Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Homeschool Thoughts

Esmé's Mom here...

Yesterday was my first day "back home" in three weeks - I've either been working or traveling or visiting relatives the entire time.

And it felt less like a "return to normal" than a quick gasp for breath before diving under again today.  My inbox is as big as it's ever been, and I'm scared to open Google Reader.

But I wanted to say hi and mention a couple of things on the homeschool topic...

First - I'm now a complete convert for summer breaks!  I've been all for year-round homeschool, but there is just so much going on during these long daylight hours that trying to keep to a school schedule is a bit ridiculous.

So...  I've got lots of stuff lined up to do with Esmé as time allows, but I'm not going to stress over not getting it done or try to keep to any schedule for now.  It's all about enjoying the moments and going with the flow.  With some planned cloudwatching and picnics thrown in.

And...  I'm kinda looking forward to fall, when we can settle back down and start working towards some specific goals.  I'm a checklist gal, after all!  (My joy comes from the planning, it seems.)

Actually - I do have a few goals for the summer:  working on pencil-holds, and developing the discipline to finish an assignment.

I've been lax in the pencil-hold department - since I'm not sure exactly when the physical coordination allows for proper tripod pencil-hold.  But since Esmé IS writing, we're going to give Rocks in My Dryer's method a shot.

And as far as assignments go - we've resorted to extortion and bribery, but we ARE getting simple worksheets and tasks completed!  Esmé's MO is to demonstrate that she CAN do the work, and then quit or do it wrong because she's "tired" or "it's too hard."

(If you have a concern about expecting 3yos to complete worksheets, stay tuned.  I've got the same concern that I am working through - and have a post in mind called "The Discipline of Learning... or the Learning of Discipline."  Yep, we got all the answers here - not!)

The second thing (yeah, that was just one thing so far...):

I've been thoroughly inspired by the Christian homeschool conference we went to this weekend - a first for me.  I've learned a lot, and hopefully will share more as we go along, but here is one of the most practical pieces of advice I got.  It was from a session about choosing curriculum - and if you haven't already guessed, curriculum choices energize and exhaust me concurrently.

It was simple:  make your curriculum choice based on the outcome you desire.  The first step is to decide what you want your child to become.

(I want my child to grow in an attitude of service to Christ and others, and to be equipped with the tools to serve.)

Why wasn't that advice obvious to me already?

Because that attitude thing isn't my main purpose for homeschooling.

I believe Christian values and attitudes are effectively taught in the home, regardless of whether a child attends school or homeschools, and traditional schools can actually be a great place to practice the Christian values and attitudes learned at home.

So my homeschooling choice is primarily for academic purposes.  Personally, I think traditional school held me back academically, so I want a program that will challenge Esmé, interest her, and allow her to move as quickly as she desires.

And that's what I've been looking for in a curriculum.

The chance to spend more time on Christian values and attitudes?  That's a side benefit.  Not something I expect a canned curriculum to provide, but something I need to personally spend lots of energy and focus on myself.

I've been fascinated to hear why others are choosing a homeschool route, and I appreciated this prompt to think through exactly why we're homeschooling when looking at all the possible types of homeschooling (er... home education?) and specific curriculums.

Having defined it, I not only am narrowing down my own choices, I also feel a little more confident in discussing my choices with others who are evangelizing their own choices.  It's easier for me to acknowledge that what's right for someone else might not be right for me, and vice versa.

Here's to making the best choice possible for each of our kids, and the flexibility to change as circumstances change!


Jacque said...

I agree. There are SO many other things to be doing during these summer months! :) I think the kids are learning through it all so I'm okay with being WAY more relaxed for a bit during the summer.
I'm definitely looking forward to that "The Discipline of Learning... or the Learning of Discipline" post.
Have a great day!

ShEiLa said...

I think it is healthy to have some down time that is not totally structured... use the opportunity to see some museums during your travels that otherwise wouldn't fit into the school time frame.

I never homeschooled... so I don't have advice in this area... but I definitely think you need a pat on the back for your ability to do the job and make it fun.


Prasti said...

i'm sure esme will continue to learn lots of things over the summer, even though it's not necessarily structured. it will be a nice little break and a great opp to just go with the flow. :)

we are still on the fence a/b traditional or homeschool w/ emma. like you, i absolutely agree that christian values and attitudes instilled in your children come from the home, whether you homeschool or not. we're torn because we want our children to learn to be a light in the world, but how do we do that when we keep them at home for school? on the other hand, we live in a highly diverse socio-economic community and i a worry that our daughter may be exposed to things prematurely..before she is mature enough to handle it.

Ticia said...

Oooohhhhh, well and interestingly said. I look forward to seeing more of what you've learned on this subject.