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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Not all beer and skittles

In addition to the items listed in my Incidental Learning Log posts (ILL), a record requested by our homeschool coordinator, some real quantifiable learning has taken place recently:

Sarabelle, ever more enthralled with her Japanese studies (she has since joined the Japanese Culture Club which meets at school during lunch), has begun teaching Elle hiragana from flash cards she created. It's astonishing how quickly she recognizes them.

Elle and I started a compost pile, she added a few earthworms she discovered, and all three girls started seedlings (twice, actually, as Lulu has a fondness for pulling over containers of dirt), to be planted in the garden area Mr. Landlord has established for them.

An obstacle course has been set up in the backyard and the girls have been training the dog to run the course.

We pulled out a pilates DVD the other day and did the 20 minute workout, vowing to make it a routine. Three times a week. Not annually.

We took a look at some Mayan ruins online, and Elle was fascinated enough to continue exploring the site on her own for nearly an hour after my brief introduction. I would love to have an archaeologist in the family, especially one specializing in Mayan studies, but that's just me transferring my desires onto my children.

Today we'll be attending a performance of "Hermes and the Naked Flame" put on at our local community center for the school children.

These days I find myself drifting more toward unschooling. Sure, we've still got the math workbooks and we're going through Story of the World and working on her Classical Writing -- Aesop writing projects and Prima Latina, but it seems looser, more relaxed, less formal and hardly anything like hardcore classical. Anyone stopping by our house during the day or catching us out and about would probably doubt we were accomplishing anything at all. Most of the time she is drawing, coloring, cutting, and pasting some project she has dreamed up, playing with her stuffed animals and baby doll, or out in the yard digging in the mud, being mauled by playing with the dog. Sometimes all at once. As long as the television is off, active learning is happening.

So what am I doing with all my extra time then? For starters I'm trying to quit beating myself up about the time I spend on the computer. I am not wasting time (not much anyhow, a quick game of Spider or Set is a necessary and beneficial break on occasion); I'm working, catching up on correspondence, researching and writing projects of my own, preparing grant requests and direct mail sponsorship campaigns for the tennis club, seeking grants for the benefit of the community center (a task that could enable me to pay myself for my services when successful), and setting a good example for my girls by continuing my own education.

If it sounds defensive, it is. I've been chastised for sitting in front of my laptop for too long, far too many times. Most of the time it's the kids who apply the guilt whining that I'm neglecting them in favor of my little electronic friend, though I've since come to realize they really just want on to check their email or play The Sims. Sometimes though, it's my husband, who in the middle of the night will wake up, squint at me over at the table illuminated by the glow of my LCD, theatrically look at his watch, heave a loud sigh, and roll over. The dishes are always done, there may be some extra sink time, but they're always washed and eventually put away, everybody gets fed, beds are made, and the laundry is caught up. Why should I feel harrassed about pursuing my own interests every spare moment I have?

We will complete the goals I set out in this year's home education application, but after that, we'll be heading in a new direction, one influenced by Benjamin Franklin's education and recommendations, and I will keep reminding myself: Simplicity does not equal laziness.


Heidicrafts said...

Wow, I made it all the way to May without singing Tom Lehrer yet. Thanks for the reminder.

There are days I spend on the PC as My Brain demands to be fed.

Fiberjoy said...

From what I read you are giving your girls the best kind of education! Don't waiver. It's a sad life when most people are enforcing growup routines and expectations on their children forgetting the best lessons are learned during play and honest work. We have entirely lost focus on what education really is about.

I've been feeling the same way about this computer, magnified recently by computer woes which has us sharing one computer and a great deal of my time now devoted to getting this computer, emails, website and blog functioning correctly. With the very limited time used for personal reading I am still feeling horribly guilty at all the time consumed at this beast. Yet it is my primary tool in our business.

Sorry I never replied to your email send to info AT jenkinswoodworking DoT com! We've had batches of computer woes which resulted in a loss of all emails, a change to a new hostserver and other headaches.

Thanks for stopping by our jenkinswoodworking website a while back! I'd love for you to send me a personal email to wjjenkins1 AT yahoo DoT com , I'd like to answer the questions you asked but would rather in an email. :-)

Wanda Jenkins