Friday, September 20, 2013

Where was I? Oh, yes.

Sunrise, sunset.
Sunrise, sunset.
Swiftly flow the days.
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze.
~Fiddler on the Roof

You may have been wondering where I have been. I am still in the crackdown-on-homeschool mode; the crackdown is mostly on myself, by the way. I finished planning the year as to how to fit all the curriculum in Language Arts, but I still have much work to do planning Social Studies. Currently, I am lost under piles of paper and trying to acclimate to our new schedule, so I am not yet using my time and resources as efficiently as I hope to do. If you ever tried educating your child at home you know that tasks of getting the child from one lesson or assignment to the other and of organizing paper in various forms, such as new ruled paper, art papers, worksheets, workbooks, books, index cards, flash cards, printed papers, etc., are the two main things a parent does over and over...and o-v-e-r.

Since I changed everything in my daughter's curriculum—yes, everything, but I just have to write, is working out so much better for both of us!—I now have old papers from our old curricula with which I am not quite sure what I will do and I need to place the new stuff into binders. Schools have the advantage of not having to save at least a sampling of the students' work to prove what and how they are teaching, as much as I do, as much as homeschooling families should do. So, temporarily everything is in piles on a table in the middle of my office/homeschool room, where there really is not enough room for a table, but better there than spread out on the floor so my cat and dog can make additional arrangements to the mess.

This year, although it is not required, I also decided that I will practice keeping records for high school transcripts, a skill I will need to have for the upcoming years anyway. Besides, she has been earning partial credits in some subjects like Greek and Latin. Also, the Princess wants to be graded, has been wanting that for the last few years, and even though I appeased her at times on this, I did not keep records of her grades. For those who do not homeschool, I was teaching to mastery without concerns about grading previously, however some children thrive on completing for that "A." My husband and I both were like that, but we thought it was due to the make-the-grade school influence in which we were raised; since this has not been the case with our daughter, I guess it is just in her genes to want a measuring stick of her abilities.

The science class is adding the measure of independent learning—independent of me, I mean. I think it was a very good investment into her education: The very first day of her school, they dissected an eye! The Princess did most of it as her lab partner thought it was very gross. The Princess is thriving in the classroom and laboratory environment, but then she has a teacher who truly loves teaching science. (I am thinking that it is easier to really love it when it is just one class a week, although I know she has other classes.) I give the Princess an hour on two separate days each week in our schedule so she can do her science homework as she must type out her summary of each class in addition to any lab reports and other things like take home tests. She has eagerly begun researching her chosen 5th day animal for the autumn presentation: the Crown of Thorns Starfish. She does not seem to mind that the science assignments take more time than I have set aside. She works on her science project in the evenings and on weekends also. Since she has observed good and bad 4H presentations, I am curious how she will put her project together for a seven to ten minute presentation.

Oh, my little Princess, a half-grown woman-child! Was it not just last summer when she was four years old protesting with a defiant look of determination after I had called her my child: "I am not a child. I am a woman!" From that point on, when people asked how she was, I would reply, "She is a formidable woman!" which would catch them off-guard until their giggles set in. Back then the Princess was only four, nearly always in pink, learning to play piano with only one hand at a time, and reading at a second grade level.

Today, she prefers teals, mauves, and greens with blues and browns, has a purse faddish, will be starting algebra in a month, talks about going to college, and wears nearly the same size shoes as I do. She is particularly good playing Bach on the piano, but she is good with a wide variety of musical styles. She writes as much as she reads, which is considerable. She is rather good with comics and used to draw several pictures a day, but she never really like the fine finishing work (as I do). Now she often cannot wait to start writing a story she has in her head and this is why I placed so much emphasis on language arts for this year. She may think she wants to be an actress only, but I see the girl is also a writer, artist, and musician at heart.

Which brings me back to why my homeschool area is a mess. I wanted to change things so that we could encourage and support her talents and areas of interest more so than before. Those years of laying foundations have prepared her for this change of fine tuning her education.

Did you know that the Amish only formally school their children to 8th grade? Why? Because by that age, a child has learned everything that is absolutely necessary to learn in a school setting to get along in life. The rest they will learn as well, better actually, by living experience or by apprenticing. When I was eleven, my mother was in and out of the hospital for illnesses, surgery after falling for which she was in traction at home for about 4 months, and giving birth because she had apparently conceived just before the fall. I did the housework and made sure my siblings were fed as was expected of me being the oldest. I have this philosophy that education from age of twelve on is to specialize their education toward their talents, gifts, and potential as well as practicing those practical skills. I feel that the potential of the teenage years is not fully utilized when students are taking classes and trying to get good grades just to prepare for college. Why not start learning college courses while in their teens?

On that note, some things had to shift in our priorities for this year and my homeschool materials with it. The Princess no longer needs the math manipulatives that helped her understand 5-3=2 in her four-year-old hands. She is twelve and those years have passed. It is difficult to let go, selling or packing away materials that helped shaped her knowledge for today, but changes must be made to accommodate and encourage growth and exploration in preparation for the woman she will be.

I may not be ready for it, but I have to be sure that she is.

~ My Lord, guide us as You desire us to be. ~

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