Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Unexpected Revelation of Philosophy

Since I am not prone to introspection, whenever philosophical ideas or revelations come to me, they are always somewhat of a surprise.  Ideas tend to sneak up on me before they beat me over the head with whatever should have been plainly obvious.  I have the mental revelation equivalency of, "Duh!"  Then I feel like Homer Simpson, "D'OH!"

I had one of those "D'OH" revelations during Easter Brunch with the extended family this weekend.  Not when one would normally expect to learn anything new about their personal philosophy... However, when you tend to avoid soul-searching like the plague, what choice is left to fate but to surprise you?

So, while I was sitting around chatting with my nieces about Spring Break, the subject of returning to school naturally arose.  Were they dreading it?  Were they excited?  My sister-in-law mentioned that there would be only six weeks of school left, so the girls were ready to persevere since THE END was in sight. Her next comment was that there were really only three weeks of "real school" left, because then they would have "testing."  (The fact that there was no need to mention that no real schooling/learning occurs after testing is a sad topic for another blog.)

This was when my daughter chimed in, "So when are we done with school?" My spontaneous answer was, "Never!"  I said it without thought and meant it to be humorous. 

Or did I?

Freud could have fun with this... There are no accidents...  Here comes the "D'OH."

I have no intention of stopping.  We don't just "do school" for a grade level until we get to the end of 180 days (the legally required number of days of homeschooling in Georgia), do we?  How many times in school did I, or my children, for that matter ever reach the end of a textbook?  Think about it... How often did you ever complete every chapter in a history or math textbook? So should second grade officially "end" when we reach the end of the math textbook?

What about all the curricula I just bought for "next year" at the homeschool convention?  When do I start using it?  I am already in trouble if I was supposed to wait until August.  I have already implemented a number of new things that I bought.  If it is appropriate for my children and it would be useful to them, then why in the world would I wait to start it?

Man-oh-man were we meant for homeschooling!  When my daughter completed the full year of math for her grade level in February, I didn't say, "Oh good, we're done with math for the year.  Great job.  We'll start up math again in the fall."  That would have been nuts!  I noticed that she was flying through math and bought another "semester" before she needed it.  She is two units (not chapters, UNITS) into the third "semester" of math for the year.  She will likely complete this third "semester" before the month of May is out.

(Please note that I am not saying that my child is a math savant.  It just comes easily to her and for the first time, she does not have to wait for the rest of the class before she moves on to the next chapter.  She typically studies a lesson one day and then takes the test the next day.  The unit tests are cumulative so we can verify that she is retaining the math concepts.  This is one of the main reasons we thought she would thrive by leaving a traditional school. And thus far, we were right.)

Just yesterday, her little brother completed his second grade math curriculum.  I thought he would finish it this week, but he went even faster than I imagined.  He completed two chapters on Monday and took two chapter tests on Tuesday.  He wanted to do this.  He said it was easy.  Why would I hold him back?

So are we supposed to practice math facts from now on until 3rd grade starts in the fall?  Obviously not!  My response to my son was, "Yeah!  Great job! Now we can start the new books."  He was excited about starting the new books too.

(You have got to love that learning is fun.  It is not a "geek" thing anymore.  There is no peer pressure to be like everyone else when you are homeschooling.  There is no worry that it isn't cool to be smart.  You learn because you learn "New Stuff" and learning new stuff is fun. Granted, I wouldn't lump grammar or spelling into the "fun category" necessarily. But math, reading, writing, science and history are fun!)

Now I see why kids who have been homeschooled for several years look at you strangely when you ask, "What grade are you in?" If you go at your own pace, sometimes you will be way ahead "for your grade,"  right on "grade level" or even behind.  I get it now.  The homeschool answer of, "What grade am I in??? Which subject are you asking about?" makes a lot more sense.  In just a few short months, the importance of a "grade" is already blurring for us.

I know that we will keep "schooling" during the summer to some extent. I want the kids to have a "summer," but at the same time we will not stop learning.  Right now the plan (which is still in flux) is to "do school" two days a week and the rest are free "summer" days to play with friends and have sleepovers.  We will keep charging ahead in math and do fun things like history and science. Grammar can wait!

We will attempt to keep feeding their (hopefully) insatiable thirst for knowledge.


  1. In really good ps classrooms, they will let kids work at their own pace too. Unfortunately, there are a lot of "treat kids like widgets" schools out there.

  2. Hopefully some day soon, schools everywhere will see kids as individual children and not "widgets." However, the sheer number of children they are dealing with makes for nearly insurmountable problems with "individualized education plans." I still hope that education can be salvaged for schools. I think our nation's children deserve better, especially if we want to have a future. But clearly from our choice to homeschool, I don't think it is going to be happening anytime soon.