Thursday, July 28, 2011

Learning to Plan, Planning to Learn

Some of you may be shocked at this, but going into our eighth year of homeschooling, this is the first time I'm going to make a lesson plan.


Pick yourselves up off the floor. I'll explain.

I've never been particularly pushy with my girls when it comes to their education. I want them to want to learn, not because I say they have to but because they have the desire to do so. I don't want to re-create public school here at home, turning out cookie-cutter minds that retain things only long enough to pass a test without any real understanding of what they've been taught or why. I love watching the girls dig for information they want to know more about, like what makes blood types different, or who invented paper. Don't think for a minute, though, that we don't use textbooks or have tests. I've got a book (or several) for every subject we study; I've just never felt it necessary to be bound by the publisher's syllabus. My approach isn't exactly "un-schooling" or student-led education...I tend to think of it in terms of "relaxed" homeschooling. If we don't finish chapter 14 on such-and-such day, I'm not stressing about it. We don't move on until the concept is mastered, not just memorized.

For the most part, it's worked. After picking up Romeo and Juliet because, "I've heard about it, I wanna know how it really goes..." my "reluctant reader" is now a budding Shakespeare enthusiast and currently enjoying Hamlet.

The truth, though, is that I'm not the most disciplined mother in the world when it comes to making sure my "students" are following through on their lessons. I could makes excuses for myself...I went from pregnant to nursing to pregnant again to nursing again to pregnant yet again to nursing yet again with barely a break between, had my world turned inside out by moving to the country and finding myself suddenly turned into a farmer's wife without a clue of what to do (talk about on-the-job training!) and oh yeah, there's been that whole depression thing added to the mix.

But it's high time I got a little tougher with myself and excuses don't cut the mustard. I've got two high-schoolers and a kindergartner on my hands, and it's my job to shape, mold and guide their young minds now while they're still in my care. If I want to turn out responsible members of society, I need to model responsibility for them.

Besides, I'm going to need a game-plan for this little guy. 'Cause if he ever figures out that his smile can melt me into calling off school for the day? I'll be sunk.


Carol J. Alexander said...

I've started every year of the last 17 with lesson plans of some sort. Some, more detailed than others.
What I've learned from it all is this. If you expect too much out of yourself, and you don't perform, you are setting yourself up for disaster--emotionally, spiritually, and in the eyes of your children. I prefer "guidelines" to "plans." They are more flexible.

Wendy said...

Thank you Carol. As I've always been more of a "routine" vs. "schedule" person, I think guidelines would be a more suitable way to approach this. We need a certain amount of structure, but I don't want to make it rigid and risk losing the enjoyment of it.

Shawntele said...

I hear you loud and clear. This will be our 4th year, and I intend to be more intentional than ever!

Wendy said...

Shawntele, you just provided for me the very word I knew was missing...intentional. My son is five, he's been able to recognize his letters and numbers for a couple years now, but if I don't get intentional with him there's no telling how long it'll be before he "decides" to read, add, write, etc. (Especially given our farm life...being by Daddy's side is FAR more fun than being inside with all the girls! lol) And Algebra is not exactly the most thrilling subject in the world for the big girls. ;)

New Southern Pantry said...

Our only child went to public school through 3rd grade. It took me 6 months of homeschool to clean out his mind & repurpose the junk they left behind. He had been told he couldn't read by his teacher, so he quit trying. When we started homeschool he would cry when I asked him to read. We were driving around looking for a house when we moved to Denver. Michael was in the back seat, talking to himself. I ask him " why are you talking to yourself" When I turned around, in my child that couldn't reads hands was his Dad's copy of Peter Benchleys Jaws. He was reading out loud & so fascinated by it that he never heard me speak to him. I never stressed again over homeschool whether I was doing it well enough or not. He had been in public school with a trained educator who had "given up" on his reading...& still learned to read above grade level regardless of her lack of teaching skills. He was my child, I loved him more than my life & I would teach him better & with more love than anyone. Plans are just roadmaps to where we want to go, we can always take that fork to a different place! Keep up the good work!!!

Irritable Mother said...

"Besides, I'm going to need a game-plan for this little guy. 'Cause if he ever figures out that his smile can melt me into calling off school for the day? I'll be sunk."
LOVE IT!!! ;o)

My daughter just impressed us tonight. We were talking about rights and my son started quizzing her about the Bill of Rights. She could still talk about them. Way better than I could ever hope to know them!

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