This is what the sports announcers say about referees being very strict with the rules, or, not “just letting them play.”  I think I am guilty of making ticky-tack calls myself, and I wonder just how ticky-tack I should be.

To answer that question, I need to determine exactly what I hope to accomplish in our homeschool.  Do I want the boys to develop a love of learning?  Or do I want them to become good students?  Duh.  Of course every mother would want love of learning, right? Are the two mutually exclusive?  I don’t think so, but I sometimes feel that they are.  I really think that you need both of them, but I also think that too much empahsis on the student part can squash the learner part.  However, swinging the other way with emphasis on learning and none on student-ing is no good either.   What I mean is that sure, I could devour books left and right, read everything I can find on a subject, but that doesn’t make me do the best I can on what I’m interested.  Reading, after all, is a  passive pursuit, and I think it takes some kind of action generated by the learner to really achieve Deep Learning.  (I think I’ll keep that phrase – I like it.)  I did that once on WWI and WWII.  I read everything out there that I could find and watched every movie.  But if I had gone beyond that, if I had done a paper or a project on it, then I would have been forced to synchronize some of the material I had read.  I may have drawn some conclusions that would not have occurred to me before I started writing. 

Now, my boys are elementary age, and I am not expecting theses on their subjects, but I consider my job to be to prepare them TO BE ABLE to do this in the future.  If my sons cannot read, then they cannot explore through reading; they are limited to audio and video.  If they cannot write, and I’m talking about both the physical act and also word usage,  then even though they may have a lot up in their heads, they cannot convey that information except orally.  If they cannot order their thoughts, then their writing means nothing.

Right now, they are learning these skills, which means practicing them.  And as Vince Lombardi once said, “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.”  Here comes ticky-tack.

I think the skill that a teacher must develop  being ticky-tack without being punitive, making the student desire mastery of the skill.  If anyone has a magic formula for this, I’d love to know it!  My goal is to foster a love of learning while learning to be a good student, but I fall short of my goal more than I would like.  Encyclopedia has discovered the Percy Jackson books at the same time he is studying Greek myths for his schoolwork.  It is so fun and so neat when pieces of information from different sources converge and fit in together.  Those are joyful learning moments, and he is experiencing one of those right now, but still, there is handwriting to practice, grammar to work on (a difficult area for him), math to keep practicing.  I think that these skills need to be consistently worked on, day in and day out, for one to become a good student.  And unless he practices them regularly, they will not become second nature.  Think about how hard it would be to type if you had to think about every key every time you had to strike it.  It would get in the way of going beyond the passive phase of learning. 

For now, I’m going to be ticky-tack about some things a lot of the time.  I also think that there are times to let up and let it go and let sheer joy of knowledge-gathering take place.  I think it’s all about balance, and this wisdom comes with experience.