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.