Thursday, January 12, 2012

Broken or not?

One theme I've used over and over raising Shannon is communication. I want her to have at least an advisory role in how she's raised, she needs to feel comfortable speaking up for herself and her desires; not just "I want this," but "I would like this and here's why I think it would be a good thing."  One way I've tried to make this clear is by using the phrase, "I can't fix it if I don't know it's broken." So many times children feel powerless. This can be from real or perceived decisions by parents, but how often do we remember arguing with someone and one of you finally saying, "But I was doing that because I thought it was what *you* wanted!"

But back to Shannon. I have lots of plans and ideas for how this whole homeschooling thing is going to work best for us. Which makes sense, because I'm the one doing research on curricula and methods. Shannon isn't capable of knowing what she wants until she knows the options. But I've told her over and over that if there's something that doesn't feel right about what we're doing, she should speak up.

Today it came to a head. Yesterday, I tried to be a little more flexible and not the "nagging mom" that I've been turning into. Every day since about October, the routine has been the same, she starts with her independent reading and journal writing, then we ramp up the rest of the day with the interactive lessons in science, math, history, spelling, or whatever. Every day, same thing, start with reading. I have the day's lessons written out on a whiteboard for her to look over at any time. She loves checking things off when we finish a topic, it has been a very nice motivator. So she slept in a little more than usual yesterday, but I did get her out of bed a little after 10, which is the time I usually try to actually get started with schoolwork. So we were runnning late already, but I made a conscious choice not to get upset about it, but just go forward. I projected calmness to myself, that it was no big deal. I reminded myself all the lessons about child-led learning I'd read, and how much better things will go if I just relax and let her set the pace. She ate breakfast, and then just sat in her chair while I worked on my computer. I browsed, I budgeted, I cleared bank statements, I read blogs. Finally, about 11:30, I couldn't take it any longer. (so much for that resolution) I asked her if she ever planned on starting schoolwork today. Her response? "I didn't know that you wanted me to start!"  What? Seriously? Same thing every day, she knows how much we BOTH want to be done with school early, and we've discussed the only way to get it done is to start by 10. We have done well when we start at 9. Sure enough, yesterday was one of the slug days. Once you get behind, everything takes longer anyway. Our usual 3 1/2 or 4 hours of work took over 5, we finished up right at 5:30. I was so tired and frustrated.

So today, Sean got her up before he left for work, turning his  usual "good morning" into "good morning, it's time to get up." She seemed in a great mood, so sat down with her. "Do you prefer that we start with something besides reading first thing in the morning?" She almost broke her neck she nodded so hard. "OK, we can do that. I thought you liked starting with reading as a warm-up for your brain, a way to wake up and ease into the day's work." Turns out that she says she'd much rather start with math and spelling and other interactive things and do her independent stuff later. Kid... you need to tell me these things... I just can't fix it if I don't know it's broken. So far, today has been great. We did two days worth of math lessons it was going so well. ;)  Spelling test another 100%. What a confidence builder. It's time to have another good serious talk, but more importantly, I hope I can have a good serious listen.

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