Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Where Are You?

Dumb question huh?

You are right there at your computer reading my bloggie, right?

But I'm talking about on the journey of home educating your child. Is this your first, third, like me~ninth year or more? Where is your child educationally? What are the skills and strengths and then gaps and weaknesses? Just exactly where are you in acesssing where they are? I think this is probably the most crucial question a parent must ask as we get settled into whichever year be it first or last year of homeschooling. A wise friend years ago when I followed a boxed format, which isn't all bad either, told me, "you have to progress as they do, not as the material does." I have taken this advice right deep in my heart and really truly hung on tight as some skills have been harder and others easier for my children. One child gets math and science easier while writing and reading have been harder. It's exactly the opposite with the other child. Ha~I am doomed to be "balanced" in my methods and approaches, right? I have to teach to both's needs! AND we don't just keep going...if some element isn't "gotten" we hang onto it while we inch forward and they learn. I particularly remember this with long division. REMEMBER how hard this was? OR were you one of those who got it easy? See, I confess that I have struggled myself...so when it came to these skills, I found at the time our curriculum DID NOT provide enough practice. Now I have heard mom-teachers say that they have had too much practice for their child in the curriculum~this was not the case for us when my child struggled. WE NEEDED MORE~so I found more until we GOT IT! So knowing the strengths and weaknesses really is important in planning our year~and we progress from a starting point. Just because I put it in the plan will not mean that my children will ZOOM through, but rather thoroughly accomplish the work. I except them to know the material, not just DO the material. So as we are all getting going, gearing up and shifting into overdrive~do we KNOW where were are? Let's find out and plod our well trodden paths into more knowledge and insight as we go along!

Ways to figure out WHERE:

1. Ask some questions of yourself. How did the work progress? Is there a "battle?" Sometimes a battle in our children is an indication they are resistant which can mean it is hard for them and they need HELP. Reflect and observe~think on it...listen to your child.

2. Look at the work. A Pre-test is very helpful. What does my child KNOW before I begin teaching. Sometimes we are boring them to death with information they already know! AND then again, we are boring them with processes that are not in their learning styles. I know that learning styles are important, but one word of caution from me: Don't just focus on the strong ones for your teaching methods~stretch your child to USE all modalities so he can function in the real world of learning. My daughter said, "I need to see it; I am not auditory." OK, daughter! But ARE YOU GOING to challenge your university professor who lectures in that monotone because it's "not your style?" Yeah, right as he looks over your head and marks that big ole paper...now learning styles can be things like "disabilities" too, so I'm not minimizing these either, but work to train the kiddos to be as strong and DEVELOP coping mechanisms for their weaknesses/differences instead of EXPECTING accomadations. They are necessary for some, but often we can learn our way around things! Look at some folks without parts of their senses how they manage and even thrive~a wonderful piano tuner is blind that I know; I've seen Joni Erikson-Tada paint with her teeth~absolutely gorgeous works! So why can't we work out kid's weakened areas to strengthen then like any trainer would to strengthen the body's muscles?

3. Gain cooperation~can you convince your child to work with you to move forward? If you are new~I have read MORE out here on little itty-bitty people being homeschooled from toddlerhood than I have the child who has been in school who either WANTS more education or who for some reason has struggled and is pulled out. If you are the parent who got mad at the school and pulled your child out thinking homeschooling is better, congratulations! You are correct, but it's not easier! Promise!! But it's do-able for the parent who will look and evaluate and get cooperation to move forward. Once your child is willing to "try" to work or wants to learn, or WILL learn, then move forward.

4. Listening, ask your child questions. I wanted to know, since we are ready to study foreign language for high school credit (we've done it all along already!) WHICH ONE DO YOU WANT to study? What is their interests? Desires, goals, dreams? Offer and expose loads of possibilities, but also LISTEN...then plan.

5. AND then plan. Plan by creating goals and steps to accomplish these goals. If your child is old enough, enlist them in this plan. Teach planning and scheduling along the way~but plan. In our state, we have to submit to the BOA (board of education) a list of intended educational resources for the year to obtain a truancy excuse. Finding WHAT to teach in terms of subject matter is really simple if you wish to follow what subjects in order of learning them that are state requirements. I looked over our state requirements for a high school diploma (hours and subjects) and since our forms that we are required to submit spell out subject matter, it was easier than in the last two states I lived in...but I knew then in elementary school that at first, early on I had to teach reading and writing skills, along with other stuff. . .I followed in many ways what the Christian schools would teach, but put it in a format for homeschooling. I have had a schoolroom. I have used the kitchen table. I have held them in my arms and read when they were young and worked at a small short table too in the livingroom~actually it was our piano bench and they had little children's chairs that sat on each end with me in the middle. Today, they both have computer work stations with internet, and we are all wirelessly connected. Some of their work is done there, some on the couch, other on the kitchen table and even some of it outside and in their rooms. I have a library of resources, but no formal schoolroom. I don't knock it, but it's not necessary as children LEARN all over the house, so don't sweat it if you don't have it...a good book case and work surface will do ya! Oh, I forgot to say we've also had individual desks just LIKE public or private school too! They learned different things from each environment, but while environent may seem utterly important, the most important is the content.

6. Content: God first, Family, church and world. We attempt a Biblical worldview. NOT easy, but all our subjects are viewed through the lense of God's Word, His character and love.

I think I will follow up with more on the idea of content. Just HOW did I find it. . .and then HOW did I do it? Remember that knowing WHERE you are in your homeschooling journey is the first step to each year~no matter which one!

NOW, where is that...map?
Oh yeah, I've got it right here!
See you again, and blessings as you consider WHERE!

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