Posted on 29 April 2016
I don’t know exactly how I’d characterize my approach to schooling. I guess, and I say this with a small amount of horror, that it looks like unschooling. (I used to think unschooling was letting children run wild in the streets.) If you ask me about curriculum I will 1) laugh and 2) explain that it’s all over the place because her skills are all over the place. Can she watch videos about scientific topics geared toward adults and articulate it clearly afterward? Yes. Can she write her name neatly? No. Can she knock out a huge proportion of the language arts (and certain areas of math) common core in an hour? Yes. Will she cry if she gets a problem wrong? Sometimes. Often. It depends on the day.
Do we start early in the morning?
Do I enjoy this?
If it were up to me, we would be done by noon. We could be, easily…if she would go to sleep at a reasonable time (she reads instead, or snuggles with the ferret, or otherwise procrastinates) or wakes up at a reasonable time (only when we have to, and with resistance).
There is no cute schoolroom setup in my office. (It is my office, or my bed, if we are kicking back, where the work is done.) There are no neat, Martha Stewart-like desks and shelves and baskets and so forth. She never liked working at her desk, and while it took me a while to figure it out, I did. I turned her table into a place of work so she could…
…work at my desk. She’s there right now, working on German with Duolingo. She’s typing, “Danke, bis später.” She’s squirming in my office chair and would spin if I weren’t here. She is asking me about capitalizing. No, the prepositions don’t get capitalized, nor the adjectives, unless they somehow are at the beginning of the sentence, child.
Today is not a good work day. She woke up early enough, considering she fought sleep for hoursbut work? My child will spend hours–hours–thinking in her room, spinning in a chair, or while listening to music. I’ll ask her what she’s doing and she’ll respond, “Thinking,” and I know it’s legit. (Sometimes it’s brushing her hair badly.) I let her. She often has interesting insights after thinking.
(Today I asked her to read the Second Amendment–what, you don’t carry around a pocket Constitution?–and tell me what it meant. “It’s to protect people,” she concluded. So much for my collectivist reading. )
I know she’s a kid who needs to live in her head a fair amount of the time, and so I give her the time. I am trying to teach her to manage it better through consequences, though. She knows she has to do a certain amount of academic work or else she loses out on screen time. Those rules are engraved in stone…mostly.
But since we had a lot of outings this week, we’ve hit the academics hard yesterday and today. It would be great if we were one of those families where we were magazine-fresh, all sitting pretty and smiling at 8 AM. It would also be great if my back hadn’t accelerated to 7-8 on the pain scale about an hour ago, we hadn’t been volunteering in the middle of the day, and if she would leave the ferret, sweet though he is, in his cage while we are working so she could just finish German and could move on to something else….and I might get some time to myself.
Not happening, apparently. It’s 4:30, she’s dragging things out, and while when we get to it, the math and science and language arts will fly by, I’m tired of being asked if I’m absolutely sure that’s how to spell…bis später.