Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to School!

At long last the Manning household has returned to the glorious pursuit of education, otherwise known as homeschooling. I think given the timing of Labor Day this year this is probably the latest we've ever begun a school year, and yet the summer seems to have flown by.

This is Kitten's first year of high school, and I wasn't entirely sure how it would all work out. But the rhythms we've built up over the last eight years served us in good stead; this morning's planning session was a few minutes to decide how much of each book or course she ought to do in a day, and then, for the most part, I just stood back and marveled at her confidence and eager examination of her new books. That confidence was greatly boosted by a perfect score on today's math homework--math is always her nemesis, and she was thrilled that today's lesson went so well.

Bookgirl is moving into eighth grade with her usual steady habits, too. She's probably always been my one to approach learning with a "can-do" attitude and a willingness to get to work; the downside of that is that on the rare occasion when she hits a snag, she tends to be thrown off of her stride and takes a bit to recover that educational equilibrium that has been the hallmark of her approach to learning.

Hatchick is in the sixth grade now--I can hardly believe it. Hatchick often finds school pretty easy, and can have the sunniest disposition when breezing through reading assignments or workbook pages--but my biggest challenge with her this year will be to teach her that a harder, more difficult, more challenging assignment is not cause for a stormy face and grumpy mood. Luckily, she loves hands-on learning, so I'm hoping to work in some more experiments or unit studies to encourage her to find the more difficult work both educational and enjoyable.

I often marvel at their different temperaments and learning styles. As a student myself, I was probably more like Bookgirl--happy to go along and work, frustrated when the pace slowed down for others or, on occasion, when it didn't slow down for me, and generally content to stick to the text, more or less. My biggest problem as a student was boredom, but that boredom vanished in my sophomore year of high school when my mother began homeschooling all of my siblings and me; the boredom came from the repetition of what I didn't need to have repeated for the most part.

I didn't have Kitten's eagerness for the new and different, or Hatchick's love of hands-on experimentation and creative art enhancements (well, no kidding, right?). But in watching, over the years, the way that they learn I have learned a lot about teaching, and about tailoring the same lesson over the course of different years for three very different young ladies who each need a new approach to make the material come alive.

I'm not always good at this. Sometimes it takes a period of dullness for me to realize what I need to do to reconnect with them and make school more than merely completing assignments and tests on time. But over the summer, I thought a lot about what the girls need from me this year, and I'm hoping to do a good job of providing it.

Because that, in the end, is one of the big reasons why I homeschool: to give each child the best education I can give her, while instilling a life-long love of learning and a willingness to step forward into the adult world with the readiness to accept whatever call God gives each of them.


Anonymous said...

Good for you! That's the old spirit!

Irenaeus said...

When our kid gets older, I'm going to have you on speed dial about this homeschooling thing. It's intimidating (although we have a ton of friends and family who do it). But there is *no way in hell* I'd hand my kids over the the State, on general principle.

Anonymous said...

I have been concerned with the transition to high school with our daughter. We started yesterday also and I have come to the conclusion that I worry way too much over the small things.