Thursday, October 02, 2008

Homeschooling

Since my girls spent their elementary school years in public school, I have years and years of teaching to the test benchmark standards to compare myself to. Each year I spent countless hours drilling them in different subjects so that they would be fully prepared for the standardized testing that was required.

Were they (according to the SOL website for 2nd grade) ready to "conduct investigations in which observation is differentiated from personal interpretation and conclusions are drawn based on observations"?

And also...

"Conduct investigations in which unexpected and unusual quantitative data are recognized?"

Well, yes ma'am. You betcha. My girls could spit that stuff out with the best of them and most certainly retained a large amount of:

ZIP... NADA... NUTTIN'!

Disclaimer #1: I understand the need for standardized testing. I am not implying that public schools should not use them. It doesn't mean I have to like them. It especially doesn't mean that I have to continue to measure my children's education by them. That's all ;)

But this post isn't about testing. Because I have already had too much coffee and I'm afraid I might keep the CAPS ON THE ENTIRE TIME.

So let us move on.

I am no longer held captive to those standards or benchmarks for my children. I cannot find purpose in teaching for the sake of regurgitation for any reason, whatsoever. Certainly there are things that we are learning now about ancient cultures or animal habitats that may or may not take root. Still, we are learning because that is the goal.

To learn. To instill a love for learning.

If they leave here with a deep-seeded knowledge of God's Word, and have a biblical view of home and family, along with a love for learning then I think our standard will have been met.

At that point, they could embark on a lifetime of learning anything they want!

Now, I have said that to say this:

While standardized testing was one of the many thorns in my side during our years at public school, there were many positive things that we learned. I do not take *any* of them for granted. Some of them are academic but most of them fall in line with social skills and personal expectations.

Years and years of walking in straight lines, hanging up the bookbag correctly, raising your hand, and being responsible have taught my girls discipline and organization. Because my daughters were expected to be well-groomed and appropriately dressed each morning, they now understand the importance of presenting their best. We spent many years days going through the importance of matching clothing, choosing correct seasonal attire, and why you never-ever wear dark shoes with white socks and pants that are too short, not to mention various other rules of the wardrobe.

Disclaimer #2: I have issues with socks. And pajamas that do not match. Well, actually anything that does not match. That includes hair ribbon, nail polish and pacifiers. Like I said:

It. Is. An. Issue.

Ask my son.

We started his first semester in Matching 101 last year when he was just a mere 4-year old boy. The hardest part so far?

Navy and black. They are not the same colors.

Can ya'll feel me here?

I am proud to see that my son proclaims a love for Jesus, his family, and matching pajamas.

Deep sigh and immense satisfaction.

Moving on....

I was very involved with the process but had it not been an imposed requirement I would have had to be very creative and intentional in order to ensure these skills were taught. My girls knew that working quietly was the rule so it was not something that I had to teach at home. They sat down to do their work because....well....everybody had to sit-in-their-seat-or-else at school.

Enter: my very first, never-been-to-public-school-child, Samuel. Sitting? Um...Not his most favorite activity. Working quietly? How about always making some sort of noise, even if he isn't talking?

It is a strange and bizarre phenomenon belonging to mostly young boys. It involves humming, grunting, moaning, wheezing, or body tapping. Body tapping is using any part of the body as a drumstick.

FYI.

I am having to take intentional to a brand new level. I know the claims and accusations that the world makes about homeschoolers. I made them. And you know what? Some of them are true.

Sorry. It's the truth.

I have met families who have homeschooled their children from the start and some of the above mentioned skills are missing. Certainly it is the prerogative of the homeschooling parent to choose when and how they will teach their children the importance of personal responsibility and etiquette and grooming, etc... and I realize that will look different for each family.

I am just saying, that I am using my public school experience to serve as a reminder. It is not that I plan on making our home look like school.

Puh-leeze.

On the contrary. Our home looks like home. A very homey place with food and sunshine and music and life and the dog and the doorbell and the baby underfoot. I am not at all rigid with our day or how it is designed.

However. I have tried to instill an importance about what we do in our home. What we accomplish in our day and how we present ourselves when doing so. Our manners, our dress, our disposition are all a reflection of the respect and honor that we give the task, whatever that may be.

Disclaimer #3: It is a rare day that you will find me with make-up on. My hair is most always pulled up. I am not that girl who rises early and starts the day with rollers in my hair (love ya La La). I am the girl who rises early but I hardly find time for Jesus and coffee before the short people start coming downstairs for food.

As far as Samuel and his need for constant motion and sound? We are working on sitting still and working quietly as much as phonics and math. The beauty of homeschool is how long that lasts, and the activities that precede that time and follow it. I don't require him to sit for long periods of time. I make sure he is given ample time to run and play so that our chances of victory in this area are great!

Using different teaching methods and ideas to teach the same material is another way I work with the five-year old and his nervous system....and mine.

I got this idea from Life is Like a Lunchbox. We changed it up a bit to just use the letters he is learning rather than phonetic combinations. I wrote his letters, upper and lower case, on different stickies and placed them randomly on the floor. Then we played several different games hopping around on the correct letter and making the correct sounds. He loved it!


5 comments:

Charles said...

You can't wear dark shoes with white socks???

Christina said...

I think a lot of it has to do with the difference between boys and girls. Evan, who went to school for a time, would have rather done school lying on the floor preferably under a tent for most of his elementary years. Sometimes I let him and he did really good work. Go figure!

Amy, who never went to "school" has never asked once to do school work in a fort, on the floor, or any other weird place other than in the car. Bless her heart, she just didn't want to stop studying even though we had to go!

But, yes, I agree that sitting still to do work at certain times and places (like in testing or other places were you are impacting others) is an important skill to learn. We had plenty of opportunity to practice at home (during family devotions) and out and about (long meetings with no child care. It helps that he likes to read.)

It did seem to help Evan to know why he had to sit still. (Disrupting others, better able to focus etc.) Other times I had to ask myself, "If he's learning, and loving to learn better under a fort or kicking his feet off his bed, why not?" Some days it just didn't seem to matter much.

As for matching, wait until he knows an older boy who is a snazzy dresser that he wants to emulate. He'll clean up his act in no time straight!

Jill said...

Great post Kim! It sounds like we homeschool very similarly.

nancypants said...

Yay! I'm so glad you used and he loved my Sticky Note Game! :^D And thanks for the link! I see from your sidebar we have many internet friends in common.

gypsy@Hebrews11:13 said...

Aaaa...but do you wear white shoes after Labor day? Or velvet in the summer? I am TRYING to teach these basic "southern belle" rules to my girls and they want to know "why?" ...sigh...I really can't explain it because it was never explained to me. It just IS.