Duendesday – already!

{life with a curious and crazy 10 yr old}

Wow – that seemed like a fast week, was it fast for you, too? This Summer seems to be flying by. As usual, on a homestead – we are always behind, even when we think we are a bit ahead. There is always something more to be done, or something we have put off until the very last minute to do it (something gets lost in the shuffle, like my poor driveway garden plans – it’s just one wild strip of tall cultivars and volunteers alike but blooms just enough I can look past it and focus on something else).

Take for instance, some of our homeschooling goals. When Duende was a little pea, we lived mostly in the Portland (ME) area (with a short stint in Wiscasset, which was lovely and a perfect place to hide out for a long Winter & Spring) – at that time homeschooling wasn’t a real concern for us as we key into a Waldorf-inspired 7 year cycle. With that, we didn’t foster any deliberate instruction in order to celebrate her imagination for as long as her initial growing interval. Though when the State required her to be registered for school at age 7, we dreamed of cute handmade journals like scrapbooks of student-led learnings.

By the end of the first year to be assessed by a certified teacher, we were scrambling to get her ‘portfolio’ together with pictures and drawings taped into the pages of the refurbished signature bound classic Time/Life covered school ‘journal’. Our certified teacher was recommended by another freeschooler we knew and come to find out, our certified teacher was a ‘freeschooler’ herself (of 3 girls) and was quite comfortable with a narrative assessment of Duende (no portfolio needed). So, we let the scrapbook fantasy go since we couldn’t keep up with it anyway. And now they just have in-depth conversations about what Duende is interested in and how to access materials/references if she needs them. Our lively and lovely teacher is never concerned about her ‘reading’ or ‘writing’ or ‘arithmetic’, she just assesses whether she is engaged and articulate and that we are not preventing her from learning whatever her heart desires.

Which is excellent because that fits in line with our goals for her. Have you met her? We are never worried about her ‘socialization’ (to which I have problems with our educational system thinking that a one dimensional/single age group is ‘socializing’ or that peers are always a good influence), she is inquisitive and polite; very interested in other people of all ages/shapes/sizes/being because they are fellow people to meet. She is a good problem solver (great at math, unlike me), she loves to try new things, and we include her in all of our activities – how could she not learn? Learning does not have to be curricula – it can be just life. Living an engaged life, together. Every activity is a chance to add conversation about the hows and whys, the history, the connections, etc.

With all that said, her assessment was in May (that’s when she officially became a 5th grader, which shocked me and interested her very little – ha! Though she liked the way it sounded, even if she had no context for it). And I just remembered yesterday to send in the paperwork (perhaps the weak link here is me)! It’s a good thing Maine is not on a rolling application process. Are there things we wish she was stronger in or that we had already introduced? Sure, like all things on the homestead, some things fall through the cracks – like I wish she would brush her hair more often, and practice Spanish and piano, but she’s a free spirit and I appreciate that in her greatly.

Family and friends worry that she is not a strong reader (curious in a house like ours, but we all respond to our parents in different ways) but she is coming around – comics save the day on that one, and you’ll never hear us complaining about comics (as a couple of comic book nerds, that we are). In my heart of heart’s I wish she could write cursive and know all the birdsong but I’m not going to force her – that’s not our way. Especially since she can sit around and explain hydraulics to me, or the Mesozoic era, ride a bike, roast a chicken, draw a cow, know a bunch of edible wild herbs, ride a horse, build a birdhouse, work a broadfork and a wood sander, pick for quartz, know Brown Bird or Elvis when she hears their songs, play chess, make up her own Mad Libs, sew and repair her own clothes and make clothes and outfits for the pets, and so much much more…oh, to be 10!

Published by Rachael M Rollson

creative life-learner

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