Friday, December 28, 2007

making the grade

Today I've been full of ennui.
Wanting ...... something!
A bit of zing, if you will.
So I went in search of what would fulfill my needs and banish the doldrums.
I just needed something to recognize as magic.
Something impressive.
I'm far enough along that I know that I don't have the right to expect my children to fulfill my personal needs.
I followed them around for a while.
For some reason I remembered Mama P saying something about how Lil Bug experiences the joys of being tested by strangers and skeptics of homeschooling. No matter that she knows most her letters, numbers, colors, etc - and is three. Three.

A few minutes after that I ran into a new (for me) blog that said something about her (unschooled) first grader knew all -plus!- what he/she was sposed to. I would link the post, but damned if I can find it now. I'll correct it when I do.

Aside from my disbeliefs in "making the grade", and my wanting to burn the book "What Your Kindergartner Needs To Know" a few months ago - I checked out what Those In The Know thought my child Should Be Learning/Should Know.

Not because I was feeling eager for acceptance, or seeking to feel justified in my/our Unschooling Ways, you understand - I'm not exactly sure why - 0ther than I was curious. (wicked, wicked grin) Maybe I was looking for something to get riled about!

Here's where I went - and where I've been before - in Trev's PreSchool days.
Here's parts of our conversation, and my thoughts.

First Grade Content Core (anyone asleep yet?)
Practice appropriate personal hygiene (e.g., bathe, wash hands, clean clothes).
Me: Trev. D'you bathe? Wash your hands?
Trev: Of course.

Describe the benefits of eating a variety of nutritious foods.
Me: D'you eat lots of different kinds of foods?
Trev: Yes, Mom
I went the extra mile on this one - what's protein for? What are carbs good for? What are veggies for??
Your brain - energy - your eyesight, et al.

Describe the benefits of physical activity.
Me: D'you run? Jump? Dance?

Describe substances that are helpful and harmful to the body.
We'll skip that one for now. Mighty full of opinions is that one.

Practice basic safety and identify hazards.
Me: D'you watch out for cars? Practice safety?
Trev: Yes, Mother.

Participate daily in short periods of physical activity that require exertion (e.g., one to three* minutes of walking, jogging, jump roping).
Again - psh.

Perform fundamental locomotor (e.g., skip, gallop, run) and nonlocomotor (twist, stretch, balance) skills with mature form.

Develop manipulative skills (e.g., cut, glue, throw, catch, kick, strike).
Me: D'you cut? glue? throw? catch? kick?
Trev: Yes.
Quite right.

Create and perform unique dance movements and sequences that strengthen skills while demonstrating personal and spatial awareness.
Well - not sure what this means - I chose a flat opal for my wedding ring because a diamond that poked out off my hand just wasn't practical - I'm forever knocking my hand against a wall because I misjudge..... So we'll skip it.

Recognize and express feelings in a variety of ways (e.g., draw, paint, tell stories, dance, sing). Express how colors, values, and sizes have been controlled in artworks to create mood, tell stories, or celebrate events.
Sing a melody independently, with developing accuracy and a natural voice that is free from strain.
Create simple rhythm, movement, and melody patterns with body percussion and instruments.

Check check check. Oh- check.

Explain how family members support each other.
Me: D'we support each other? Look out for eachother?

Describe tasks at home and school.
Well - we can skip that one.

Explain how families change over time.
Our family doesn't change, he said. Since I'm not certain of the question, and I agree, I say "check." Trev knows he may desire to move out someday, and have a wife (or not), so I figure we've got it covered.

Recognize that choices have consequences which affect self, peers, and family.
Me: Decisions have consequences, Bub?

Describe behaviors that initiate and maintain friendships.

Me: If you wanted to be friends with and meet someone, what would you do?
Not a problem.

Practice democratic processes ie take turns, listen to others, share ideas
Describe physical features surrounding the home, school, and community.
Identify changes in the school and neighborhood over time.
Identify and use technology in your home, school, and community (e.g., computer, TV, radio).
Show respect for state and national symbols and patriotic traditions; recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Objective Express relationships in a variety of ways.
Er - No. NO. No demanded allegiances in this house. Not a part of who we are.

Describe traditions, music, dances, artwork, poems, rhymes, and stories that distinguish cultures.
Develop dramatic storytelling skills through flexibility in movement and voice, accurate sequencing, and listening and responding to others.

Observe and draw pictures of plants.
Draw? Well, No. Surely Grow Your Own Plants and Vegetables counts for something, though.
Compare seeds of plants and describe ways they may be carried through the environment (e.g., wind, water, animals).
Observe and describe plants as they grow from seeds.

On and on it goes until

Use map skills to identify features of the neighborhood and community.
Create representations that show size relationships among objects of the home, classroom, school, or playground.
Identify map and globe symbols (e.g., cardinal directions, compass rose, mountains, rivers, lakes).

Locate continents and oceans on a map or globe (i.e., North America, Antarctica, Australia, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean).

So we got out the globe. Brought it from that table to this table. Maddie seeks out Oklahoma (and Papa) right away.
Shrug. So we need to figure out oceans and continents sometime in the next several months. Is this where I ask to what eon or era they are referring???
Fine - we need to talk about oceans and continents more in the next few months.

Language Arts.

Identify specific purpose(s) for listening (e.g., to gain information, to be entertained).
Listen and demonstrate understanding by responding appropriately (e.g., follow multiple-step directions, restate, clarify, question).
Speak clearly and audibly with expression in communicating ideas.

Speak in complete sentences.

Okay. Now I'm asleep.
I'm starting to see a theme here....

Identify specific purpose(s) for viewing media (i.e., to identify main idea and details, to gain information, distinguish between fiction/nonfiction).
Use a variety of formats (e.g., show and tell, drama, sharing of books and personal writings, choral readings, informational reports, retelling experiences and stories in sequence) in presenting with various forms of media.


Relate prior knowledge to make connections to text (e.g., text to text, text to self, text to world). Ask questions about text read aloud and independently.
Make predictions using picture clues, title, text, and/or prior knowledge.
Make inferences and draw conclusions from text.
Identify topic/main idea from text noting details.
Retell using important ideas/events and supporting details in sequence.
Compile information from text.

Identify beginning, middle, and end; characters; setting; problem/resolution.
Identify different genres: nursery rhymes, fairy tales, poems, realistic fiction, fantasy, fables.
Identify information from pictures, captions, and diagrams.
Identify multiple facts in grade level informational text.
Locate facts from informational texts (e.g., picture books, grade level informational books).

Doh. It just gets worse and worse!

Here's the problem, as I see it.
Maybe the EA - state or national, you choose - has such a problem with home educator's because we are not as informed as they are about such things.
Maybe they figure if we don't call a lesson "Identify beginning, middle, and end; characters; setting; problem/resolution" then we cannot possibly fathom the importance of such a thing - much less judge if our child is comprehending a favorite story, able to follow along, anticipate what may happen in the end, or recognize that the particular end was the same as yesterday and the day before - and recognize that the characters are even familiar.
It's all I can figure.

Some of us that live an unschooling life take it even further and say that school is imitating life - that a life well lived will teach and show you the way to your own fulfillment.

It's a sort of cross-roads, I guess.
We think their way (The One True Way) is unnecessary and just not absolute, they think our ways are subpar. I'm not sure why.
And I don't really care, frankly.

My son doesn't know the word "syllable".
If I tried to explain it to his six-year-old head, and said "it's a matter of seperating the segments of sounds at particular points" he would.... go. (grin) maybe I'd never even find him again!
But when he wants to enunciate - what does he do but just that. My. Name. Is. Trev- El- YN!" He'll say when he's tired of being teased and tormented.

I guess what it comes down to is no matter what you call it - or don't call it - if it's important, and useful, you'll learn it. You'll get it.
You'll seek it out.
You'll question, dissect, turn it upside-down, stomp on it, maybe call it stupid, love it or hate it. If it matters.
If it suits you to do so.
Do others really care How you know it?
Or When you first knew it?

The only relevance these questions have is to you and your own sense of fulfillment.

I still think we're (or at the very least my children) far better off discovering such things in our/their own time than according to when another deems appropriate - for whatever (read: arbitrary) reason.

If given sovereignty, our own minds and spirit always serve us well.
I'll never believe that there is a truer way.

addendum: I'm adding to this that though I was questioning him - quizzing him- it was done in fun and with silliness - we were laughing and singing "I loooooove you...." in silly voices, and dancing, and wiggling - I wasn't bombarding him with "This Is A Test".
Do you eat?
Do you run?
Do you sing?
That sort of thing. :)


KMDuff said...

Reminds me somewhat of all the questions they ask at annual checkups for the kids.

Also...those standards bug me alot from my educational training standpoint. I've spent time analyzing the math standards and they are quite irritating. :) (I could really write alot about this!)

Yet, I have considered doing something similar. Checking my kids knowledge against a checklist, I mean.

Thanks for sharing.

piscesgrrl said...

I used checklists on rare occasions when my kids were younger too, before I went RU or got it fully. I did the same as you - asked them, and then my oldest said "What's that?" and got interested in the list and thought it was interesting (and a bit insulting - the list, not me - at least I don't think?!). I couldn't read the lists, only your replies and comments and "yup, check"s... because UGH, that stuff is mind-numbingly DULL isn't it? After teacher training and rubric-writing AS a teacher, i'd rather pull out my own eyelashes than EVER have to couch learning in those terms again.

Ok, I feel better now.

For us though? Know how to respond appropriately to strangers at front door.

Um, get me my old red pen, wouldja? It's remedial stranger-danger-at-the-front-door for us!