Since embarking on this journey, I have immersed myself in a crash course of homeschooling, joining Yahoo Groups, reading books, scouring websites. All of this serves to excite the possibilities. I practically drooled as I perused our curriculum choices, so satisfied was I with the plethora of learning stimuli. Couple that with the uber cool interactive websites I keep finding and the thousand unbidden thoughts per second I have on ways we can study [whatever I happen to be reading/seeing]. It's like the sleeping giant awakened. I am ready to go after this thing, to instill in my son a new love of learning, to share with him the wonders of life.
One problem. Him.
Lest I forget, he is my student. And for the all the reasons listed in my first post I need to give him time to detox (or decompress) from his traditional school environment.
- Do school. But do it laid back-like. His pace, not mine.
- Set foundations. Subtly discover what he knows and what he is missing. Watch for hot points and be sensitive to what shuts him down.
- Slow down and go at his rhythm.
- Back away from the textbooks. I have them but I'm guessing the quickest way to produce eye glaze in my student will be to open the same textbook he currently "hates" and resume the same old lessons he thought he was leaving behind. I realize he needs to learn much of what is in the text, but throwing the book at him is precisely what has not worked.
- Computer groundwork. I can see that the computer will be a fabulous tool. It can also be dangerous and overwhelming. Right now, he has a sum total of two sites he visits: Lego and Freeride (a game). I would like to be able to leave him with safe site choices when I have Mom errands and appointments.
- Does he know how to make Folders and Bookmarks in the browser? We'll make Folders such as "Anytime" and "Funtime" and maybe a few more serious sounding ones like "Research" or "Text support." Then, we will load the "Anytime" folder with approved sites that offer educational videos and interactive games. It will give him the freedom to choose his activities and free me from having to set boundaries each time we hit the computer.
- Create a Facebook account. I know there are lots of opinions on this. My son is 13 and making the choice to leave his current social network. Getting a Facebook account was a dealmaker for him when deciding to homeschool. Of course, we (the parents) will stipulate the security settings, keep the password, and monitor his usage, but really, it's the way of his future (and ours) and gives him the illusion he has not left his social life behind.
- Set some ground rules. Erasing History record will be grounds for computer banishment. Facebook is for fun, as in after goals have been completed. We will set time limits and parameters for surfing.
- Evaluate the flow of our days. Both of us will be making adjustments to school outside the confines of school hours. I tend to charge forth in the a.m. but need to sit back and feel his vibe without giving him all power in scheduling. Does it matter if he doesn't do math first? For me, yes. For him, who knows? Perhaps he will be best served by playing an interactive game or doing an art project first. I know this will be a challenge for me--being open to free flow yet not letting the day be a complete wash.
- Rearrange furniture. This might seem odd, but I can already see that we need to think through our work spaces and storage issues. If he spends any amount of time on the computer, I would like to be able to sit near him and either assist him or work on my laptop. Right now, there is no comfortable place in the office for a second person. Also, I hate clutter. How will we tame the books, papers, projects, supplies, and whatnot? We will think this through together and make adjustments.
- Remember that we have lots of time. We are committed to homeschool through his eighth grade year. That is almost a year and a half. Breathe. Take it slow.