Friday, September 9, 2011

Pass Me the Homeschool Yardstick, Please

You can get all A's and still flunk life.  ~Walker Percy

Hi, I am seekingmyLord and I am a homeschooling mother. I have abstained from homeschool addictions, doubts, and hysterics for about...oh, maybe 24 hours...almost.

I started out with dreams of teaching my child when she was very young and I am thankful that she actually did wish to learn a few things when she was at a very young age. She began piano just a week after she turned four years old and her first informal recital was at a coffee shop just months later. Of course, she only played with her right hand, but she played flawlessly with style. Even though she did not start out with Mozart, she was so tiny that her skill and poise still amazed the crowd. She began reading at second grade level that same year. I was sure that my secret plan for her to be in college at the age of sixteen was well under way. 

It was easy in the beginning, I found resources and used few, but then I became a curriculum junkie, especially with math but there were other subjects too. I just found something rather unique in each that I just had to have on hand, just in case. I did use a bit of all of them, but I realized recently that some things have sat on my shelves forgotten also. However, I shunned textbooks and workbooks as much as I could as her writing skills strengthened.

As I was talking with a friend yesterday, I grabbed a couple of books she mentioned and realized that I would not longer need them at all. You see, we covered nearly everything in the two volumes of English for the Thoughtful Child when we used the two year program in First Language Lessons, so I now have the former listed for sale. It appears that the Princess was at nearly fourth grade level when she was second grade age. I have continued, rather haphazardly I must confess, with the approach I learned in First Language Lessons, with the addition of The First Whole Book of Diagrams to help the Princess identify the parts of speech as a supplement.

Also, at one of the recent consignment sales, I was looking at books requiring correction of improper grammar, things like: "aprul is my faverutest month of the year," and I found two. One for grades 3 through 5, which was obvious to me that she could do easily but was a nice exercise in applying of her knowledge and another for grade 6 that also had some exercises in comprehension, vocabulary, and reference skills. As I thumbed through the latter book, I realized a bit of it would be challenging, but the grammar part would also only be practice.

I was so shocked that I actually gasped out loud! I thought we had been weak in that area for the past couple of years and yet her skills are grades ahead. In addition, I don't know many junior high or even high school children who memorize poems these days, but just this week the Princess has memorized most of Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If."

Still, it is not about what her grade level is or is not, but about teaching to her ability and challenging her to go beyond it. I have to remind myself of that, and yet...I still look for something to measure her against. I know, I know. I should not do it, but I do.

Homeschool parents are not limited in the way they can educate, but there are times when we just fall off the wagon. We worry if our children are really as well educated as we think they are. We do not want regulation, but we still seem to want a yardstick. It happens to nearly every homeschool mother I know with the exception, perhaps, of those who have had one or two graduate. Maybe when the Princess graduates, it will be easier to realize that the standardized yardstick I hoped use to measure her was too short from the beginning.

~ My Lord, thank you for continuing to encourage me and reminding me that the only yardstick I need to measure how well we are homeschooling is You. ~

4 comments:

  1. I think I stopped worrying about how they measured up when my oldest was in "tenth" grade. That was the first year I had to report all three and was so completely overwhelmed I decided I had to make some adjustments to how we homeschooled. So I told the oldest to relax, stealth taught the middle one, and decided to unschool the youngest. At some point, you just realize you know what you're doing, and you don't need the schools guidelines. But it is hard to reach that point. We like to know we are doing a good job, so we use the measurements available. You'll get there!

    Peace and Laughter!

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  2. Thanks, Cristina. Not sure where "there" will be when I get there. Maybe I will still have my mind then too. ;D

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  3. Weren't we just talking about this? I too need to learn this lesson, I am constantly worried that my boys are falling behind, and that if they aren't ahead we are messing up something. At some point I need to realize that a)I have three children and can't do it all, b)I have boys and they are just weird (not really but you get the picture), and c)it's ok if they don't get it on the first try!

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  4. d) You are doing it better than a public school which is why that yardstick is too short to use as a real guideline anyway (and one big missing piece is that it is devoid of the Creator). ;)

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.