Friday, October 10, 2014

Yeah, We Homeschool!

Today, we did a science unit exploring the concepts of evaporation and the multiple states of water, a math unit and subtraction drill, and a Bible unit - all before we left the breakfast table.
Sounds pretty pretentious, doesn't it?

Here's what actually happened:
I was processing the chicken stock I made overnight in the crockpot. As I divided it into containers I observed that I had only 6 cups of the stuff, although I'd started out with 10 cups of water yesterday evening.

I asked James (5) "so, how many cups are missing, and where did they go?" His off the cuff answer to the first question was wrong, so I pulled out 10 grapes which he lined up in front of him. He ate them one at a time until there were 6 left, and got the correct answer of 4. Next, we discussed where the missing water had gone, and after a bit of prompting he figured out it had turned into steam.

Meanwhile, Grace (not quite 4) thought she needed to get in on the counting. I handed her 10 Cheerios which she proceeded to line up and eat one at a time, counting the remainder on each iteration while I said things like "You ate 4 and now there are 6, so 10 take away 4 is 6" or "look, you ate 5 and you have 5 left, so 5 is half of 10!" This held her attention clear down to the last Cheerio.

Finally, both kids practiced some of the Bible verses we've been working on all summer. They're extra motivated because we recently started a Bible Club (kind of an "AWANA light") at our pre-school co-op where the kids get jewels on their crowns for each successful recitation.
We were done at 5 minutes of 9.

The great thing is, whether you call this a science unit, a math activity, and a Bible drill or whether you just say that we talked about steam and counted some food before trying to earn our jewels, *it still counts!* They were engaged. They used their brains. They memorized. They learned!

Those of you who have read my blog this summer know that I've been having a bit of an internal struggle as we try to translate all those beautiful visions of pre-school and homeschool into reality. I've written at length on the challenges introduced by our 18 month old. I haven't yet said much about my son's instinctual rebellion to all things that smack of school. In that brief period of formal lessons, he only grudgingly put up with the letter drills, resisted the phoenix practice, and often outright refused the letter tracing worksheets. Informal attempts since then have met with much the same resistance, and I'm slowing getting through my head that he simply isn't ready to learn to read, and (just as importantly) that This Is OK.
I'm also getting it through my head that tricking the kid into learning is going to be the name of the game here for a while. There may be a better word for it - "delight based learning" perhaps? ;) But it all boils down to the fact that he isn't going to passively sit back and soak up things that don't excite him, and even when he's interested, if he senses a "school setting," he may well decide to resist anyway. Frankly, on any two days out of three he could have easily rejected my whole math and science plan - grapes or no grapes! He requires a super gentle touch, which sadly is not my strong point as my Own instinct is to lock horns and insist on compliance. Uh oh!

Still, every once in a while everything aligns and it works. Hopefully both my son and I will grow into the process to the point were it can happen daily instead of weekly, but for now I am marking down another "win," and hoping that, given a few more of these, I will no longer feel like Quite such a fraud when I say "yeah, we homeschool!"

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