Friday, January 18, 2013

Balancing Act

I feel the push and pull of following a curriculum and following your heart.  We slip back and forth between the two.  Some weeks we are home and we just plow through work.  Other weeks are filled with interest-led activities, like taking two hours with a sewing exert to wander through Joanne Fabrics in search of the perfect material and the right supplies like snaps, grommets, zippers, and thread.  That is valuable is developing an interest and a talent in the same way doing a math lesson is developing a skill and addressing a need.  

I have my “educational” goals for the week:
  • as much math as possible
  • one chapter of history
  • one chapter of science
  • writing
  • reading

Then there are our interest-led “lessons”:
  • baking
  • sewing
  • weather study
  • electronics
  • Minecraft
  • fashion design

There are what would be called “specials” in school but are really “vitals” in our home:
  • piano
  • guitar
  • art journaling
  • drawing
  • basketball
  • ice skating

When we have had a day like Monday where our morning was taken up by a two year overdue physical and our afternoon was spent driving an hour to meet up with friends for that epic Joanne’s trip, and our evening was spent discovering a wonderful restaurant with gluten free items and organic meats, and we lingered over a very rare dessert talking and knitting and laughing, and we got home the same time as Greg, well.....not much "book learning" was done.  

That is the life of our homeschooling family.  We no longer compare ourselves to traditionally schooled kids, although in my mind it still does slip from time to time and I think that in Greg’s mind it slips even more because he is not here to see what takes place when the books are not open.

For example, at dinner our friend Scarlett gave us the most amazing review of a non fiction book she read and recommends.  As we were leaving the restaurant Lilah commented that she felt like she was leaving the Lotus Casino.  Grace had a very mature conversation with Amy at the table and I just sat back and took it all in.  

I think that because Grace would now be in middle school, I am revisiting the issues I had when we first began homeschooling, only now I am much more confident in how our family works together at home.  Gone are the days of sibling angst, gone are the days of math drama, gone are the days of driving past the school wondering if that was a better place to spend a day.  

However, creeping in are the thoughts of what we need to do to make a decision about Grace’s high school years.  Creeping in are the feelings of missing out on opportunities to play sports on a high school team.  Creeping in are the thoughts of prerequisite classes for college admissions.  These are very real and they must be carefully addressed.  Over the course of this year I must work with Grace to figure this out.  Right now she does not think she wants to go to high school, in which case we can get her the classes she needs online or at a community college, or perhaps at the university where she will be interning.  Much research and questioning has to take place.

I am re-reading Grace Llewellyn’s book: Teenage Liberation Handbook from an entirely new perspective.  I want Grace to be in control of her education and the direction her future will take.  I want her to feel like it is in her best interest to push herself in the maths and sciences.  I want her to work hard at accomplishing her goals.  I want her to know that she has plenty of options and her future does not need to be decided in the 7th grade.  I want her to know that she can always change her mind, just like I did, twice!  I want her to know that no matter what her choice is, I will always be her biggest supporter.


Jen @ Forever, For Always... said...

I almost always feel this push and pull too, of doing too much or not doing enough. Too much bookwork or not enough. Interestingly enough, my husband I think worries a bit like yours. Not that he isn't supportive, he just has a different perspective. Jacob starts 7th grade next year and I'm beginning to feel a bit of turmoil about that. I don't want to neglect to do something that might mess something up!

Jessica said...

I honestly think that as long as we are giving them access - they will learn. I know two young adults who graduated from very prestigious colleges in the Northeast without ever taking a "math class" before freshman year!

7th grade just made everything seem more serious somehow. I don't want that to diminish the joy of learning at home which is why I am rereading Grace's book. I helps me keep perspective. Over the next few months I am going to be researching how to make a college entrance portfolio for a homeschooled child including traditional things like a transcript (which I began this year) and a digital component including work samples and video of things like piano, guitar and sports.......I will share what I find so you can evaluate what to do in your home!


Karen said...

I feel the push and pull almost daily. However the more I read and research the more convinced I am that Keilee will be missing nothing by not going to public school for high school. The possibilities are endless for her. She is already talking about calling our local Animal Clinic to see if she can job shadow. She never asked me to call for her, she will do it on her own. She looked up what she needed to be an Animal Rehabilitator and went to iTunes U and downloaded all the courses she could find that matched the ones she needed. I love that we get to live this amazing creative life. We are like you, we try to work in a history and science lesson a week. Of course this week we have done WWII all week long. I love the ebb and flow of this life. I think schedules and alarm clocks and deadlines daily would just be an unneeded thing.

I love your lists and I love your "Vital" list. We are blessed that we are able to make those things "Vital" in our kids lives. Keilee got a sewing machine for Christmas from a dear friend. I wish we could have come along on your 'field trip'. :) Teenage Liberation Handbook is one of my favorites! I need to reread it too.

Anonymous said...

I feel the push and pull every morning. We do not have many girls who home-school that are the age of our middle child who is in 5th grade. I think she feels high school might be the answer to being around kids her own age. She does have a sister in college (never home schooled) and a little sister too. She did ask to do soccer this winter and I think this week we a have "vital" on our list. She has been very happy with her decision to do this. I will definitely look for this book to help our journey.

Jessica said...

Grace is beginning to know her body and what works best for her and she is adamant that getting up at 6am to be at school for 7:45 is not best for her and I have to agree. Every day when the bus rolls by at 7:30 I am grateful that my house is quiet and the girls are still sound asleep.

I have not taken advantage of the information at iTunes U. I have to spend some time browsing.........
Have you read any other books by Grace Llewellyn?

Karen said...

Same with Keilee. I am so thankful that most days she does not have to wake up to an alarm screaming. I have read Guerrilla Learning which she wrote with Amy Silver and LOVED it.

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