Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Curriculum or Bust!

Rhubarb and I have decided that the best tool for her right now is a complete curriculum.  Why?  Because Rhubarb's passion is schoolwork, the kind that looks very traditional in many respects.  True story.  Recently, she followed a writing prompt that asked, "Write about what calms you."  She wrote something like, "Schoolwork calms me.  When I am doing schoolwork, I feel more calm than at any other time.  The other thing that calms me is reading.  If I could do schoolwork and read all day long, I would always feel calm."

She would not have written this three years ago when she spent most of the day in improvised calisthenics, doing crafts, reading (that one is consistent), and in imaginative play.

Now, as she so astutely recognizes, the schoolwork grounds her.  Without it, she goes a bit bonkers and loses vital skills -- like impulse control and the ability to sleep.

She loves all kinds and any kind of schoolwork.  What she doesn't love is coming up with topics to consider out of thin air.  She prefers to sift through as much information and as many ideas as possible and then choose where to explore more deeply.  So our mornings go like this:

R:  Mamma, could you please print me up about four hours of work.
M: Sure, anything in particular?
R:  Nope, but I need about four hours.  Maybe five.
M:  Okay.

Search search search search search
Print print print print print
Work work work work work

R:  Mamma, I like this one about India.  India has some cool big cats.  Could you please print me up some work on big cats?
M:  Sure.


Search search search search search
Print print print print print
Work work work work work

Time passing Time passing Time passing

R: Mamma, I finished the work in like three hours.  Could you please print me up another three or four hours for this evening?

Essentially, I have been creating a complete curriculum for her every day.  When I ask her if she likes what I give her, she always agrees.  I finally realized that she just loves the learning, loves going at her own pace, and loves the directions it all leads her. Me?  I'm not such a fan of the constant searching and printing.  

The thing I value most about homeschooling is that everyone gets to choose their own educational goals, assume them, value them, and pursue them.  In the aforementioned scenario, I was doing too much of the navigating for Rhubarb AND I was also getting what I like to call the homeschool shaft: when my own goals take a major back seat to all those searches.

Her style is very different than those of her siblings -- both right-brained learners who can best be described as educational tornadoes.  They sort of zip through topics as quickly as possible until they find a nice academic trailer park and spend the rest of their energy demolishing it.  They also work crazy schedules, with Blueberry raring to go from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. and then again from 3:00 p.m. until bedtime and Eggplant at his best from afternoon until late night.

Truth be told, Rhubarb's style is the easiest for a homeschooling parent to handle -- but I still feel like we both need an assistant. So onward we go into the world of the complete curriculum.  May it be a handy guide and a trusty partner for my dear daughter (and me).






2 comments:

Kerry McDonald, M.Ed. said...

I love this post! It really grasps the true gift of homeschooling in being able to listen to our children, see what they need and how they learn, and then tailor learning accordingly. Beautifully put!

-Kerry @ City Kids Homeschooling

LakeMom said...

Thank you. I have to confess, though, that it has actually taken me a long time to listen fully to my kids and not worry about what the curriculum police will think of me doing something like this. Isn't that crazy?

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