Saturday, January 27, 2007

More Musings from a Homeschooling Mom

I just finished Free at Last by Daniel Greenberg. Another book recommendation! It's also got me thinking more about our homeschooling and things I wrote earlier today.

Why do creative pursuits need to be in the afternoon? Because of my fear that no work will get done and that one in particular will not develop the skills he needs.

What if I worked with him on a daily basis to look at what he's doing? Or what if I still have my requirements--phonics and spelling all that, but I give him true freedom during the day to decide when? What if I made our work period from 8 (recently it seems to be starting at 8:30!) until 2 or 3, with anything educational being permissable? What if we all worked out in a "class meeting" together what those educational things could be? What if we functioned on a more democractic basis?

And yet, he has a desire for a schedule. How does that fit in with all of this? Have a schedule and he decides on a daily basis if he will follow it or not? Or perhaps I simply direct... well, not necessarily direct, but initiate more things, but things that they will enjoy? Or in other terms, in true Montessori fashion, how about being prepared with a variety of activities/lessons and invite them? Or have things laid out? How do I work with him in what he wants deep down but is afraid to work towards? Perhaps if he is to have a schedule, I can act as a consultant, but he has to develop it himself. Aha, this sits well with me. I'm tired of being the enforcer, but know I need to be a strong guide. If I could take the same approach with everyone, an à la Marva approach, I'd feel better about it than trying to direct one all the time while everyone else is choosing their own way. How is he to become independent that way? Especially when he's being treated differently from everybody else?

Other thoughts I had last night were to scrap the grade 7 math for now and really just focus on the basics or on new stuff that he can handle for sure. Right now he's in the fractions section. He has little grasp of multiplication and division--the fraction work being asked of him is too advanced. Although if I had some specific fraction materials, then it could be done, but it's not because he has any desire to master it. So that brings up a further question: what does he want in terms of math?

It all comes back to working with the kids towards what they want. Although I'm not willing to grant them free-play time and movies and computer all day long. It means having my little talks with them more often. It means doing my part to have more available, even if they don't choose it.

Whew. I had just finished doing some treadmill and stretching (all the while reading Free at Last) before various thoughts popped into my head. That exercise must have gotten some blood flowing in my brain. :D


Milehimama said...

I would definitely make sure he is well grounded in multiplication and division - (and multipliers and factors too.)
A blog I read often by a fourth grade teacher just posted an alternate way to do long division:
My Many Colored Crayons

I know lots of homeschooling families that don't have set hours; they make a folder that contains work for the week (broken down into 5 days on an assignment sheet) and check off the work as it is done. (A lot use the assignment sheet as their required homeschool documentation) They can work ahead, but there are no privileges (TV, computer time) until at least that day's assignments are done. Most of the moms report that their kids like to work ahead so they can have Friday "off". But it takes the struggle out of it - instead of Mom being the schedule cop, the kids decide when they'll do math, reading, etc. (as long as it gets done). Also, if they are really into their history lesson, they can work ahead right away and keep going while their interest is piqued (3 hour work period, anyone?)
Our own rule around here is education and chores before dinner - can't eat until it's done. Nobody's gone hungry...yet...
Mama Says

Daisy said...

Mama, I've heard of that approach, too. I think I may just incorporate certain elements of it. I also wish at times this kid was mine--I can't exactly insist that he finish his work when his parents are at the door to pick him up for the evening/weekend!

Lisia said...

During his years homeschooling, my 11yo ds has freely chosen his own work. It seems to me that he is moving into a new stage and that this year or next it will be appropriate for him to plan his work more - i.e. to develop a schedule or a list of activities to be completed each week. I picture him still having freedom but instead of deciding what he wants to do for the next hour, he decides what he wants to do for the next month or two.

It seems to me that around this age children begin to identify some long-term goals and develop a willingness to do work that they wouldn't choose to do for enjoyment but are willing to do because of the outcome of the work. Such work is unlikely to get done,though, unless it is planned. (Think of us adults - many of us have great intentions but unless a task gets incorporated into our daily routine or noted on a "To Do" list, it gets forgotten.)

I think my point is that in my opinion, it is not contrary to Montessori to have a schedule or assignment list as long as the child is involved in the development of the schedule or list. Whether a schedule or assignment list or total freedom is best probably depends on the child.

Daisy said...

Thank you for your feedback, Lisia! Yes, it does entirely depend on the child. Figuring out what this child needs has been the difficult part. It sometimes seems so clear, but then things don't seem to work out quite right. However, I have an interesting update to make in a separate post!