Monday, April 16, 2007

Another Homeschooling Year, Almost Over

I'm not sure where the time went, but as of today the Rolfe Christian Academy only has 8 more weeks of school, before summer vacation officially begins. I had to check that closely on the calendar since the idea of summer is a little hard to get my thoughts around right now, since we haven't even had spring yet.

I don't know if it's just this family, but every year it seems to work out the same way. From September until Christmas break, our routine goes smooth as clockwork. Then from January until Spring break it's a chore to stay on task and stay on schedule. Between Spring break and the end of the school year, it's even harder. I think (in fact, I'm fairly certain) that this has much to do with the fact that we're stuck inside for several months of the year and we're all just suffering a bit from cabin fever.

As much as I look forward to summertime every year, I also look forward to these last 8 weeks of school every year, as well. This is the time of year when all the review materials come into play and I get to see a little clearer, just how much the kids have learned since September. I'm always pleasantly surprised at how much they've learned, in such a short time. I don't know if I'm the best teacher in the world, but I'm sure that I'm happier than any unrelated teacher they could ever have, to see their progession.

It's sort of funny, when Rachel (8) asked me the other day "mom, what grade am I in?". Well, in Ontario if she were in public school, she'd be in the third grade. In WA, where I'm from, she'd be finishing the second grade due to when her birthday falls. In our world however, she's in a varied-grade level program because where she excels she moves ahead, and where she struggles she moves a little slower until she no longer struggles. That's one of the beautiful freedoms of homeschooling - that your kids learn at their pace, instead of someone else's pre-defined pace.

Can you imagine as an adult, going to a Christian bookstore and being told you cannot buy a certain book, because you haven't read the prerequisite books on their list before they can sell you that book? Or they check your ID and determine that if you're under the age of 40, there's an entire section of books they will not sell you? It seems ridiculous, doesn't it?

I know a lot of people that have kids in public school, so I don't mean to offend them in any way, but in very much the same way, this is what public school is like. It doesn't matter if your 6 year old already knows his phonics, he's going to be forced to stay in the same program until the end of the school year. Likewise, it also doesn't matter if your 9 yr old still doesn't know her basic addition tables, she's going to moved ahead to the next grade level, because leaving her behind would damage her self-esteem.

Fooey on that, I say. Learning and learning well, is a lifelong activity. In either case of learning quickly and encouragment to moving ahead, or learning slowly and being diligent to keep plugging away at it until we learn it, these are learning skills that we have to really foster well, when our kids are young, so that they enjoy learning for the rest of their lives.

As demanding as homeschooling can be, I still have no regrets as I look toward the end of our 7th year of doing it. There have been some monumental success (such as pulling Jessica up two full grade levels in all subjects, when she was that far behind in public school when we took her out - it took us several years to do it, but she worked hard and finally did it!) and some really frustrating things (such as Jordan and math, eek!! she hates math - I'm so glad we have a printer for math worksheet practice), but all in all, it's still the best decision we've ever made, for our children's education.

Now if I can only get through the next eight weeks without going nutty if I see one more snowflake fall from the sky, we'll all be laughing.