Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Know When To Run

I love the old Kenny Rogers song, "The Gambler" (is there anyone who doesn't??). And I've found that besides being a pretty good life philosophy, the chorus applies quite well to some of our homeschooling days.
You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run. You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table, there'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

Know When to Hold 'Em: Sometimes Sierra will start spacing out, flat out guessing (wrongly) about things she already knows, and getting frustrated. Often, as long as I don't get frustrated too, it's easy to turn the situation around just by injecting a little humor into the moment. I'll jokingly say, "wait a minute! We forgot to turn your brain on today! It's not on, is it??" and pretend to flip a switch on the back of her head and suggest we try again. She'll giggle and be right back on track. Or I can make a big dramatic deal of pulling (fake, I hope!) cobwebs from her ears to clear her brain. Other times (because she can be a very serious child who wants desperately to be grown up), it helps to remind her that it is her responsibility to educate herself and while my job is to help her learn, I can't pour the information into her brain, she has to take responsibility and spend time at her job of getting educated. The point is, there are times things seem to take a downward spiral, but it's fairly easy to turn everything around and get back to work.

Know When To Fold 'Em: Other times, it's just too frustrating. The work really is too hard for whatever reason on that day. More than anything, I want my children to love learning. So, while I set aside specific school time and give them specific materials to work on, I try to find the balance between requiring a certain amount of work, without pushing too hard. When math (it's usually math or spelling) is just really miserable for her that day, we stop doing it. We move on to something she loves (geography for now) and save the math for a later day.

Know When To Walk Away: If the whole shebang is getting frustrating (usually because I've pushed too hard.....we're still learning what works for us!), sometimes it's better to take a break from school all together. We'll eat lunch, put Sedona down for a nap so there are fewer distractions and try again to finish up the day's lessons.

And Know When To Run: And then there are the days when it's just not a school day. Sometimes it's because Sierra is tired, cranky or frustrated. And sometimes it's because I'm tired, cranky or frustrated. When that happens, we just put everything away and pick up again the next day. That sort of flexibility is one of the great things about homeschooling.

You Never Count Your Money When You're Sittin' At The Table: Try not to get too terribly caught up in the daily progress. Of course, you need to keep tabs on how things are going and you want to be moving forward. In the moment though, preserving your child's love of learning and your relationship with your child is more important than being exactly on schedule.

There'll Be Time Enough For Countin' When The Dealin's Done: Keep the long term goals in mind. Especially if you are keeping daily logs of work done and/or progress, it's easy to get very caught up in that. But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter whether little Johnny learned to add 3 digit numbers on March 5 or on October 28. All that matters is that it was eventually learned without making him hate math or learning.

So that's my homeschool hint for the day. Does someone want to volunteer to remind me of it the next time I need it? ;-)


Lori said...

That is pretty insightful! Plus, I love that song. Great hint to share.

Angie @ Many Little Blessings said...

Amen to all of this! Really great points. Sometimes my natural inclination is just "let's solider on," instead of "Hey - let's take a break."


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