However, towards the end of Andrew's time as a homelearner, I began to see its short comings in preparing him for the life he wants. And I saw that sometimes children need to be pushed and challenged and I believe that it is my job as a parent to do that. I saw that sometimes some children can't find that inner motivation to do what they need to do. One problem I have with most child development models - whether for homeschooling or language development - they assume that all children are the same, have the same needs and unfold in the same way. They don't. If I could go back, I would do it differently with Drew. But alas, you can't go back. Now its his job to figure it out. I know he can do it. And maybe that is just as well.
For the early grades, our life just ticked along with Rhiannon. She was super motivated to learn to read - obsessive, even. She could read anything by the end of her kindergarten year - and not because of anything I did - just because she was ready and very, very motivated. She studied piano and violin and played with friends and it was all good. Last year, things started to change. She was bored a lot of the time but didn't seem as able to occupy herself. Music practise became a daily struggle. We had lots of goals for the learning year but we did not accomplish what we hoped. At the end of the year I felt lost and uncertain and very worn out - tired of fighting. And don't get me wrong: I would be fine with Rhiannon quitting her piano and/or violin. She didn't want to quit but she also didn't want to practise. All in all, I don't really think it was about the practising. I think her surly and resistant attitude about it reflected a deeper sense of dissatisfaction with her life in general. She wasted a lot of time. And I wasted a lot of time trying to get her do the most basic of things. I was ready to give up the whole homeschooling thing - even though I really believe the school system would not serve her well and I especially eschew highschool. But I just couldn't do another year like last year.
I pondered it all summer. And for the summer we took a real and complete break. I did not make her practise as I have done in the past and we had lots of company and did lots of fun things. And I pondered what to do and how to do it. Rhiannon was dead set against going into the public school system and I was reluctant to force her. More than one friend encouraged me to do just that, though. And I can understand why they would after all I had to say. In the end, after lengthy discussions with Rhiannon (and Dean) I came up with a plan. I had 2 major concerns. One was that she was not learning and progressing as she was capable of (except in English - in which case she is way beyond her 'grade level'). The second was that it was taking way too much of my time for too little result. In other words, I was wasting too much time. We were both sick the first week of school. (We are registered with SelfDesign as we have been since kindergarten - its a publicly funded Distance Learning program that operates out of Kitselano and Nelson). So to start off the second week of school, I told her that she need to have breakfast and be finished her rabbit chores by 9am when school would be commencing.
|Rhiannon working on her music theory|
|Splash marvels at the clean window sills and windows from the top of the ladder|
I am not saying that every kid is like this or that every kid would benefit from what we are doing. But this is working for us. I've never homeschooled in quite this way before. It could be said that doing it this way is even counter to my 'go-with-the-flow' personality... but I think that maybe I need some more discipline and organization in my life, too. Seems that way!