Thursday, August 21, 2008

Absent from school

We're an unschooling family. We don't normally do much in the way of structured schooling. When Sophie expressed an interest in L'Art de Lire French early in the summer I forgot all about it. She asked again. "Oh," I responded, feeling guilty, "were you expecting me to buy it for you -- like sometime nowishly1?" Well, yes, she said. So I ordered it.

And though I'd forgotten all about it, it turned up in the mail. Right during one of the busy music school weeks. Fine. I figured we'd get to it some day. After all, like most curricular resources we own it would be more for inspiration and dabbling, not diligent study.

Sophie didn't get that memo. She tore into it. There's a teacher's manual that I suspect lays the whole curriculum out and guides the parent in introducing the language. I haven't yet peeked inside the cover. But that hasn't stopped Sophie from working blindly through the student workbook with ongoing enthusiasm. Last evening when I got home from rehearsal she asked me a question about conjugating irregular verbs and I realized she'd actually been working at it pretty darn effectively. She's making good progress.

Today I was gone all day again. Work, lessons with the older kids, chamber music rehearsals. I got home at 7 pm and Sophie was again working on French. She'd been stumped for a while, working only with the student book. But eventually she'd dug around and found an old French-English dictionary and done a bit of gap-filling by herself. "It's okay," she said, when I apologized again for not having spent a moment with her over the past couple of weeks on it. "Dictionaries are fun. I can do it myself."

It's only very rarely that I'm called upon to be a teacher to my homeschooled children. You'd think I could find at least a few minutes to sit down and look at the French program and then offer her a little guidance. Unfortunately I seem to be accumulating a string of unexcused absences from school. Fortunately Sophie doesn't seem to be suffering too badly.

1. nowishly [nou-ish-lee] adverb
at the present moment, more or less, though with some wiggle-room to allow for inertia, procrastination or disorganization, or all three.


  1. Oh how I wish my dd would get inspired like this!

  2. Jacqueline, it's important to remember that I've spent the past 10 years blogging about times that none of my four kids were the least bit inspired to do French, and for probably 9 of those years none of my kids were the least bit inspired to do any pencil-and-paper work whatsoever. Don't get a mistaken impression of the general academic climate in my home because for a brief snippet of time one of my kids develops a passion for something schoolish. Blogs give a warped view of reality. Somehow "well, there's still no interest in French or workbooks of any sort" doesn't make for interesting blogging, even though I could have posted that daily for most of the past decade.

  3. i find i have scattered resources in languages as i find them difficult to get right! how did sophie choose this one - was it seeing someone elses's?

  4. Helen, I'm not sure. Sophie expressed and interest in French, likely because I'd given up on my kids ever getting interested in it (!), and for whatever reason she liked the idea of having a workbook type program that she could work on semi-independently. I stumbled on L'Art de Lire early in the summer and showed it to her with a fair bit of scepticism. I'm as surprised as anything that it "took." No magic, just luck, I think.

  5. I have a Sophie too, a few months ago she also expressed a huge interest in learning French. I love it when they get an idea and just run with it. My Sophie is still loving her French!


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