Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Week 4 Wrap-up

So… you know all that stuff I said in my last post about ‘getting back to normal’? Yeah – you can just disregard that. We’ve been slacking for the last half of this week, though truthfully, it was a much-needed break – not because of our school schedule but because of life in general.

I was looking back at our plans for this year and I have to say that I am pretty happy with what we’ve accomplished so far this year.  We’ve been working on several things cooperatively (like history and geography and literature) and the interconnectedness of such lessons makes them so much more interesting. I’d love to add art to that and plan to do so in the coming weeks. I still haven’t gotten the Artistic Pursuits book yet – also on my bossy book’s to-do list (‘bossy book’ is what SFK calls her lesson planner/appointment book – that’s a spiffy little nickname and oh-so-fitting, therefore I am adopting it with kudos to such a clever friend.)

One of our main goals for this year was to have the boys working more independently. That’s going reasonably well. We’ve been using their STARS book to keep them on-task and though we’re not yet using it to its full potential, we’re on the right track. I still haven’t gotten the file folder organizers to start our modified work-box system, but that’s also in the plans. We’ve been planning on doing some major re-modeling/decorating this spring, though how much of that we’ll get to do is in question in light of my FIL’s death and associated expenses, so some of my plans have had to be put on hold regarding school/curriculum purchases. We’ll still get there, it’ll just take a little longer.

Overall, I’m just pleased as punch about where we are right now. We’re actually off next week; the first of our scheduled breaks, and I have yet to decide if we’re going to really ‘break’ or if we’re going to keep schooling since we’ve more or less had a nice break accumulated over the last 2 weeks. I suspect it will be more of a ‘wait and see’ – we always end up with some type of school-related stuff regardless of what the bossy book says for the week.

This week has been a mix of nose-to-the-grindstone productivity and sheer laziness (or maybe mental exhaustion?). Monday and Tuesday were pretty much business as usual though with an admittedly lighter version of our normal workload.  Wednesday, we had a treat – our local JASON Alliance had their yearly presentation at Lamar University. We’re pretty new to JASON, but very interested in it. I’ve looked it up several times but since it’s targeted towards older kids, I haven’t had it as a ‘for now’ in my head. This week’s presentation helped me see what it was all about. We’re fortunate to have a pretty active local alliance and several teachers who run Argonaut groups, so hopefully as the boys get older this will be something they can take part in more fully.

I do have to have a mama brag moment though – the JASON program targets kids in 4th grade and up, but my 7-year-old has engineer aspirations, so I thought that even if he didn’t ‘get’ it all, he might still find it interesting. I shouldn’t have doubted – not only was he interested, but he answered questions and grasped much more of the material than I’d thought he would. Now, whether this has anything to do with ‘homeschooling’ or not, I can’t say – he may have gotten interested in all this on his own (and in fact, I suspect that he would). The ‘benefit of homeschooling’ comes in because he would not have been ‘allowed’ to participate had he been in public school – not for 2 more years. In that time, his interest in the subject may have waned or been pushed aside in favor or more accessible subject matter. Homeschooling allows me to find projects and resources that deal with things he’s interested in and cultivate his interest in a way that the public school system does not.

I think it would be so very beneficial to kids (and our future civilization) if the public educational system could be modified in such a way as to allow the children access to the subjects that they are curious about or interested in at younger ages and with an eye towards cultivating their interest and direction into future careers. It seems to me that allowing them the freedom to choose the direction of their education and having access to skilled mentors who will help direct their path would create an environment designed to help students succeed, not just academically but in life, and with fewer of the issues we see rampant today. We have that (to a small degree) in the higher-up grades, but there is nothing like that in elementary school, which is when their imagination and dreams for the future makes up such a big part of who they are – before their interest  and academic self-esteem is crushed under the weight of not being able to adapt to the classroom setting or failing test scores sending the message that they’re not as smart as they thought they were.

Being back in a group classroom setting also made me see how much more beneficial having LBB out of that environment has been. Much as I might wish it differently, he just does not function well in that milieu. It’s too confining, too distracting, too static – he needs a dynamic lesson with room to move and lots of face time with the instructor. Seeing that in action again was both reassuring and reinforced my thought that kids aren’t cookie dough. Using cookie-cutter educational models is antiquated and unrealistic, not to mention the awkward position it puts kids in when they’re expected to do something that they simply cannot – not because of academic limitations, but because of physical ones – and how that impacts them when there is no one there to advocate for them.

Yes, the basics need to be addressed, but if a child has and interest in science and needs to know the periodic table because of something he’s working on, don’t you think that he’ll learn it because it pertains to something he needs? I love that idea and am working on allowing myself to trust that same principle will hold true with writing, and math and spelling. Homeschooling is definitely an adjustment process – as much for the parent/teacher as it is for the kids; one that is constantly evolving.

After Wednesday’s super science extravaganza, we’d planned on getting some basic schoolwork in yesterday, but mom slept in due to a late night gab session with her soon-to-be-relocated BFF and a bottle of wine. Each … which necessitated a White Knight rescue in the form of a drive home and a much appreciated minimum of mockery by BFF’s loverly husband of Strait Laced Scarlet fame. Not my proudest moment, but considering that this momma has ‘had’ to be driven home after over-imbibing exactly once in her life, I guess that’s not the end of the world. Considering the recent stress in my life and my BFF’s; it is clear that she and I were both due for some R & R. After a leisurely non-schooly Thursday morning, we packed up and went to SFK’s house for some art-journal/crafting goodness. The kids played inside and out, baked and watched movies… it was a lovely day well spent in good company.

Today is a lazy day as well, because who wants to pick up with a full work-load on a Friday?!? Now I’m off to make old-fashioned, on the stovetop popcorn and read a Johanna Lindsey novel clean the kitchen. Oh, if only we had a maid…

Warmly,

~h

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