Saturday, September 30, 2006

This Morning's Thoughts

I started re-reading one of Marva Collins' books last night, "Ordinary" Children, Extraordinary Teachers. I haven't even finished the intro as it got all kinds of thoughts going (plus I was watching tv and not reading a whole lot during the commercials--btw, anybody see "Most Haunted" last night? holy cow!!!!) and I was writing things down and thinking. I spent a bit this morning typing up some of it and then just felt the need to babble so typed away in Word.

One realization that came was that I have not been paying attention to the whole child lately. My focus has been so much on getting work going--academic--that I've been forgetting other things. This is not good. Especially for the 12yo. I need to make a concerted effort to have our homeschooling experience be enriching, interesting, fostering a love of learning. This does not mean putting the academics aside, but adding to them or changing how they're done. Another realization has been that the way things are currently set up involve me being after him all the time and him getting away with not doing a lot because it takes him an hour to do what would only take 15 minutes--he starts doodling, or rolling, or just takes off. I don't like this!

At the same time, my babbling led to a creative way to help the 12yo with his work. Here's my idea: I'm going to set up a schedule which alternates between a sit-down type of work and something where he has to move or do an entirely different activity. This has, admittedly, been somewhat inspired by Charlotte Mason's approach. But here's the catch: instead of spending my time trying to get him to stay on task, I'm going to switch activities once he chooses to go off and lay on the floor or do a front roll, doodle or whatever it is he's chosen to do instead of the assigned work. I might even say something like, "Oh, I see you've chosen to do something else right now. We'll come back to it later. Let's do this now." So, let's say I explain something from his next math lesson and before I finish or he gets to a question, or he only finishes a few questions, he gets up and does something else. I will then move onto something else, like a sensory integration activity. He'd probably finish something like that, so then we'd move onto, say, phonics. As soon as he takes off, or if he finishes, we move onto something very different, perhaps a science experiment. And have fairly frequent 5-minute breaks in here and there.

Here's the catch, though: let's say he ends up quickly going through everything scheduled because he decides it's to his benefit to just keep all the activities moving along (he's not a stupid kid, he'll pick up on it quickly!). The thing is, once he hits the end of the list, we start back over with the stuff he didn't finish. :D This will mean keeping the list fairly simple the first day and gradually building up so that he feels the success of having done everything.

I will have to also be a little firmer and clearer with my expectations. He gets away with stuff because I let him. I admit to that. There's no reason, however, that he can not work more, other than his desire to avoid all 'bad' feelings (stress, fear of not doing something right, and even feeling bored). I need to set some explicit limits as to what needs to be done before he can move onto other things. He'll probably ask why the others don't have to have things set up that way. Thankfully, I'm already prepared with Marva Collins' wonderful approach to this: "Does she wear the same clothes as you? Is she the same age as you? Does she have the same interests as you? No, she's not you. Why should she have the same work structure as you if she's not the same as you?" Of course, if he presses it a lot, I could just point out his older sister's mostly self-directed approach and what she has to do and say, "So you'll follow the same schedule and do the same amount of work as your sister? How is that going to help you when you're not the same person she is?"

We'll see how it goes. One thing to be said about Montessori is that Maria Montessori encouraged experimentation and I think I'm definitely being good on that front!

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