Friday, May 28, 2010

Measuring Success

 Have these last three months been successful? How does a homeschooler measure success? When we began this journey, I worried how we would know if SJ was improving. Every paper eventually reaches "A" status. Every missed math problem gets corrected. Grades are fairly moot in our homeschool.

I have to admit that I occasionally still have a moment of wonder when I hear of what the "school kids" are memorizing. For a moment, I worry that he is missing something until I recall the vast difference between memorizing stuff for tests and learning. Success for me must be measured by what I observe, the changes in SJ's demeanor, the little risks he takes in thinking on his own, in formulating opinions, and the evidence of wisdom and stature.

For one who hates to read, he is practically begging me to read more chapters of Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen. For one who, in the past, didn't understand complicated assignments, I watched as he explained longitude and latitude to his 20 year old sister, even going so far as to pull out his paper and plot a few more coordinates. For one who lamented the boring-ness of history, he sure seemed interested in The History of Us, vying for TV time during school hours to watch it. For one who used to think that he needed to do paintball or skateboard to be cool, I watched as he finished a mountain bike race in third place, celebrating his win by proudly wearing his medal for the entire evening. Words are inadequate to describe the subtle progress of this one's spirit. Yes, we've found success here. This is working for my little guy.

Right now I am working on my plan for next year. I have found a few things that make me excited will excite SJ to no end. In fact, he has already asked for one book, Game Design for Teens. Some reviewers even recommended the book for kids as young as ten which tells me that it is probably fairly comprehensible and intuitive. From what I can tell, it teaches basic computer language and culminates in the design of a basic video game--for the not super serious gamers. Perfect.

We are also excited to enter the world of chemistry and physics. This is where this family shines (excluding mom) with hands-on experimentation. For this, I am really hoping my homeschool group will authorize the purchase of a Lego Mindstorm kit. Legos already occupy an ample portion of SJ's room. To teach physics and robotics and engineering through them, well, that would just be heaven. I can already imagine my 16 year old plopped on the floor next to his brother working to create the next best robot.

How about you? How do you measure your homeschool success? What are your favorite methods of teaching history and writing? As you close out your own year, I would love to hear your successes as well.

1 comment:

  1. The Game Design for Teens book looks really interesting- I'm going to check that our a bit more for my son.

    To respond to your question, I don't measure success by comparing myself to the public school or other homeschoolers. When I do that, I fail, miserably, every time.

    For us, homeschooling has become so much more than simply 'school'. I love the moments of true learning, when my kids aren't afraid to ask a question or admit they don't know the answer because that's when I believe true learning happens. I want them to think outside the box. Of course on the other hand, I love that right now (our 1st day of school) my son is reading a book instead of playing Xbox. A first for that particular child.:)