Friday, March 07, 2008

The Steps Toward Independent Learning

Yesterday I had a heart to heart with the Authoress, and soon the Storm Queen joined in...it's amazing how after five years of homeschooling they can still teach ME. The Authoress has had a really hard year adjusting to the added work load of high school, and we've had LOTS of "teacher/student" discussions about why things weren't getting done all the time. Yesterday, however, I think a huge truth was revealed to me in the discussion. I MAY HAVE LEFT OUT SOME REALLY IMPORTANT STEPS IN THE TEACHING PROCESS OF BECOMING INDEPENDENT. Or maybe more accurately, I may have seen her reaching that point, and just abandoned her right away on the assumption that she didn't "need" me anymore. Ouch.

Right now our routine is that I give her a weekly list of things that need to be done, and aside from math, she is pretty much on her own unless she asks for help. We began the discussion with the issue of her NOT really putting in a high school work load for much of the day....at least early in the week. She tends to do a few things, with minimal time, and then by the week's end she is overwhelming with the task ahead. Storm Queen is developing the same habits. I had attributed it to laziness, and while they both agree that laziness is at least a factor, there was a more underlying issue at hand once we really got into it.

While I've assumed that the Authoress is capable of doing it all on her own, I realize now that she still hasn't mastered some of the steps. It's like teaching someone to make a few recipies and then throwing them into a short-order cook position. She is currently working on a research paper, and I saw how little she had really gotten done. However, aside from an excellent outline, I realized that she had forgotten some of the other steps - the note cards, the resource key, etc. She was trying to "compose" at the computer, and finding it really difficult. If I had sat down with her -- just to make sure that she really "had" it -- it would have been easier.

In the course of discussion I realized that some of these missing steps were also part of the problem with chores not always getting done. It's one thing to say that you'll do dishes, but I never really SHOWED them how to wash them thoroughly. It's one thing say "clean your room", but without really learning the individual steps, it's almost too abstract (at least for the Storm Queen).

In the end, we covered alot of ground. We decided that we will try a real "schedule" next week, getting up by 9:30 and starting by 10:00 with schoolwork. We will have a DAILY start together to touch base and be sure assignments are understood, and then I'll alternate between the two to make sure that they have mastered the various steps along the way.

They also owned up to not putting in as much effort as needed, and realized that that was a large part of why mom always seems "angry and nagging" -- especially toward the end of the week. I'm really optomistic that this last quarter may be our best of the year!

Overall, I am so thankful that my kids can still really TALK to me. One of the real gifts of homeschooling is the real communication that goes on, and how close you can get to your children. As the Authoress has now reached that age when communication is often breaking down with typical teenage behavior, I'm so grateful that we continue to grow closer, not further apart.

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?!

1 comment:

Angela said...

IT sounds like you hvae a great plan outlined to address all the issues and help all of you with the transition. I am glad you all "talked"! Enjoy your weekend!