Friday, July 23, 2010

Back to Not-School

I'd like us to be year-round learners, but it ends up being more practical to take term breaks when the schools do, so this was our first week back. Snowy insisted that school could be just as easily accomplished in bed, in one's pyjamas. We bargained. I got him down to "I'll get up and get dressed and just do reading lessons." Deal.

Not that a 'normal' week for him is vastly more strenuous. Reading, writing and 'rithmetic , an art lesson from 'Artistic Pursuits' , a science experiment or some nature study or reading from a science related book, a read-aloud after lunch and before bed, gym on Mondays and some co-op learning and a whole lot of play every second Thursday. It's enough.

Of course, his real learning happens all the time, pj's or not. It's sometimes hard to tease it out and put it into convenient categories. It's Wednesday this week, when he spent hours designing and making and playing a Lego board game, based on the ones he's read about online. It's yesterday's conversation about how to handle things when "the big boys won't let J and me on the trampoline". It's realising that he can read shop names and street signs and maps of the mall.

The girls have had a relaxed week as well - lots of writing, reading, a drama workshop, some craft, a co-op lesson on politics. It's a tightrope though - enough formal work to satisfy our registration requirements, not so much that it smothers any love of learning or detracts from what Charlotte Mason, the 19th C educator, described as 'the atmosphere of learning'. When I'm busy ticking off to-do lists, I feel a false sense of success. The only way I can truly gauge the success of what we are doing is the level of engagement an activity generates. Arwen writing her blog is learning. Lucy trialling watercolours versus watercolour pencils for her picture book is learning. Sometimes I forget this, become focused on my lists, and that's when learning degenerates into a matter of jumping through hoops.

I'm not a push-over though when it comes to the important things though. Snowy will get his reading lessons. Lucy and Arwen will settle to their maths. Skills like those are non-negotiable because they are doorways to learning and I would be negligent not to provide my children with those keys. Everything else is up for discussion.

Except Latin. I'm enjoying that so much the girls can't possibly quit...

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