Learning to make decisions: Harry Potter and cookie-making

I have to start today’s post by thanking the MANY friends and family members from my personal Facebook page who’ve stopped by. I greatly appreciate – we ALL greatly appreciate – your support and encouragement!

Homeschooling playground fun

Funnily, a day after sharing this blog on Facebook, here I sat most of the day with no time and little idea of what I wanted to write. Figures, huh? I work primarily from home (via a full-time job and a series of part-time jobs); one of my part-time jobs includes me working a shift a week in the office, and today was “office day.” That meant Ashar was home with Chris and my mom for much of the day; she did a couple of math workbook pages, played on Mom’s iPad, read some books, and, later, once I came home, we went to the park with one of my good friends. All in all, a fairly quiet day.

Late this evening, though, our biggest “learning” moment of the day happened.

Ashar was watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on TV. She had her snack, and it got to be about 9:45. I checked to see what time the movie ended, and it wasn’t to be over until 11 p.m.

Something Ashar’s been excited about this week is that on Friday, she and Chris are going to make and package cookies to be sold at the food stand of our local 4-H auction as a fundraiser. (I’m excited, too; Chris is actually a MUCH better baker than I am, and this is something they really love to do together.)

Anyway, one thing we know Ashar sometimes struggles with is decision-making. Some of it is related to her Asperger’s – and some is just “I’m 11 and it’s easier if Mom and Dad do the work of deciding for me!” So I thought, here’s a chance to see what happens when I put this in her hands.

I said, “Well, here’s the situation, an you can figure out what to do. You know you want to get up to make cookies with Dad in the morning. The movie is on until 11. If you would like to stay up, I’m totally fine with that. If you think you’d rather go to bed, that’s fine too.”

Here’s what I loved. Ashar says, “Well. Can you email Dad and see what time he wants to start with the shopping and making the cookies in the morning? That way then I’ll know so I can see what to do.”

So I did. (Side note: 2 seconds later, Ashar says, “Did Dad answer yet?” Have to love the instant age.) Chris, when he replied, said we wouldn’t start with the cookie-making until after we took the dog to the groomer; he has to be there at 10 a.m. So, he said, she wouldn’t have to be up any before 9:15.

Relayed this back to Ashar, who thinks a little, and, working this all out, says to me, “Well, last night I didn’t go to bed until after 10 or 10:30 at night. And I got up at 9:15 on the dot this morning and got dressed and came downstairs. So I think I can stay up to watch the movie, then go to bed, then set my alarm and get up and get dressed OK.”

And she did. She’s tucked in for the night now, clothes chosen for tomorrow, alarm set. She and I both liked her plan – and she made a choice (and an informed one at that!)

To some people, maybe this doesn’t sound big. But I’m almost choked up writing about it, because it’s just so wonderful to see. This is why we homeschool… not because her former school was bad (it wasn’t) or because she wasn’t “learning” there (she was). But because this foundation, this ability to analyze and to synthesize and to evaluate, is something we’re passionate about, and something we want to spend more time on, and now we have the freedom to do just that.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in my “trying to find what to write about” phase today, I browsed a bunch of homeschooling blogs and found this post, School ADD Isn’t Homeschool ADD, by Laura Grace Weldon. Her son’s story certainly resonated with me, but honestly, the part that I found most compelling was where she talks about “free-range learning.” That’s what homeschooling is allowing ME to learn – that it’s OK to trust Ashar, OK to believe that she’ll learn what she needs to learn when she needs it, and OK to trust my own judgment. That learning doesn’t stop being learning because it involves movies on TV or hamsters or Legos.

And I like it.

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2 thoughts on “Learning to make decisions: Harry Potter and cookie-making

  1. Wonderful! Education experts tell us that kids best absorb and retain learning when it arrives via their interests. It’s possible to learn reams of science, math, history, and much more via hamsters and Legos!

  2. This will be a great year, Joan and Sarah. I also homeschooled our daughter for several years. Greek Mythology and raising chickens were two of her new interests. Make the library your friend.

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