Well over a year ago now, I’d taken a survey of our kids’ feelings on what was then our homeschool environment. I also posted my follow-up plan, in which I talked about how elementary school-unfriendly our school was at that time. Given the needs of the oldest, I’d made a very conscious decision to focus on her plan and activities, leaving the younger two relatively unattended. Our son, a self-starter by nature, flourished on his own, but the youngest wasn’t enjoying school much at all.
Over the last year, we’ve changed quite a bit about our school, including my personal focus. The oldest has her routine established; the task now is to execute. Plus, she’s away from home more with college courses. To the chagrin of our son, I can now spend a lot more quality time with him and his little sister. Translation: he doesn’t get to cut all the curves he once did academically. [Sigh].
We began homeschooling when the older two were 8 and 5, and our youngest was only a few weeks old. Our older two had educational history from the private school they attended before we began, so their expectations were very different when we began educating here at home. The youngest is our only child who has never been exposed to traditional school systems, and so her expectations about home and school are, in a word, different.
As my husband reminded me—then and now—she was only about 6 years old, so I should not put too much stock in her comments. And for all of the adjustments I made to better accommodate her needs, now a new need has surfaced. It started with this comment, made a few weeks ago: “Mom, I want to have numbers (i.e., grades) on my work, and I want you to tell me how much time I have, just like you do with (the oldest).” The setting of deadlines and timing reminders is a practice I established to combat the oldest’s phlegmatic nature when time is of the essence. I’m not a true believer in grades; I use them at the high school level to give the kids guidance on how they are performing against my expectations. Also, you have to have something to put on a transcript. My interest is much more about what they are actually learning than about a letter grade. Therefore, I haven’t begun with the whole practice of scoring elementary work, and I don’t plan on it.
During our last library trip, our son got her excited about reading the 39 Clues series, one of his personal favorites. Though Miss Mason would consider this reading twaddle, I took joy in the fact that our child, who usually doesn’t sit still long enough to read much, enjoyed sharing two chapters aloud during our time together and never once stopped to ask, “Can I stop now? How much more?”
This week, the request was new, yet old: “Can I get on the computer and find news articles to write about like [older brother and sister]?” She wanted to gather current events, as they have to do each week. In the true spirit of who she is, she’d already found a children’s news source for me to review and approve. I have to give it to her: when she has her mind set on something, she builds a solid case. Here’s what she (and later, I) put together in terms of free news sources for younger kids:
Of course, God’s World News is also available at a reasonable price.
As she sat at the computer with her news sites, notebook, and music-filled headphones—just like the older two—it occurred to me that perhaps, at least for now, her real need was simply to be just like her older brother and sister.
P.S. By way of update, that always-hungry, 5′ 3″ son with the size 10 foot (pictured here as a much younger dance student) is now 5′ 9″ with a size 11 foot–and still always hungry.