Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Watching learning happening

I made notes for this post a few weeks ago when homeschooling felt great. Now, when it doesn't feel so successful, I need the post, so here it is!

It's been a pleasure watching my children learn lately. Parker (5)learned to ride a two wheeler after announcing suddenly on a Friday that he wanted to take his training wheels off. I did (hmm, maybe I should have let him do it), and two days later after some practice balancing for a day, and a few encouraging words from Daddy he was off, giving himself challenges (like, ride to the neighbors driveway and back to ours without putting his feet down). We played a writing game, which he took off with, figuring out phonetic spellings for the word he wanted to use. When I corrected his spelling he told me "Mom, you know it really irritates me when you do that." So I stopped. We've been reading about pilgrims in anticipation of a trip to Plimouth Plantation (which was unfortunately postponed). We've also been reading about sharks, including a book from the Scientists in the Field series, which I recommend. It is advanced for him, but he likes it, and I'm sure is learning more than I know from our read-aloud sessions. He's also been playing math games on the computer and asking for more.

Mason (3) is growing, too. He hasn't loved swim lessons, and I told him he didn't have to take them. He loves the water, though. We were at the pool for Parker's lesson, and Mason was jumping off the side to me. He would tell me exactly where he wanted me for his level of learning (closer, no -- farther away). I was impressed that he knew what he needed. His brother teaches him a little about letters, and he asks for more occasionally. He chooses number books to help him learn his numbers (a favorite at our house is Counting Our Way to Maine.

However, last week was very busy. On five days in a row we saw homeschooling friends. Tuesday was a mom's finance meeting, Wednesday I took care of two other homeschooling kids and we all went to gymnastics class, Thursday our regular homeschooling group day, Friday a mushroom hike, and Saturday a mushroom lab for the "older" (five and up) kids. It was too much. My house is a mess, and I'm not seeing the independent learning happening. I'm also not very happy with the Oak Meadow curriculum. My kinder review is that it isn't a good match for my child. My less kind review is that there isn't much to it, and the fairy tales aren't engaging. A while back I asked Parker to write a page of As. He looked at me as if I was crazy, and then we had a great time playing a word (writing) game. Much more relevant to him. At any rate, I was hoping OM would help me create an environment for child-led learning, but it isn't working. I'm trolling around a little, trying to figure out what I'd like to bring into the house next, yet very aware that I shelled out for OM, and I should be a little bit careful what else I buy. I have a (borrowed) copy of Five in a Row which I peruse. I like it, and I love the list of good books, but it also feels a little light to me.

But although I'm not convinced things are going well, Parker seems very happy. He doesn't mention going to Kindergarten, even when he talks to his friend about it. He wasn't affected by my less-than-perfect mood yesterday, and spent the day building cushion castles with his brothers. Today, although he didn't want me to read to him, he spent lots of time creating new and different (but symmetrical) weapons with duplo blocks. When I asked him how many chicken nuggets he would have left if he gave Evan two of his ten, he told me. Although he won't read a book, he shows evidence over and over of being able to read two syllable words. I have to tell myself over and over that he is where he needs to be. That if he needed to go into Kindergarten or even first grade, he would be at grade level.

Well, my first course of action is to clean the house up and re-evaluate what we have that might be of interest. I also need to be more careful about getting too busy, which will be difficult.

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