Thursday, October 4, 2007

Kindergarten Power Struggles

I have been tired lately. I couldn't figure out why. September sped by without even stopping for a cup of coffee. What's going on?

That's when hubby reminded me. "You've started trying to school Sierra."

Ah. I forgot about that. Homeschooling kindergarten is hard around here. The greatest strain in my relationship with my oldest was kindergarten. I don't even remember kindergarten with my son (I was pregnant with Sierra at the time, and his school career started in September 2001, so it's probably better that I've forgotten.) I consider kindergarten my greatest challenge for homeschooling. This is the year I try to convince the 5yo that mom is teacher, that I try to determine the child's learning style, and consider strategies for getting the basics into her head.

Marina was probably the easiest. Too bad I didn't realize it at the time. As I tripped along the beginning of our homeschooling journey, I made a lot of mistakes. The biggest was following the public school idea of "one hour for this subject, 45 minutes for that, etc."

Let's consider what that 45 minutes to an hour entails. Given a modest class size of 25 students, about 5-10 minutes are used in coming in, pulling out the correct books, and taking attendance. I am allowing that for the lower grades you probably only have one teacher, but there is still time eaten up by pulling out the correct books and papers to start each subject. Let's say the hypothetical teacher has a model class that doesn't need to be quieted down every time she turns around. She still needs to spend time getting the entire class to understand the lesson. So I'll figure 15-20 minutes to get everyone understanding the topic. Then the students get down to working on exercises. Let's say there are a handful that understood the lesson completely and they finish the workbook exercise in 5-10 minutes. They will still have to sit and wait for the rest of the class to catch up, so figure another 10-15 minutes. By now, the teacher is running out of time (if she hasn't already) so the rest of the class goes toward checking answers and assigning homework.

Once I had perspective on how much time children spend in class waiting, and just the nature of teaching a class of similar age students versus my one student, I relaxed more. And the more I loosened up, the more my self motivated student learned. Reading improved in the summer, when I was taking a break from teaching her to read. Counting, including the multiplication tables, were learned on daily walks. Writing, as tomorrow's strip will prove, was more about interest than dexterity. If the writing assignments were tedious, she plodded along and complained about how much she hated it. If it was self motivated, she could write for hours.

Chase taught me that it is impossible to teach a group of students because each has their own way of learning. He didn't want to hear about sitting down and doing subjects. That was why I started "stealth teaching." Strategically place a picture book, count and sort with his dinosaurs, write down his stories until he wanted to write, I simply had to stop thinking in terms of schooling. Which is ironic since I had settled on the concept of classical schooling.

Sierra is still a mystery. She likes learning, but it has to be done her way, which is not always the most productive way. Lately, I've simply been trying to convince her that the letter N exists and D doesn't come after S. It's kind of like homeschooling the Queen of Hearts. Once again I feel green as I walk along the homeschooling path. It's a well-worn path now, but there are still plenty of stones to stumble upon.


B&B said...

Lol, Princess Sierra being compared to the Queen of Hearts...
It's been too long ago for me to give any advise. I can't remember the details of how my kids learned to read, they just did.

As for if we live in Faerie? I had so much fun letting the girls dress as princesses and putting flowers on their ponies. That tall field of grass was the first field we (I) had ever planted and we were so proud of how it grew.

Can you beleive George was riding at age three? My spouse was very close just in case. The years sure speed by, don't they?

Peace and Laughter Chistina and I'll be adding some prayers that you survive Sierra's year of kindergarten! ;)

(the pictures came out better on my other blog. I haven't figured out how to fix that yet on blogger.)

Inner Elder said...

I'm not sure Sierra understands what "parent" means, much less "teacher". Knowing the lovable little munchkin, I think you've got to convince her that she's in charge. Remember you're raising the family's first CEO. Seriously, lots of luck and prayers. Love, Mom

eclecticeducation said...

I didn't realize you had a blog over here too! Ok, maybe you mentioned before, if you did, I forgot! :) It looks really great. Sierra seems to have some of the same issues that Little One has. Little One lets me teach him ok, but he's very independent and I really have to choose my battles with him!!! If in his imaginary world the sky is yellow, you are not going to get him to admit that the sky is really blue. It just won't happen. Same way, if he wants to do another page in the workbook even if I only planned for 2 pages, it's better just to let him have his way since it's not really hurting anything. Where I have the biggest challenge with him is practicing his letters. He wants to start, where he wants to. He goes up when he should go down, ect. Good luck! :)

eclecticeducation said...

Oooops... it looks like I may have posted twice. Sorry! :)

Happy Campers said...

My son is 4yo, and I he will be home with us next year for sure. I just started trying to figure out curriculum/no curriculum debate, & trying to figure out what he needs vs. what "curriculums" say is such a hard debate.

I really enjoyed your article & glad to know that I'm still figuring out his needs but I'm not alone...even from someone who's been there, done that!

divinagrace said...

This is very interesting and helpful to know. Little Man will be kindergarten age next year, and I have been taking this time (pre-K year) to try to figure out what would be the best approach to teach and learn with him.

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