Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dawdling in our homeschool

Just a thought, too late at night.  One thing I am consciously trying to do, as Naomi and I settle into our second year of “serious” homeschooling.

Sometimes, like any kid, she dawdles.  Like whining and complaining so that it takes half an hour to do a math sheet she could have finished in five or ten minutes.  NOT because she doesn’t know the stuff.  Just dawdling, apparently for the sake of dawdling.

First:  I make sure she’s had a good breakfast.  Sometimes, if she’s eaten early and I’ve gotten up late, her breakfast has “worn off” by the time we start doing school.  And then, even if it’s only 9:30 or 10 am, she’s dragging, and I sit there puzzling about why.

But, even if there’s no reason that I can discern, no beautiful weather calling to her, no important project waiting in the basement, or whatever else might be going on in her world at the time… here is a principle I have been guiding myself by this year:  I will never, ever, ever, EVER say "hurry up and you'll be done sooner.”  In fact, I’m trying not to fall into the trap of hurrying her through at all.

One thing that happens in school is that teachers and students forget that the goal is not "finishing."  The goal is learning and, in a homeschool setting where we’re all family, enjoying being together, building relationships. 

So it seems like a little thing, but to me, it’s there, like pandora’s box, at the tip of my tongue (what an awful mixed metaphor – box on tongue, anybody?):  if I start saying stuff like that, I don’t know if I’d ever be able to stop.

I will and DO tell her she has more fun with her work, or that she learns more, when she's ticking away at it rather than staring at the same page forever.  I suppose I could even say she’d have more time for Barbies or Lincoln Logs or whatever if she finishes her work sooner.  Maybe.  But I’m trying to never even imply that if she hurries up she'll be finished sooner.  Because it’s true, but what will the work look like?  Will it be “done” done, or just… done?

And what will her mind look like at the end of twelve years of hurrying up for its own sake???

And do I really want to imply that we’re EVER done learning?

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