Temperament: Cheerful (unless she doesn't get what she wants—then hound dog is the best way to describe her)
Struggles that make homeschooling tricky: Can be lazy. Prone to fibbing. Doesn't like to do hard things.
Passions: art, writing
I was worried about homeschooling Flannery. I've always had a rule since I attempted this back in 2008 that I would never homeschool a child until they were completely self-sufficient, particularly with reading.
But you try telling your six-year-old that everyone else gets to be homeschooled while you have to go to school by yourself. She liked Kindergarten most of the time, but her teacher was not super tuned into her (or any of the kids), and there were times last year when she asked why she couldn't be homeschooled like Mary and Shaemus.
I will admit something right now. There was a lot of meaningless threatening going on the first few weeks of homeschool. I probably said, "If you don't do (fill in the blank), you will go back to school tomorrow," five thousand times.
I didn't really mean it, but I said it, and it did no good, but patiently training Flannery has done some good. She is very, very independent. I just have to make sure she's actually done what she says she's done.
This is Flannery's schedule:
Cello practice from 8-9
Math with Teaching Textbooks from 9-10
Reading from 10-11
Workbooks (see below) and writing 11-12
Art (drawing, sculpting, painting)/P.E./Piano/Building/Science and basically anything else she's interested in doing the rest of the day.
Official school isn't that long for Flannery, but because it is really long for everyone else, she ends up doing extra work without knowing it's happening. We have a bazillion books for her to explore here and we go to the library every week. I'm finding her curled up alone with a book, her lips moving silently, more and more often. Her reading gets better every single day, and she's doing surprisingly well with math.
She likes to save everything she makes and everything everyone else makes, and she never wants to clean up after herself. She makes my house a wreck. This is a MAJOR problem I have patience with about one time out of ten, but...
I am loving homeschooling her. I told a friend just yesterday that everything around our house seems to get happier and happier as each day passes.
My kids are being creative, and they are being creative all day long.
Yesterday, Flannery made a crazy elephant out of playdough. It doesn't sound like much, but she spent a long time on this elephant, and it was the best playdough sculpture I've ever seen. She's been designing her own board game complete with complicated instructions, math, warnings, and fabulous pictures. She made a 3D map of the world the other day out of model magic—all done completely on her own, and it was really, really good! (I'd post pictures if I had a phone that took pictures, but I do not. Maybe one day.) She has been teaching herself the piano, and she really is doing it! She works in the yard with me and makes discoveries every few seconds (Mom, what's a grub good for? Why does that squirrel have an ouchy on its back? What would hurt it? How is this growing here? Why do weeds keep coming?). Her stories are fabulous—about things like jellyfish that eat vegetables for a job.
All of this comes from within her. It seems to me that creativity is something that bubbles and froths and grows and grows when given the best ingredients. It is limitless. It never diminishes under the right conditions. And the confidence kids get when they create something interesting from start to finish after much trial and effort is indescribable.
If you gauged learning on engagement (meaning both mind and heart are completely occupied in a task), Flannery is learning at home every single second of homeschool (with the possible exception of the two workbooks I have her work in every day...). Not a minute of her time is wasted, and man, that makes her one happy kid.