We're about halfway through Tot's Kindergarten year right now, a thought which completely boggles my mind. She's doing very well with all her work and is progressing at a rate I am pretty comfortable with. It's hard to know sometimes how to judge these things because every child learns at such dramatically different rates. I learned to read at 3 or 4 (or something like that, right Mom?) and I know others that learn to read at 6, 7 or later - all of whom are proficient readers as adults. Even the phrase "learn to read" can mean different things to different people. Are they reading alone or with prompting? Are they sounding each letter out or blending? Is it just consonant-vowel-consonant words or are they reading trickier things? So, while I say that Tot has "learned to read" - meaning she can read mostly without prompting, both blends and sounds things out, reads words longer than 3 letters, but sometimes completely freezes and can't remember what sound the "e" makes - I suppose others would say that she is "beginning to read".
Wondering where this is all coming from?
Well, I'm hip deep in planning (aren't I always?). We're working on our budget for 2010 and included in that is my homeschool materials for our 2010/2011 school year. This means, I have spent the last week or so digging into 1st grade curriculum, getting a feel for what I want to use, and laying out a "Dream Budget"/"Bare Bones Budget"/Middle Road Budget". I try to do three because given Carte Blanche, I could spend some serious cash on school stuff. I rarely need it all, though, so it's wise to see what we actually need, and then what we need plus some extras - like cute math manipulatives and geography puzzles. But I digress. What I'm really doing is looking at all of this first grade stuff and judging it's rigor and pace. Wondering how Tot will measure up. If what we are doing now is adequately preparing her for what will be covered and expected in the first grade material and if by the end of the year she will have a solid enough base to move to the next level.
I struggled for awhile with what grade to put Tot in. In Texas (as well as many other states), Tot would still technically be in preschool. She has a mid-September birthday, so if she were in public school she wouldn't even start Kindergarten until this coming year. We initially chose to start her in Kindergarten materials early because 1) we felt she was ready and 2) while planning for this year we were thinking about moving to a state where Tot would be in Kindergarten if she were public schooled. Despite not moving, we've kept her in Kindergarten thinking that if it looks like the work is too much for her, we can simply turn Kindergarten into a two year affair and keep her at a normal grade level for this area. As it stands though, I feel confident that she is handling the material well, and that she will be ready for 1st grade material this coming year.
Making these decisions can really mess with you because there will always be someone smarter and someone not quite as smart. You think she is ready, but you know this other person who was way more ready and didn't move ahead. And you worry she'll be behind, but know others who were way more behind than her. Once again, I am reminded of the entire reason that we are homeschooling. So that Tot can learn at her own pace - not mine, not a school districts, not a workbooks, not anyone else's but her own. Of course, to learn you must be challenged - so I can't just present her with material she already knows, there has to be incremental steps towards mastery. Sometimes in my zest for completing things "on time", I forget what I'm actually aiming at. For example, I want to finish her Kindergarten Math book by the end of our school year. Well, we switched math books about 2 months into the school year - so we are trying to make it up by doing two lessons a day. That's great and all, but sometimes the material moves faster than she is ready for. She gets frustrated and freezes because she's unsure. I get frustrated and push because I know if we don't finish this lesson, we'll be even further behind and don't want to be finishing the K workbook at the beginning of the 1 year. It takes all I have to remind myself that finishing this lesson today. Is NOT my end goal. Finishing this book by the end of the school year isn't even my goal. My goal is for her to LEARN. And she won't learn if I get all stuffy butt at her and freak out because she consistently switches the "teen" numbers with the "ty" numbers - ala thirteen & thirty.
Homeschooling is certainly shaping up to be a giant Flaw Mirror for me. I don't think I've ever had such daily lessons in patience, self control, and gentleness. The funny part is, we decided we wanted to homeschool for the children and I really think the person growing the most is me.
Anyways, I think I'm about done with the rambling and cheesy self realization. This post really had absolutely no forward moving plot, but at least you got a glimpse into what it really is like to homeschool. And I did say at the beginning of this journey that I would try to give you a look into how it actually plays out in our day to day life. It's a lot of thinking, judging, deciding, and wrestling with internal motivations.
Oh good grief, will some one please just shut me up? I can't seem to end this post without getting started on some other tangent of reflection and I'm starting to roll my eyes at myself.
I'll leave you with this bit of levity while I get my head out of my buns -