Sunday, August 25, 2013

In which our heroine wonders how much is enough

I've just spent the better part of an episode of Doctor Who trying to find printables or otherwise put together a plan for an animal book.  Moose has been learning about animals for the last three weeks, and physically speaking, we have nothing to show for it.  "Regular" preschools seem to have buckets of paperwork to send home.  We've been easing into this school thing, mostly talking and exploring, then doing deskwork when he feels like it.

Still, it would be nice to have something for him to look at and to help him recall what he's learned.  I made a set of cards with photographs of animals on them, and among other things, they've been great for sorting games.  We've sorted by classifications (mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, insect), and for that we can simply put the cards into piles.  For learning about habitats this week, however, I'd hoped to have full page backgrounds of each habitat for us to sort onto.  I also wanted to put together an animal book, but I'm having trouble deciding what to do with it since Moose can't read yet.

What to do, what to do?  Is there a point?  I'll still likely to a weather book for next month, since there's more I can do with pictures alone as well as keeping track of our little weather station.   I'm trying very hard, however, to not get pulled into doing things with him simply because I feel I ought to.

Repeat after me:  We weren't planning on doing any schooling until kindergarten anyway.  This year is all for fun and to get our feet wet.

I just hope that's good enough for everyone else.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

In which our heroine records her first two weeks of homeschooling

Two weeks have already flown by!  We've been easing in slowly, but I'm been impressed with what Moose has acquired even without any rigorous study.  First of all, we've been emphasizing that school is a bit different, particularly with his tools and books.  He needs to listen carefully and do as instructed, then put his things back where they belong when he's finished.  He may only color the pages I tell him to color, and he needs to do so carefully and neatly.  That is the hardest part for him, but it only applies to his school books.  He's welcome to use his other coloring books as he pleases.  The "A" book of the ABC series covers this, and we're working through it slowly, whenever he wants a bit more.  I figure we'll do more of it during the winter, when spending endless hours outdoors isn't quite as appealing.

He has learned his first Bible verse perfectly, without us even asking him to memorize it (Ephesians 6:1, to go with our first habit, obedience).  He has not only loved the first two stories in his Rod and Staff Bible Storybook, but has begged for more.  He also enjoys looking through one of the Engineer's Bible's, which has pictures and maps.  His ability to learn a simple story, well told, or a song, nicely sung, is beautiful.  Although a different song was scheduled, he's been learning This Train Is Bound for Glory.  After all, it has a train in it.

The habit training?  Well...not so much.  Obedience is hard for a three-year-old, especially when you don't want to break the child's will, which I certainly don't.  It's a work in progress.

Last but certainly not least, our theme for the month, animals.  We haven't been doing anything systematic, but instead have simply been more intentional in our observations and discussions.  Off the top of my head, I can recall talking about animal's homes, their feet (padded feet with claws, talons, hooves, and so on), and their habitats.  We've been classifying them as mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, or fish and discussing what features differentiate each of those groups.  We've talked about what makes an animal an animal, as opposed to a plant or a fungus.  I've been leaving out bacteria and other microscopic organisms for now, since they're harder to explain to a preschooler.  He's been particularly taken with learning about bees.

We did have our first "field trip," to the zoo.  Hopefully we'll be taking another trip to one down in West Virginia later this month, because due to way of our Pittsburgh trip worked out, we didn't really get a chance to discuss much or apply any of our lessons.  At least there are always plenty of animals around home to observe.

Off to prepare dinner and take Moose out to feed the chickens.  There's plenty to learn in that, too, don't you think?

Monday, August 5, 2013

In which our heroine feels oddly at peace

It's quarter after three in the morning.  (Actually, it's 3:14, but if I was having a hard time avoiding pi jokes when I tried saying that.)  I woke to feed and change the baby, and now here I am, trying to finish last-minute things for the morning.

What's in the morning, you might ask?  School.  Moose begged and pleaded not to make him wait until September, so school is in the morning.  His first day...sort of, if you don't count the couple of weeks we tried just after Easter.  I wanted to have the house clean, to have my hanging organizer finished and filled, and generally to make a bit of a deal about it.  None of that is going to happen.  I'm okay with that, strangely enough.  At this age, especially, learning is play, and play is learning.  We are being very informal about his education this year--a bit more planned than I might have had he not wanted school so badly, but still very relaxed.  Years from now, he'll remember that a dolphin is a mammal and that he got to go to the zoo with his cousins.  He won't remember that I had to move a pile of junk mail and some extra flower pots off the table before he could do his work.  Really, most of our days and weeks will be spent roaming the outdoors or curled up on the couch with a book.

In some ways, I wish I had gone ahead and ordered a prepackaged curriculum.  It would be nice to be able to look at a chart and know what I needed to do each day.  It would be nice not to be up in the wee hours of morning pulling together resources.  At the same time, I'm loving the freedom that comes with not following anyone else's plans.  I think we need that flexibility right now, especially as we figure out what works best for Moose as a student and for us as a family.

I'm wondering how much he'll grow this year.  It will be interesting to look back, 365 days from now, and see how much he's changed.  In some ways, I'm sad already about losing my little boy, bit by bit.  At the same time, I'm eager to meet the person he'll become.

This feels a little anticlimactic.  I feel like I ought to be buying him a special outfit, making a special breakfast, taking tons of pictures.  Maybe I'll do two of those three.  Maybe we'll even throw streamers around and make a banner, if I can get the house tidied up enough to be worth it.  Really, though, nothing is changing.  As of tomorrow, telling him that dolphins are mammals is "school."  Today, it was just part of life.  Remembering that helps me to be at peace about all of it.

I have a hard time making choices.  I fret and over analyze every little detail.  Once I've made my choice, though...I'm good.  We're good.  This is the right choice for us.

Just remind me of that tomorrow when I'm tired, Sprite is fussing, and the laundry is piling up.