27 May 2009

Character Training

Oh. My. Word. Yesterday, it took us about 9 hours to do 2 or 3 hours of work. However exhausting it is to do (not do) that, I think it has a few valuable lessons in it (if it is occasional).

Claire was an escape artist yesterday. Her middle name was procrastination. We started at about 10 a.m. with a math worksheet that took her about 15 minutes last week. She did addition instead of subtraction for a few. I pointed it out, she'd fuss, work some, then be gone. It was a classic case of me not wanting to stare at her while she worked, so I'd go in the kitchen, and then I'd come back and she'd have disappeared. I'd bellow, she'd come back, repeat. Then I'd set the timer. Then I'd give the talk "if you finish your work you can go play. Would you rather spend ten hours half working, half complaining, re-doing it 'cause you're not paying attention, me yelling... or just work hard for an hour or two and get the rest of your day to yourself?" I threw in the "your homeschool friend a few doors down will be able to play at 4. If you're not done, you can't play." speech. Then I got tired of it so I let it go. I put the baby down for a nap, went on with my day and let her play and read. Her dad called and set a date with her for that evening. I reminded her -once- that she couldn't go on it if her schoolwork wasn't done.

THEN, (Thank God!) her friend came over at quarter to six!! to see if Claire could play. Claire, my Claire, jumped up and ran to the door and I yelled "hold it!" The crushed look. The pleading. The shock. Yet I held firm. She had to do her science and grammar before she could play. So our neighbor went home alone. Then:

we were doing her science lesson, and she had the audacity to say
'uh, could you hurry up, we're wasting time.'
{enter apoplectic look}

Then she got the "You know, we don't homeschool so I can yell at you all day! I love to be with you and I like to teach you. But I want us to get our work done and then do all sorts of fun things. We can't go to the park or the Y pool or do experiments if we take all day to get our work done. You know, in regular school, if you get all your math done in 10 minutes, you have to sit there quietly for the rest of the hour. At home, if you get it done fast, we can go on to the next thing and then have the rest of the day off!" I tried to remind her why we school the way we do. I felt like Uncle Ben from Spider-Man "with great freedom comes great responsibility" (that's not what he really said). I try to express to Claire that as homeschoolers, we have great freedom to

-do our schoolwork wherever we want
-wear whatever we want
-go at whatever pace we choose
-drop work we already know
-spend extra time on topics we love
-do our work whenever we want
-take breaks

but that these freedoms give us responsibilities that families in regular schools don't have. They aren't held accountable for what is (or isn't) learned. They don't have to be disciplined to cover the material or lessons themselves. They have an outside authority taking care of all that, who will be held accountable in a public forum. We have to make ourselves take care of the goals. No one else will come in and check on us. We have to be responsible for our own education, and that means getting the work done and then doing the playing.

So she got the rest of math, and all the science, and all the grammar done in about an hour and bolted out of here like it was on fire. Like I really wanted to do school from 10 am till 7 pm. But I guess this was one of those days where the character training took over. And she had alot of fun on her date with her dad too. "Claire, do you have lipstick on?" "No, Daddy, I think its just my Kool-aid mustache."

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