Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Retrospect - Week 3

Week 3 can best be described as a complete meltdown. It wasn't a meltdown for Kylie. It was more of a meltdown for me. The activities for week 3 focused on "life on a farm" and "the definition of family". These topics seem simple enough, but the fact that once again I couldn't find any of the recommended books available anywhere finally took its toll on me. Additionally, the limited number of stores that I searched for toy farm animals either had very high priced toys ($3 each) or none at all. I think between my wife and myself, we checked WalMart, Target, Walgreens and Toys 'R' Us. Not a huge list of places, but we have limited time to shop. We couldn’t even find the alternate choice of farm animal stickers. The toy part is my fault, I just wasn't prepared, but the rigidity of the curriculum is becoming a huge problem.

So basically, we did a whole lot of nothing. The meltdown got progressively worse as my own school work piled up and I began my daily exercise routine again. In a nutshell, I really need to focus on time and resource management. I was going to give week 3 another go this week, but our weekend proved to be far too busy for me to prepare properly…again. I need a new plan of attack. I'm glad that this whole thing is a "dry run" to prepare for the real thing. I know that there aren't any perfect rules for when homeschooling should begin. I've just been gauging it on when Kylie would normally begin public school which would be this Fall. My hope is that she would actually be classified as first-grade level when she would normally be starting kindergarten. It's not really a homeschool way to look at it, but it's a big paradigm shift that I am still adjusting to and learning about.

Part of my developing a revised plan has been reviewing homeschooling methods. Since I seem to have fallen into the "school at home" approach more than I wanted to, I have been reading about the other end of the spectrum, "unschooling". What I've read so far seems extreme to me. I don't think it's all bad, but some of it just feels risky. I understand that there are various degrees of unschooling, but some of the more extreme approaches border on neglect in my opinion. Letting your kids choose to play video games and watch TV all day simply because that's what they are into at the moment doesn't seem like education at all. But before any of the great unschoolers out there rip my head of for being ignorant or close-minded, I will admit that some of what I read is very insightful. Allowing a child to choose subjects that they want to learn and sometimes even how they want to learn it makes a lot of sense to me. Kids (all humans actually) are more likely to retain what they learn when they learn it on their own terms. I just think that because we live in a society that primarily consists of products of the public school system, developing some of those same skills along a similar timeline is important in order for the child to relate to his/her peers. Perhaps I will change my mind if we make some friends in the homeschool/unschool community so that we don't feel so isolated. People really do treat you like you are crazy when you tell them that your kid won't be attending a formal school.

Anyway, the primary purpose of this post is to remind you and myself that there will be setbacks and that we can overcome them. I'm not giving up. I'm just finding my way. Kylie is having a blast, so that keeps me going. For the rest of this week we will focus on trips to the library, the park and planning our geocaching…which reminds me. I ordered a handheld GPS unit so that we can start geocaching. If you aren't familiar with it, I think of it as mini-treasure hunting. There is an entire site dedicated to it. Basically, geocachers hide various sized containers in locations all over the world. The GPS coordinates are then provided, and other geocachers use the coordinates to hunt for the containers. Each container has some kind of "treasure" inside. Once you find it, you can take the treasure, sign the visitor log (if there is one) and then leave a new treasure for the next person. The cool part is that these caches are everywhere. I did a search using my zip code and nearly 2500 results popped up. At first I thought we would only do this while on the road with mom, but with that many results, we can go geocaching any time we want. You can learn more at dadlabs.com or geocaching.com.

I will also work on the new lesson plans for next week. It will most likely be a more eclectic approach.

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