Our “homeschooling” themes at this point consist of an eclectic mash-up of Mom’s Grand Ideas and the boys’ Exciting Discoveries.
Today, for instance …
This morning we narrowly avoided our morning tv routine by some stroke of luck and distraction. I asked N to find a book he could read to me. He chose a lift-the-flap book and got absorbed in it, forgetting about me. This is always good.
Meanwhile, J found a roly-poly on the living room floor.
N came over to investigate. The boys examined the strange creature using a magnifying glass and giggled as they tipped it over and watched it fling all its’ tiny legs around, trying to right itself.
I helped them make a cage-home of sorts for it so we could keep it as a pet. I did a very brief internet search and found inspiring stories of Mothers Who Said Yes and helped their children nurture pill bugs. By mid-day it had disappeared, but so had their interest.
Later that morning we had a play date with a friend who taught the boys some games. I didn’t think they could follow rules or focus enough to play any games, so this was a fun discovery for all of us. Both boys liked playing “I spy” with the circle cards that have objects on them that you try to match with the cards in your hands, and N (the 4 year old) learned how to play a cooperative board game … i forget what it was called but it was something about racing an ogre to the treasure chest. He understood the process of the game, liked winning, didn’t like the ogre, and was disappointed that the treasure wasn’t real. I like the idea of cooperative games, since our singular attempt to play candy-land didn’t go over so well … I’ll look into these more.
Both boys took 2 hour naps! <3
In the afternoon, N found a quarter lying on the floor and wanted to add it to his coin collection. I brought out the jar of coins and got inspired to turn it into a Teachable Moment. I thought it would be neat if he started collecting different state quarters, so I brought out a US map and showed him how some quarters had different pictures on them and you could lay them on the corresponding state on the map (money and reading and geography — financial literacy at its’ finest!). He thought it would be neat if he put the flat penny from the zoo and an old ring that had ended up in the coin jar on the map. Further persuasions to take note of the fascinating imprints on the coins fell flat, so I let them just play with the money. Part of me wanted to be content to let them play as they wished and discover things that were meaningful to them, but another part of me wanted to overlay a learning objective on their explorations. I tried offering suggestions like, “Hey, look! You could make groups of the different kinds of coins!” (not fun, mom) or “Wow, some of these are really shiny and some are yucky-looking. I wonder why?” (i don’t, mom) I even pulled out the big Ikea floor mat and used dry-erase markers to draw big circles on it for the different types of coins. I got a bit of leverage on that one (although to be honest, i bribed N with fruit snacks) and we spent upwards of 4 minutes arranging coins by groups and talking about similarities and differences between pennies, nickles, dimes, and quarters. But the sun was shining so bright and little brother was crying at the back door to go draw chalk pictures on the patio, so I let it go and went with the flow. I might try again on a rainy day though, because I think it really could have been a Grand Idea.
Chalk pictures led to running through the backyard with a kite; the backyard wasn’t big enough to fly the kite so they wanted to go to the park. By this point it was dinner time and I didn’t have a plan of action, so we went to eat frozen yogurt for dinner (ice-cream meals never happen more often than once a month!). Then we went to the park, ran into some friends, played at the playground until J found a cup in the sandbox and tried to drink the dirt, then went home. I made spaghetti (for dessert, i guess?) while they watched Kazoops (we love our Netflix) and then went to bed.
Random question of the day: Where do the holes on the moon come from?
lesson learned: Although I truly love the idea of following their interests and not pushing my agenda on them (for some main point that i want them to learn in any given moment), this is a big struggle for me. The teacher side of me finds diagrams and lectures and projects in everything, and I often get more excited than my kids about the Grand Idea in my head. The boys, ignorant of my schemes, often come up with perfectly wonderful thoughts, questions, and projects of their own. Learning to mesh these two in a profitable and peaceful way will be a work in progress, for sure.