Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Trouble with Self-Directed Learning

At some point in the homeschooling years, kids have to learn to be self-directed. They have to stay on top of their own schoolwork, keep up with which chapter they supposed to be reading in which books, and find answers on their own without me policing them every step of the way.

I do still have to check their math and language lessons. I do ask them the questions about the book they just read. I have to set up science experiments, and have history discussions.

But some things they can do themselves without me having to hold their hands and baby-step them through every moment. Ben and Emily can check the teacher's manuals and see which pages they are reading in a book today. They can find which lesson of math they have to do. Especially when I am still sitting next to Katie saying, "Okay, what should you do next? Right. Then what's then next step? Right. Look at the page, not at the ceiling. The answer is not written up there somewhere. No, you may not go to the bathroom. You've been three times during this lesson already. Pay attention. What should be your next step?"

If Ben and Emily had to wait on me to tell them what to do for school today, they would never get anything done.

Unfortunately, for the past two days, Emily's teacher's manual as been missing. She's been unable to look up her school schedule. Fortunately, some things are not difficult to figure out. If you are reading "Great Expectations" (which she is) it stands to reason, you just continue on reading the chapters in order. No great brain power to figure that out. They same goes for math language and history. Just move on to the next lesson. Still, there comes a point where we need the manual to tell us which book to move on to next, or exactly how many pages to read. She was getting antsy about not being able to find it.

This morning, I found the manual in the clean laundry pile. Clothes had been piled on top of it and it had simply vanished underneath the pressure of the monolith.

When I informed Emily of its whereabouts, she simply looked at me and deadpanned, "Dang. I'll have to hide it better next time."

If I didn't know she was kidding, she would so be grounded.

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