Sunday, February 1, 2009

Quality, Not Conformity

I may be off base on a few of these thoughts, so bear with me. I have chosen to start using a unit study based curriculum this year (which I'm so loving and is working for everyone), but there are days that I'm overridden with guilt when life has happened and school hasn't. I picked up some workbooks at Sam's Club this past week. They are grade level, whole curriculum based workbooks, but it doesn't look they have too much of one thing in them, or that it's something that will take the entire 9 months of school to complete. They will be nice to fill in on days when the kids don't get our lessons plans done, but it eases some of my guilt that at least they got some kind of academic work in. If I let myself think too much about this, my guilt swings to the other side of the pendelum that I have conformed to workbooks, also known as busy work.

So, these thoughts bring me to this point. Quality vs. Conformity. We've talked about conveyor belt education, that being the normal laborious work usually pushed at the kids in public schooling. Homeschoolers can be guilty of the same thing, especially when we buy into the workbook type curriculums. I think they have their place (good for carschooling, rainy days, filling in), but I'm also very loyal to WHY I chose to homeschool my children: the public school system wasn't working for them. When I wasn't enjoying myself and kids were not enjoying themselves, we needed to change something. I have had to learn the very hard lesson of retraining myself to not push busywork and actually get creative and get down and dirty with the kids to teach them in unconventional ways.

Quality work is a chore for us too. I don't want to make the kids cry and end up hating writing, spelling, math or reading, but I do make them go back and correct their mistakes neatly. We had a motto to follow in the military: do it right, and do it right the first time. While I can't insist on that with the kids yet on a lot of things (they just aren't old enough yet for most things to have that motto down), it's still something we are teaching them. Handwriting and math are two subjects we try very much to ensure are correct, readable and neat.

All this being said, there is a comfort in conformity. The conveyor belt was probably how most of us led through our school years. I personally LOVE to do workbook pages, but my kids don't, and what fun is school if you are being forced to do stuff on a constant basis you just don't like to do? There is comfort in the regiment and schedule, the predictability of your schedule of daily life. What will your kids remember? Will they remember the pulling of hen's teeth to get them to do 1 page each of language arts, reading, math, spelling, writing, and grammer, or will they remember their excitment that they get to study something of their choice, or build a diarama of the most historical battle of our country, or any of these things that you have allowed them to passionate about, or run with their imagination?

Salisbury Reading
Family: Johnny Tremain
Can't you make them behave, King George
Sam Adams

Jesse: Nathanael Greene

Isaa: Paul Revere

Really quick I wanted to do a run down of some of the projects we've completed over the last few weeks.

They made a lap book out to look like a tea bag when we covered the Boston Tea Party.
I bought them 75 army men and they used shoe boxes and blankets to set up a replica of the Battle of Bunker (Breed's) Hill.
They have been reading all these books so they could test on them for Thanks to who suggested that!! It's been so motivational for them.
We studied codes and how the "Mechanics" were spies (but not very good ones to a degree) and how they helped us win the Revolutionary war.
We learned a lot about the Sons of Liberty and what it means to be a patriot.
We went out and surveyed some land beside the lake. I learned a bunch of stuff. I hope the kids enjoyed it as much as I did.
We are working on quilts and the boys are helping to pick out material and learn about the efforts that go into making quilts.

Goals for this week are to learn about laterns and make some (tin cans), Declaration of rights, make a bridge out of popscicle sticks, and make a "how to" book of either how a cannon works or how to make a silver utensil, and have a fire drill. I don't have anything planned this week, so we should be able to give good attention to our projects.

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