Friday, October 10, 2008

Small but significant conversation

Fiona: Mommy, I wish I had an organization to my day. You know, like, 'practicing: 10:30, math: 2 o'clock.'

Me [chuckling]: Oh my, Fiona, that's a really good idea. Unfortunately I think you have the wrong mom.

I'll try, I really will. Sort of. When I remember. When it fits.

Oh, my poor children.

6 comments:

  1. LOL! I'd also be the wrong mom. How about she write up her own timetable and make you keep to it?

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  2. Amanda10:49 am

    I think she'd manage just fine with your Google calendar - why not let her loose with the calendar and a watch?

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  3. LOL, well, yes, she's tried making her own schedule. But she doesn't really want to schedule herself -- she wants to schedule me, and that's what I'm resisting. What she's really asking for is a day that's chock full of stuff that involves me being fully available one-on-one with her at particular times. Making her a schedule is no problem. Enticing me to fit her scheduled events into my day is where we run aground. If her life were according to her ideals, she would have spent this morning doing math, Japanese, piano, violin, handwriting and crafts with me. Unfortunately I had laundry and dishes to do, cat and rabbit litter to deal with, and a complete arrangement of Vivaldi's La Follia to arrange and publish for our violin/viola ensemble, some stuff to sort out with Erin. And now I'm fried and I want to go outside, feed the chickens and get busy putting the garden to bed. She'd like to spend the next couple of hours in the kitchen baking a treat -- with me, of course. Then she'd like to drive to town and go visit somebody... but I need to grind some grain for tomorrow's bread, start supper, work with Noah and Sophie on math, and get some more laundry pushed through.

    She'll help me with most of the things I'm doing, or she'll happily play with her siblings. And we'll squeeze in her practicing somewhere and probably do some math and reading together. But even on a rare 'Nothing Day' like today I have so much stuff to do, I find it very hard to drop it all and do exactly what she wants to do at the moment she's decided it should be done.

    Much like my older kids, I hate dropping something I'm in the middle of because it's 10:30, or having to decide at 10:10 to postpone something I'm ready to do because I have something blocked in 20 minutes from now. If Fiona had her way everything I need to do would be squeezed into small time slots around what she wants to do. And I'm just not a person who gets any pleasure from the kind of day that involves hurrying from one scheduled task to another, cutting things short to get to the next. I like to delve in deeply for as long as the momentum is flowing.

    Sigh. I should probably do my best to overcome at least some of my issues with this.

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  4. Anonymous6:29 pm

    I understand that Fiona probably lacks a firm grasp on the amount of time needed to devote to daily things, but don't you feel guilty denying her the attention/time she craves? Are you an "unschooler" because it gives you the free time/lack of structure that you crave? Or is it truly in the best interest of your children? As a long time reader of your blog, I find it interesting that your children are seeking structure and more scheduled environments despite you having immersed them in an "unschooling" atmosphere.

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  5. Anon, I'm not sure if you read my follow-up comments above. Fiona gets plenty of time alongside me doing daily housework, outside work and errands. She also gets lots of one-on-one time with siblings. She doesn't get constant adult time devoted expressly to her - but she certainly wouldn't be getting that in school, nor do I think she'd be getting that in most structured homeschooling families -- except perhaps families with only one child. Time always needs to be divided between different people and priorities and I think accepting this is part of learning to be part of a family or community rather than an egotistical young child.

    We unschool because my children prefer to lead their own education. Unschooling doesn't mean a lack of structure, unless, like with my older kids, that's what the children want. Because Fiona is different from the other kids, and requesting structure, I'm trying to respond -- though it's not my natural inclination I'm working hard to give her the kind of unschooling she wants.

    As it stands I spend about 2 to 3 hours one-on-one with her per day on learning pursuits. I daresay that's a fair bit more than most 5yo's get. We do 30-60 minutes on each of violin and piano, half an hour or so on reading and the same on math as a typical minimum. Then I spend time here and there on other stuff ... teaching her to knit, helping her cut out stars, coaching her on cartwheels. So I think she gets lots of time and attention. What I'm not very good at is setting it all up ahead of time on a rigid schedule.

    So no, I don't feel guilty about Fiona lacking time and attention, because I honestly think she gets loads of that. I do feel a little guilty that the busyness of everyone's lives, including mine, prevents me from sticking to a rigid schedule with her. But I also think that the opportunities she gets as a result of being swept up in our busy family life more than compensates.

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  6. Just wanted to also comment on Erin's pursuit of structure. What she's created is a place apart from home in which to self-pace and self-direct a rigorous academic approach and a stricter self-imposed music practicing schedule. It took her a long time to become ready for this, and it's clear she didn't want the structure coming from me. It needed to come from herself with the help of outside mentors, motivated and driven by her. What you, Anon, may see as the failure of unschooling to meet her needs, I see as the logical evolution of unschooling in the case of one particular highly autonomous immersion-style learner who now wishes to hold herself up to some externally-designed academic expectations.

    I confess I'm feeling a bit defensive in response to your rather accusatory question: "Are you an "unschooler" because it gives you the free time/lack of structure that you crave?" Actually, I'm LOL now about your "free time" comment. Sheesh! Do you really read this blog regularly?! What free time?

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