First day of homeschooling… again

My daughter began homeschooling today. Granted, I was planning to homeschool her next year… beginning in August. I had not planned to do so now… just as I was starting to get my arms around everything else in my life… but reality isn’t always convenient.

Truth is, she needs the extra attention right now. She needs a bit more guidance than she can possibly get in a classroom of dozens of kids. She needs someone who can say “No, put the pleasure-reading away and finish your assignments first” and get the desired result.

She’s smart and gifted in many ways, and I think the timing for this transition is imperative for her, even if it’s not what I had expected for myself.

The funny thing? I’m loving this. Yes, it’s a hassle. Yes, it keeps me WAY on my toes… but how cool is it that her spelling words for the week are being harvested from daily conversations? She’s learning in 20-term blocks how to find the correct spelling for a misspelled word in a two-volume dictionary and also memorizing the definition. She’s using the list of words in a story that she writes every Thursday before the “spelling test” on Friday and the “in between” days, she’s working on learning to spell… things like thesaurus, mathematics, mechanism, geometry, Linux (yeah, I had to slip that one in!), principal, principle, and other things we discussed when making lists of things we needed to do this week.

Having her take “notes” for me means I can see her functional levels on such things. I can see where she needs work and where she’s doing well. And this is a much more painless method of testing than other options.

I also have issues with the new approaches to math, where lattices and estimation are more important than an actual answer. Yes, being able to approach problems from many angles, armed with many tools is important. Being able to estimate is useful on a daily basis. But first, IMHO, there should be the basics — the things you learn by rote, the things that you memorize (like multiplication tables) and that you learn to do quicker because you have done them so many, many times they become second nature.

I want to put the basics back in her education first — then I want to branch out into other areas.

She reads like a starving man eats. No problems there — but I do want to guide her materials a little more carefully. Horror stories and teen angst novels aside, there’s more to life than those topics. And, that should be easy since she will read anything from a paper-board book belonging to her 1-year-old nephew, to a cereal box, to a science fiction tomb, to a racy novel I happen to leave out accidentally — and she reads them all with the same joy, enthusiasm and speed.

She loves history and science, so those will be a breeze — keeping her challenged may be my biggest challenge.

She’s decided that she wants to know how a computer works. So, this week and next we will have a whole new list of vocabulary and spelling words and notes and concepts. Who knows, if she enjoys this path, I may have her build her own computer in a few months.

She loves to write and a daily journal assignment along with a heavy writing component to all other assignments should help her to develop her natural talent in this area.

So, yes, it’s not exactly what I’d planned right now, and I’ll probably have rough days where I regret the leap — as I’m sure she will from time to time — but today, I feel really good about the decision and she’s enjoying the heavy load dumped on her for this first day, in between fidgeting a bit and trying to concentrate.

I homeschooled the boys for a period of time, and I think having only ONE student will be much more enjoyable, less stressful and much less dramatic — at least most days. And, at least now, I already have my business established — last time I was trying to homeschool while building a business from the ground up for the first time and doing all the cooking from scratch using bulk foods from the Amish market. (I must have been insane!)

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