Holy Cow! The last time I posted in this blog it was October! Originally I planned to write up a mini report every week, that was waaay to much work! So I decided on reporting at the end of every “unit” Miss 6 finished. I will continue to do this, the delay, however, is due to the fact that Miss 6 actually hasn’t finished a unit since we wrapped up her lessons on the ocean. Also we took the month of December off, so there’s that too. But we’ve started up again, and in realising it’s been so long, I thought I’d best get something down to explain our absence and to outline our plans moving forward.
Miss 6 had decided to start learning about Australia. So in November I wrote out a little timeline, a plan of sorts, where we covered a certain Australian related topic every week. The first week was Australian animals, and it went well. I took the girls to a workshop at the Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre where they learned about vertebrates and invertebrates, with a focus on the vertebrates. They loved it, and we are hoping to get back there again this year. However once I moved on from animals, Miss 6 lost interest. Everything that I put in front of her, from art to music to literature, history and geography – everything was “boring” . I found the more disinterested she was, the less I was inclined to bring things to the table for lessons. It was an incredibly frustrating time for both of us. I had quite a few excursions planned for November and December so I started to focus more on these than on the actual “school work” component of our plan. By the end of November I put it down to, we were both burnt out. I suggested to Miss 6 that we take our holidays in December and have the whole month off, and start back with our learning about Australia in January. She whole heartedly agreed with me, so that is what we did.
Come January, I pulled out our school file and reorganised our timeline. Her revision of Australian animals was a disaster! She resisted, she fluffed about, she argued, she refused, and it ended up with both of us upset and angry with each other. She asked if we could skip school for the rest of the day, and at a loss as to what else I could do, I sent her outside to play. While I was calming down with a coffee, I had an epiphany. One of the reasons we started this in the first place, was to offer Miss 6 the chance to learn at her own pace, in her own way, with lessons designed around things that she felt passionate about. I don’t know where she got the idea of learning about Australia from. Perhaps it was hers, perhaps it came from an outside influence, but it was obvious that she did not have a great passion for it. And here I was trying to force the issue, and getting upset when she responded with resistance. I started to think about all of the things that made Miss 6s heart sing. Science experiments, science club, microscopes, exploring nature, being outside, learning how things work. Looking at art by Albert Tucker, while appealing to me and my passions, was doing nothing for her! I told Miss 6 it was ok if she didn’t want to learn about Australia after all. There’s plenty of time to learn about it, and she might want to try again in a year or two. She thought that would be best. I asked her what she wanted to do more of for school work. She said more science, and then it came to me, she wants to be a scientist, why not let her be a scientist? There’s no reason why SCIENCE can’t be her theme for the next unit.
So Miss 6 is about to start on a new unit of study. Approx 8 weeks long, with a different field discovered each week. It’s taken a bit of planning on my part, but I really want her to have fun and enjoy what she’s doing. She’ll be covering things like biology, chemistry, botany, geology, and zoology, among others. Obviously it will all be foundation level stuff, but lots of exploration, lots of experiments, lots of science based writing and reading. I have also booked her into 3 workshops for homeschooled children at Scitech to support what we will be doing at home. Plus she gets the added fun of being in a real life lab 🙂 Outside of the academics, Miss 6 (and Miss 3) have been enrolled in a weekly music class for term 1, they still do swimming lessons once a week, and I am on the hunt for one other activity for them to join. There are plenty of play dates and catch ups with friends, and lots of time outdoors.
Outside of the actual day to day “schooling” of Miss 6, there has been quite a bit of thought and reflection. We have survived our first year as a homeschooling family. I have watched her grow and flourish as a person. I have seen her tick off the goals she set for herself for 2016, and I have been amazed by just how clever and inquisitive and thirsty for knowledge she is. There has been days where I honestly thought this was a big mistake, and days where I thought there can be no other life for us! I have been constantly thinking evaluating and reevaluating what we do. I have watched a circle of friends made and drift apart, and a new circle form. We have had awesome triumphs and spectacular failures. And it has occurred to me that her life would have had all of these ups and downs whether she was homeschooled, or in the system. The only difference is the environment where it is taking place.
Moving forward I can’t see us doing things very differently in the coming 12 months. I have an idea of taking a two week “rest” between units, rather than jumping straight from one to another like we did last year. I think maybe this will stop us from getting too burnt out come December. I have an idea that I will be looking to implement a little more in the way of book work. My theory is at some point she will probably ask to go to school (although I pray it won’t happen for a few years yet!) which will be hard enough to integrate into as it is, so it’s my responsibility to make sure that she is academically in line with her peers. I also have an idea that I still have a lot of preconceptions about education that I need to let go of, in order to make this lifestyle as free flowing and peaceful as I know it can be. Miss 6 is insisting that she definitely doesn’t want to go to school. I’m still happy and comfortable to have her education happen outside of the system, after all I keep thinking that if my incredibly precocious 6 year old child approached a teacher and said “today I want to learn about geology” she’d be told to sit back on the mat, quietly, because today’s lesson was about The Very Hungry Caterpillar. When I picture this scenario in my head, I know that we continue to make the right decision.