“Do I have to write a daily diary?” My son looks up from his blank notebook.
“No,” I answer. “I started making you write daily entries because I wanted you to practice writing in Japanese. Can you think of other ways you can do that that you would enjoy more?”
He wrinkles his nose in thought.
“Maybe you can write a short story for your sister to read?” I suggest. His eyes light up. I’m not sure if he is calculating how many words less he would have to write, or if the idea is really inspiring him. Either way, he agrees.
His first book is five words, “Book, Carrot, House, Door, Dog.” But it gets him to write on his own.
I share this story because too often I have found that I become tied to the task or the time in my children’s learning. “Did you finish the list of tasks and exercises I gave you? Did you fulfill the full hour of class time that I assigned you to? Do you have all the things I asked you to do?”
The first suggestion that came from educators when the schools closed down, was to make a schedule. At first we had a time driven schedule. From day one, item one, wake up, the schedule deteriorated. Some things took longer than I wanted, others not as long. It was a frustrating structure, doomed to failure.
Toshi’s unhappiness with the task of writing a daily Japanese diary and my response was a wakeup call. If I am driven by the goals that I have for my children’s education and character, the playing field for activities blows wide open. It allows my son and me to explore new ways to reach our learning goals. Today it might be a five-word picture book, tomorrow he might give me a few sentences. I can play on his current interests to help him push his capacity.
Kate Tsubata wrote in her post that learning at home does not take the same amount of time that it does in school. Also, learning may look different. Sometimes what looks like play, is learning.
At our home, I schedule doesn’t have time posts anymore. It is a list of areas that we want to work on every day. There are some parts of the schedule (especially the activities that they really like), where we put a time cap, but mostly it is a list of things we want to work on. And, the list grows and shrinks, depending on the current focus.
Here is what it looks like today, but I’m sure it’ll look different next week:
- Breakfast and AM Chores
- Physical Exercise (outdoor play)
- Lunch and Cleanup
- Social Studies
- Dinner and PM Chores
- Free time!
Our schedule has become less as a time-management tool, more of a goal-setting tool.