When this happens, I try and check myself. Is this perceived problem really a problem? If my issue is that one of the children is not where s/he or I think s/he needs to be, is that really a problem? Or am I succumbing to a more institutional model of education?
Occasionally, one of the children might be wanting to try something for which they don't yet have all the skills necessary -- like when Rhubarb desperately wanted to read by herself The American Girl Addy and Samantha books before she was at a point where she was really ready (Rhubarb has always expressed that being read to makes it more difficult for her to visualize the story). When this happens it becomes a problem because the child becomes frustrated.
In most cases, though, I find that I am the issue. I am worrying about an arbitrary expectation, like that a child should be able to do long division by fourth grade. Or, I feel concerned about a behavioral or attitude change in the child.
Lately, Rhubarb, my historical lover of workbooks, curriculum and all things organized, has been battling everything we do together. Everything! She has been grumpy and annoyed by the activities we do. This is so unlike her. She used to LOVE (freakishly so) having me test her spelling (even though spelling is not one of her strengths), for example. I am not a fan of tests, and was sort of dragged into that experience unwillingly. Lately, though, assuming we were on the same page, I've offered to test her -- and she has railed against it.
Part of this is that it is winter. Rhubarb literally moves anywhere from 5-10 hours a day during the summer when we play all day on the beach or bike all over town. She is lucky to get in 1-2 hours during the winter and it is never as intense as summer movement.
But I was sensing something more. So I asked. And asked. And reframed the question and asked again (Rhubarb is less vocal than her sister and brother when it comes to her own needs). Finally, she let me know that she would really like to "learn everything I need to know by doing art."
"Okay. What sort of art?"
I present to you....the list:
- dancing (already doing)
- violin (already doing)
- singing (already doing)
- painting (objects and pictures)
- weaving (on a loom)
- crocheting (already doing a little)
- knitting (already doing)
Okay. Now we are getting somewhere.
Rhubarb expressed that she is especially interested in colors and how they blend in paints and go together in textiles. I really should have seen this coming because she has a keen eye for color. She loves going with me to the knitting store and choosing colors for me to blend into a project. She spends a lot of time designing fashion.
So now the challenge lies ahead: I need to work with Rhubarb to find the outlets and resources she requested and I need to convince myself that spelling can wait.
I believe I am up for the challenge.