Saturday, July 30, 2011

What if I mess up?

the first year was a mix of deschooling.. getting the children to stop expecting me to stand at the front of the classroom and spoon feed them nuggets of knowledge, evolving into a more lifelong learning model of them asking a question, and following it down the garden path to find out who, what, where, when, and why. the second year, was a mix since I added another child from B&M to the equation and he was confused why he didn't see his brother doing as much work as him, because he was still getting deschooled and his brother was quietly working independently and it would just be such a confusing thing for him. Here is my take after 24 months of this 'experiment', figure out what is the worst possible thing that could ever happen? is it that you children will not make as much progress as they were in B&M? that they will stop learning all together, or perhaps forget everything that they ever learned and work for TacoBell? now that you can see the worst case scenario, think about this. In an IEP meeting for a child that is challenged, they set a goal, what would you like to see by the end of the year? would you like to see your child reading on level? would you like to see your child able to complete an entire assignment without you doing 90% of it? would you like to not have homework consume your evenings? now break that goal down by 1/4, what would you like to have accomplished by the end of the first quarter, the second quarter, and so on. find measurable improvements based on what you find in your family to be worthwhile. for us, we really wanted our child to be able to READ, that was the first year goal. to ENJOY reading was an expectation, and to ENJOY READING on LEVEL was the end of the year Plan. if nothing else, if he was able to do that, we had succeeded. we discovered that the first 9 weeks was a lot of review, things he already knew. COOL. at some point I would have to start teaching SOMETHING right? well the second quarter came and went, and we were still plodding along nicely, stressing reading and keeping up with everything else to various degrees. he was gifted in science, he could breeze through it like no bodies business, wow, I had a gifted child right? well, not exactly, if we spent the day doing the fun stuff, then we didn't keep up on the not so fun stuff like social studies and math, so we had to ration the science and balance our day with everything else. the best thing I learned was that everything is cyclic, that means that if you do not get it the first time, do not fear, it will come back around again, that spelling words will be there next year and the year after, that vocabulary will be there, the next year and the year after, that fractions will come around every year until they finally get it and understand what a fraction is. so that means that no matter what, I will have an opportunity to reteach and they will finally get it eventually. the best thing that I discovered is that I had more flexibility to change the approach, to change the technique, to change the direction of a lesson so that my child could benefit from more than one presentation method. say a video game would help, yippee, use it. say a trip to the museum would help, wow, go for it, say you would rather give an oral test, YES YOU CAN. it doesn't have to be all or nothing, just keep plodding along. now say your are keeping track of the clock, what if you didn't make 3% this week in EVERY SINGLE SUBJECT, YIKES, what will happen, you will catch up next week, you have the entire quarter to have everything balance out so find what works for you. if you make 3% in one subject, you can change topics or you can push ahead and do 6%, just keep it balanced 25% max per quarter, and then bring the next subject up to that level, until you have ALL of them at 25% before moving ahead in a 'fun' subject. all the teacher tools have literally a script in there so that you can not mess it up, once you get comfortable, you can deviate and shoot more from the hip and teach off the fly.