Thursday, December 07, 2006

End of The Year and other ramblings

So here we sit at the end of another school year, year 2 or 3 homeschooling. I can't really say that I have gotten anymore comfortable with it yet. This fall the realization has come to me that the struggles we have in homeschooling all come back to me. Unfortunately, MB being the oldest, has gotten the full force of my pushing. I guess I felt like I had something to prove to others in my life when it came to educating MB. That I had to do it faster or something.

I came to homeschooling because I didn't want the love of learning that young kids have being 'killed' by the public education model. I wanted to be able to give them a lot of hands-on experience, be able to move through standards at the speed they needed (i assumed faster), and a chance to build the creative side of themselves. I wanted to give them the education I wanted. And there lies the rub. It wasn't MB's education.

I jumped right into it trying to force material on that I would have found fascinating, but really didn't hit the spot for MB. When she did get interested in something I dumped material on her that was really over her head. But I thought if she would only get interested in something then suddenly all these skills would come together - and boom - she would be doing the work I thought she should be doing. Surprise, Surprise that isn't working.

What is interesting I let my younger two cruise on through. I don't feel the need to push them, and let them guide me with what they need. If K wants to spend the morning writing the same three letters over and over - I let her. If she is totally involved in creating one of her picture stories, I don't interrupt and try to teach her how to tell time. I know that they will learn how to tell time - when their time is right. But, for some reason, I felt like I had to keep pushing MB.

What I have accomplished with MB is to do what I didn't want the school system to do - she has started to shut down when it comes to exploring the world around her. School is torture - accomplished only under threat of the removal of social or sports time. She doesn't have confidence in her abilities.

So, in light of this personal awareness, I am re-thinking and re-working so that we can start off the New Year in January a better way. I pulled up the NC Course of Study for 2nd grade and looked through that. There is also LearnNC, a really awesome website that has all sorts of lesson plans by grade level or subject. Alot of them are links to outside websites like National Geo, that we can use in the 'small' classroom setting. Since they are 'graded' I am hoping that it will help me to stay focused on not trying to stretch her too far out of her comfort zone. Some topics I think we will cover are: Community (what makes up a community - we will use our Simm City Software an have her build her own city); Relationship between people and environment (Ecology); Basic Economics - Goods and Services, especially how they relate to our local community. I also plan for some Geography/Cultural studies.

Looking back over this past year we have been successful. I don't see that we have failed, I just think that I could manage the approach a little bit better. MB took her end-of-grade test in the Grade 1 Math today and scored a 91%. She can and does use measurement, time and money in her daily life. Her reading level has advanced to a late 1st grade level, and she is more and more taking books back to bed with her. She loves to cook and is very involved in helping with meal planning and making meals. Some nights cooking the entire meal with only oversight from DH or I (us providing the cutting and hot work). She of course has absorbed a lot of nature science and will spit it back out. Her handwriting is no worse than any other child in the naeighborhood, and she has asked to be taught cursive writing, which we have started and she is enjoying. Her handwriting is already getting better.

This year my focus is on getting MBs confidence back up, and really letting her tell me what she needs. I have found a few 'fun' outside classes for both her & K this semester. We will continue in Choir, a spanish class taught by a native speaker at her home, and monthly nature science classes. She also has her weekly science club meeting. There are a few other things I have some interest in, but we will have to see how the money falls out.

I have other things that I would probably write about, but it is hard typing with one hand and trying to keep the older ones on task for cleaning up their daily mess.



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A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.