Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Making the Grade

Before I homeschooled my daughters for a year or so, one of my principle concerns was how I would mainstream the girls when we finished our cruising life. This is both an administrative challenge – what paperwork do I need to maintain to get the kids enrolled in a Real School, and an educational problem – will the girls know enough to “make the grade”?

On registration issue, I encourage you to check these two resources sent to me courtesy of Frank Maier, one of the more *cough* vocal members of the homeschooling/boating community:

Check out what you need to do for your own state. If you don't like the rules and you are truly a boatschooler, pick a state, any state, and then register with that state. You don't live in any of them so it's not clear you have to go with the rules for your originating community. There are a few for which you have to establish residency, in which case it would be good to get a post office box, I suppose. Right now, s/v Don Quixote is registered in Washington state, but I won't promise to stay there. I would not force my worst enemy to take the Washington State Assessment of Learning (WASL) as it is presently constituted, so you can imagine my feelings towards administering it for my daughters.

As for the problem of whether or not the girls can make the grade, I worry about this less and less as each day goes by. I'm lucky. My girls are natural readers, strong willed, and very bright. My opinion might change if they refused to learn or hated to read. As it is, education on our boat consists to a surprising degree of strewing books around and seeing what sticks. We do a lot of “traditional” unschooling. Don't quote me on this, but the sum total of my knowledge of unschooling is that you let the kids learn whatever they want to learn when they want to learn it. I am forever baffled that this works. But when I hand up the star chart to my husband as he and the girls struggle to get the moons of Jupiter into focus one night, I'm haunted by the words of my unschooling friends that learning gets done when you stop working so hard to teach.

And the kids are clearly learning... or at least they believe they are and for the elementary years that may be all that is truly required. Case in point is a conversation I overheard last night between my six year old, boatschooled daughter and a fourteen year old, schoolschooled boy.

* * *
Aeron's strident voice floated to us through the cool night air, “I am finishing the second grade. I start third grade soon. If you don't believe me, ask me questions. ”

“What's 8 + 8?” the boy challenged.

“Sixteen and you aren't that old,” came the immediate reply.

“Your sister told you that,” came the accusation from another boy.

“She did NOT. I can do math and spelling and map work and some science stuff and I'm a third grader."

"You can't be, you're only 6."

"Yeah, well ask me more questions. I know 3 + 2 + 1. I'm a third grader. I do third grade book, that makes me a third grader. I know about mountains. ”

"You can't even read," came the slightly desparate reply.

At this all three of my girls started laughing, which was reassuring because I was pretty convinced Aeron was ready to belt the disbelieving young man. Jaime noted wryly, "Collin, I'd give up about now. She probably reads better than you."

* * *

What makes a good elementary school student? The desire to learn, enjoyment in the learning process, and last and absolutely least, the ability to accummulate facts. By this measure, my girls are going to make the grade.


Cap'n Franko said...

Me? "Vocal" - with a "*cough*?" Why, butter wouldn't melt, etc. I'm the maestro of mild, the magnificent milquetoast. "Meek" is my middle name.

And remember, as a homeschooler you absolutely, positively do NOT ever hafta take the WASL, aka the most poorly constructed assessment test ever created by inept idiots.

Meg_L said...

Why are you assuming that they will go to brick and mortar schools when you are done cruising?

Toast said...

Meg, That's a really good question. A year ago my answer would have been, "That's obvious. Someday they'll have to go back." I have nothing like that certainty any longer which may contribute to my insouciance about whether or not they can actually get back in. I do assume that someday they'll want to take college level courses from a professor of some repute. They have that kind of intellectual curiosity. So probably all we'll really need to do is figure out how to ace the college entrance exams.

Meg_L said...

Given that our oldest is a senior this year, we are dealing with jumping those hurdles.

It's not so bad putting together a transcript and all.

Jody said...

It is amazing how it all falls into place without a "schedule" and such. I don't think I could do a day in the life post, as our homeschool days are never really the same.

I had in mind that my kids would start back in a couple of years as well, and now I am thinking, not so much.