Saturday, October 8

Do Not Be Afraid

We have always been a part of co-ops and homeschool groups for two reasons.
1.  P.E.
2.  Art

My oldest son hated getting his hands messy, always needed to know where we were going, refused to use color and rushed through everything.  Aside from the first couple of years when he was very young, I eventually determined that unless it seemed enjoyable to turn a lesson into a meltdown, I would simply not do art with him.  Instead, I farmed it out to other homeschooling moms to have the "pleasure" of exploring J's creative side during the classes they volunteered to teach.  Sorry, mom friends.

As a result, art has essentially sat dormant for a while. I tried to find ways to expose the boys to it in non-messy, linear ways.  We looked at masterpieces and learned about artists and I have always had them drawing (lots of stick figure art going on over here).  But that's essentially been my maximum effort.  Because the terror of the art lessons of the past has never left me, I don't even get out the paints unless I'm really throwing caution to the wind.   Sorry, Charlotte Mason, but we don't do nature notebooks.

When J was no longer schooling at home last year, B and I spent the year figuring out what worked for us.   And then we spent the beginning of this year finding out what worked for him.  He's an auditory/kinesthetic (large muscle) learner.  His intelligences lie in the areas of spatial, body and intrapersonal.  He's essentially an artist when he's not being an athlete.  But he's not the kid who loves drawing and painting, shading, perspective, etc.   He likes the sculpting, the building, the graphic designs, the turning-something-into-something-else kind of art.  He loves to make things and he cherishes each thing he creates.

In the past month he's been busy creating.  And surprise of surprises, I'm actually enjoying the process with him.  Of course, I've always enjoyed art and pursuing creativity.  And now, we've brought it back into our school day.  It turns out that I just needed to do it with the right child.

I will no longer be afraid of the art lesson.

Here are just some of the projects B and S have done in the past few weeks:

  • Rice Krispie castles.
  • A tile mosaic crown.
  • A truss bridge out of Popsicle sticks and white glue.
  • Scarab stamps out of baked modeling clay.
  • Egyptian wall friezes out of Plaster of Paris

This doesn't include the lanyard helicopters, the countless fuse bead projects, the carving he wants to do of the Sphynx or the paper mache mummies that we'll try to hit this week.    It's exhausting.  It's messy.  And it's no longer fearful.


Friday, October 7

More Than I Thought

I've been thinking lately, "We need to get real with school."

No longer can I try to squeeze in just a little more summer. No longer can I use my bag of excuses. No longer can I blame my distractedness on warm, sunny days.

Though we began in mid-August, we've had plenty of stops and starts and tons of bonus field trips.  It's been a beginning that felt very much like I wasn't able to finish a sentence.

Case in point, I only have two documented weeks of lesson plans and four (or has it been six already?) that I haven't even filled in.  It feels to me like we haven't really accomplished much.

But we have.

Last week we finished our study of Royalty and as it turns out, we accomplished more than I thought.
  • B (grade 4) colored a map of the word highlighting about 6 different empires in different places and eras.  
  • We spent time reading information about each ruler, including Xerxes in the whole book of Esther.  
  • He's identified the different titles for monarchy at various places and times around the globe.  
  • We've read fables and stories of kings (like Midas and Gilgamesh and Arthur) to compare to the real guys.  
  • We moved into a little study of knights and castles simply because that was where his interests lay and he filled a lapbook with castle diagrams, weapons and armor.  
  • We read the abridged Knights of the Round Table and a Door in the Wall.
  • He read The Magic Tree House Research Guide on Knights and finished the Time Warp Trio:  Knights of the Kitchen Table. 
  • He wrote his own story about Kings.
  • We worked up a timeline of major rulers and world events to put it all in perspective.  
  • Art activities included making a Rice Krispie castle and a tile mosaic crown.
  • He's moving through fourth grade math at and is doing very well in our first year of Spelling Power.

    S (grade K) is happy to do anything.  We've been plugging along with several things in addition to daily life skills:
    • Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  It's perfect for him.  He's so full of excitement and his knowledge base is right where it should be to begin this study.  
    • Making Math Meaningful.  We've been doing something out of it every week and so far he's completely ahead of where the curriculum is, but he enjoys the quick hands-on activities.  Math has also included dot-to-dot pages, mazes and puzzles. 
    • Writing.  I have never pushed my boys to write.  But S wants to.  We practice just a couple letters a day on a wipe-off lap-board.  And he's doing beautifully.  It's amazing.  Maybe I'll actually have one child with good handwriting.    
    • He made his own age-appropriate lapbook about knights and we're tossing in some occasional study of the seasons. 
    • He spends time each week on practicing more reading skills.  Loves it.
    • He's done a zillion other activities:  things to move and manipulate, things to cut and color, pasting, painting, shapes to play with, measuring tapes, and play dough.  
    It's pure fun teaching Kindergarten level to S.  All in all, his daily time logs in at around 45 minutes.  It's much more than his oldest brother ever did and it's also much more structured than his other brother did at this age. He's definitely eager and ambitious. I've also noticed that he's much more patient this year.  We've turned a corner there and overall our days are so much more manageable and enjoyable.  So, for you mothers with distracting and demanding preschoolers, there's hope that they'll eventually get it.