Well now, I had every intention to put up a weekly post, but who would have thought my days would become so full. In a good way, but full nonetheless. We are now almost 5 months into our homeschooling adventure. Many people have recently asked us if we would do it again and the answer is a resounding yes. But, given what we have learned so far, there are some things we would have done differently which I will touch on as I continue my journaling.
In this post, I touch on how they are doing developmentally and how we are doing as a family. The next two posts I will talk to how they are doing academically and socially. If you have specific questions, feel free to post in the comments.
So, how are they developing?
This is a tricky question because most “developmental” tests evaluate a child as compared to other average children of the same age – academically, socially and in performance of every day tasks. I am very familiar with this from a conventional perspective and in fact, I have to administer and interpret these types of tests in my practice when requested. But I do not believe they actually provide usable information when evaluating individual development. So I am going to answer this question from a different perspective without the use of a test. In this post I will focus on self-development and ability to function in the extended community.
For Sophie, at 9.5 years old and Brian 10.5 years old, each is developing a strong sense of self. They are choosing what they like, do not like, how they perceive a situation as being good or bad and why. They are developing an awareness that their perspective is their own and may not be the same as others around them. They are also learning that they and every person on this planet is in control of their own perspective, be it dismal, pessimistic, optimistic, based on valid assumptions and a reasonable reality. Because their sense of self is not tied to being accepted into a peer group, or any group for that matter, they are free to explore with confidence. They are open to being challenged as to why they believe what they do, to look at and identify their assumptions of the world and understand how those assumptions shape their perception. In general, they are both glass half-full people with a knowing that there is no reason why the glass cannot be full at some point.
How does this compare to others of the same age?
My assumptions for others of the same age to which they can be compared include: a loving core and extended family, spiritual beliefs and practices, absence of ridicule, encouragement to explore and experience their environment, promotion of self-encouragement and a structure with basic rules that carry known consequences when broken.
This is harder to evaluate as their social group has shrunk radically. Which we are attempting to change, but that may be a couple of months away still. Anyway, we have been trying to figure out how we can evaluate where they are in regards to functioning within the community at large. And then, the universe intervened. We had the opportunity to go on a trip last week to AZ. I had a weekend meeting with an organization I am part of, it is beautiful this time of the year, and so the whole family went – easy breezy when you homeschool!
Here is what we inadvertently learned as we took the kids with us to meet many of my friends and colleagues, dine with them, socialize with them, some with kids, some without. We could observe the following: they were comfortable engaging in conversation, not self-conscious, were present in each moment, aware of what was happening, happy to share our attention with others, and were thoughtful and respectful.
Unsolicited feedback from others – the kids made good eye contact, held intelligent conversation, were fun and engaging to watch as they worked through topics and situations and seemed to surprise almost everyone. So, at this moment, we feel they are developing the skills needed to interact in the larger, extended community and are not behind their peers.
Overall, we are happy with their self-development and ability to interact in the extended community.
How are we doing as a family?
In general – good. We spend A LOT of time together and less time on our own out there in the world. It is a good thing we like each other 🙂 We manage this in several ways. First we have a schedule, flexible but there is a schedule. It has changed since the beginning.
- Up by 6:30 am (sometimes I get up earlier)
- Morning chores: pick up room, make bed, eat breakfast, shower when needed, get dressed, brush teeth
- 8 am, stretching, Kata training with Bokken to learn how to connect breathing, cognitive and emotional patterns, and 1-3 mile walk
- 9-9:30 am – start lessons (them) and work (Brian and I) with breaks as needed or desired. I am always available to help and we often review their lessons for the day so we know what they are learning and can brainstorm how to create opportunity to apply the concepts to every day life.
- Lite snack around 12, usually veggies and hummus or 1/2 sandwich or left overs from dinner.
- T and Th they go to the Y for PE and Th is also art class. Piano lessons and horseback riding starting soon for both.
- 2 pm – they head outside in the afternoon to play and explore, work in the yard, help grandpa with projects – but in general, all outside activities.
- 3-5 is cooking dinner together, we eat no later than 4 pm. Once a week they help create a meal plan and create the shopping list. Then they help with shopping, putting food away, preparing veggies to store for the week. We talk about the nutrition of the meal as we cook, best cooking methods, what we cook and store food in, how long one can keep certain food items, what is in season – all those wonderful feed yourself skills.
- Sports in the late afternoons and early evenings. And when there are no sports they ramble a bit more outside – one of the things they have to do each day is take a picture of some plant or creature and then figure out what it is during school lessons.
- We do some evening activity as a family – watch a show, play a game, sit and talk about the world.
- We make sure there is personal free time – play a computer game, yoga, meditation, reading at least 30 minutes, journaling, drawing or painting, coloring Mehndi designs, whatever strikes us at the moment. Something we can do on our own, spending time with ourselves. However, I find when I color Mehndi, I am often joined by both of the kids.
- Bed by 9 pm.
- Free time for the grown-ups 🙂
I work between 9-3 and again in the evening for an hour or so if need be, but am accessible when needed. We are incorporating language days – one day Spanish, one day French, one day German, the rest English. The kids would like to learn Chinese, so eventually we will have a Chinese day.
We engage in mutually interesting activities like traveling, hiking, reading, art, cooking, writing, photography, medicine making and gardening. We rarely eat out as we prefer our own homemade food. We make breads and our own nut-based milk because we avoid gluten and dairy. We eat minimal amounts of sugars and avoid preservatives. We follow a strict screen time policy as all four us have to work on our computers several hours a day, so TV, video games, movies, etc, are no more than an hour a day.
And finally, we talk through those “You are driving me crazy!” moments so everyone is heard and there is a resolution.
I will talk more in the next post about our plans to help the kids create their own social groups away from us – biggest challenge so far.
Have a lovely day.