Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Less Nagging, More Learning

Knowing that the homeschool February blues were coming, I've been trying for the last few weeks to rein in my expectations for how much "school" we get done each week. I've never been one to stress about the day to day work getting done, but week to week, I wanted to see something for my efforts.

It was getting to be too much with me nagging the kids, especially Sweetpea and Toto about getting their Math done. Because of the frustration with Math, everything else started taking a hit too. So, I decided to use what was leftover of our homeschool charter money to hire a tutor to come work with the kids on Math once a week for 30 minutes each. He also tutors in Science so he is going to come for weekly Science experiments too. It has been such a huge stress reliever to me.

That left more of my time and energy for history, reading, and writing.

Mid-month we read a chapter out of our American Revolution book and had a great discussion about slavery, Martin Luther King, civil rights, Obama's Inauguration, Gandhi, and Abortion. For copywork they copied a portion of MLK's "I have a Dream" speech and drew a picture of him speaking in DC.
Gordo drew a picture and narrated about the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman.

Just from their own family history and talking together, they were able to learn a lot and relate to history in a personal way. I told them that one of their great-great grandfathers had been a slave owner. That their great grandfather had had to pay a Poll tax on Election Day. That their immigrant grandfather had to drink out of the "non-white" fountains when he visited the south in 1963. Days later, they were still telling people about their history lesson.

I was glad they enjoyed our casual talking lesson, and that I had something to give to our charter school ES, but that was not the great lesson of the month.

The lesson, of course, was for me.

In just the few weeks that I stopped nagging, suddenly they started learning.

All 3 finally learned to ride a two-wheeled bicycle after years of my pleading and whining. I had learned just after my 5th birthday, and had taught many friends and neighbors over the years, and I couldn't believe that I had a 9, 8, and 6 year old who still could not ride.

They went from not riding at all to "look, ma no hands" in about 4 days. They were proud. I was proud. They were having fun.

Gordo, who I had just flat out stopped trying to teach how to read in early December because I was getting nowhere and he was getting frustrated - had the light bulb moment about 2 weeks ago.

He had asked me to read to him from his Rock book (which is our Science subject right now and which he loves.) He asked how I could read such long, crazy words like calcite and Igneous, obsidian and Metamorphic. I told him when I came across a word I did not know, I sounded it out, using the Phonics rules I learned as a kid.


He couldn't believe it. The same rules that he was learning? 

Yes, I assured him, the rules worked for most of the sounds, and for the ones that didn't, I just memorized the sounds they made.

The next day he was eager to get back to his Happy Phonics and asked me to teach him how to read!

He's been making steady progress ever since.

Toto finally started becoming interested in learning again. He wanted to know all about DNA since I had sent a saliva sample into Ancestry.com. Well, I know nothing about DNA so he and my husband spent hours on line watching science videos about DNA.

He also started listening to the Chronicles of Narnia, finally, and went through 4 discs in a week.

All 3 also learned how to play Yahtzee. I don't remember playing it as a child, but there sure is a lot of math in it.

Sweetpea is happy to be reading a book a day without interference from me. She likes the new math tutor and is enjoying the science experiments.

When I did nag her one evening about had she gotten her Little Flowers work done, she said, No, Mom, I was too busy knitting, reading, and playing War today. Sounds like a good school day to me.

I did tell her she was going to have to do an on-line Bravewriter class with me for a few weeks, just so she will write a little bit. I don't know why she won't write. She writes well when she wants to, even writes poems, but will never write on a topic we've discussed. I think with her it's more of a control issue, she doesn't like me telling her what to do at all. But ironically, she was a compliant student and good writer when in public school. (so I guess it's just me.)

We also made it to the Children's Museum one day and I promised them a trip to the Tech Museum next. February is a great month for field trips.

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