Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's Starting Again

It is starting up again in blogland.  The back to school talk.  The setting up of “classrooms” and the purchasing of curriculum.  I am pretty amazed at the difference between me on July 26, of 2011 and me on July 26, 2010.  
Last year I was setting up a classroom a.k.a. “the learning lounge” only to discover our real learning never took place there.  It just could not be confined to a room.  This year there is no rush to clean and prepare a space.   Perhaps I would like to clean and dust off a few more bookshelves and add a few new titles to them but that is about it in terms of preparation.  Of course, I do have to figure out how to hang a large wall map on my plaster walls.  After trying command strips only to rip the paint off my brand-new painted walls, I was a bit perturbed 
(and another “p” word...) and put the map away where it sits, alone in a corner, since I am mad at it.
Last year I felt the need to have everything purchased and an official start date to our lessons.  I bought a math program and history and science and art and reading....only to discover my child was not ready for any of this and needed a significant amount of time to adjust to just being home.  I ditched the math, and the science and the art and the reading and let learning come naturally.  This year the learning is a natural extension of last year’s work.  The only thing I am possibly changing is math and I think we may return to the program I purchased last year!  As much as I love the format and content of Aleks, I do not feel it has been teaching for mastery as much as I would like.
Last year we were searching for a groove.  This year we are already in a groove.  There is no searching required.  Our lessons will be built around their their busy days.  We will keep the dog walking job on Mondays and hopefully switch piano lessons to this day.  Tuesdays both girls are planning on attending an all day nature studies class.  Wednesdays Grace will attend a meteorology class at a University renowned for their Meteorology Program.   Thursdays we will alternate horseback riding with Girl Scouts.  Fridays will be the days we travel to visit family, friends, and local interests or just stay home!
Last year I was hoping that everything would go well, that I would have happy children, who enjoyed learning at home and living this type of life.  Now I rarely think of this.  As I reflect on  what our definition of learning looks like, there are no worries.  I am confident that they will achieve their dreams, should those dreams be to attend a university to pursue a dream of meteorology or becoming a textile designer, chef, master gardener, author, mother, or wife, or a combination of many of these!.  Their possibilities are endless.  I still have worries but they are of a different variety.  I worry that I am balancing their need to have time to explore their learning with time to play and time to take classes outside our home.  I worry when the seem to have lots of steam for a subject or an interest and then suddenly put it aside.  What do you mean you don’t want to sew?  You are so good at it?  Or, Why haven’t you read that amazing superly fantastic bible of all things weather I bought you??  But these worries pass.  They fade away when I see them bubbling over with excitement for a new interest, a new book, a new project.  
As we head into year 2 of our life learning experience, I have great expectations.  
  • I expect to learn new things while having fun learning.
  • I expect to see new sights, go to new places, explore new areas.
  • I expect to meet new people.
  • I expect to read and listen to great books.
  • I expect to develop talents and explore interests both old and new.
  • I expect to make many messes.
  • I expect to grow with my children.
  • I expect to love much and laugh often.
As we head into year 2, I am grateful that I do not have many of the same stresses and worries and anxieties that I had last year.  I am excited to kick off our official start to our new books and content areas but I know that learning has no official start date, just like it has no expiration date.  We have a month left to this summer and we are learning all the time.

Summer Learning 2011

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