Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Walking "the Walk"~ Seeing through our Learners Eyes~

After reading an insightful blog post entitled " The Rest of the Iceberg" from over at Hilltop Homeschool ~ I was compelled  to write my own personal thoughts and experiences with our own "Iceberg" ~

We have been homeschooling for about four years now. The time really does go by quickly and within a blink of an eye it seems our once, young learners, are now fast approaching Middle School or are now classified at Upper Elementary.  Where does the time go? Even I have not been able to figure that out.

Homeschooling for us has been a real gift for my boys. We pulled the boys out when they were in 4th and 2nd grade.  The rest seems to be all behind us at this point.

Both being special needs children with multiple diagnosis' ( is there ever a child with just one? ) :) our lives can take some twists and turns. We can have really great days and some really hard days too. In the beginning there were many more hard days and those have seemingly been fewer and fewer as time has moved on and they have adjusted to home learning and learning how they need to learn.

For mom, it has been a roller coaster of pre-planning, planning and maybe some over-planning. All, I am sure, are quite normal and I have yet to meet a homeschool parent who has not experienced these things and if you are that parent, I envy you.

Over here at Learners At Home I have tried to create a place where my readers can share my "sorted out thoughts" and things I have learned along my homeschooling journey.

Today Velma's blog post was very fitting, since this morning we had been working on our history - Oak Meadow and lets just say, it wasn't going that great.  We started a new lesson on Craftsmen ( I believe it is lesson 9 or so) and my son explains he has "had it" with Colonial Life and learning all about them.
We just finished a mini-unit on the Puritans which he found interesting and sad all in one~ We ended up skipping over the writing portions and busy work that OM at times adds in to their lessons.

Then sat down to start a new read aloud- Johnny Tremain.  We had gotten through the first chapter and exhausted..lol my son was confused as to who the characters were and was looking at me wide eyed to see what my reaction would be. I let out a big SIGH.  Hmmm, it appeared not to be a very easy read aloud for us. I am not sure if anyone else has this issue in their homes, but we find some to be excellent for reading out loud and yet others like another we tried " Wind and the Willows" to be sheer agony. Anyone else encounter this?

So we set the book aside, done with our reading for the day and then went onto the "craft" that was "planned" in the lesson - Cross Stitch.. ( Oh I thought this will be interesting... ) eh hem.. try and get a boy to sit and do cross stitch... well mine anyway. So we ended up talking and looking at cross stitch samplers and the history behind it instead. I do cross stitch so he was very interested in some of the work I have done and he quickly remembered a piece we saw at Strawberry Banke at the Mason's Museum of George Washington.. that went very well.

Our day ended and I came away with the feeling of frustration and decided to have a little "chat" with my guy.
Oak Meadow was something we saved up for and he wanted terribly, having seen big brother working with the clay and doing all kinds of crafty things.. hmm, he said "I don't know if OM is for me, Mama". I quickly reminded him of the time he would do some of the activities with big brother and he wished for his own set to have. He agreed but explained ( in his own words) " I like hands on things just not crafty things". OK so I sat there... now would someone like to explain to me what is the difference at times? lol

Well to my learner lots and he began to explain and I to listen.
I often try and counsel and help other homeschool parents who become idle and have trouble with programs showing them ways of turning things inside out and upside down to meet their learners.( Which I have done with OM and will obviously now need to continue to do and just use as a "supplement" at this point, picking and choosing as we go through the lessons. )

I am finding the more years I homeschool the more frustrated I become with programs and curricula. Having the boxed in feeling that my boys seem to show while working certain programs.  At certain times changes need to be made and we need to "do our own thing". It works for us. 
Having to label ourselves as to what "kind of method" or what kind of homeschooler we are can be confining and can also be detrimental in attempting to follow a method that may be suitable and appropriate for our intentions but may not be for our learners.

Letting it go, in order to help your child feeling good about their learning and be able to rely on themselves to problem solve and find ways to be flexible and welcome change when it is needed. Some children ( often Aspies) do not do well when it comes to change, but this kind of change can be proved to be good and modeling this flexibility can be a lesson within itself.

Listening and seeing your child's needs/wants through their eyes can be at times a little scary.  We at times can feel something is just so perfect for them, only to find that perhaps it may not be "perfect" in their eyes.
We need to remain flexible, understanding and patient. I believe this is part of "walking the walk" and believing in our learners as we look at things through their eyes.


Velma said...

Thanks for sharing, Tracey. So true! You remind me of my need to be even more flexible with my Aspie. With us, it seems to take many little and/or big changes in my approach, while keeping him feeling like he is still on familiar ground. Does that make sense?

Cindy K. said...

Let us know when you learn the difference between "hands on" and "crafty"! I think my boys feel the same way and I have yet to find those great "hands-on projects" that aren't "crafts"! LOL!

Learners at Home said...

Velma~ I do understand. These children have us take many twists and turns don't they? I have found thus far, one of the reasons why we have been so successful is because of the flexibility I have taken. I hope it keeps working.. Peyt is excited once again about history and I have found lots of books on the American Revolution which he is very interested in. I will introduce some projects and just let him take the lead.. I suppose :) He always seems to anyway! lol :)

Learners at Home said...

Cindy~ LOL you will be the FIRST to know.. this is new to us since he always liked artsy things.. not any longer.. but that too could change, who knows.. I am just going to continue taking the cues from him ~ we shall see ~ :) * Peyt did mention experiments were "hands on", and he said "modeling" was hands on lol so I do have "something" to go by ~ :)
*still going to see if he wants to do a pinch pot this week too! lol :)


CherylinMA said...

I loved both Wind and the Willows and Johnny Tremain. But my dd to whom I was reading didn't enjoy them as much as I. You're right, they are not easy read alouds and I'm not sure why. I do believe she started to enjoy Willows after I kept plowing through. She was 8 at the time and not being homeschooled yet. I haven't tried either of these on my younger two. I think I can give them a couple years yet.
Thanks for the thoughtful post.

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