November 30, 2008

Home for the Holidays

Peter was home for Thanksgiving break this weekend, his first time home since leaving for college in September. Melissa asked what Peter would do for the four days he was here. I said, "Read, do his homework, be on the computer..." She grinned, "Oh, yeah." She's the social, hyper activity child that can't sit still for a minute, so she had to be reminded that Peter would be just fine away from his friends.

Dad, Peter, Melissa

We had a nice visit. He loves his classes, even though he thinks German is "annoying." He just doesn't like repetitive busy work like worksheets and memorizing vocabulary. But he realizes that's what learning a language is all about, so he does it anyway. He anticipates straight A's and might even get out of the German final if he has enough points. I'm so proud of him. I mentioned in a recent post how well he's doing with writing papers, and I promise I'll get a post up soon about my philosophy when it comes to teaching writing.

One interesting exchange this morning as we were preparing to drive Peter back up to school: Melissa had made a model of a DNA molecule for extra credit in Biology (she's the one going to public school). Peter was admiring it and I suggested she explain it to Meg since she's never studied DNA in depth.

Then I said, "But she really doesn't have to know the parts of a DNA molecule."
Melissa: "Why not?"
Me: "Unless you're going into a health field or some sort of biology, it's not necessary." Peter was nodding in agreement.
Melissa: "But what about knowing it for tests?"
Me: "That's what I mean. She doesn't have to know the parts of a DNA molecule."

It all boils down to why we learn things. Homeschoolers have the freedom to focus on what they'll need in their adult lives, based on their interests and their natural bent, not because they have to know something for a test. Meg plans to go into theater or business, so knowing DNA parts is just something she'll never need, unless she is interested, and at this point in life, she's not.

But I must say, public school is working well for Melissa. She is focused and working hard, keeping busy and is very happy. I can't complain too much. Last week someone from the student council came to one of her classes to give her a package of Starbursts with a little message attached. It said she is being recognized as a leader by teachers, staff, and coaches. Only one other kid in her class got one. I attribute it to the personal strength and confidence she gained by being socialized in a loving, affirming environment for her first 14 years, and not cooped up with her peers in an institutional setting. That's my take, anyway.


Penny said...

Nice post! I love reading your insights on how different kids learn and what works for who. Looking forward to your post on teaching writing.

Unknown said...

I totally agree! There is so much freedom in learning only what you want to learn. Cathy

Anonymous said...

I'm glad she's settled into school and that something about it is worth the "learning things for tests" bit. Leadership will take her far.

Karen said...

How wonderful for her - and I totally agree with your take on why she's such a leader.

Anonymous said...

I was the master of learning things for tests and then promptly forgetting them...such a waste of time! Great post as usual...

Letitia said...

Isn't it great to have them home for a few days? We enjoyed Briana being here for 5 days, as well. It's great that Melissa is thriving. Another example that there is no one way to learn.

Mindy said...

This has been the most surprising realization for me in my 10 months of homeschooling my teen. The idea that we can work on things she is truly interested in and skip over things that she will never need to use is incredibly empowering for us both.

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