Sunday, November 17, 2013

Keeping up with the public school Joneses, part I

I'll admit, I live out a yearly tug-of-war.  It goes like this -

Aug-Sept - plan to get ahead of the public schools.  My homeschooled children will be geniuses, proving once and for all that homeschooling is the optimum way to educate!

Mid-Oct - losing steam, drop a few subjects

Dec - thank God for holidays, I can't take this year anymore.

Jan - new year, fresh start.  Let's add some subjects back in.  We can catch up to the public schools if we work a little overtime.

Feb - burn out.  Why am I doing this?

March - I think I proclaimed this "Homeschool Debacle Month".  Keep chipping away at this year's work, all while salivating over next year's curriculum choices.  There must be something better out there.  Anything's better than this year.

April - realize it's about time to prep kids for our yearly IOWA test.  Freak out.  We're no where *near* being ready for the test.

May - take the test.  Test results come back.  Phew! What was I worried about again?  Our year wasn't that bad...

June - finish out the school year.  Ok, so...some things didn't get finished.  We'll aim higher next year.  And isn't it time to order next year's school books?  Just have to know what we're actually doing, first.

It seems a big portion of my homeschool mom brain is spent focusing on Keeping Up with the Public School.  The other part of my brain realizes why I chose to homeschool in the first place:

  • I want my kids to actually learn this stuff, not regurgitate and then dump the info from their brains.

  • I want my kids to develop a unique and personal relationship with the stuff they're learning (i.e., some people call it a "love of learning")

  • I want my kids to explore and make connections

  • I want to foster a warm relationship with my children that takes central focus in our learning environment (rather than a central focus on books, bookwork, and more tedious busywork)

  • I want my kids to confidently tackle any new learning goal (i.e., know how to learn)

These things cannot happen when we're focusing on a Giant Checklist.  When our learning environment revolves around a list of concepts that must be taught by June 15th, we're limited in our education.  It means education is something that happens TO the students, or AT the students; they have no participation in the process.  Learning, in my mind, is about owning your education; but this is lost if you, the student, have no part other than to receive it.

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