Internal Readiness vs. External Readiness: New Beginnings

This is the “final chapter” on my thoughts on the post that JoVe from Tricotomania wrote called “Contemplations on the School Year.”

In her post, JoVe considers how the impact of the school schedule can possibly migrate to the way we look at progression and grade classification with this comment:

I suspect that this calendar pressure also affects our ability to lose a dependence on grade level and progression expectations, too.

Interestingly, it has not affected me to the level I thought it would or could. With my focus being on learning development, I didn’t see a place for “grade levels” with my children during the pre-goal oriented years. And even then, because of the leaning toward “delayed academics”, I still saw no logical place for “grade levels”. All of my children through the teen years still get stumped with the question of grade levels by first, pausing with a long, drawn-out “aaaahhhh”, and quickly conclude with “we homeschool” as if that should put an end to the mix-up.

In fact, this JUST happened yesterday at the vet office. The vet asked my 17 year old daughter what grade she’s in, and she simply is still at a loss to answer that question, so replied as per above. I think the vet was confused as he stated, “Don’t you have a general idea where you are?” They just don’t get that we don’t think in those terms. She then looked at me and concluded, “I think I’m considered a senior.” And yet, that “status” just doesn’t encapsulate our way of looking at the learning time table of our child. She knows that; I know that; others just won’t get that, I think. *I* concluded by saying, “She’s pretty much done all that school would typically require of her. She spends her time writing a novel these days.” The vet, who was quite pleasant really and not judgmental, was impressed with that type of initiation.

As for the beginning of the “school year” in September being a time for progression expectations, I do find myself “assessing” if anyone needs changes to their learning lives in a more broad context. On the other hand, I feel I have a pattern to this “assessing” every three months or so. But, I do feel a “new beginnings” atsmosphere in the air for which I allow myself to be a part. The operative word, hopefully, is “allow myself”. As my daughter and I shopped the “back to school” specials, we confided in each other that we love this special time set aside to renew your giddyness over all the new learning condiments that we so enjoy using day to day.

To end my dissertation on school schedules . . . LOL . . . I share my thoughts on JoVe’s lamentation:

I have found myself somewhat annoyed that there is an expectation that I (and others) will be around on September 5 to attend a picnic.

Work schedules are much more a factor for our family than school schedules. Obviously, there is periodic overlap between the two. There is also a natural shift in our family rhythms between summer activities and winter activities. Depending on where we live and the climate that we experience, that can be September, or into October. Here in North Carolina, we’re planning a week beach trip mid-September with a homeschooling family we adore. For our large family, individual rhythms shift and change throughout the year. “New beginnings” for each child happens at diverse times within each year. I do believe in and embrace new beginnings, but it doesn’t usually coincide with the first day of school. I see the picnic as an offer for new beginnings within a group. Sometimes I’m ready and interested in that offer, and sometimes I’m not, and sometimes I join in a little later.

I can totally see JoVe’s point about SO many in society live and breathe by the school schedule, and many homeschoolers continue that rhythm. By sharing some of our experiences, it has been interesting to discover how our family has focused our cycles around the weather patterns and our personal family heartbeat that doesn’t include the school schedule. I believe it is one reason we enjoy certain family connections in our home.

Abbey at an “8th grade” vet camp offered by Michigan State University. It was a competitive application process in which one of three applicants were accepted. At the time, Abbey had been seriously contemplating becoming a vet, and this was her opportunity to try it out, which just so happened to coincide with this “8th grade” offer:

Abbey goofing off at vet camp:


Abbey and her group dissecting a chicken to determine its cause of death:

One response to “Internal Readiness vs. External Readiness: New Beginnings

  1. I very much agree with and appreciate your thoughts. Ani chooses to advance herself a grade on her birthday in mid-February. She’s not totally aware of the school calendar yet (other than kids at church went “back to school” a week and a half ago). The funny thing is she announced on her birthday this year that she is in the fourth grade. She’s 6. But, whatever. I don’t care what grade she declares herself and it is always fun to see the flabbergasted looks on people’s faces when she answers the “What grade are you in?” question with “Fourth.” Not only is she just 6, she’s the size of an average 4 year old. Invariably they look at me in confusion and I put them out of their misery by telling them she is homeschooled and that is about the level she is at give or take. They then all breathe a sigh of relief. As if a public schooled child who is advanced would be a scary and confusing thing but a homeschooled one is okay.