Monday, March 29, 2010

Methods under construction

How do I homeschool, now that I'm doing it formally?

My plan, the past two years, has been to pattern our school year a little differently, based on our family needs and inspired by ideas in several homeschooling books I'd read. Most school curricula seem to be based on a 36-week school year, easily broken down into either 12-week trimesters or 9-week quarters. It was easy for me to decide to take a 'normal' year and break it up, and adopt essentially a "two months on, one month off" format... with our off months being the ones divisible by three. This worked well on paper for us: Shannon's dance studio has their big show every June, complete with a LOT of extra rehearsals; September brings our annual trip to the midwest to race in the Solo National championships PLUS Shannon's birthday month; December brings Christmas break; and March... well, March didn't have anything special other than a pretty traditional Spring Break month. We also operate on a four-day "sit down" week, with an attempt at a related field trip on Fridays, or other goodies that sneak in learning without feeling like school, trips to the Science Center feel like fun rather than tedium.

I like that schedule. It fits me.

I've come to one conclusion about it lately, however. It does not fit Shannon. Having only my own kid to judge by, I have NO idea how any teacher gets anything done in September or January after a break. She adapts to a month off all too quickly, and I spend the first two weeks "back" fighting with my child about settling down. It's a whole lot of no fun for either of us, and the more no fun it is, the more no fun the next day is. But, finally, the active fighting ends, and I can live with mild whining. We usually start having a few "good" days more and more often by the end of our quarter, and I think we've finally "gotten it." But then the Christmas craziness starts.... or the September silly season... or what-have-you. So I'm less able to build on a good thing while it's going.

Now I know I'm going to have to change, and make sure we're doing what's best for HER, not what's best for ME. It's time to adapt to what's less convenient for me so that I can build while enthusiasm is high.

Because if I have too many more solid weeks of fighting with her, the urge to give up and enroll in public school may get too high. I'm not against public schooling in principle, but that would be doing it for the wrong reasons.

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