The journey of our first year of homeschooling continues…
Armed with the knowledge of the learning styles assessment and the workbook pdf provided with the assessment results, I got busy getting ready for a 5th grade homeschooling year.
The dominant learning personality for one of my daughters (let’s call her Gigi) is Producer. This means she prefers to work with structured, sequentially ordered components. She thrives in a routine, prefers to have things planned and scheduled, and needs her quiet time. According to the workbook, she wants to be acknowledged for being organized, neat, productive, and punctual. Yep. That pretty much nailed her.
My other daughter (let’s call her Rue) has the dominant learning personality of Relater/Inspirer. Her ideal learning environment would have a people-centered point-of-view. She wants to be social and talk about what she’s learning, so she would prefer to be working in a group. She wants to be acknowledged for being kind, fair, thoughtful and noticing others. This is also my dominant learning personality.
To portray how different the Producer and Relater learning personalities are from each other, imagine putting each of my girls at a desk with a worksheet.
Gigi: clean organized desk, sharpened pencil, she’s ready to go. In front of her is a task with a clear, delineated, and attainable goal. She will complete the worksheet and check it off her list. Ideal set up.
Rue: papers are quickly stuffed haphazardly into desk, she can’t find her pencil, finds it and now needs to go sharpen it. Finally sitting down she sees the worksheet, looks up, asks a question, tries to engage with anyone near her, tries to refocus on the worksheet and work a problem, puts head down on her desk because this is SOOOOO boring. Nightmare set up.
Of course other learning personalities come into play, but this really does sum up the way this scenario plays out in real life for each of them.
I DON’T want our homeschooling to look like this for Rue and I DO want the structure for Gigi. I’m keeping both dispositions in mind as I do my planning. I’ve ordered the book What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know, we’ve signed up for a weekly homeschooling science class with a fab teacher/tutor, Meredith Caplan, and I’ve found lots of online resources for every subject, mostly sourced from Diane Flynn Keith’s ClickSchooling email which she sends Monday through Saturday. I have a whiteboard, games, books, and math manipulatives. And, because of the educational value, of course, our big splurge for the homeschooling year was to get each of them an iPad (more on this later). I’ve thought about and made notes about various ways we can approach subject matter and I can’t wait to get started. I’m back in teacher mode.
Then the night before we begin I remember my goal. My goal for the year is for my children to have a love of learning again. Will that happen if I’m deciding what they learn about? I make the decision that we’ll still cover the gamut of “school subjects” but I’ll ask the girls WHAT it is they’d like to learn about. And I mean it (mostly).
The first day of school my daughters wake up moaning about having to go to school. Yes, it’s 9am and school is 12 feet from their bedroom and STILL they’re moaning. Geesh.
We gather on the sofa. I have a large whiteboard on a stand set up on the coffee table. I draw a big circle in the middle and write “CURIOUS” inside it. “What are you curious to know more about?”, I ask.
It’s not an avalanche of subject matter, but a few substantial ideas make their way onto our brain map. We decide to start by exploring Ancient Greek Mythology. We head to the library for books. While we’re there, without any prompting from me, each of my girls starts taking notes from Greek Mythology books they’ve found. Gigi says she’s pulling out vocabulary words and Rue is writing down important facts. We come home and spend the rest of the morning working on fractions (otherwise known as baking). When we clean up, both girls find a cozy spot to read.
Not too shabby for a first day of school. I fall asleep that night with a smile on my face. So far so good. Well, we’ll see about that.