Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"begin with the end in mind" --steven covey, 7 habits of highly effective people

there hasn't been much to report in the last few days.  we are slowly plodding our way through the brachos of yaakov.  i'm looking forward to chana reading/looking at the project that sarah did on it when she finishes. 

i've been feeling like chana is intellectually and emotionally capable of doing some more work--to pick up on math or ivrit--but i think i often get that feeling when things ease up with the little ones a bit.  (bedtime is at the moment fairly predictable, leaving us an evening, when chana has energy to learn.)  however, i'm still relishing not being so busy in the evening and i haven't been pushing it.  i find, in homeschool, that since we are not tied to the schedule of the school, ideas simmer for a few weeks or months before i implement them.  like i keep general track of progress.  it's easy to tell when i'm overloading a student: there are tantrums, complaining, conflict, crying... it takes daily or nightly evaluation and planning to get through that.  but when things are calm and steady, every once in a while it strikes me that it's time to up the level a notch.  or that there is a subject we've let go because it was too much, but now might be a good time to reintroduce it.  that thought usually creeps up on me and simmers for a while before i do anything about it.  but you have that luxury in homeschool.  you have a few days or weeks or months to subconsciously ponder it.

but that leads me to something i've been meaning to write about for a while (i just haven't taken the time ;)
sarah's all grown up now, pretty much.  her chumash skills continue to be ok.  not fabulous, but ok.  is she going to want to learn on her own?  is she going to feel constrained by having mediocre and not fabulous skills?  sarah is a strongly auditory learner, like her father.  he has managed to get through college and graduate school barely reading a textbook.  he got through 4 yrs of yeshiva gedola barely looking at a text.  sarah's bubby, my mother, is also an extremely strong auditory learner and rarely, if ever, learns by reading a text. 

anyway, sarah's chumash skills aside.  something that i advocate strongly in homeschool, in order to make choices about how you structure your day and what you choose to let go of and what you choose to emphasize, is a sort of steve covey (7 habits of highly effective people) "begin with the end in mind."  that is, imagine your child as a functioning adult and think about what you would like him or her to know or what skills you would like them to have. 

after doing this mental exercise when sarah was younger, i came to 4 conclusions:

1. she should be able to do basic reading, writing and math.
2. i would like her to have a sense of responsibility so that if she is hired for a job, she will show up on time, consistently, and be diligent about doing her work.
3. i would like her to have the capacity for satisfying and emotionally healthy relationships with her spouse, children, and friends.
4. i would like her to have a non-superstitious relationship with judaism and torah.

as i thought about sarah's text skills, i gratefully realized that we had indeed achieved the four goals i set forth.  (as an aside, i davka did not push her skillwise because i was concerned about my tendency to over-pressure, which i calculated would be more detrimental than a lack of skills.)

i realize that i had been drifting along with chana's schooling, and i had not done a separate evaluation of her personality, her life, and my current principles.  i have evolved in many of my educational opinions.  part of the reason i haven't done an evaluation is because i'm no longer a petrified, inexperienced homeschooler (or parent).  and an extremely useful experience (but largely impossible with your first child) is to have the child grow up so you see how they turn out and you can realize that things you were ridiculously concerned about actually don't matter whatsoever.  and that you missed the boat on some major things you should have paid more attention to.

so considering that i dumped chana's math curriculum (thanks, seth goden STOP STEALING DREAMS) and that i'm working chana hard in chumash while wrestling with unschooling completely, i think chana's schooling calls for an overt evaluation.

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