Posted on March 23, 2017
Homeschooling in France, Part 2
When we began our homeschooling journey, Bean and I had some intense days of struggle. It was her will against mine. I am the adult, so I determined to win. I am also a planner. I had a list of educational milestones that I wanted her to accomplish in a certain time. I read that others had done it,why not us? As with the beginning of most things, it was slow. I needed a little while to figure out the simplest way to implement independent learning with Bean. I am a minimalist after all.
After a few months, I was feeling a little discouraged. Bean was getting pressured to perform by other people in her life. I knew that we did not have the option of enrolling into schools all over the country. It would also be a shame to let her skip school at this age. Her mental capacity is practically limitless. So I continued on.
A few weeks ago, after the mean man incident, as we call it, I had the time to reflect and review. Bean is doing great!I wasn’t sure when we would get to this day. Her work in all areas that I focused on show considerable progress. She is not bogged down with schoolwork. She has a few important things to do. She knows what they are and she does them. Every day is not an easy one where she sits at the table and tackles her work,but the work is getting better. The difficulty sometimes lies in the fact that there are children who are outside playing or taking breaks when she is doing her work, but the joy comes in knowing that she is making progress.
Bean is reading better than she has ever read. As she finishes every new story, and I clap my hands for her, she is so proud of the work she has completed. As she uses her brain to do her math problems and realizes that she CAN do math, she is proud of herself. As she works on her cursive writing and sees that she can read cursive and write like her mother, she is proud of herself. It isn’t much. It isn’t rocket science, but the simple act of learning has given her confidence in herself. I wish this for all children who home school in France and around the world. Simple tasks that exercise their brains and increase their knowledge of the world, so they too are proud of themselves.
Our home school program is simple. We work only on the basics. We need time to get out and explore after all. We focus on reading, writing, math and foreign language. Bean writes in cursive from one of the stories that we already completed so that the words stay fresh in her mind. She then copies a new writing sample from a book she enjoys reading. Then she reads it. For math, Bean does a bit of review. She is introduced to one new math concept a week. This is the goal, though we don’t always reach it.
Often, foreign language seems like the simplest task of the day. Bean just needs to talk to people or play with children. If there is no one around with whom we can interact, Bean plays games and watches language learning videos. This,of course, is her favorite activity of the day. I try to save it till the end of our homework time so that she is inspired to continue working.
I wish I could say that even though we have our routine down, we never have problems. However, children like adults, have off days. There are days when Bean does not wish to get out of the bed. There are days when she takes her math papers and crumples them up. There are days when she sits at the table and draws a million pictures. I have to take the long-term view that inch by inch, learning is a cinch. It seems the inches add up slowly, but in time, they become miles.
Homeschooling in France, like any other place we might be in the world, takes time and patience for success. I am committed to the education of my daughter. Not just for her to know about people and cultures around the world,but also for her to know how to count, read and write. I am thankful that as a minimalist, focusing on only the essentials, has made the process easier. When we return to traditional schooling, I will look back on this time with pride knowing we did our best!