Thursday, September 18, 2014

Homeschooling - On a Good Day

Yesterday.

Yesterday was not a good homeschooling day.

It was one of those days when tensions are high and meltdowns are inevitable and we reach our breaking point and have to pack it all up and walk away for the day.  It was one of the "Why are we even doing this?" kind of days.

And here we were in our third week of the year having a "this day was a disaster and therefore the whole year has been a complete failure" kind of days.

The Princess is eager to learn to read.  And she pushes herself.  But she also gets frustrated easily.  It doesn't come easily and naturally to her like it did for her brother.

Things will seem fine.  She will be sounding a word out one second.  And the next.

An emotional outburst.  Breaking down in tears.  "I can't do it!"  "It's too hard."

This is the point where we close the book and walk away.

I know she is learning.  That girl is determined.  Sometimes she just pushes herself too far.  I can't seem to convince her to just chill out.  (And she is only 5.  Oh the teen years should be fun!)

She should really be in Kindergarten this year but is doing First Grade work.  Because she just couldn't stand to see her brother doing work and not join in.  I finally had to buy her books to keep her from doing his work while we weren't looking.  And even getting it right sometimes.

But she can't see how far she has come or how well she is doing.  She wants to know all the things and know them right this very second.

Which is why she becomes inconsolable when she hits a wall.

Then to top it all off The Peanut was laughing at her the entire time.  He had finished his independent work and couldn't find anything else to occupy his time.

It went something like this.  Princess sounding out a word.  Peanut laughing.  Me snapping at Peanut to find something to clean or something and quit laughing at his sister and she is doing a great job and he did exactly the same thing at her age.  Princess losing her place.  Repeat.

Meltdown.

Today.


Today was a busy day.

Our schedule was packed full.  I thought about today with dread last night.

8 am dentist appointment.  Then home to try to cram in all the schoolwork before Dodgeball at 1.  Company after Dodgeball and I have to run to a meeting, so no time for schoolwork later in the day.  Dinner.  Then I have an evening meeting.

Maybe it doesn't sound like that much but when we were struggling on a day with no other things scheduled, I dreaded the struggle I would be facing on a busier day.

The Dentist appointment went quickly and The Peanut dug through the "Treasure Box" for his prize.

He dug and dug and dug.  I tried to offer helpful suggestions.

"Oh, look.  Glowsticks!"

"Meh."

"Oh, look a holder for sidewalk chalk so you won't get chalk all over your hands."

He kept digging.

Hmm.

"What's this?"

Bubbles.

"They claim to be the ones you can catch in your hand.  Kind of like the ones you always ask for when they show them on TV."

All the way home he chattered excitedly about the bubbles.  I started to tell him he had to get all his schoolwork done first but stopped myself as I realized there was no way he would be able to focus, wondering the whole time if the bubbles would really work.  Is that the way I wanted to start the day off?

We will consider it a science experiment, I decided.  I was pretty sure it would be a failed experiment.  The Peanut hypothesized success.

He walked straight through the house and right out the back door calling his sister along.

Would you believe it.  Those bubbles.  The free bubbles we got as a prize at the dentist.  Actually worked!

Ok, I might have been a bit disappointed if I had actually paid for them.

The bubble solution was about the consistency of glue.  The wand wasn't quite long enough and the tube wasn't quite wide enough so you had to keep reaching your finger down into the tube to try and wiggle that wand back up out of the goop.  It was a messy business.

But worth it.

It really was cool to see the kids catching bubbles.
Homeschooling - On a Good Day

Homeschooling - On a Good Day

Homeschooling - On a Good Day
Ok, now we have had our fun, let's get some real work done.

But first.

I really wanted to explain the significance of today's vote in Scotland.  I wanted them to be aware of what was going on in the world and why it is important.

How do you explain something like that to a 7 and 5 year old?

Turn on the news?

"Boring!"

Oh look.  A convenient entertaining video explaining the whole thing just popped up on my Facebook feed.  Let's watch this.

Brilliant!

"Did you understand all that?"

Deer in headlights faces.

"The Doctor is from Scotland?"

The Peanut got something from the video.

So out came the maps and a quick cliffs notes version of the cliffs notes version.
Homeschooling - On a Good Day
Understand now?

"Ummm.  Scotland is a different place but the same place?"

Good thing we live in Texas.

It would be kind of like if Texas decided not to be part of the United States anymore.

It clicked.

"So, would it be good or bad if they vote yes?"

That's the big question isn't it.

I tried to explain that the people in Scotland have to weigh which is more important to them.

Independence and autonomy vs security and convenience.

It isn't an easy decision to make and usually the answer falls somewhere in the middle.

I explained to them that there places are in the world where countries attack each other.  Without a powerful ally would a smaller country be able to defend themselves against larger aggressors?

I wasn't entirely sure he grasped what I was saying until later.

When I asked him to look at a map and circle the United Kingdom and show me where Scotland is.

He did.  Then he drew this picture.
Homeschooling - On a Good Day
"Who is that guy?"

"That's the United Kingdom defending Scotland from Russia."

Science, History, Current Events, Geography and yes, even Phonics.  Without tears this time.

On the floor because why would we actually use our perfectly good desks?
Homeschooling - On a Good Day
And then off to Dodgeball for PE.
Homeschooling - On a Good Day
And some recess at the park.
Homeschooling - On a Good Day
A successful day full of fun and learning.

Yes, a very good day.

That's why we do this.

Because sometimes it's better to just learn than to "do school."
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