It’s July – and so, this marks about one year in since we started year-round homeschooling. When we decided to homeschool “year-round” – it was sort of an off-the-cuff decision, made by some very naive homeschoolers (that’s me!) Haha.
About a week ago, I noticed Paprika (age 7) getting really burned out on her math curriculum. She started begging me for a summer break. So, I decided we would take a little break of sorts. I stopped her math curriculum just four lessons shy of finishing the class. The perfectionist in me went crazy! But it’s what we needed to do. Haha!
I promptly found a different math curriculum (well, two different programs) – and we started those the day we stopped the old one. Turns out that all Paprika really wanted was a break from her old Math (Teaching Textbooks) – and she is so excited with her new Math (Life of Fred and Reflex Math).
She is asking to do math all the time now – which is a sea change since math has always been her very least favorite subject! I guess we can all use a little variety every now and again…
This past year’s homeschooling has mostly focused on Paprika. Ginger was just 4, and Violet was not even 2 when we started. Their days involve A LOT of creative playing – they are active and full of life. They learn so much from the world around them – and I haven’t been concerned at all with academics.
Even so, they pick up SO much naturally – and just recently in the past few months, Ginger has become very – dare I say – studious. She taught herself to read and is a voracious reader. Her reading ability at age 4 was 3rd grade level – and it is continuing to climb rapidly.
She also asked us if she could begin to learn piano – so Mr. M has been teaching her at nights. She is tearing through the early piano lesson books we have – and she practices on her own during the day.
Her learning style is such that she has to be self-motivated to learn – and she likes to figure things out completely on her own. She doesn’t want help with anything. She is very hard working, and perfectionistic – and if you criticize (or even suggest anything) – it’s over! Haha.
I started reading aloud Math to her (Life of Fred), and she adores it. She is not particularly interested in the computers or technology, and she prefers paper books to electronics. I tried Reading Eggs with her and a few other computer programs, but she has very little interest in sitting in front of a computer.
She loves writing little cards and letters to us, and she is constantly asking us how to spell things and what big words mean.
She found these books at the park and had to stop playing to read them:
She mostly loves to climb tress, read good books, and draw pictures – which she does all day long!
Paprika (age 7), loves computers, reading books, writing/illustrating her own books, and lots of variety. She is intense, and then when she’s done with something, she’s done. This makes year-long programs hard to stick with – and I find that her preferred method is to intensely study something for a few weeks, then put it down and wait a month or so to come back to it.
For example, she did about six months of one math curriculum in 3 short weeks – then wanted a break. Then, she went to learning about the Renaissance and Art History intensely for a month. After that, she wanted to learn about Ancient History. Then, it was computer programming for a few weeks. She learns a lot, gets to the threshold of her understanding, and then she needs a break.
She’s very self-regulated about it – and when she’s in learning mode, she can study a subject for twelve hours a day, and I have to (literally) pry her away from it.
The things we do every day, no exceptions, are Math and Piano. She is not IN LOVE with Piano, but she practices every day, and it’s a good discipline for her. She has NOT historically been a fan of Math – and even though she’s quite good at it – it’s a lot like pulling teeth and I don’t think she would ever concern herself with it if we didn’t make it a regular thing. So, it’s one of our structural bookends, if you will, in a homeschool that is otherwise pretty free and open.
One of the VERY BEST things about homeschooling is the ability to avoid labels for the girls. I know this is probably a WHOLE other post – and it’s pretty controversial – but the whole “gifted” label gets thrown around a lot, and I know if we were in public school, there would be this sort of stress about: are our kids gifted or not gifted?
I know this, because I heard people talking about it in kindergarten – even though the identification doesn’t start until 3rd grade in our school district.
It’s a tricky thing and I know it is important in the school setting for kids to be adequately challenged. But, the AWESOME thing about homeschooling (and perhaps one of my very favorite aspects of it) – is how irrelevant giftedness is in our homeschool.
Everything in our homeschool is about teaching to the level of the children – and working with their specific learning styles and abilities. I do watch benchmarks for grade level, and make sure we are meeting/exceeding those benchmarks. But honestly, it’s not an issue at all.
In homeschooling, I feel very free from labels, and I love that I don’t have to explain (or apologize) for the quirks of my kids or for them being so very far above grade level in so many subjects. It’s an odd thing because I am not exactly PROUD of them for it- it’s more something that they ARE and I would be exactly the same proud of them no matter where they were academically or creatively.
But if we were still tied to the public school system, I know I would feel frustration at Paprika being at least 5 or 6 grade levels ahead in every subject, and I would constantly be fighting a battle for her to be challenged. At home, it is easy to challenge her – and it is easy to give her breaks when she needs them.
In a public school, I know that Paprika’s intense style of learning, and her creative tangents would not really work out well in the classroom. Ha! Ginger’s highly sensitive and independent nature and the way she learns (self-directed, intense) would be a problem not an asset. Just keepin’ it real!
And then, of course, the best thing about this past year of homeschooling is how close the girls are as friends. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen three people care about one another as much as they do. Sure, they have outside friendships and lots of classes and social stuff they do.
But at the end of the day, they are so content and happy to be with their best friends:
Homeschooling has been such a gift. It’s not a gift I ever would have chosen, if it hadn’t been the best fit for Paprika and now Ginger. We are taking it year by year, and who knows what the future holds!
For now, it is good and it is working well for our little family. I am so very grateful for the freedom to homeschool, and for all the resources we have at our fingertips for practically free (thank you, Library!)
That’s how I see it from the close of Homeschooling, Year 1. 🙂