Monday, August 31, 2009

Charlotte Mason

Thanks to Kris' blog at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers I have found links to so many useful homeschooling sites and the answers to so many questions. Since we are new to "official" homeschooling (I've supplemented my children's brick-and-mortar educations all their lives), I have spent a considerable amount of time lately doing research into different homeschooling styles, and trying out different methods.

My most recent research has lead me to studying the Charlotte Mason methods. I can't stop reading! We're in a serious money crunch so I depend on the library for most of my materials, but I often have to wait for books to come in. Thus, I spend a LOT of time on the computer. Thankfully, I can usually count on Kris to do the hard work of finding the right materials for me to be reading so I don't waste a lot of time searching through the garbage to find the gold!

Thanks, Kris, for leading me to Catherine Levison's website: A Charlotte Mason Education. I'm learning so much! And thank YOU, Catherine, for spending so much of your time studying Charlotte Mason for me, and putting it into wrods I can understand.

Enough writing, back to work!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

School in August?

School in August? Are you kidding me??

It's hot, it's humid, and we're feeling significantly lazy. (Am I wrong, or aren't these called the "dog days of summer"?)

Besides, I supplemented their brick-and-mortar education last year (last year? as in 2008-2009 school year ... which, incidentally, is really still this year, right?) with so many extra educational activities, they must've had at least a year-and-a-half's worth of schooling!

Besides (or as Andrew says, "desides"), here in Ohio it was an unusally cool, dry summer and felt like Spring all the way through July! We only went recreationally swimming twice before August (as opposed to swimming lessons, which don't count as "fun.")

Why rush the start of school? Just because the neighbors and all of our friends from church went back to school yesterday, the 19th of August? Just because the oldests' college classes started 3 days ago? Just so we can "be done" by the end of May?

My argument is that there is no reason why we have to be "done" by the end of May ... learning is learning, all year round, all your life. And we had a beautiful day yesterday ... while the other kids were in school learning how to behave in school, my kids were: sleeping off their late night out with Mom and Dad, doing morning chores, and my 8-year-old was making deviled eggs. They also spent 2 1/2 hours playing outside with the neighbor who didn't get to go to school yesterday because she's in Kindergarten and they start on a different day. Oh yeah, then we ran to the library, bank, and UPS store, and went swimming with our cousins for 3 hours. Then we got free ice cream sandwiches at a community event, and enjoyed a nice drive home, getting home just in time for bed.

So, while most of the kids we know were in school for 7 hours (plus more than an hour of bus time), and coming home to do some homework while Mom filled out form after form after form (to be returned the next day in order to earn something special for the child!) my kids spent a minimum of 6 hours outside either playing or swimming or walking or running in a park. Yes, they also spent an hour riding in the van both to and from the cousin's, but guess what? That was almost the only time they spent "sitting" all day!

Now that is my idea of summer. And to me, August is still summer (technically it is, you know?). We're just not ready to start school yet. (Alright, fine, I'll admit that I've been making the kids do some schoolwork already ... but we're not doing a full day's worth yet, and we're not doing it everyday yet!) September and cooler weather will be here soon enough. Maybe we'll start then!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Falling behind" in school

I've read blog posts about how homeschoolers and unschoolers feel it's utterly ridiculous to think that a child could "fall behind" in school if school is closed for an extended amount of time due to weather, or if one particular child has to miss school for a period of time.

And at first, I agreed. That's true (I thought!) ... how can a child "fall behind" when each new day presents another opportunity to learn something new and make progress in an educational sense. They are never "falling behind" if they are always learning something, anything, new. So when they get back to school, they just pick up where they left off, right?

Well, here's the thing ... from someone who has spent just enough time in "the system" to understand this ...

School officials, administrators, school boards, and teachers are all worried about one thing ... testing! Standardized testing, to be more specific. Because THAT is how they are judged on whether or not they are doing their jobs. Period. The sticking point to this is that all standarized testing takes place on the exact same days. Period. Once the testing days are established, there is no changing the calendar. End of story. So even if a district has seen the worst ice storm in history and school was closed for a month, the tests are still administered on the days they were scheduled for (barring the possibility that the tests were scheduled for the ice storm month, that is). And those children, teachers, administrators, school boards, and districts are then judged on what those children have learned up to the point of the testing date (or retained, for that matter).

So if the neighboring district didn't get the ice storm, or had more money for road salt, or decided to risk the children's lives and make them go to school through the storm anyway, those districts may score better on the tests, making them appear to be a better school, and making it seem that their children are "farther ahead" than the others.

So this is what it comes down to when some people worry about their children falling behind. They don't want them to fall behind other districts, other states, etc ... want me to start telling you about how those tests scores then affect the amount of money a school gets from the government? No?? Ok, I won't.