Monday, July 28, 2014

What If They WANT to Do Worksheets?

Tamara asked:

... did you ever have a child who *wanted* to do things like pre-reading worksheets? And if so, did you just let that be while it lasted? 

That's a great question, and the answer is, "Yes. Ramona has loved herself some very worksheet-y worksheets."

Ramona loves a lot of curriculum, actually, although the more obligatory it becomes, the less attractive it is to her, and she has yet to fall in love with the math curriculum that I require of her. But she likes the accountability and neatness of filling in blanks, matching answers, and choosing one of multiple choices. She likes lists (so do I) and checking things off as she accomplished tasks (so do I.) So, curriculum appeals to the desire for order and structure.

This post -- School-y Ramona -- is from the year Ramona was seven years old. The main point was that my homeschooling goal has been to follow my girls' lead and pinpoint how they learn best. If Ramona wanted to do State of the Day, we were going to do State of the Day (while still mixing in lots of real life and hands on learning, read-alouds, and so on.)

I'm reminded of a comment on a past post in which Elizabeth said this:

On a sadder note, I am envious of your party planning and graduation parties. My son has just finished his final high school work -- we have home schooled since the beginning. He has taken 8 classes at the community college & has been accepted to GA Tech (his 1st and only choice) but the child doesn't want a graduation party. He wants no celebration -- nothing. i'm just left hanging here. I did get one of those corny yard signs that all the other kids from the local public & private schools get, announcing congratulations, etc. He won't have anything to do with a party. but I feel like celebrating -- I've spent the last 18 years of my life nurturing and educating this kid. It seems wrong not to celebrate.

My response was this:

...what's funny about our opposite situations is that I always pictured myself being more like your son -- I thought that the beauty of homeschooling was that we didn't have to do the requisite milestones/celebrations in the same way the rest of the world does, because we've always done things on our own timeline. But, my girls wanted more, so that's what they got. And, your son doesn't want a party, so that's what he's getting. We're both still tailoring things to their likes and needs. :) 

However, it does sound like your son should perhaps take your likes and needs into account, and take YOU out for a celebration dinner!

That little exchange sums up what I love about homeschooling: an individualized, tailored, responsive way of life that is centered on relationships and real goals for the real world.

And sometimes that means worksheets, for as long as they serve their purpose. (Hope this helps, Tamara!)


Melissa aka Equidae said...

I love reading your posts. My son goes to school - homeschooling is so far illegal. He will be in grade 1 this October and while he is advanced for his age, he learns through what he likes and well the school curriculum is not what he likes. Since I cannot do anything about it any tips how I can encourage him and see this as a life lesson or something? Thanks for your time

Charlotte (WaltzingM) said...

I have now hosted two graduation parties for homeschooled nieces but my oldest son is saying he absolutely doesn't want one. Thankfully, he has a cousin who will be graduating the same year so maybe I can convince him to do a joint party with her! But I did tell him, at the very least, he will have a celebratory something because even if he doesn't want to celebrate, we do! Maybe it will just be a dinner, maybe it will just be an immediate family only party, but he knows that his are not the only feelings to consider especially being the oldest grandchild on my side of the family. His grandparents want to celebrate his accomplishments with him too.

Tamara said...

Thanks Karen! It helps a lot! I had decided to respond to the desire and roll with the worksheets but I really needed the encouragement. I would rather we enjoy the sunshine while it lasts, dig in the dirt, play in the water, and read some good books. But she keeps asking for worksheets so I keep delivering them. Im really glad to hear that you did the same!

sarah said...

I got so much hassle from people when my small daughter loved worksheets. That was before early education became super-trendy here. One of the hardest things for homeschooling mothers can be having confidence in the choices they make based on the personal needs and wishes of their children.

A graduation party sounds wonderful. We don't really have that kind of thing here as far as I can tell.

Karen Edmisten said...

Melissa, thanks! I think you are on the right track to treat the necessities of school as a life lesson. We all have to submit to certain systems or ways of doing things that are not necessarily our first/ideal choice, so, yes, that is part of life, and one we learn to deal with. And whatever you can do at home to supplement his education is great -- you two can pursue the things he loves together, and enrich his learning by doing what he likes. When I look back on my own years of growing up with school, I don't think my experience is too far off from that. I often found school boring, and the things I really remember -- the things I dug into deeply, etc. -- were things I read about and did outside of school! :)

Karen Edmisten said...

Charlotte, I agree -- as I told Elizabeth, SOMEONE wants and deserves a celebration! :)

And Tamara, I'm glad it was encouraging! Some kids do learn to read well from worksheets, and they love them, so ... whatever works! And maybe you could do worksheets outside. :) Or, bury her worksheets and have her do a scavenger hunt to find them. :)

Sarah, what you said: One of the hardest things for homeschooling mothers can be having confidence in the choices they make based on the personal needs and wishes of their children. is so true! We might KNOW that we're doing exactly what our kids need/want, but there will always be critics. It takes practice to learn to ignore the naysayers.