July 17, 2012

first week. reading, reading.

I'm sitting in Starbucks. Alone after a coffee date with a friend, who is moving to Arizona in a couple weeks and I'm so excited for her and sad for me. She's quickly become a good solid friend and I will miss her. 

But, I'm alone for the first time since Saturday and I feel like I'm missing my right arm. Where are those two little ones that take a consistent portion of my attention no matter what I'm doing? Well, they are having fun and I am getting ready to take some time to plan our time between the first day of school and the start of our winter break. At my school winter break starts the day before Thanksgiving and ends after the first of the year. I'm big time looking forward to that! 

My friend Melissa and I were talking about how if she were going to homeschool she'd lean towards a year round model with frequent, seasonal breaks. I think we'll probably lean towards that too eventually. John gets ample vacation time, provided he's allowed to take it, but he's not really able to take any in the summer because of the Summer Reading Programs. Why would we be on break when he can't be? I'd much rather make the loose schedule beneficial to our entire family. 
Just because we can! You know?

Starting this process I'm so pleased that I can take it slow. I can make sure that Guthrie is getting access to the materials she needs and wants in order to grow, but I don't really have to prove it to anyone - like the state. I can take the time to see if her learning styles are what I think they are or if she's got some surprises for me. And to see if my teaching styles are what I think they are or if I've got some surprises for me too. I can provide more of a consistent rhythm for both the kids. I can start to introduce Laithe to some activities that I wasn't able to do with Guthrie at this age because I'd just started working outside our home. I can just be with my children. 

Right now all I want to do is read and read. Get acquainted with some curriculum styles and get some tools. I know there will be bad days, so I'm writing a letter to myself listing all the reasons I want to do this, why I think it's a good choice. To pull out when needed.  I'll prepare for this just like I prepare for anything else: with extensive lists. They'll be lovely. 

For the record if any of you dear readers should ask me how I will provide for socialization for my children I'm likely to fly through the computer screen and throttle you. Top three things people have said to me when I tell them we're making a lifestyle change and homeschooling:

1. How are you going to socialize your children?
2. I could never do that! I would be SO bored. 
3. I know you well and I think this is a lovely decision for you and your family. 

The trend has been kind of disappointing, although I know that the support, when it comes, is truly heartfelt and that more than makes up for the first two.

To the first - socialization is something you do with your dog. Not with children. Because dogs are made to be in the wild, so of course you need to socialize them in order to fit in society- which is not the woods. Humans are born to socialize. They do not need to be taught. Yes, I believe my children could benefit from peer interaction, but at the ages of 5 and 2 I don't believe they need to be with their peers all that much. When I think about who I want to influence my children I would rather it be adults who love and respect them with open minds and actual knowledge. Not the kids next door. No offense. It's not like socialization can't occur at home. What was your homelife like that you didn't learn your basic knowledge about communication there? 

For the record, I think both John and I would be as socially awkward and umm, nerdy, even if we had been home schooled. Much of what my socialization taught me was how to fit into someone else's idea of cool. It taught me about in groups and out groups, which was handy for my graduate thesis, but not for 5th grade. And I had a mostly positive school experience! We'll cultivate a group of friends and playmates. We'll work to help the kids recognize that being 'in' is not as important as being authentic. Please stop asking. Please.  

What I'm finding overwhelming is this what does my kindergartner need to learn? What type of curriculum best suites our family? Does any curriculum fit perfectly? Montessori, Unschooling, Waldorf those are the big ones that ring right with me. A mix though. Parenting has taught me not to get all hardcore. Thank goodness. A little of this, a little of that. Taking what Guthrie has loved about her Montessori time so as to continue with what clearly works for her. The rhythm of Waldorf, the focus on in-breath and out-breath, the holistic view of education. Unschooling and the ability to really help my children discover what they love and give them space to do so. Not getting so into any one kind as to exclude what might work better for us. 

I love the idea of doing unit studies, both child and adult directed. I think it's Amy Karol at Angry Chicken who talked about having her girls choose one subject and herself choosing one subject per month and getting as in-depth as everyone wants too. Not necessarily any rhyme or reason to their months just what they want to learn about. I love this! That's the kind of teaching I can get behind. They do some really awesome stuff - a few months ago was Marie Antoinette and basket making. Excellent.

I feel like that's the kind of thing I could excel at. 

What I'm not at all worried about is this whole, if they don't start school at 7:45 AM they'll never be able to hold a job as an adult, if they don't spend time doing the mundane, flashcard thing (which i would do if they loved it) they won't have good study skills. That if we don't get to pre-calculus with Guthrie she'll somehow Fail. That if Laithe cannot name the imports and exports of every Latin American country he won't be able to go to college if he wants to. That I will have slighted them somehow. I am completely confident that this is a good route for my children. That they'll benefit to the utmost from a learning environment tailored to them. That we'll be giving them gifts we wouldn't be able to otherwise. 

off to make some lists . . . 

1 comment:

sierra said...

Ohhh, I so wish we lived closer! We are in such a similar place!! I'm so excited for you and the kids!


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