Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Slow Homeschool Training for a Fast Mama

I’m a FAST worker: I have a list and I conquer it quickly. Then I’m happy when I’m “done”. 

My son, on the other hand, takes his SWEET TIME. He is not “done” when something has been checked off his list, rather, it is the full absorption and focus of what he is presently learning that is important. It could take forever. I guess, sooner or later, we were bound to have a homeschool scheduling conflict.

It has always surprised me when I hear friends tell me that their homeschool kids complete their work in 2 hours. HOW is that possible? 

For the past year, I have felt like our homeschool day dragged too long. I had so many other “things” to do. I needed to cook. I needed to shower. I needed to run a couple of errands. I wanted to check Facebook. Heck, I wanted to blog! Why couldn’t we just fly through our homeschool day? Why couldn’t we just quickly transition from one subject to another? Every day, I would eventually get really frustrated and tell my son to “Be Quick!” Unfortunately, forcing my kid to hurry up ultimately created a lot of stress in our homeschool day and hindered his progress. 

In the end, I realized I was imposing my will on how my son naturally learned. Why indeed must his homeschool take only 2 hours? What was wrong with taking more time for his homeschool? Wasn’t it wonderful that he was so absorbed and involved in his learning? I was obviously preoccupied with my own needs and wants, not his. Instead of encouraging his pursuits, I was stifling them by rushing him. It was a flawed cycle that I needed to break. Homeschooling my son, after all, is our family’s priority.

So I decided:

  • I would LET HIM PLAN our homeschool day first thing every morning. Yup. I was relinquishing ALL control over the schedule. We would discuss what he wanted to accomplish each day. We would follow his plan for the day. 
  • I would not impose a time frame on any of his subjects or projects but I would ask him BEFOREHAND how much time he wanted to dedicate to each.

The results? Pretty surprising:
  • He transitions between subjects or projects more easily and quickly than before. Following his own plan motivates him to move forward. (Surprise, surprise!)
  • Some days, homeschool doesn’t take as long. Some days, it takes longer. Some days, we both enjoy it without frustration. Some days, this Mama still needs to keep her frustration in check.
  • My son’s attitude toward our homeschool day has changed for the better. He is more inspired, energized, and stimulated. I can see how much my son enjoys his SLOW homeschooling. 
  • I am learning more about how my son wants to learn and how:
    • He prefers to do ALL his subjects every homeschool day rather than do them a few times a week. 
    • He doesn’t like assigning the same amount of time per subject every day. 
    • He chooses to dedicate about an hour each morning to his DIY projects. The sense of purpose and happiness this hour brings to our homeschool day is immense and irreplaceable. 
The Independent Kid's Harry Potter Monster Book of Monsters with a SAFE inside.

    • His interests have blossomed and his independent self-directed learning has deepened in ways I never anticipated.
This is a purely self-directed project over and above what we do for science everyday. After 2 weeks of tinkering around with Brian Cox's Wonders App, my son drew and wrote some of his notes for his upcoming Science Fair Project. His project is entitled "If I were an Astronaut, where would I go?" He has been learning more everyday in preparation for his 10 minute presentation.
  • I am present for these amazing daily moments and I am choosing to enjoy the process with him. With my camera and my Project Based Homeschooling (yes, click on that link!) notebook in hand, I document his progress and I am prioritizing my son’s education. Just as it should be!
One of his entries in his Grateful Journal.
    Almost E.V.E.R.Y. night since I allowed him the freedom to SLOW down, my son confides in me:

    “Mama, thank you for not rushing me. I loved school today. It was so much fun! I LOVE my projects!” 

    To my fellow FAST Mamas, do your kids prefer SLOW homeschooling? What are you doing in your homeschool to accommodate their intrinsic approach to learning?


    1. this brought a tear to my eye! so great! <3

      1. Thank you Lori for your book and for understanding kids! The Independent Kid and I butted heads for a LONG time because of this issue. We love PBH and have always done PBH in different quantities throughout our homeschool journey. I guess 'I' got the better of me this time around... But reading your book inspired me again for the nth time. Your daily posts on FB remind me how to PBH. And as I said before, my son is happiest every time I finish reading your book. THANK YOU!

    2. "Self-directed learning" leads to feeling "inspired, energized, and stimulated." There is no finish line for that kind of thriving; so happy for you all. Thanks for sharing this inspiring post.

    3. Nice! I don't have that large information about homeschool and while searching about it, I found who offers homeschooling. Should be a choice or since homeschool is what I want, I should take the responsibility to be the teacher to my child?

      1. Marian, how old is your child? What does he/she love to do? I would start from there.

    4. Love what your kid did to prep for the Science presentation! That's exactly the kind of thing that I wish all kids were encouraged to do in school. In our home, we jointly identify the skills work my guy is going to work on for the week and write it down with a box next to each one and then he decides the order and the way and seems much more on board. I always hated the artificial time lines for work and now we don't have them. I hoped to have two hours of skills stuff and then the rest of the time project work, but I think it is going to evolve as he evolves and grows as an active learner.

      1. I would be interested to hear how your homeschool evolves!