Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A reflection on Calvert

I'm free!!!

The past few weeks have been pretty hairy.  It was an absolute fight to the finish to get Calvert wrapped up for the year.  I have been keeping mum about Calvert because...well... it's complicated.  It is a sorta-like/hate relationship.  It is everything I despise about one-size-fits-all education, yet it's everything I like about keeping myself accountable and on track.  Which I did a HORRIBLE job at this year.  I can't drag three children, kicking and screaming all the way, on this road to intellectual enlightenment (ha!) if they continuously misplace their books, can never find their pencils, and not get the big picture of what this is all for in the first place.

What we did accomplish this year:

Jordan learned to take notes.  I learned that it is a good idea for me to teach the skill of note-taking.  He learned that turning in late assignments affects your grade.  I learned that I hate having to scan in assignments at 11:59 pm to make the midnight deadline.  He learned that writing isn't so bad.  In fact, Jordan realized that he loved writing.  I learned that Jordan had actually been listening to me for the past eight years every time we approached writing, composition, grammar and so forth - because his 'voice' in his writing is fantastic and he really knows how to construct a good sentence.  Sentence diagramming is difficult and makes us both tear our hair out.  (The geek in me though secretly loves it). NaNoWriMo, assigned by his Calvert teacher, was especially helpful in drawing out his writing voice.  Writing a short story was something I would never in a million years have asked him to do, and yet it was because of Calvert that we both made this discovery!   He learned algebra.  I learned that I still remember algebra. (happy dance)  Jordan learned how to type faster.  falls out of chair laughing.  He went from 25 wpm to an astounding 29 wpm! Jordan earned his 8th grade diploma, and will be moving on to public high school next year.

Rylan learned that dropping your pencil on the floor 518,397 times a day does not get you out of your schoolwork.  She learned how to spell 'people' and 'because'.  Rylan learned multiplication, just don't ask her to do it at anytime other than when she is in the mood.  Which is never.  Rylan learned to contort her body into 37 different pretzel shapes while sitting in her chair, all of which face away from the desk, and coincidentally, away from her schoolwork.  Rylan read two novels this year - and has quite the reading pile for the summer.  She also took an avid interest in ASL, after reading a short story in her reading anthology about a deaf boy going to a concert.  I may need to pursue this for her.  Rylan loved her online teacher and her classmates, so she wants to do this all over again next year.  The social bits, of course.  NOT the schoolwork.  

Owen learned to read.  This accomplishment alone is what kept me going through the darkest of schooling hours this year.  Several times in the past couple of weeks, he has read signs around town, carefully sounding things out.  This makes my heart sing.  He loves his online teacher, his class, and anything to do with math.  He has learned to like holding a pencil, and writing with it.  (just a little).  He loves to draw and paint.  He is more than willing to sit down and do schoolwork, as long as it doesn't interfere with his Minecraft or lego building time.  Which is never.  Which is why I can't ever get him to work with me for longer than 2 minutes without a fight.

This year has been full of tears, lots of yelling on everyone's parts, lots of high-fives, cajoling, swearing (under my breath), deal-making, begging, pleading, a-ha moments... unfortunately the bad is far out-weighing the good.  It's partly the program and partly me.  I've been lax, lazy, disinterested, and fighting my own battles.  The spillover has not been pretty.  Some serious soul-searching needs to take place this summer about what the next step will be.

All I know is that this is not how I envisioned how our homeschool experience would go.  Eight years into this journey, my (our) primary purpose has always been and always will be to put childhood first.  Play (and not the screen type) has as much - if not more importance in shaping a child's mind, than worksheets, descriptive paragraphs and addition problems.  I don't like the complicated, regimented, competitive and petty environment of public schools - in the younger grades, especially.  At the high school level, these social stepladders do have *some* merit, I suppose, when it comes to beginning to discover who you are and what you are made of.  I also know that these lessons don't only happen within the confines of a classroom.

The work Calvert requires of the kids is not inspiring, with the exception of Jordan's reading curriculum.  Hands down, that was fabulous stuff that has helped us cover so much literary knowledge this year.  Otherwise, the caliber of the rest of the curriculum is... meh.  I am pretty disappointed, actually.  It was actually painful to shelve all of our tried-and-true stuff last year when it came time to unbox the Calvert books after they arrived.  Throughout the entire school year I constantly found myself referring back to our other curriculum for this and that, because it was just so much better.  I am confident in Jordan's abilities because of what we used in the past.  Jordan has been the model student all these years, as we have traveled this homeschooling route.  He's done the work when asked and without question, and performs very well when the time comes to assess his knowledge and skills.  The younger three kids have so many issues I don't even know where to begin.  In reflecting on their behavior this past year, a lot of it comes down to a sense of entitlement that they have.  They feel that they are entitled to their free time, so schoolwork has become a secondary, painful experience for them - and having very boring, worksheet-style learning as the primary source of instruction is NOT helping that situation.

So I have a lot of thinking to do.  I'm doing some major decompressing at the moment, which is good for me.  Our calendar is completely blank, with the exception of a weekly violin lessons and the occasional field trip.  I'm not even having the kids do swim lessons.  I can tell I am feeling more than a little shell-shocked from the stress of this school year.  This is a huge sign for me that maaaaaybe Calvert isn't the best fit for us.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I don't have any sage advice...just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you. :) Feel like we never run into each other any more. Oy. ;)