Thursday, September 2, 2010

The less-reluctant homeschooler: strengths and weaknesses

If you've been following my homeschool journey, then you know we've been making some changes.

I was inspired to write today by a friend's great post.  This originally started out as a comment, then I realized that I was being way too long winded, and thought perhaps my followers would like a glimpse into my current thoughts on this homeschool journey.

I attended 3 different private schools and 1 public school before I started HS'ing in 5th grade. We HS'ed kindergarten then used a charter school and now are HS'ing again, 2nd year with 4th and 6th graders.

The biggest challenge (in my opinion) is identifying and building on strengths (rather than focusing on weaknesses). These are our natural abilities that can, and should, be nurtured. Whether it's a learning style that can be applied across all topics, or a propensity towards a particular discipline, I am learning that if I focus the majority of our time developing those areas, life is much easier.

I have one child that hates to write. The more time we spend on it, the more they hate it. It is a vicious circle. The same child loves to read, to explore, to experiment, to conquer, to take tests (and pass with 100's only please, they want perfection!). Why would I ignore all those good traits and focus instead on a lack of writing prowess? There is plenty of time, and I can make plenty of opportunities to tie writing education to "real" learning (in their opinion writing for the sake of writing is pretty dumb. I feel the same way about algebra!)

My other child loves music, if they can sing it they can memorize it. Can you just smell the learning potential? They love to be read TO, love art and anything creative, including writing. I see so many opportunities to allow them to work together, each using their own strengths, learning from each other. Now, if they only got along! LOL

My personal challenge is daily discipline. I have spent so much time trying to hone this weakness into a skill. I'm realizing that, just as with my children, I have to instead focus on my strengths. I am a great thinker, planner and spontaneous learner. I ask good questions and have the skills to find the answers. Those are my strengths. It feels good to give myself permission to speak them aloud! Our HS can benefit from those skills tremendously.

As with anything, a strength or skill taken to extremes becomes a weakness.  This is the challenge I face with my planning skills.  I make beautiful schedules that are suitable for framing.  I can't live up to my own expectations, so I fail.  Every time.  It's a real bummer!  I think if I had a staff my life would be easier!  My friend Laura used to say that if she had handmaidens (like the Proverbs 31 woman) she would be better off too!

I've learned that I must temper my own strengths to allow room for my weaknesses.  (Hmmm, I'm thinking that this would preach!)  Instead of planning everything down to the nth degree, instead I cast a vision, often on the spot or in the days leading up to the learning event. 

For instance, I am visiting with family in Lubbock this week.  My brother mentioned that there was a wind-power museum here that's pretty interesting.  I tucked that away in my head.  As we started our trip, I began to think of questions about wind power, and on the drive took the opportunity to plant seeds of learning as we passed wind generators.  "How do you think they work?"  "Are they larger than you expected?"  This morning I posted an opportunity (on Facebook) for other HS kids/families to give us their questions about wind power so that we can discover with a purpose, then report back (hint-I'll have the kids write back to answer the questions - sneaky HS mom trick to get the non-writer to write! MUHAHAHAH)  They won't even know they're learning, but I will.  It will not be graded and measured.  I will probably not add it to the chart that I'd like to keep of all the learning we've done.  And, for once, I'll not beat myself up for it.

I'd like to include a clever summary sentence here that would wrap all of this up and put a nice bow on the top.  The fact is, my HS (as my life) is a work in progress.  There are loose strings and unanswered questions all over the place.  I cannot accurately answer my own questions, much less any one else's about our method, plan, progress, etc.  Does that scare me?  Hello?  I'm a planner!  It scares me a lot!  I'm walking on faith and trust here that my good intentions, thoughtfulness and deep love of learning, coupled with my passion for my children's souls, gifts, lives, experiences and maturity, will be exponentially and divinely multiplied by the God of GRACE who loves us all more than we can imagine!

References and Resources:

The Strong Life Test, Marcus Buckingham
Learning Styles Assessment info

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