Sunday, January 18, 2015

Working on a Deadline

Working on a deadline is something that my girls have a bit different experience with than other kids their grade level.   They don’t have midterms, like most other kids have right now.  There are no tests to cram for and worry about.  Recently Grace asked me about testing and noticed how much anxiety it creates in her friends who attend school.  Part of me wondered if the process was somehow valuable?  Is the stress and anxiety, the worry and ultimately the outcome, whether it be positive or negative, a true life lesson?  Is she missing a developmental milestone by opting out of this experience?    These are the things I sometimes think about.

"Cramming" to finish her first half of the story by writing group on Friday.

No.  They are not missing out by cramming and regurgitating.  They are not missing out on late nights worrying, stomach aches, and the anticipation of awaiting a grade.  They are not missing out on the elation of an A or the stomach dropping despair of a D or F.  That is not what their deadlines are about.

My girls still have the opportunity to experience deadlines, only they are intrinsic to our life.  Book club meets once a month.  If they don’t finish the book, they do not participate in book club.  This is not a problem for Lilah, she always finishes but there have been a few late, well, late-er nights for Grace, getting the reading done the night before or sometimes even in the hours before the club meeting. 

They both study piano seriously.  They have performances frequently.  Pieces must be mastered.  The “grade” is the quality of their playing.  They never settle for anything less than an A.  

Always practicing!

Writing group has also provided natural deadlines with our restructured class.  If they want to keep up with the pace of the class, they have to work hard during the week to polish and edit their pieces.  There is no grade but they share and they naturally see areas that can be strengthened by what their peers are writing and sharing.  A grade is not really necessary.  They motivate each other to do better.

Our hybrid class - 2 girls are joining online.  Working on writing fairy tales.

A case may be made that these are not the same as a midterm or a final.  I counter that these deadlines are more in line with what they will experience in life.  My deadlines are not test driven.  I need to have my lessons prepared every Sunday for my religious education class.  I need to prepare for writing group, art journaling and the layout of our weeks in terms of meal planning and travel outside of the home.  Greg’s job is extremely deadline driven with reports due on certain days, presentations that must be prepared, meetings that must be attended.  It is very rare that he crams for his meetings or is up late preparing reports.  He manages his time and knows what is due when.  

This is the experience my girls will have with deadlines either for a class, for me, for their employer, or for those they set themselves.  The older the girls get, the more likely people are to compare their homeschooling experience to a traditional high school or middle school experience.  They are almost incomparable at this point.  


Sandra said...

I knew my older kids were heading to university so I did worry whether not having tests at home would hinder them. In fact I had my oldest sit the SAT (not officially recognised here so therefore no real pressure) just to get test experience. However, my fears were groundless. They had no problems figuring out how to study and how to manage workloads with deadlines. Not having had to deal with years of it previously may even have been an advantage since they weren't burnt out and many of their classmates were. And of course, as you mentioned, they had met deadlines and the like in other areas of their lives.

Diane Knecht said...

I love this post because I grapple with this all the time. Grace does have guidelines and grades in two classes outside of the home but everything here at the house is more relaxed and at her own pace. Now that she is in high school I do have to give her a grade for her transcript but not everything she does here at the house is graded.

Jessica said...


My girls plan to do 2+2 : 2 years of community college and 2 years of a 4 year university. Grace will take the math placement test this summer. I want mine to experience testing just not in a way that it is the primary focus of why they learn. By starting community college as a high school student, she will gain the skills to test successfully but be able to avoid the drama of high stakes standardized testing that is so prevalent in our society. I am glad to hear that your children had a successful transition. Most of the stories I hear confirm that homeschooled kids do just fine in college!

Jessica said...

I still have to figure out the grading because other than math, I don't assign grades. I ask their outside teachers to grade (piano, ASL) but I have to do more research on transcripts.

Karen said...

I read this last night before bed and have thought about it several times. We don't do deadlines. Or testing. In fact, yesterday we were talking about your assignment and the fact that she doesn't have deadlines and she needs to be able to work with one. But the more I think about it the more it doesn't bother me. She has deadlines for her Keilee's Kreations that she never fails to meet. . I have seen her in Co-op classes with tests and even her permit; how hard and long she studied. I think it may be a child's personality. She is the type to do what she needs to do. I don't really worry that she will be any different in college. She will adjust just like all kids adjust in college. I really loved this post Jess. It has provided a lot of thinking and discussion around here.

Jessica said...

I think it comes down to the old saying that school prepares you for "real life" when in fact our kids are already immersed in the "real world" so it is a non-issue. I have no doubt our girls will be just fine with a syllabus and handing work in when it is due, when that time comes.

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