest to me. I have a hard time thinking that pioneer children actually lead the sanitized life that we were fed in the form of Little House on the Prairie. I am sure that over the course of history thousands of pioneer children mouthed off, slacked on their chores and had a moment or two of sassy mouthed behavior. To say they didn't and edit it out of history all together is just another form of the white-washing of American history and this does little good for our children or for ourselves.


For our children the removal of any traits that involve negative actions makes these characters so far removed from their life that it makes them difficult to relate to or to learn from. I mean if little Sally pioneer never whimpered a tear even after a rabid raccoon bites her how is the average child to feel when they fall and skin their knee and feel the need to sob about it for a bit?. Are they less than that little girl of *oh so fine Pioneer stock* who is reported to be stoic beyond measure and just fine with helping pa plow the back 40 with just a simple bandage to stem the flow of blood? Of course this is an exaggeration but there is truth hidden in my snide commentary and when children are exposed over and over again to overly perfected characters they are not bettered for it. Better we should see little Sally work through her problems, cry a little, perhaps even say a sassy word or two then work through to a more realistic answer to her problems.

For mothers I think the subject is even more complex and even deeper and darker for those who homeschool and spend their time reading to their sometimes sassy mouthed children about children who never do wrong. It's subtle, but soon after reading to much of white washed childhoods you start to wonder why your kid grumbles when asked to take of the trash when young "Jeth" in the book you are reading to the kids can spend 5 hours chopping wood with nary a complaint. Why are your kids begging for yet another transformer, Lego set, water gun while acting like they are dying when young Pioneer children were happy with just an orange and a new pair of socks at Christmas? Well is obvious your children are ungrateful, spoiled and you yearn to go live in the woods and teach them a lesson!!

Let's get real, Pioneer children bitched, they ditched, and at times I am sure they rolled their eyes and had a sassy mouth. It's what children learn from our response to these expressions that shapes them into the people they become. And I am sure the same was true to pioneer children.

The beginging and the end all at once!

June first was my personal deadline for getting next year's schooling all worked out and by the skin of my teeth I made it and placed my orders with the exception of my Math u see ( since I totally need an excuse to go to the convention) and Claire's Highschool stuff. ( For those who are wondering, for the most part Grant is done and only lacking 2.5 credits which we are going to pick up this Summer)

Building on the parts we loved from last year ( literature based learning) and removing the drudgery and adding tons of hands one stuff we are going with WinterPromise http://www.winterpromise.com/ Sea and Sky. Adding the expansion packs for younger and older kids I will be able to do, Sam, Greg and Chris with tons of stuff that appeals to each kid. Gregory is beside himself with excitement about this program and I will totally cop to the fact that it's a very * boy* centered program with lots about boats and planes. Lucky for me this program already uses the Language arts we already have and blends well with quite a few of our on hand resources.

It was not cheap but three kids worth of stuff, including 63 books, guides, and a few computer CD's came in a bit under $800 so about $275 per kid for the year... oh yeh.. then add on 1 MUS book... so about $300 per kid for the year.

Claire is another ball of wax and we are sitting down to look at her college prep course credit sheet and work on how she is going to fill it. She has decided on an accelerated pace and then adding some courses at Chatt state into the mix starting in the Fall. She is going to do 3 credit hours this Summer with Economics, (using the book * What ever happened to Penny Candy as the spine of that course.) English II, survey of modern American writers, and an Elective, Clothing construction 101June July and August will make up our Summer but I suspect we will dive back into a bit of schooling in August. I am sure that they younger one's would like to start back earlier but the mom needs a break and some time to get some work done around the house.