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Think outside the pencil


Stardate 2001:

It's a beautiful fall day in homeschool land. My first child (read: guinea pig) is into her Kindergarten year. The living room looks like a public school classroom. The bulletin board-calendar is decorated with a monthly theme. The ABC handwriting chart is in a prominent place. The desk is set up with pencils, ruler, crayons, scissors, and textbooks. Mom even has a whiteboard on a fancy easel for lessons.

After 9 months of pregnancy and 5 years of childrearing, my dreams of being a teacher were coming true! I would teach my daughter to read, write, and compute, turning her into the next child prodigy! She would recite the Declaration of Independence flawlessly, know her multiplication tables in the first grade, and write short novels by the 2nd grade! Homeschooling would be grand!

But wait: my daughter didn't like to write! I don't mean that she didn't like to write sentences or learn to create stories. I mean she didn't want to even use a pencil! Handwriting lessons were a daily crying session. Workbooks were torture for her! Math took forever. No, no, no! This would never do!

After just a few short months of homeschooling, I realized that every child was different, including mine! Now, what?

After a little nail biting and a lot of praying, I came up with a solution that would forever change my homeschooling methods, and salvaged my daughter's love of learning. I called it No Pencil Day.

No Pencil Day happened once a week. It was a chance to do all of our schoolwork without ever writing a thing! And it worked! Here's what we did:

No Pencil Day was a hit. It was her reward for the other 4 pencil-wielding days of the week.

Stardate: 2009

My daughter is now about to be in the 8th grade, and nothing has changed. However, she has learned that pencils are a part of life, and that she must learn to tolerate writing. So, I do require neat, careful handwriting in some subjects, and in others I let her give verbal answers or type on the computer. Needless to say, she is very good with Microsoft Office!

I quickly gave up standard textbooks with this child and learned to use many "alternate" homeschooling methods. My daughter may not love to write, but she is as creative as they come. She can sew, paint, draw, knit, scrapbook, take great photos, design fashions, and dream up all manner of craft projects. Her mind is very quick, quicker than her pencil. She knows her math, language arts, and history. She can remember what she's heard and read with no problem.

So, don't be discouraged when something that everyone else is doing doesn't work in your homeschool. You are not raising everyone else's children. Find what works, and go with it. Learning should be fun!

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