Thursday, June 7, 2012

Last Day of School?


This time of year we often get asked the question, “when is your last day of school?”  It is hard to explain that we have moved so far away from what a traditional school looks like that we have no “start” date and no “end” date.  We ebb and flow throughout the year, based on what our educational needs are at that moment in time.  
For example, the past three months have been focused on DI and coop.  The girls learning was centered around one major project which provided opportunities for reading, research, writing, technology, public speaking, fundraising, art, woodworking, team building, and a plethora of social skills like compromise and collaboration.  The end of that timeframe was celebrated with a mini-vacation in Tennessee and a trip to the Global Finals Competition. 
In order to allow the time necessary for two children to complete two projects, I was willing to put aside the more traditional subjects like history, science and essay writing and realize that not many projects of our own choosing would be completed.  I discussed this with the girls back in March when I realized how time intensive the DI teams were and that there was no way Story of the World would be completed by June 1st.  I did not want to fall so far behind that book 2 took two years to complete.  Nor was I entirely comfortable with the pace with which math was being done.  We agreed that work would need to be done over the summer months to compensate.  
In the past week and a half much has been done.  Persuasive essays are in progress.  Math books are days away from completion.  Books have been read.  Chapters have been completed.  Notes have been taken.  Blogs have been updated @  Life In Stories.  We have shifted gears away from project based learning and interest led learning towards something that I daresay looks like... um...traditional lessons.  








I know this is not forever.  It is for right now.  Now it is needed.  Come the fall when we are delving back into programs, outside lessons, DI practices, sports teams and the like, we will shift again into whatever is needed at that time.  In some towns I could have two middle school students (7th grade begins middle school in our town) so I know that now is the time to challenge them, push them past their comfort zones, and ask more of them.  They are capable of so much.  
You know what?  It feels good to be able to customize how and when we educate, not only the the needs of each child, but to the needs of our schedule. I feels good to be free of trying to label what we do and how we do it.  Only the Board of Education mandates that school begins and ends on a certain day.  My girls, who are now three years into homeschooling, realize this.  They know that in December I hardly push them as we enjoy our month long break.  They will expect freedom to pursue their DI projects come the spring, with unlimited time and opportunities to learn from experts in the field.  We hope to travel with Greg in the fall.  I am grateful every day that my children have the freedom and the opportunity to learn this way.  While there are times when I get an eye roll or a bit of ‘tude, I know that my girls appreciate it too!

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