Not really, these guys learn everyday.
But we are back to my planning and keeping a journal of our days. The state of Vermont requires either a portfolio with a parent report for each subject, a certified by the state teacher evaluation, or testing. It really bothers me how "schoolish" I have to be when this is exactly why our family has chosen to make learning just a part of our daily life.
We have never been radical unschoolers as I was never able to feel completely comfortable with that, or perhaps because we have seven children, I simply don't have the time to support each child's interests as fully as I would need/want to. I can't just not make lunch, ignore a 1 year old that needs her diaper changed, leave the spilled milk on the floor... my time is limited and that is probably the only regret I have about having a large family; that I am unable to give each of them as much of myself as I would like.
So each year I consider each child's needs, strengths, weaknesses, and gifts and work to formulate some sort of plan. Our oldest son was academic oriented from the time he was one - pointing out letters on license plates at 18 months. We were terrible parents back then and let him watch PBS (we got rid of the TV about 7 years later) and he has an amazing brain for memorization which is now a bonus as an actor. As he progressed through his teen years, he was pretty sure he wanted to go to college so I helped him by planning his courses accordingly.
We have two children, Isaac (age 15) and Sarah (age 9) that really dislike any kind of formal "school work". As I have worked to incorporate a waldorf inspired home and education, any kind of traditional learning doesn't even begin until almost age 7. Sarah learned to read fluently during her 8th year. Isaac right around the same time. They both resisted any kind of sit-down phonics work. So as I work to meet each of their needs, my challenge is to identify their interests and nurture them but I also have to meet the state's needs and if I am really honest, allay some of my own fears by weaving in the main subject areas, such as math, literature, writing, science and social studies. What I do appreciate about being beholden to the state is that I am paying attention more than I might have.
Isaac is our tech guy. He actually works on our town library's computers and fixes them when a glitch occurs. He is also interested in how things work - almost anything and he has a mind that doesn't stop (which can be very had for him at times). Just on our way today to the library he asked me if a dog had on earphones and only played sound on one side, would it run around in circles? He satisfies much of his personal learning interests by downloading youtube videos when we go to the library, generally on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. We have purposefully kept our home wi-fi free and still only have dial-up. This hasn't stopped Isaac from being able to rattle off nearly every feature of most tech devices and giving his opinion of their worth.
Here are some of his favorites for any of you with techie children -
We absolutely do not stress college for any of our children and that topic would require another blog post, but if a child seems as though he or she is headed for college level courses (what is that anyway these days as it varies so..), I do make sure they know the basics. So for Isaac we are on Algebra II using Life of Fred which is so much fun. I am sure I am enjoying it more than he is but I do hear him laugh every now and then a I read the lesson. Isaac likes to be read to when it is a more complicated subject as I will often interject with words to clarify or relate the subject matter to something he understands.
We are also learning (he probably knows much of this already but just making sure) paragraph formation and writing an essay using the Jensen book. But even here I grab his favorite magazine, Muse, and show him example in the subject matter that interests him. Science this year is Apologia Biology. The author, Wile, is a great writer, making the material interesting while still very challenging. Social studies this year is the boring one - he is using PACE 10th grade, only so that he can have that topic covered as it is not an area of interest to him. Now, if I had lots of time, I could probably have dug deeper and worked on studying history in the context of scientific discovery which probably would interest Isaac more... hmm... maybe next year.
(I will write part 2 soon.)