With half of the school year officially behind us as of Friday (YAY!!!), there is never an inappropriate time to take a progress check and see what’s working.
I am well pleased with this 5th grade year, even if it is markedly different than the years I spent at the elementary level with the older two. Wisdom says that we must cater learning to build upon each student’s strengths; I finally got this now that our last child is coming up through His Way Homeschool.
I shared in an earlier post about her general disdain for school, and the plan to give her a different experience where I could. Some of her attitude is because she’s a very different kid than the older two–far more kinesthetic in her learning style, which is a significant adjustment for her visual mother. I have one child (our son) who is visual; these girls are putting me to the test! The other difference–and one of great consternation for me–is the influence of the public school system, even if indirectly, via her friends. She is strongly convinced that she is somehow “missing out,” and so her attitude from the giddy-up is
jacked up, er, skewed. Having walked through a similar situation with the oldest, who’d been in a more traditional school environment a few years before we began homeschooling, I know that I cannot fix those issues; only God changes a heart.
What I can change, however, is my approach, knowing the impact of them on our school day. So, we stepped back and did several things differently:
1) As much as I hate to get out of my pjs, we have school in the library once per week while our son is at college.
2) We stepped away from all math books and spent the first semester solely on multiplication facts–that was the best decision I could have made, as math is notably smoother than it once was.
3) Thanks to Pinterest, I was able to find many resources to help in not having to repeat myself every few weeks over the rules of borrowing, division, etc. We even began notebooking, which seemingly appeals to her slightly artistic side. I also think that this form of math, without doing actual math, is subconsciously teaching her in areas that she was frustrated with learning before.
4) I did, in fact, begin to utilize her planner fully. In that way, I am helping her become more independent, and she feels like a big kid next to her older brother with a similar planner and process.
Our son completed his first college course well. Unlike the situation with the oldest, we were far more familiar and comfortable with the dual enrollment process this time, and so I had no reservations about him entering directly into the Honors Program. Had I not been such a slave to a routine, however, I might have thought differently before unwittingly placing him in a class called “The Human Condition.” Bless his heart, he has spent almost the entire semester defending his Christian faith. I once read a statistic of the staggering numbers of children who leave the church–and the Christian belief system that includes church attendance–during their teenage years. What is clear to me is that higher learning with all its arrogance of knowledge does not point our children back to faith; instead, they must work very hard to prove, if only to themselves, that faith is not the polar opposite of intelligence. Oi.
Otherwise, he continues to thrive academically at home. If only we could reel in those “debate” skills that he has honed while in college–a story for another time. Our pastor said recently that one of the many frustrations of parents is having to be present while our children strive to become adults–often at our expense and toil.
Though I am no longer directly responsible for the oldest’s education, she, too, is thriving and adjusting well to the pressures of adulthood–going to school, working, and hoping to have at least some semblance of a social life. One of my greatest joys is how she prioritized her walk with the Father almost from day 1, quickly finding a group of believers and fellow Bible study attendees. She is becoming more of a young lady and a sister in Christ each day. Some lessons of college have come with difficulty , but such is the preparation for life when plan A can no longer be “Dad and Mom to the rescue.”
I sit at this season of remembrance, and it would be easy to launch into the number of places over the years where we might have done things differently. Yet, as I type this post, I am grateful, knowing that there are at least a few key places where we did something very right. Praise God for that.