Saturday, June 16, 2012

Reflections on learning as we enter the dialectic stage...

The girls spent last week working through cumulative tests in their math curriculum and did so very well and I am so pleased and impressed with their understanding and confidence in math.  I LOVE Math U See!  It works so well for us.  Additionally, we have fully covered one of my favorite periods in history: the Black Plague, Joan of Arc, Henry the VIII,  the Reformation, Gutenberg,  Copernicus, Galileo, Queen Elizabeth...and my girls have a clear understanding of how each of these events lead to the next event.  Ah, the Renaissance!  We watched movies and videos, we looked at art work and read biographies.  I am proud of the way we covered this and prouder still of how my girls dug in and thought about things, made connections, came up with ideas and opinions.  I see them beginning to form opinions, or beginning the Dialectic stage of their education.  They are still a little afraid of this...afraid of making the wrong connection, asserting too much of themselves in their education (personally, I feel that my girls' experience in public school made them feel disconnected to their learning and lead to this anxiety over asserting themselves in the material).  My job now is to let them know that is what their education IS; my job now is to make sure that they insert themselves fully and entirely into their education.  I am so excited for this and that I get to do this with them, not a teacher in their school, but me, their mother.
Piper taking the Music Theory portion of her Rutgers Children's Choir audition.

As we finish up our second year of homeschooling (SECOND YEAR!), I reflect on what I have learned, what has worked and not worked for us, where we are now as opposed to where we were a few months ago...

I have kept portfolios for the girls since the beginning and one thing that is so helpful is to look at them and to add to them about our learning this term.

Things I am learning/have learned:

  • sometimes you just need to take a break, a reading day, a trip...whatever...if your heart and mind are not in it, it really is not worth going through the real learning will happen if your heart/mind is not engaged!
  • go with your gut--Math U See and Writing Strands both appealed to me when I was first started researching curriculum two years ago, but I read so many reviews that I chose other programs and other programs and other programs and wasted a TON of money and now, guess what we are using and love most and get the most out of?  Math U See and Writing Strands!
  • for us, NOT focusing on history and science simultaneously is best.  I can't give them both enough attention, doing research and finding outside materials, etc.  So we will focus on history for 3 or 4 months, dive in deep, finish the volume and THEN work on science for 4 or 5 months, cover everything in that.  Or we may do science then at a time.
  • Notebooking ROCKS my world and my girls' worlds--they get to be creative and it really helps the material to stick.  This summer I plan to read some of the e-books out there on Notebooking to better utilize this awesome technique in our homeschool next year.
  • The only supplies we really need are copious amounts of index cards, printer paper and looseleaf, erasable pens and pencils; binders, a hole punch and art supplies galore; library cards and computers and ipads with an internet connection.
  • I am so glad that I taught my girls Latin and Greek roots--it comes up in math, reading, history and science over and over and over again and I say, "take it apart, find the root--what does 'dia' mean?  what does 'tele" mean?"  and they suddenly decode the word and you see the light go on!
The final thing I am learning...
  • I am good enough, I am smart enough and gosh darnit, people like me!
I will be honest, these last two years, I really felt the need to build my girls' academic foundations.  I saw so many things that I felt were so important for them to know or be exposed was seriously just such a waste of time and I spent many hours wishing I had homeschooled from the beginning so our foundation could have been started years before.  We could have gone at such a more relaxed pace had we homeschooled from the beginning...I spent the last two years feeling like there was SO much ground to cover, so much that had been left out of their education that I wanted to fill in.  I can honestly say that after the writing, grammar, geography, science, history, math, and Latin that we have done, my girls have a solid academic foundation and next year, my goal is to build on that, but also to free us up for a little more free-form creativity.  We have been invited to join a co-op again and we are giving that some serious consideration.  We spent the last few weeks picking one artist each week to learn about and I want to continue that next year.  There are several other things in the works, but I don't want to jinx them or give away too much until we have made final decisions...

As always, I am thankful for the experience of homeschooling my children and for all of the many people who encourage me on this untraditional road.

To quote my friend Karen, "Homeschooling Rocks!"