Saturday, March 28, 2015

Montessori High School at Home Meanderings

Spring break has officially started, and what am I doing? Relaxing? Having fun? Catching up on sleep or reading?


I'm working on high school plans, in part so I can set some plans in place for the rest of the school year for my son.

I've actually been working on things all week. I started a separate blog for people homeschooling high school in Alberta, I've been asking questions of people regarding getting credits (it's not the same here as many homeschoolers in the US do it, although at least we can earn official credits here as homeschoolers; not the case in all provinces). I've been thinking and mulling and trying to figure out how we can move in a direction where my son is reading and writing more and how we can do social studies, in particular, but also science next year, without relying on the textbook. Or ideally, touching the textbooks at all. Well, maybe some of the assignments or self-checks.

So, I find myself here shortly after noon on a cloudy Saturday morning, first full day of Spring Break, having already taken the car in for an oil change and eaten 3 chocolate chip cookies (what does that have to do with anything? no clue--catching up on sleep might be a better choice today) sitting on my laptop researching Montessori high school.

At the Austin Montessori School, this opening sentence catches my eye:

In the Austin Montessori Adolescent Community the adults collaborate to prepare an environment which meets the cognitive, social, and physical needs of adolescents so that they can continue their individual self development.

What are my son's cognitive needs?
*One, to learn to pay more attention. He is not ADD; more off in LaLaLand a lot. Not here and present. Perhaps having him learn meditation and other activities that encourage focus in the now would be useful. Other than watching YouTube videos of people playing video games.
*Stimulating, challenging, interesting, growing in logic, analysis, synthesis... He also needs to learn things like reviewing to prepare for tests and how to actually do things to remember information you might not remember automatically (I've been reading Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning and know, now, that I will quiz him often and train him to quiz himself and do things like narration in small bits, working up to larger sections to narrate and so on). Heck, he might even like some of the memory training tactics or speed reading and such. These are things that academics and other courses will address or incorporate, although I'm not sure they address logic as much as I'd like them to. Not explicitly. I do have a book for that, one we'd even started. I don't know if it has been found since we moved. (I still can't find our copy of The Hobbit...)

What are his social needs?
*He needs activities in which he can interact with others, but as an introvert, he doesn't need a huge amount of this. He does, however, need more than he's getting. He actually said one day not too long ago something to the effect that he does what he does (mostly be on his iPad) because he doesn't have friends around to do things with. The reality of living in a large city where homeschoolers are all spread out, he doesn't see ones his age very often, can't establish friendships with them, so, really, 99% of his friends are his 3 cousins (okay, I guess it's really 75%--he has one other friend) who all go to school and live at least a 25-minute drive away. It's tough. But I need to remind myself this is a need. My daughter has this need more than he does and it's one in which we've really struggled to get it filled without her heading to school (which, honestly, I think would not work well for her; as she's been spending more time with coworkers--who are, for the most part, older than her by at least a couple of years--I think she's seeing that her lack of "fitting in" very well is that, while most of her homeschooling comrades are younger than her, she does fit in better with a group that's older than her, despite her petite size, which high school kids seem to be very quick to dismiss her for for some reason, but I digress).
*Finding his place in this world. Okay, maybe not entirely, but getting a sense of having a role in the greater world. While he has shown interest in a job for the financial aspect of it, it could help with this social need, as could volunteering. (Note to self: Bring the kids to that one homeless charity's thrift shop that's just down the street! See if there's some way we can help.)

What are his physical needs?
*Healthy foods. I'm not sure why, but he said to me just yesterday or Thursday that he wants something set up so he can try to aim for a certain number of fruits and vegetables every day.
*Health class addresses some of this.
*Physical education--My plan is for him to do phys. ed. all the way through high school. Largely because he needs those credits, but also because he has a tendency, since becoming an adolescent, to just do NOTHING. His dad keeps bringing up that he (the 14-year old) should be on a team of some kind (although his dad makes it such a "grander" thing, "He needs to be part of something greater than himself", as though sports teams are the only way? but that's a whole other thing). I think the only way that would happen is to get him out and watching some of these sports in action, maybe get him going, "Hm, that looks like fun," AND having someone on the team that he knows. He is soooo introverted and it's a serious threat to not know anybody, or not know them well, when surrounded by a group of strangers. That said, if we were willing to dish out the money for a membership to the rec centres (which would end up being over $1000/year just for the two of us, or let's say we just do 6 months of winter, under $600...), I could set something up where other families/teen boys meet up with us every week to do sports. Not quite a team, but it would give him greater variety and wouldn't involve us trying to coordinate 4 vastly different schedules with only 2 vehicles. He really doesn't like the idea of having to go to a practice or two a week plus a game for something he's not super interested in and I can't blame him. His dad, on the other hand, played soccer all through elementary, junior high, high school and still today, in his 40s. He has a completely different mentality about it, so a sports team is always his solution. ;)
*Good environment: Fresh air, air quality inside the home, etc.

There are probably others, but I'm getting tired of typing about this. Hahaha.

Okay, so with those three aspects in mind, how would you organize your homeschooling during the high school years? :D

Hm, you know, they've left out emotional in this, but I guess it's often classified as socio-emotional. Or psychological/emotional. I'm not sure where my idea fits in exactly, but the idea of a sense of accomplishment. This might just be a personal sense of accomplishment or one where there's a sense of making a difference for others (that's part of the social need, I suppose).

Where am I going with this?? My brain has shut off. All I know is I want something engaging, stimulating, interesting, even though most of the content will be decided for us. Something that truly respects his development. His sister decided to do the online classes and didn't really want me involved in it at all--her need for feeling like she can take care of things herself--but he's not the same child at all and isn't just going to take charge and get things done. I need to plan and prepare.

So, has my babble confused you? Inspired you? Informed you? How have you organized your homeschooling during the high school years Montessori-style?

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