Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Threat

Whenever people find out that we homeschool inevitably the first thing they say is, "I could never do that.  My kids would never listen to me."  I always smile and say how lucky I am because my girls never give me much trouble.  I can't say that any more.  Curly and I have been butting heads about school for the past few months.  it is infuriating to me because I expect very little of her.

Every day she is expected to complete one lesson in Teaching Textbooks 6 for math.  She also needs to do one Math Rider Quest which works on multiplication facts and takes less than 5 minutes per lesson.  I expect her to keep up with her online literature class, but in truth I am not sure there is enough substance to count as a full language art curriculum.  The whole week's work takes her less than a couple hours plus reading time, and I let her count the reading time toward her 30 minutes per day reading requirement.  I also expect her to practice guitar 15-30 minutes every other day, and practice dance on days that she does not have an outside dance class.  So on a given day she spends no more than 2 1/2 hours on everything I require of her. 

The most recent battle began because I have been feeling like it is time to beef up her education a bit.  My philosophy has always been that education focuses on two different things.  There are skills and there is knowledge.  My goal so far has been to make sure she has the skills she needs to gain the knowledge when she gets older.  So I made sure that she was a good reader and writer because those are skills to be learned through practice, and she does daily math to gain skills in that area.  All content knowledge has been presented through field trips, movies, books, plays, etc.  I have never cared whether she knew specific dates or names.  We had great conversations about history repeating itself, stars dying, and discrimination.

But now I am feeling that she needs a little more to help prepare her for life, and/or high school.  Curly has expressed the desire to attend high school, and as such I need to make sure she is prepared for it.  I also, feel like she is looking for productive things to do with her time.  She has spent the better part of the past few months video chatting with a friend.  They spend time role playing and making movies, and while I do not discount that learning is going on I feel like she has more to offer the world.

So I started researching how to meet these goals.  I knew that I wasn't interested in dry "curriculum".  We loved Unit Studies, but there were so much work to put together and implement.  I knew I didn't have a lot of time for that.  I had heard of project based learning, but I was quite sure what it was.  Then I came across a list of writing contests on Pinterest.  There was the answer! Curly could do projects based on contests we found online.  I was so excited to share the idea with her...  until I actually talked to her.

In her defense, I didn't do a good job of setting it up.  I kind of started in the middle, and she immediately started groaning about how she already does enough school.  That ticked me off, and I yelled casually mentioned that the public school was just minutes down the road, and maybe she should go there to see what a full school day was like.  Not my proudest moment to be sure...

However, when we both calmed down we had a discussion about my concerns for her future.  I talked to her about the four ways we can plan her education going forward. 
1. I can plan it by myself
2. She can come up with a plan
3. We can work together on the plan
4. She can go to school

We both agree that collaborating on the plan is best.  Of course she and I do not collaborate well.  So this could be interesting.  Stay tuned or my future rantings about the process!

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