Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A mixed day

It's been kind of strange today.

The kids were just so content playing and going for walks and to the playground on Mon. and Tues. that I decided to just play things by ear today. It probably wasn't the best decision given we were out late for supper and a movie yesterday, then I was awake at 5am, but we often make poor decisions when we're tired, don't we?

At breakfast with ds (dd was still sleeping), I did some work with sounds/letters, cutting some strips of paper, putting letters on them that he is familiar with and then telling him we'd play a game. I had him find me the different sounds and he did very well. We then used the sounds there to figure out how we would spell the French word "mal". No problem and he was so excited by it all! I have to do my best to do a little bit each day because he does love so much learning these things.

After that, with dd up and nephew and niece arrive, my time was focused on keeping my niece busy so that she wouldn't be all unhappy when her Dad left. She got busy with stuff and the others were playing happily, so I folded some long-awaiting laundry, in front of them. The rest is kind of blurry (which is a shame--it's only 12:20pm as I write this; morning wasn't that long ago!) but I know at one point, ds and nephew's play became very rowdy. My heart sunk. It was what I had hoped to avoid. Once their play moves into rowdiness, that's all they tend to do: hyper, dangerous, destructive, LOUD. Since the weather had improved a bit, we went out for a walk and came back for lunch. After lunch, I insisted on quiet time so that my niece could fall asleep, but also it's just a great routine. The three sat down drawing and colouring. Ds is off with dh at the store and the other two are still quietly drawing, whispering to each other now and then about what they're drawing. Very nice. :)

Totally separate from all of that was some of my thinking today. School is viewed as a place to help a child develop into an adult, right? But how many schools are set up in a way that actually would allow children to do that in the best manner possible? Most schools require children to sit in small desks most of the time, without being allowed to get up when needed (not without permission, anyhow), not being allowed to talk to others for help or advice (because that would be cheating) and so much more.

Also, the idea struck me that if school is a place to help become an adult, how come the kids are surrounded by so many kids the same age most of the time? Families worked well in the past, for the most part, in raising kids to be decent adults because the kids were part of something bigger, they functioned in a large part as apprentices in the home; in essence, they learned how to be adults by emulating adults and having a chance to practise those skills, either under the supervision of an adult or as the supervisor of young children. Most schoolchildren are basically apprentices to the kids around them. Nobody tries to be like the teacher! Okay, except maybe on in each class, the one who's considered the nerd/teacher's pet/take your pick.

No wonder we have so many problems in society today! I really do think that all kinds of societal problems would not be present to the same extent if it weren't for mandatory schooling and the general use of public schools.

Montessori schools, for the most part, are quite different from the traditional school. The kids are, first of all, in a mixed-age setting, usually in a 3-year grouping, but some elementaries do the full 6-year grouping (I would love to see that in action--having 12yo's helping 6yo's to read and whatnot! how wonderful!). There are two adults present in a class. The kids can get up and move around when they need to, can study when they're ready to, participate with the kids they want to, or be totally alone if they want to. The focus is on the kids and not on the teacher. The junior highs that stick most to Montessori guidelines have the kids participate in businesses or farms or sometimes week-long apprenticeships once a year in a willing business. Montessori education recognizes the child's inherent desire to learn what he needs which will be part of who he is as an adult.

This is where there's a huge hole in public education, with the interminable government/school focus on test results. Test results tell us nothing. Even the curriculum imposed on all kids is ridiculous. What makes a difference in an adult is not how much they know about elementary math, science or social studies, but do they know how to learn, think, reason? Are they self-motivated? (How can you be truly self-motivated when your success in school depends entirely on your grades?) Can they manage finances? Do they know how to work hard for a good purpose? These are the things that matter.

Dh asked me yesterday how long I planned on homeschooling for. I said I'd like to see our kids at least finish grade 9 at home. But, honestly, I think I'd like them to do it all, if possible, at home. They'll be able to get most of their school work done fairly quickly plus have lots of time to volunteer and/or work, actually have a part of the real world out there instead of the supposed real world of school. That will be much more like university life than high school is. That's assuming my kids go to university, of course, but if they don't and they've already begun working in a field they enjoy, it'll because they'll have had the opportunity to do so.

Okay, enough of my babble today. My niece is probably on the verge of waking up anyhow!


Jane said...

I am finding that homeschooling is giving Chris so much more freedom to be out in the real world he enters his teens he is doing so much voluntary work, gaining so much experience from life and from the working me it actually seems like the BEST age to homeschool....

I hope my children never return to school but I guess only time will tell.....

Daisy said...

Isn't it ridiculous that so many people think that homeschooled kids don't experience the real world because they're not in school? How is school the real world?

I, too, hope my kids won't go to school. I know dh has been leaning towards the idea of the kids going to high school, in part to be part of school teams and have that sort of sense of belonging, but I'm thinking by then, it wouldn't surprise me if we had homeschooled sports leagues going on and dd may very well be finished most of high school before she gets to grade 10 if she keeps going the way she is. Ds is totally unpredictable so I won't make any predictions there!

There's also the idea, and this was discussed at park day yesterday, that our kids are weird in terms of societal standards. Are my kids really going to fit in at high school? Do I even want them to fit in?

This should perhaps be a separate blog entry... :)