Saturday, May 31, 2008

Evaluations part 2--Rough years, goals, and Meta Cognition

Lest anyone get the impression that all of our years are rosy (gee, I don't get to use the word "lest" very often!), we've had rougher evaluation times, and that's ok too. I think it really drew my kids and I closer together to evaluate each year, though we've only done orally in the past. They saw that I was willing to listen and take their thoughts and concerns into consideration.

Sometimes the changes suggested were not doable (No, sorry, we can't just not do math!), but then we were able to work through things and find something at least more palatable. As you can see, my son doesn't love math...but he no longer hates it! He no longer thinks we're using a curriculum that doesn't want children to understand math(he said that at age 6 about Miquon, LOL!). He's not asking to change curriculums--all he wants is for us to read instructions together (which is what I asked if he wanted at the beginning of the year and he said no--and so I've let him go at that).

But that's where trial & error, success & failure come in. I let him try his idea--and he sees now that he struggled with it, and realizes the advantages of doing it with mom. I often let my kids decide something if I can--how to do something or the order--this is their education & my dictating everything seems to stifle them. But in return, they are learning that mom knows some things, and sometimes it might be wise to follow what mom says.

And I am learning that sometimes they have some pretty great ideas, and hey, maybe we could do that. I'm so close to becoming stodgy some days it isn't funny! (ok, maybe a little funny!) They're willing to change things up. So...I go with it if I can. Finding out something won't work doesn't scare me--I think we all need the freedom to fail. And our kids will learn a lot from how we handle a failure, so nothing is wasted.

One thing I'm keeping in mind for next year. This year I went over just one main goal for my son--to make writing easier for him. (That's "kid-speak" for "let's learn how to write paragraph and multiple-paragraph papers this year," but he wouldn't have been interested in that!) He was able to remember that goal and go back and evaluate our year's LA based on that, how cool! So next year I think I might actually write down the goals (or have him write them), and let him be more a part of that process too.

For him to tell me which spelling he thinks will be more effective, and that he thinks he needs something else to memorize his science lessons, shows he's taking ownership of his education. That's what I want! To release my kids more and more to ownership. If homeschooling is something I do *to* my kids, I think we'll be in trouble by high school. This is their journey, and I'm a guide...but it's more and more becoming their journey.It also helps them...and me...learn about their styles, and better serve them as their teacher, and they better serve themselves as learners.

I learned a new term this spring...meta cognition. Basically--thinking about how we think. It's a skill that we can help our children develop that will foster a good education, and helps us focus on how to make things work. So, years ago when my son wanted to just dump math & I said we couldn't do that, but encouraged him that I would walk with him in this journey of finding a way to do math that would work for him--I was really asking him to analyze how he thinks, to begin to identify those things about himself and how he learns. We continue to build on that foundation. It's a good thing!

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