Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Homeschooling :: Gaining a New Perspective

From our State of the Homeschool addresses, one can gather that i have been consumed by scheduling this year.  Something about scheduling school out perfectly into 10 little months makes sense.  That is, until you encounter thee "Aaaaawww" reaction everytime you mention to your child that it's time to start school for the day. 

Recently, i heard about a type of class offered here in the state of Washington, that is meant to be a qualifying course for parents without the college credits required to qualify for homeschooling.  It is a 2 day course given on the weekend, 16 hours total, to cover topics from early child development to writing transcripts for the homeschool high schooler to submit to colleges.  Although i qualify through the time i spent in hell, er, i mean college, it wasn't something i hadn't considered attending until i had heard enough people mention that it was a worthy class to look into.  And hey, i'm all about learning new stuff.

Something a teacher in the class mentioned shook our current plan of action to its very core.  She was discussing methods of homeschooling, and scheduled students vs. unschooled students.  She said, "If your schedule is as rigid as the school down the street, and your child is expected to finish rote work each day, then what makes you different from a brick and mortar school?"  Heavy, eh? 

At first, i thought, you know, this lady is entitled to her opinion, however the tightened ship is working for us.

Then i woke up out of my lack of sleep-induced stupor and started thinking that maybe she has a good point.  I am coming from a public school education in my thinking and scheduling seems normal to me, as does having to stop in the middle of something i enjoy because someone in charge is telling me that there are other things to get accomplished.  As does sitting in a seat during the lesson seem normal to me.  Must be because they broke me well, eh? 

So last Monday, i challenged myself a bit.  Cookie's getting into multiplication and division and it hasn't been coming to her as easy as other things.  I've been lecturing her on her lack of attention to the lessons, and she's been "giving me the same excuse" of "I can't do it."  Our approach obviously needed to change.  So, we spent the day baking cookies as a way of practicing our multiples of 8.  One cookie sheet with 8 cookie gives us how many total?  And so on.  Not only was it a lesson in math and measurements, but also in household management/food storage, as we baked a few off, and froze the rest of the dough, portioned out by eights, for later.

The on Tuesday, we read.  A lot.  Cookie now knows a little about Venus and Mercury and about the Sui Dynasty of China. 

And the rest of the week we practiced multiples of 6 with half dozen egg cartons and multiples of 4 with the dollars to quarters conversion.  And we read some more.  But relaxed like.  Was she getting any grammar in?  Not structured grammar from her grammar text, however she was the authour of a newspaper called Animal Jam that compose with her Grandpa's old electric typewriter and some magazine articles for reference.  That's writing, technically too.

Today, we placed our seed order--she was in charge of gathering the order numbers, weights (for figuring shipping), and prices so we could do some "real world" math.  In the course of this math lesson, we realised that she still needs help remembering that one performs math the opposite direction than reading English.  We also happened to be splitting parts of the order with a friend, so she learned how to calculate percentages, as the cost of the items we are splitting and the shipping needed to be split fairly between both parties.  She was fasicinated by the fact that you wouldn't just split shipping and tax in half.    

Different?  Extremely!  Do i worry that we aren't ever going to get through to a new math book?  Sure.  Is it a race?  I thought so; to try to keep up with the school kids right?  But isn't it that one of the reasons we take our children out of a government operated education system?  Either they are held back in certain subjects they grasp well or they are pushed through material that they might need just a little more practice at to fully understand it.  All in the name of "Good for the Common Group".  Hmmmm .... 

We will be drastically modifying our "school model".  Who's to say that if Cookie and i are lying in bed reading or talking until 9am in the morning that we aren't discovering new words or discussing new concepts.  Why just last week, we were reading the reports from Japan's reactors on my phone (geography & science) and discussing why we might need to seal off windows or purchase a little more food in the coming weeks to stock up a bit.  That was a teaching moment.  What followed was more learning:  the one where Cookie asked if we could stop talking about this subject because it made her a little bit scared and not only did i show her manners when i did stop (health), we also talked about the value of being prepared (occupational education), and we discussed how much we loved each other (which can sometimes cover distance-math-and geography.)

And eventually, we'll work our way through multiplication and the Earth will still be spinning and life will be just as hunky dory!

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Thanks for taking the time to read my silly lil musings. Hope you have a wonderful day!