We are up at the crack of dawn. All these years of having a schedule of being up at 6, leaving at 7, is going to take a while to shake.
I make us a big breakfast and set us to the task of organizing our space.
We have set up in the kitchen, laptops facing, printer/fax/scanner/copier to my right and table for stuff to my left. My kitchen is split into a cooking half and an eating half. The eating half is now the school half, seems reasonable to me. I can still cook/write/blog while he works and I can be available for whatever I might be needed for.
What AM I DOING?
Connor asks me to write him a schedule, which I do. I refuse to put times in though. One of the points of this, to me, is that he can think without being interrupted or worse, stopped. He can experience and research without watching a clock to see when he'll have to switch gears, grab his stuff and try to make more room in his head for whatever is next. No, baby, there are no times on your schedule.
Connor asks me to set my iPhone to ring a bell every 45 minutes. No.
The first ground rules for The Williams School.
Don't ask to pee.
Don't ask to eat.
Don't ask if you can read more.
Don't ask if you can get up and take a stretching break.
You can move here. Breath here. Yes, you can have a drink and a snack while you're doing an online class.
He asks me for worksheets. Oh those worksheets. Make work, pretend learning. I worked in the copy room at the elementary school for 5 years. The amount of paper shot through as 'worksheets' shocked me daily. Quickie lesson and here's your papers, mountains and mountains of papers. No, there will not be mountains of random worksheets. There will be project sheets to reinforce what you've studied.
No, my sweet there will not be wasted time gluing papers and worksheets into comp books, no crayons or coloring unless you WANT to color something.
He organizes his spiral books, one per subject. He put his name on them, it's been many years in a row of being told to, I guess this way they won't be confused with mine? I don't say anything about it.
We have decided on these subjects:
Language Arts, English
Cosmology and Astronomy
Wow, that looks intense. I have a strange confidence about this. He looks less frantic. I feel a slight wave of faith flowing from him... to me.
I email him the links that he'll need and passwords to the online information I paid for. I continue to print out rules, regulations and schedules which he poo'pooh's as insufficient as he peruses the sites and looks at the projects for the 'me' led courses.
He's in a small snit because he's doing a lot of repeat work. I reinforce we are trying to determine what he knows and doesn't so that we can not duplicate any lessons down the road. Call all this benchmark testing dear. (sure, I'm tossing school analogy terms...it's the language he's comfortable with...it'll take some time to de-program him)
He works through all the online subjects in minutes. He presents spirals to me with pages and pages of notes he's taken. "It's crazy fast when there's no one bugging me". *ahhhh, this is what we're shooting for* I have him complete some review pages from a math book to determine what he knows and what he doesn't. He hands them back to me, his name on each page, first and last, with the date and subject.
At 12 we pack it in. He's horrified that he hasn't learned anything yet. I assure him he certainly has. I take him to Best Buy to use a gift card he has, he buys SKYRIM. He wants to go home and get on his XBox and play Halo online with his friends. I remind him they're still in school. He laughs. He's less horrified all of a sudden.
His friend calls at 3:30 and the first words out of Connor's mouth are, "dude, this is great, I'm already like a month ahead of you guys!!!!!" Ok, we'll work on "dude" and "like" in the next language class.
He happily parks it in the game-room with his headphone and a bunch of his friends call in and they play, en mass, killing things online. He giggles and chats happily with them.
I'm exhausted, my brain hurts and still worried that I will break him.