Thursday, July 5, 2012

Epiphany


I had an epiphany concerning our upcoming year.  It turns out I am a bit stressed about the implications of homeschooling a middle school aged child.  To me elementary school gets a waiver....they are young....they have time.  Now there is a sense of immediacy hanging over my head and weighing me down.  I have a child who has a plan for her life.  She wants to work for The Weather Center in Atlanta, Georgia.  Her role model is Stephanie Abrams and she is passionate about severe weather, natural disasters and the implications that both have on local communities.
When talking to my dearest friend Kim a.k.a. the Mama from Frog Creek, about our programming for this year, I snipped that I have to choose quality programs because with a child in middle school, I can’t “waste a year”.  Did those words really come out of my mouth?  Sadly they did and I wish I could take them back.   7th grade is not the key to the rest of your life.  No grade is really.  Each is valuable, not for the numeric value associated with it, but because each year we grow and develop into the person we wish to be.  This comment did make me pause.  Immediately, I apologized for sounding as if my year was more important than any one else’s simply because I now have a middle school aged child.  For the record, so does Kim.  The fact that this statement was made gave me insight into the depth of my concern.
My greatest fear is that my children will apply to colleges and universities for undergraduate work in meteorology or culinary arts and they will be denied due to a lack of prerequisite high school courses.   To prevent this, I am beginning to research what I can do in middle school to prepare my daughters for their unique educational paths.  I have read blogs before that go on and on about the rigors of high school and how imperative it is that homeschoolers keep up with their schooled peers.  I cannot read these blogs because my stress level rises and I begin to second-guess my educational philosophy  which has been concrete and unwavering for many years. 
In graduate school I wrote a paper detailed my belief in a constructavist philosophy.  In other words, my belief is that children learn by doing.  They don’t learn simply by memorizing, reciting, and regurgitating what teachers want to hear.  They don’t learn by cramming for a test.  They don’t learn when they are not interested.  They don’t learn simply by being in a place where learning is expected.  They learn by being engaged in the process.  They learn by being passionate about the subject at hand.  They learn from having access to professionals and role models.  They learn from trying, failing, and trying again.  They are constructing their own understanding piece by piece with the support, guidance and tutelage of adults in their community.  This learning can take place in a classroom, in nature, in a home, in the community in which they live and in communities in which they visit.  Learning knows no boundaries and has no limitations expect those which are self-imposed.
So I am left pondering how to address my fear of providing my children what they need to meet this developmental stage of their life while ensuring that they have access to educational opportunities that will allow them the pursuit of their career goals.
First off, I have to educate myself as to what middle school/high school encompasses, while at the same time realizing that I do not want to duplicate a school-at-home experience.  
Students in the state of Connecticut must meet the following requirements:


Public School Requirements:
How I plan to meet these requirements:
Language Arts 

Bi-weekly writing classes focusing on various genres of the art of writing. 
Vocabulary development using PSAT/SAT vocab list.
Reading *** 

Both girls read from multiple genres daily.
Continued use of audiobooks.
Attend author visits.
Bi-monthly library visits. 
Possible participation in Penny Lane Player’s production of Midsummer Nights’s Dream.
Monthly Book Club (collaboration)
Mathematics
Grace will be working on completing The Key to Series. Lilah will also work on Key To Series in addition to business math through her Etsy shop (hopefully!)
Science
Apologia Series
Snap Circuits (collaboration)
Lego Engineering (collaboration)
Social Studies

Story of the World Vol. 3 
World geography corresponding to the chapter of SOTW
Grace: Mapping The World By Heart
Current Events: Time for Kids Magazine
French or Spanish**
TBD
Physical Education/Health
Year long study of how to build a healthier community and combat Type 2 diabetes crisis.
Daily physical activity including but not limited to: swimming, ice skating, scootering, bike riding, basketball, jogging, dog walking, tennis.
Music
Weekly piano lessons for both girls.
Grace will be organizing a benefit concert at a local venue to raise money for communities affected by natural disasters.
Unified Arts *
Weekly art journaling session.  Documentary film making instruction. Continued instruction in blogging.  

*Courses in Art, Family and Consumer Science, Computers
**For students in the goal or advanced range on the Grade 6 reading CMT 
***For students below the goal standard on the Grade 6 reading CMT


not required: extracurriculars
Destination Imagination, Continuation of dog walking job, The Huckleberry Hill Project, Recreational Basketball, Youth Choir, Religious Education
This is my tentative plan as of July.   It is both a continuation of what we are currently doing and the result of collaborations I have made with other parents whose talents are different from mine.  As of right now it is perfect because nothing that we have planned overlaps or interfere with something else.  It is balanced.  Each girls gets what she needs and wants and I will not be frantically driving all over Fairfield County getting them to their activities.  That was something I hoped to avoid this year.
When the anxiety creeps in and I start thinking too far ahead, I have to remind myself to breathe.  My little girl is almost 12.  She can change her mind.  She can develop new areas of interest.  Or she can hold true to the path she has been on for the past 4 years and strive to achieve her current goal.  It is all possible, either through homeschooling or  traditional schooling.  I have to remind myself that we are not competing with her friend from school who was invited to join pre-algebra at the middle school or other friends who may be choosing activities that differ from ours.  We are on our own path, which is why we choose homeschooling in the first place!  

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