Monday, January 11, 2010

Deschooling

I have read that it is recommended to allow for a period of “deschooling” when a child comes out of public school. For every year they have been in school, take one month off and do nothing. That would have been nice had I withdrew L at the end of the school year. We could have allowed for deschooling over the natural summer break and began with lessons in September. However, with one child remaining in public school it would seem pretty unfair to her and quite frankly, a little nerve racking to me to allow for two months of nothingness during January and February.

Last week we jumped right into lessons and much was accomplished. She completed her History of My Family project, which coincided with the introduction to ancient history. She started a lapbook about squirrels for her animal classification study. She took two math placement tests. She memorized a poem. She painted a beautiful watercolor painting. She began a composer study by listening daily to Mozart. Whew. That would knock any kid out. But she forged ahead smiling every day.

Today, not so much! She is whiny and tired and much more interested in playing with her Barbies than reading about the first nomads. But she read. She did not feel like doing grammar. But she edited her history project and corrected the capitalization for proper nouns. Today has not been full of enthusiasm and passion for learning at home. She looks tired. I let her rest. She said she feels like she needs to learn. I explained that I feel most comfortable when we move through our lessons with little breaks of 5-10 minutes in between. However, the beauty of learning at home is we don’t always have to do that. She has no outside lessons today. No playdates are scheduled. To accomplish everything on my plan, we have to listen to a 5 minute podcast about Mozart, work on the squirrel lapbook, and she needs to do her personal reading. The lapbook can be done during Grace’s homework time. The personal reading can be done in the car when Grace is having her piano lesson. The podcast is only 5 minutes and if that is not accomplished today, I can move it to tomorrow’s schedule.

This is a lesson for me also. I am her mother. I am also now her teacher. I want her to do her lessons but this is only our second week together. If she were in school and did not finish her work, it would become homework. If she is home and does not finish her work, she is choosing to finish it at another time. It will be added to the task list. Her natural consequence may be having to finish the outstanding work before swimming or before going to her friend’s house. This is hard for me as I am a planner and like structure. For now, I need to slow down, listen to L’s cues as she adjusts to this new way of learning. Some days may be robust and lively. Others may be painstaking and tedious. That is okay. Life is like that. We work around natural deadlines. How we choose to accomplish our tasks teaches us all about how to handle life as an adult.

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