Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Homeschool Good Days and Bad Days

Children are entitled to their otherness, as anyone is; and when we reach them, as we sometimes do, it is generally on a point of sheer delight, to us so astonishing, but to them so natural. ~Alastair Reid

You may have noticed I have not been posting much nor visiting other blogs much lately. I have some good reasons and some maybe not so good just time filling and relaxing for me. As spring has sprung here with daffodils in full bloom and horses shedding winter coats, I have some gardens to prepare now in addition to all the other things I have been doing, so it is mostly a matter of adjusting my priorities for the season at hand. I do have a few tales to tell but for now I am publishing this post this because it has been sitting in draft mode, just waiting for its own little time on my blog.

Now that I have relaxed back into our latest homeschool schedule after holidays and illness, I have to say that it is working quite well. Most days we get through everything in the time I planned. I am pleased with the Princess' progress and the quality of work she is doing for the most part, even her handwriting has improved. Our greatest challenge currently is her listening and following directions, but having her explain the directions back to me seems to be smoothing our some of those wrinkles.

Even though the Princess says she does not like lessons and most particularly math, she enjoys learning very much. She likes history and science the most. She loves to read fiction and non-fiction. I have come to realize how much she dislikes repetition, which is generally common with math and somewhat with classical language lessons, but if she can breeze through the the lessons, she can tolerate them. I have also found, as I suspected, that if we focus intensely on a new concept, yet move faster through math that she usually gets it, which we have to do since she only does seatwork math three times a week. Still, the girl can multiply numbers like 13 x 15 in mentally, so what I am doing is working for her.

The Princess is still a random learner and I am sequential, but we connect well with the abstract that we both share. I have learned to adapt to her need for random presentation whenever possible, but she also must learn that some things must be handled sequentially. Her father is the exact opposite of my learning style so we complete each other; he shares in her random style but being concrete, he can only attempt to appreciate her abstract side.

Recently I thought deeply about how homeschooling my daughter has shaped her and me and our relationship. At times, I have pushed in the wrong direction wanting her to fit in my plan. I once had to help with a sick family member and drop homeschooling for several weeks, but then I had this wonderful opportunity to watch my Princess learn without my direct guidance and I thank the Lord for helping me see that. Many times I thought we are not doing enough "stuff" and many other times I thought she would learn more if I loosen the leash. Overall, I think I have finally struck a balance that fits both of us, tailored to what we both desire.

Each weekend, I prepare lessons for the upcoming week. Then I intertwine what I can so that we do social studies or science with language arts. We place emphasis on what would probably be seen as expendable electives in a school system, music and horses, but which are her personal interests enhanced with light unit studies. Having most of our seatwork on Monday, Wednesday morning, and Friday with days when we are mostly out on Tuesday and Thursday. Wednesday afternoons are set aside for artistic works.

My ongoing hard decisions are with math. Currently, we are on long division. She seems to get it, but then suddenly will start making the silliest mistakes. I have to decide if she is bored with the repetition or if she does need more practice. Would it be better if we just need to step away and review it later to see if it stuck with her? I remember my own boredom with English Grammar in middle school and how my grades slipped because of it. I knew it but just how many times did we have to go over it? For this reason, I have chosen to evaluate her performance in math weekly. It is difficult to keep that balance of not moving too fast or too slow...especially for a sequential that likes things in a predictable progressive order. However, this is exactly why I only prepare lesson plans a week at a time so that I will make better decisions about her upcoming assignments for the week. She has been surprising me for the most part so maybe I have found what will work for her.

~ My Lord, this is a good life You have provided. I am very thankful for it. Help me to continue to see the paths You are guiding me to take so it will continue in goodness. ~

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