One of the mums at our Home Educators Support Meeting mentioned the disappointment that happens when teachers throw out her childrens work and she remembers as a child herself, the disappointment and confusion that created in her own childhood mind. On the one hand the teachers say that it is important to do their best and to complete the work and then at the end of term/end of year it gets thrown out, not worth keeping.
As we have moved from school to discipleship model in our home one of the repercussions has been a more balanced outlook as far as paperwork for the children.
I believe that if the children are going to do any written or creative work they need to do it to the best of their ability. I also see in myself a character flaw of starting projects more than completing them. I have many unfinished projects floating around and I could see our home-schooling efforts were reproducing that same flaw in our children. We just didnt have time to finish everything. The programme I had set for us was generating 4-6 written pieces to be completed every day! Every day! We were not getting anywhere near this completed but the next day we would do another lesson which would result in the expected written pieces!
Since seeing learning as a whole day activity and seeing writing, as a portion of our learning experiences this aspect of our day has changed.
The older children have a time set aside each day to work on their written work, they decide what to record and how, and work on it independently. The younger children are more directed by me though often work on their own once they have discussed the what and how.
We are actually calling this time Notebook time. Changing the words from written work to Notebook time has helped the children record their learning in a variety of ways rather than just the reporting/narration style they used to use exclusively! The emphasis is on recording not on a topic/subject. This means they can take the time they need to complete a page to the best of their ability and then move onto another. Working this way means that if they are all caught up with their Notebook pages they move onto the next lesson. The outcome of this change means that the children are completing some written/creative work it may not be the big paper trail of lessons that I used to think was necessary to prove learning but their work is, first of all, relevant to them as a person based on their interest and abilities, it is completed, and it is done to the best of their ability reaching for a standard of excellence.