Update on last post: Summer school...letting go for a few weeks.
They need a break; even if I don't. They were in school for nine months and I wasn't. It makes sense.
Recently I've been reading and found this blog post and this long conversation on the Well Trained Mind forums (WTMF.) Interesting reads that make sense to me. During most of the reads I heard this question in my head: Isn't this all very intuititve? Maybe it's my age that makes this more intuitive for me. I remember myself as a younger mom/wife. NOTHING was intuititve. Well, almost nothing anyway.
Over the years I have figured out who I am and I function within that knowledge. I'm not interested in pleasing anyone but God and Scott and I'm quite sure that God is disappointed often. Scott, well, he's just too good to be true and loves me in spite of who I am.
With that said, what I'm about to write might make one think that I lack confidence in teaching my children when, in fact, for me, I don't purpose that I can teach math the same way someone who has taught for years and who holds a degree as a mathmetician can. Period. Now, when we get around to biology, human biology, etc., everyone should get out of my way because I am ON IT!
Math ~ I want a math curriculum with a teacher on a DVD. I know that if I have to spend time reading and figuring the lesson out on my own and then teach it, it won't get done. Except perhaps Algebra. For me, doing Algebra is like eating chocolate. So.Much.Fun!
Language ~ My strength is not grammar (understatement!) or writing and, therefore, I need to outsource some of my language teaching. Not all, but some. One of the problems that I have is that I will use far too many words to try and teach something and will lose my kids. Someone who is good at teaching a subject matter will use minimal words to make their point in a clear and concise manner. I, on the other hand, would add ten words for every one needed. This is part of who I am that must be recognized and addressed. It serves me well for subects that are discussed, but not math and the like.
Science ~ Friendly and with a conversational style is a must! Also, I will never try to teach Geology. EVER! I have to find value in a topic in order to teach it. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I do not care a rip about geology. Take a college course if you want it kids.
History ~ LOVE it, but I know that I must teach it in the way that I wish I had been taught. Tell me the stories of what happened. PLEASE! I don't feel inclinced to have a "teacher" (DVD or outsourced teacher) help me with this because I believe that the information is all there in great books and documentaries.
Also, unschooling or being too relaxed does NOT work for me. Because I know myself, I am aware that if we are too relaxed nothing will get done! PERIOD. My kids would leave here completely uneducated. I know that some dear friends think I'm being over the top by worrying about checkboxes, but the truth is that if I don't check off boxes then we will watch Good Luck, Charlie! for four years. I don't say that as a joke ~ we really would.
Reading thoughts from the ladies on WTMF makes me know that it's just as unnatural for those Moms to use a pre-designed curriculum/plan as it is for me to reinvent the wheel. Designing their own is what works for their family just as much as what I do works for our family.
With all of that said, I do struggle somewhat in knowing how to meet individual learning styles in our home. For the most part I think I do okay. We have many of our texts (science/history/some read alouds) on CD so that Kevin can have them read to him because he is a HUGE auditory learner. In addition, I buy those same books for Kari & Valerie so that they can follow along in the book as the CD plays because they need to see it.
The other side of their learning styles has to do with my love for discussion; science, literature, and history are all read and discussed while snuggled up in the living room. Science is tested but the others are not. This works for three out of four of us. Valerie would probably prefer to be given the text and then sent to her room to read and complete questions related to the material. She doesn't necessarily ask for this but I know her. It is my job to balance her need to go and do everything alone in her room with her need to engage with other life forms. :) On the other hand, she learns well when writing everything out and not so much through discussion. Hmmmm......
I'm going to have Valerie sit with me to discuss what works and what doesn't and see what she says about all of this.
That brings up another point. I love that we brought the kids home 4th quarter of last school year. It has given us a heads up on what works, what doesn't and what we all like and don't like. It has primed us for beginning next year. I write about it here so that I can sort it all out and develop what works for us. I am not of the opinion that I am over thinking, but rather, analyzing in order to make things work as well as possible for our family.
Oh, and one more thing. I feel that I must say this "out loud" so that I can deal with my feelings about it. When I hear people talk about not bringing "school" home, I cringe inside. In some respect I know what they're saying; I get it, but in other respects I really don't. Because our goal is to:
1. Give our kids a strong academic foundation so that:
a. They have the skills that they need to be successful in collge.
b. They have the skills that they need to go out and serve God well in their community.
We don't see how that can be accomplished without hard work. Besides, what if they decide NOT to go to college? (They have that option - although I never talk about it being an option.) If they choose not to go to college then this is it and I want to provide them with a quality high school education. So, for us high school looks like a really cool & relaxed "school". You will never find me outside digging in the creek bed with them (EVER!) but you will find me curled up on the couch with them reading really great books and talking about really interesting topics.
Part II from Valerie & I up next.