Homeschooling gives me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my kids.
And since I know you were wondering, every moment is a blessing. No dreams of finishing a cup of tea before it’s cold or cooking food I don’t have to share or using the bathroom by myself here. No, sir. Every single moment. A gosh-darn blessing.
Homeschooling also gives me the chance to be present for even more of their learning process than I would be otherwise, which can be kind of fun. Or at least educational. Here are some of the recent fun things the kids and I have been learning together.
1. Vocabulary + History
My daughter and I studied the Thirty Years’ War this afternoon. We began with the Defenestration of Prague (and my daughter learned a new vocabulary word) and ended with the Peace of Westphalia (which I thought was a camper van). It’s surprisingly challenging to explain to an eight-year-old why people wage religious wars.
I bought each of the kids two Red Toolbox kits (geared toward their respective ages and ability levels). My daughter made a Bug Barn nearly by herself (she needed some help holding pieces together while she screwed in the screws). She has a plant pot holder to make on another day.
My son’s two kits were for a candy maze and a catapult. He made the candy maze but insists on calling it a catapult. Neither of the kids like the jelly beans I got for in the candy maze, so we’re planning to convert it into either a pistachio maze or a peanut maze. In the meantime, my son is playing with the jelly beans in his toy garbage truck, and I look forward to scraping smashed jelly beans from the wood floors and the bottoms of our socks.
My four-year-old is enthusiastically making the connections necessary to join the wonderful world of independent readers. The past week or so, he’s entered a preschooler renaissance in which he’s left the incremental style of learning behind in favor of the “leaps and bounds” technique. I’m familiar with this ebb and flow with both of my kids. It’s like brain growth spurts.
What it means on a daily basis is that I spend a lot of time listening to my son sound out words he wants to write down. When he’s not sounding things out to write down, he’s quizzing me. Most of the time, it seems like he’s trying to make sure I have an adequate understanding of phonics myself, but other times, it’s not at all clear what he’s trying to discern from his questioning.
My son: “Mommy, what letter makes the ‘ffff’ sound?”
Me: “An F.”
My son: “NO! DON’T SAY IT!”
Me: “Oh. Sorry.”
My son: “Okay.” [takes a deep breath] “Mommy, what letter makes the ‘ffff’ sound?”
I never did figure out the right answer.
On Friday we went to a homeschool nature class about birch trees. My daughter’s opinion of the class: “I like studying birch trees because they don’t run away.”
5. Dog Training
My daughter had a chance to walk our neighbor’s Pomeranian this morning. Her brother accompanied her as they walked the dog up to the top of our cul-de-sac and back. I was cleaning the toy room when they returned. As I hastily hid the toys I’d set aside to donate, I noticed that my daughter had been crying. My son spoke first.
“Sister wouldn’t let me hold the leash, Mommy! She said she’d let me but she didn’t.”
His sister piped up, “That’s because the dog was being a bad dog. He was leading, and he was supposed to let me lead.”
She then sought and obtained permission to spend some time on her favorite website, dogbreedinfo.com, so she could research dog training techniques. It sounds like she’s got some ideas, although she says the dog doesn’t have the right collar for what she wants to do. She has not yet asked me to buy our neighbor’s dog a collar so she can train him. I would be more willing to do that than to buy a dog of our own, but I’m not going to mention either option to her.