Tuesday, January 21, 2020

She's off to college!

You probably thought I was talking about Sunshine, our college sophomore. I'm actually talking about Belle, our high school sophomore/college freshman.  A few weeks ago she told us she was heading out to take the TSI, a placement test for Texas community colleges.

Let me back up...

We encourage our kids to follow their own paths. Not everybody wants college. Not everybody who wants college is ready at the same time. Everybody has their own path. It is exciting to us, as parents, to see the path unfold in front of our children. When Belle's path turned toward community college, we were excited for her. But we have rules. The number one rule is that we are entirely hands off in this process.  I'm all in for the college prep, but I'm pretty much all out when it comes to procedures, timelines, applications, etc. Since Belle is a minor, there are a few things we have to sign, giving her permission to take classes. That's all we do. Otherwise, I've been sitting back and watching her navigate this process.  (Side note: she navigated the heck out of it!)

Her first day is today. She was up early (as usual) and ready to go before she needed to leave (as usual). We all woke up to see her off. This is a pretty big deal for Belle. She's taken plenty of classes (gymnastics, dance, science at the local nature preserve, art, etc), but this is the FIRST time she's ever been enrolled in an accredited anything. Other than preschool, she's never attended a brick & mortar school.

She's nervous. Maybe a bit overwhelmed. But she's doing it, and doing it all on her own. Autonomy is important to her. More importantly, she needs to have this experience before flying the nest in a couple of years. The time will speed by, and we're working to give her as many life experiences as possible.

We know you can do this, Belle! You're off to great places...

Friday, January 03, 2020

Kid Conferences

Several years ago, Daddio and I started having Kid Conferences with our children. We would sit them down, individually, and work through a list of discussion points. The idea was that they'd happen monthly. To be honest, that didn't really happen. We're a very communicative family. We spend a lot of time together. A LOT. (That's the nature of this home education gig.) We don't lack for conversation. We just didn't always make it a point to call it a kid conference. (I just asked my kids how often they think we had these conferences and they said about once a quarter. Oops!)

How does it work? I have a little notebook that has a page for each kiddo, and this is where I keep a running list of talking points. I'm not going to share pictures of the lists or specifics because Kid Conferences are confidential. I will share a random list of topics without specifying which topic goes with which kid:

As you can see, the topics vary widely. With each kid, each conference covers mental health (how are you doing, where are you in that aspect, is there more we should be doing to support you) and physical touch boundaries. This is a conversation that grows as they grow. When they're little it's a simple (but so serious) reminder of boundaries, safe people, talking to us if they're uncomfortable, etc. As they grow we discuss dating safety, how to be safe in social situations, etc. This part of the conversation is so important. We want them to know we respect them, and that they should expect respect from others.

We also ask them if there are any issues they want to discuss. Today at our conference, our college age Sunshine said she's already thinking about summer storage options. I was just getting around to asking if she wanted to come home for spring break, but she was ahead of me. I made a note of that so we can touch base with her a bit later in the spring to see what she's figured out.

Some conferences take a long time. Sometimes we are frustrated and upset, there are tears, maybe raised voices and disagreements. We also try to do the same thing that many school teachers do at parent/teacher conferences: we sandwich negatives with positives. And, regardless of the topics covered, we end the conference with a reminder of our unconditional love for them: "There is nothing you can say or do that will change the way we love you."