Breaking Out of the Box!

“I have had two weeks without school in the past two years, and if I don’t get a break I AM GOING TO LOSE MY MIND!”

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My Sweet Girl

My Sweet Girl

With those words, my 14 year old declared a strike. She’s right: we haven’t had much by way of breaks (with the exception of vacations, during which we actually have brought school books most of the time) since she started the eighth grade. It was eighth grade when her ADD started to really hamper her progress in school. Last Summer, in preparation for high school, we went through an entire math book in about 11 weeks. This Summer, I have been desperately trying to finish her ninth grade coursework before starting her tenth grade coursework.

It just can’t be done, and if it is, it will be at the expense of our sanity.

So, for sanity’s sake – and to make sure my 14 year old doesn’t kill me in my sleep! – we are going to take the geography test for the set of chapters she’s just finished and take the religion quiz for the chapter she just read, and then we are going to just stop doing anything at all until September 9. Nothing. (Okay, I might teach her how to use iMovie, but that’s fun, right?)

What I had to let go of was the idea that we had to finish all of the work from last year before we could do the next year’s material. And once I made a formal decision to do that, I looked at her materials for next year and realized, “I don’t even have to do this in this order! Look! Here’s a book we have to read first quarter that she’s read a half a dozen times! Let’s knock those three weeks out in the first two weeks, and then move the other book review stuff to later in the quarter. And this bunch of assignments – those are optional. If we’re running low on time, I can skip those. And so what if we don’t finish pre-algebra before tenth grade? She’s got four years to do two years of high school math! We’ll do it when we can get to it.”

It was freeing to think this way. And I think that, combined with her medicine (more on that another day), will help make our school year far less stressful. Once again, I’m looking for ways to add fun into the lessons. If there are optional assignments that don’t work for her learning style, I’ll look for other things to do that will work: maps, movies, field trips … Why have I let myself be limited by lesson plans this way?

Honestly, I think my background as a public school teacher does more to hamper my homeschooling than anything else. I just don’t think outside the box often enough, and it takes the occasional smack upside the head (verbally) from friends to rattle my brains and shake me up so I can be more creative.

Homeschool doesn’t have to mirror public school. It shouldn’t! I’m free to be more for her than some teacher demanding that every little assignment – necessary or not – be finished in such and such time frame. The whole point of educating my children this way is to let them learn at their pace to some degree (while still preparing them for the idea that at some point, someone else determines the pace). But if we can get through 36 weeks of English in 28, while at the same time needing 14 months to get through a year of math work, we have the freedom to do this. I can meet my children’s needs the best way possible.

I’m not sure when I lost track of that fact, but I’m grateful to my friends for reminding me of it.

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2 thoughts on “Breaking Out of the Box!

  1. Oh good! I think this will help your homeschooling go much more smoothly. It’s great that she is able to articulate what she needs (in this case, a break) and it’ll probably do everyone a whole lot of good.

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  2. Glad you have come to this decision. I agree… your home schooling has the option to be more creative in the learning process and not just dittos and books and pages that have to be done. You have the options to get outside the classroom and make learning fun and real. Good for Katey for speaking up. I’m proud of her for doing that and proud of you for listening and rethinking your plans. ❤ You are all wonderful!!!

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