Friday, November 21, 2014

How Much Do I Have to Learn?

When the boys were younger I spent much more time doing traditional instruction in my role as teacher. If they were learning parts of speech, I would make cards with words that they could use to create sentences. When they learned about the water cycle, I drew diagrams on the white board. During our art projects, I was doing prep work the day before so they could create something in the morning. But things are getting harder for me now. They are starting to study things that are more challenging for all of us.

JT is learning German using Rosetta Stone this year. I am also going through the program. Right now I have fallen a little behind him with the schedule and when he completes a supplemental worksheet, I need to ask my husband to check his work. EM is working his way through a reading textbook with comprehension questions at the end of each story. If I don't read the story, it's impossible for me to know if he is answering the questions correctly. I am trying hard to stay one chapter ahead in the biology text but have let that one slide at times. Then I have to skim quickly to help when it's time for the module review. The American government textbook is interesting, but I don't always feel like reading a chapter or two to verify that JT's answers to end of chapter questions include all the details they should.His algebra worksheets from Thinkwell need corrected. I can look at the final answers to know if he has them right, but if there's a problem, I can't always determine where he is having difficulty so I call the husband in yet again.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy learning many things. I take Coursera classes for fun when I can squeeze it into my schedule. It's just that I do not necessarily want to study German, algebra, biology, American government, or a 6th grade reading text. But when I don't stay ahead of the boys in their studies, I feel like I am not giving them the best shot at success. I'm starting to go a little bit crazy here trying to do all of this on top of prepping their work for each week, running them to activities, taking care of our house, feeding ravenous teen boys, and allowing myself a minute or two to do something I like each day. You know, things like showers or sleep.

Do I have an obligation to have a complete knowledge of the things I ask them to learn? If they were in a traditional education setting I would be aware of what they were studying, but probably have little involvement in the work beyond helping to study for tests. Because I have chosen homeschooling, have I by default chosen to learn all of these things as well? Can I just point them in the direction they need to go and hope they figure it out?

At the start of this year, I thought things were getting easier. I guess I was wrong about that one. That's the great thing about homeschooling; I'm always learning from my mistakes.

1 comment:

Annie said...

I haven't reached this point yet, exactly. For the most part, I know what they are learning. For a couple of courses like Lord of the Rings or biology, I insist on reading the text with them each week, which actually slows them down but I feel the discussions are part of the learning. On other subjects like Thinkwell courses or Coursera courses, I almost purposefully take a hands off attitude to let them learn to manage their own learning. I will delve in if I see their scores declining, but I can usually pick up wherever they are. I guess that when I feel as you do, I will keep reminding myself that the most important tool we can give them is the ability to teach themselves. Maybe it's good to encourage them to teach you?