April 7, 2010

Letting Them Lead

Some days I try to let the kids lead their school journey and the day ends up looking and feeling a lot like travelling on this long and winding road.  When the kids pick it rarely goes smoothly down a straight and fast course.  We take the scenic route and sometimes it can take all day and feel like we have gone nowhere.

Today has been one of those days.  We had nothing on the calendar until 6pm and I decided they could have what I thought would be an "easy" school day.  Little did I know that it would actually turn into a long and at times stressful day for some of the kids.
I assigned each child two subjects (math and spelling).  They could then each pick 4 more subjects for a total of 6 for the day, Sirah only needed to pick 3 more.

Maria actually picked some of her challenging subjects though they were mostly reading subjects and she did take the long straight road uphill and managed to finish all of her work in about 2 hours.  She has been outside playing with her friend for a few hours now.  She did her work diligently and well and is happy with the choices she made.  A few hard hours was worth all the free time she now has.

Ciaran and Sirah however started the day with a long game of Monopoly with me.  I said yes, even knowing it would likely be long, figuring the rest of the day would surely go quickly.  We played Monopoly for 3 hours straight this morning and finished up just before 11am.  They began school knowing what they needed to get done for the day.  It is 3pm now and neither of them is finished or likely to be finished any time soon.

They have played on the trampoline, swing set, in the yard and even caught a butterfly and made a habitat for it.  The neighbor came knocking at about 1pm to play.  I said they could not play until they finished their school.  I thought that would motivate them and Sirah came in to do school and has stayed somewhat focused but Ciaran is currently in his room listening to an audio book and building Legos.

I am trying very hard to let them just lead this day and learn their lessons about how fast they could have been done versus how long it has taken them to do it.  Of course they also are realizing they can sometimes benefit from breaks in between their subjects and I am okay with that as well as long as they do not expect to have them all the time whenever they want.

In the end I think an occasional day like this is good for the kids but very stressful for me.  I need to learn to manage my own expectations of these days better.  They are young after all and I am giving them the freedom to do it their way.  So I need to not expect them to do it my way or the way I think is best.  I really need to go into the day ready to still be doing school at 5pm even though it makes no sense to me at all.  Or I need to set up better parameters.  You have until x to finish these subjects or y will happen.

Seeing as I did not set any expectation other than "these subject need to be done before dinner"  it looks like I will be going in and out of school all day until dinner time.  We do not do school like this regularly and for that I am thankful.  Back to the long and winding road as Sirah is almost done with math and ready for me to help her with her next subject.  Wonder when I will next see Ciaran to finish his last subjects?

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