I was so excited about our new plan to shorten the times per class from your "simulated public school week", and carry on with our new and more outlined homeschool days. I loved the way the structure really amped up your responsibility and respectful attitude toward school, and even me.
Then came Monday morning, and as we began our new approach on a lower key, everything crumbled around us. You were upset, which usually doesn't happen. You seemed frustrated, unhappy, distraught really. You even cried during your second class of the day - just sat over your workbook, pushing your pencil, and crying.
After talking, cuddling, and deciding that this could just be a rough day for you (we all have them) we wrapped things up and called school off early.
The next day, school went better, though it still didn't seem quite right.
While speaking on the phone with another mom about her own homeschooling dilemma, I was led to call our ILT (Independent Liaison Teacher) through the Public Charter School you have been enrolled in for the past two years. I needed to ask her some questions about the requirements before I could move forward in supporting and advising my friend.
During that conversation the ILT shed some light on my own homeschool requirements, expectations, and schedule. I brought this up to her, asking her respected opinion and advice, and she really helped change my understanding and perspective.
I think that homeschooling can be tricky. While a generally laid back homeschooling parent might not meet the standard with their children on a regular basis, a more A-type person might have their children going way too far and above what should be expected of them. There's really not a good way to even know (in Wisconsin) how your homeschool children academically compare with public schooled kids. That can lead to questions and feelings of doubt that either bring on ideas of failure or an overachieving focus for a homeschooling parent.
We were definitely of the latter mentality. When we slimmed our schedule down for this week, we actually went from five hours of table time a day (table time being active lessons and practices at the table) to a shorter four hour table time. I thought this was lenient of me. :(
After speaking with our ILT, hearing the requirements and expectations of the state, what the public schooled kids aren't learning, the ratios and statistics, the challenges and obstacles they are up against, and the environment they are supposed to be growing in, I realized that you are way way way far and above what most kids are academically being exposed to today. I also remembered that while our homeschooling is about one-on-one, specific learning to your strengths and style, choosing what goes in and monitoring what comes out, and cultivating your character from a healthy launching pad, it's also about being able to feed your individual and personal growth rate appropriately.
While, there is no doubt (especially when you score off the charts in the standardized public school testing) that you are extremely intelligent, we are and have been doing WAY too much school. Which would explain why you are in 3rd and 4th grade curriculums at a 2nd grade age.
And don't get me wrong, I'm not about to let the opportunities we have to enrich your education and lean into the areas of your strengths slip away. But we are done with four and five hours of 10 to 12 one-on-one lessons and pencil pushing every day.
We are finished turning you right off to learning.
We are going to do five to six classes a day. We're only going to spend 2 to 3 hours in scheduled one-on-one table lessons.
We are going to the library more and renting more books for you to soak in at your leisure (since, you read more in your spare time than anything else). We are going to go on more field trips and plan more playdates. We're going to make more fun kid deserts and meals, and do more arts and crafts. We're going to watch Bill Ny the Science Guy and Modern Marvels, start projects, and play more games... we are going to PLAY more!
And as our ILP advised, we can find other areas to amp up the structure that you reacted so positively toward. It just doesn't have to be in school. Your responsibilities and our expectations of you can come up a little, while we rightfully lessen the intensity of your school load.
I'm sorry that I forgot you are eight. I'm sorry for putting you through a middle-school-like schedule.
I promise to protect you from losing these fun and free days of your youth.