Friday, December 4, 2009

Just Who I Am

It's funny how sometimes we try and be something or someone other than who we actually are, who our creator created us to be. I say "WE" because I'm assuming others do the same thing I do. Particularly we try to be that popular person or that social person. We worry that others don't like us. Perhaps it's a childhood thing...and perhaps it's just me...but I'm pretty sure others have walked this same path.

The really ironic thing is that others at the same time as we are trying to be liked by them, have their own situations going on underneath the surface. Maybe they are friendly to us, but a solid connection never comes from it. Perhaps they seem judgemental. But, are they really? I listened to a conversation lately, about a shy (but oh so sweet) young lady. Her mom said she had had some trouble with kids at school picking on her, particularly on the bus. This young lady would never outright tell her mom about it because she is such a people pleaser. But, the teasing and hostility built up and mom found out about it. The other partner in this conversation said that perhaps being shy and reserved was something intimidating to the other young ladies. What? Being someone who is usually reserved with all but those closest to me, I am unclear as to how being reserved would be intimidating? My view of being reserved is that it is a weakness. But, perhaps it really is neutral and that other people have their own weaknesses in how they view and accept others.

The best feedback I've ever gotten either on my photography blog or on my homeschooling blog, has been when I am writing just for me. On my photography blog, for instance, sometimes I write tutorials, mainly just so that I can go back to them myself - because I'll forget a certain technique even when I had previously mastered it.

In the homeschooling world, I like to ponder different methods of learning. If you're a long term reader of my blog, you probably know that I have a fondness for Charlotte Mason Methods, but also like the self-teaching philosophy of Robinson, and the serious nature of the Classical Method (although I'm not too fond of repitition - which in some forms of the Classical Method is a really strong component). Basically, my favorite teaching method is an old-fashioned, nurturing, self-learning style.

I think I'm getting more into my groove there. This is not to say that you need to follow my groove. In fact, unless you are an awfully lot like me, the things I do will probably drive you crazy.

When I started homeschooling and indeed before that when my oldest daughter was in Preschool, I was really itching to get started and wanted to get a good head start teaching. Now, under some influence of Robinson and Miss. Mason, as well as the influence of a child who definitely wasn't ready for formal learning at the age of five, I really see age seven or eight as the start of education. Before that intelligent conversation, phonics practice, reading practice, reading aloud, and some light math practice are on the menu. I just think, to do more than say two hours a day with my first grader, is unhelpful to her learning.

Natalie (8) this year, though, is starting to teach herself math with Saxon 5/4. And it works out wonderfully. It really does. Not to say every day she wants to do 1-2 hours of math, but she does it, and she talks about her math and figures things out (like casually saying to me one morning "mom is 3/4's of 60, 45?") because she's thinking it through herself. She reads and does written narration. We also do read alouds as a family and oral narration. She takes her spelling from her own written narration - so it's not somthing foreign to her.

I also read recently about adding vocabulary memorization to her reading. Robinson does this (I don't currently own the Robinson curriculum, but I've read about it) - he has pretty challenging vocabulary from the texts they are reading and the kids are expected to memorize it. Do you know that what kids learned in order to graduate the eighth grade in the 1800's was as much as some learn through college now? Our kids can do more than we give them credit for.

And I want her to memorize poetry. But, the more I learn about self-teaching, the more I just want her to do it herself. So, I give her a fairly long poem at the beginning of the week and part of her reading time, she'll master that poem herself and present it to me at the end of the week. Having a more hands-off approach frees me up to clean my house, make bread, play with my toddler, go over phonics and reading with my six year old, and squeeze some time in for working at our business.

And, of course, being a Charlotte Mason fan, I want all my girls to do nature study. Having the girls do more self-learning frees up time for this - otherwise, it seems to me, with the duties of the house, there is just not enough time to fit that kind of thing in.

Well, these are just my new thoughts. The real changes for me are going to self-learning for poetry and adding vocabulary to the reading assignment. I also read recently that Robinson has the kids re-write their essay (written narration) the next day with corrections made. I'm debating about doing this as well.

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