The best part of being human is being able to recognize your mistakes and to rectify them and learn from them going forward. Madison recently moved from Second Grade to Third Grade. Normally, in a classroom setting she would start the Third Grade year with review of Second Grade and ease into Third Grade expectations. But not in homeschooling. There was no pause. It was pass Go, collect $200 and keep on going.
Except, Third Grade is more involved then Second Grade and takes more time. And mom found another great English curriculum. Which essentially means Madison was doing double to the work. And for many hours longer than she should be. And after a couple of weeks, she got burnt out.
When I noticed her behavior change on Friday, I needed to stop and access the situation. I needed to figure out the sudden change and the resistance to her wanting to learn. And after hours of analyzing, it hit me. I pushed too far and expected too much. I realized she was doing two hours of Math and three hours of English a day.
When you have a gifted child that loves to learn it’s really hard to not get caught up and want to download as much as you possibly can. But she’s human and I realized we had download overdrive. So this morning when she woke up, I said, this is a free week. You don’t have to do any structured learning at all. Her eyes immediately lit up. She chose to watch Mickey’s Clubhouse even though she knew it was ‘too young’ for her and laughed the entire time. I felt SO gulity.
And then the element of conflict arose. I realized our subscription to Timez Attack expired in 2 days. She had reached the post test last week and had ‘mastered’ subtraction at 79%. To me that isn’t a true mastery grade. Her reward for mastery is going to Chuck e Cheese. So I explained today that she didn’t have to do any schoolwork. But….I wasn’t going to pay $20 for another 3 months of subtraction when I knew she could do it. She had the choice to master it before the subscription ended and earn going to Chuck e Cheese or she could skip it. The choice was hers.
She spent 30 min today on subtraction and mastered it with a 90% on the post test. And 90% is awesome in my eyes. I don’t expect perfection. I also know it has to be her choice to learn and succeed.
I also know she will learn plenty this week on her own and I won’t purposely teach a thing. Everything I do is by what she needs, but switching gears and realizing what that is, is the hard part. Listening and trusting in her and her drive for learning when and how she wants to is a scary process. But in the end I don’t really have a choice. If we go by ‘my way’, she shuts down. And that’s not basics. She’s very good about understanding she has to do things she doesn’t want to, but not for hours upon end. Madison has her own gauge and internal curiosity and she also knows when it’s pushed over the max.
Today we went shopping and she picked out an outfit she LOVED. We had lunch and came home and played dolls. She was a very happy child today. And she begged me to read her a non-fiction book about Kansas before bed. LOL. It’s all about the natural, self-driven learner and not sucking the love of learning out of a child.
Homeschooling is learning process for both of us. I am just grateful for the groups I have come to rely on for knowledge and experience because that is what helped me understand that there was a problem, I was the problem and what I needed to do to change it. I am not perfect. I never expect to be, but the fact I can admit when I make mistakes and always try to do what is best for my daughter is something I am very grateful for. I am sure I will make many more mistakes because I am human, but learning from my mistakes and preventing doing the same mistake twice will be a blessing. Life is full of challenges and I am ready for all of them, because the rewards are tremendous. As is the natural thirst of learning from my daughter that I now understand I can not push or it will disappear.
The happiness I saw in her today while watching her show and shopping and lunch and playing dolls is priceless. The happiness I see when she is excited to learn anything she can, asks 1,000 questions and applies her knowledge in amazing ways. A happy childhood by whatever definition that may be and is chosen by her and is driven by her is priceless.