Friday, January 10, 2014

Homeschool Girl Scouts: School Day Storyboard for World Thinking Day

The girls have both been working very hard on their World Thinking Day badges, and although our excellent-at-the-time discussion of how children perceive their educations, particularly in places where academics are a privilege, not a right, has not stopped them from fussing about math or whining about having to figure out how to spell their names in hieroglyphics, as I'd unaccountedly hoped it would (sigh), they've never-the-less been working happily and enthusiastically on projects that would make them gripe if I asked them to complete, but that fill them with excitement and inspiration since it's in pursuit of that badge.

And that's how Syd spend the other day practicing storytelling and sequencing, composition and handwriting, design and decoration, etc., while creating a storyboard illustrating a typical school day for her. The day before the "typical day," she looked at our work plans for the next day and wrote a list of the photos that she wanted to take--her feeding the chickens, completing her math worksheet, practicing the keyboard, and so on:

The next day, every time Syd started a new subject, she gave someone her instant camera (a Christmas present from her grandmother, and she LOVES it!), told us what to shoot, and then "posed" herself, which was pretty hilarious since, although I do sometimes ask them to hold up something they've done and show me so that I can take a photo, I have never posed my kids to take a photo. But Syd, for each photo, was intent on doing something very specific, like holding up her test tube of litmus solution that she'd just made in a way that made it look like she was shaking it, looking at it curiously, and then freezing so I could get the shot, or holding her multiplication tables up very high as she "studied" them:

The big benefit to using the instant camera is that she got her photos immediately without fuss, and she could keep them organized throughout the day, as well as handle them, study them, and thus come up with more ideas about refining her project.

At the end of the day, Syd created her storyboard by labeling the photos, gluing them in order to a large piece of Bristol board, then decorating it:

Obviously, it now has pride of place on the wall:

As I watched Syd complete this project, I was fascinated, shocked, and disappointed at what *I* learned from it, namely that Syd has a very strict definition of what comprises her "school" day. One of the reasons why I thought this storyboard project would be so fun, and why I encouraged her to choose it, is that I imagined the photos that we could take of Syd making waffles for breakfast in her pajamas, meeting a friend at the park for an impromptu midday sledding date, playing ponies with her sister, designing a pillow for the cats out of fabric scraps and then sewing it, going swimming at the Y, going to math class, ice skating--all the things, in other words, that she actually DOES on typical school days. It's not all "school" stuff, sure, but it's all made possible by the fact that we homeschool.

And yet Syd did not see it that way! Syd was adamant that she should only photograph and include the actual school stuff--math worksheets, science experiment, spelling practice, etc. For some reason, she also wanted to include her chores, but refused to include anything outside the housework and formal academics that I think comprise the least amount of her day. I think this makes her school day actually look kind of dire, always at that table or put to work:

I find this so interesting, because I have so many conversations with the kids (mostly Will) about their attitudes to schoolwork, how I'm not sitting right next to them for an hour talking them through word problems because I'm mean, or asking them to memorize fifty spelling words because I want them to be unhappy. Perhaps I should also be having conversations that sound more like, "Yes, you two can run over to the park for an hour at 1:00 pm on a Tuesday just to stomp around on the frozen creek, come home frozen yourselves, take an hour-long hot bath, then work on those spelling words with a mug of hot chocolate at your elbow because we homeschool," or "You know, you were able to spend the morning outside reading in the chicken yard with a chicken on your lap because we homeschool," or "We only have the free time to allow you to enroll in horseback riding and aerial silks and ice skating class and nature class and chess club and Girl Scouts because we homeschool." I don't know if I've ever really pointed out to them how much of our whole lifestyle revolves around the fact that we homeschool, how we could only go on that November road trip to see wild ponies and Washington, D.C. because we homeschool, how all those spring afternoons spent at the park with their friends are actually homeschool playgroups that take place while their schooled friends are at school, how the fact that they've never been woken up in the morning in their lives (do they even know that other kids get woken up in the morning?) has only been possible because we homeschool.

So much education for EVERYONE is going into this Girl Scout badge!


Tina said...

I love the hard work Syd put into her "Typical Day" project, but I agree. It's important for the kiddos to understand that homeschooling does afford them a lot of different opportunities that they would miss out on if they were in public school.
I chatted with a friend that has a daughter (Emma's BFF) in Girl Scouts and I think we might give it a try. They are mostly independent, but they do belong to a troop that meets twice a month.
Thanks for sharing the girls activities with us!

julie said...

I like the idea of troop meetings, and it might be something that I'll want to organize with our other buddies at some point, but right now I feel like we have organized activity overload! Twice a month is such a good idea, though--you can make friends and do some stuff together, but it's not the same time commitment as a weekly schedule.


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