Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lots of Learning, All Around the House

 The week started with Youth Group and cooperation games -
in the yard

In this game, two teams stand on opposite sides of the "field" and yell out instructions - all at the same time - to one member of their team, who is blindfolded and trying to collect all the balls of a particular color that are on the ground. It's funny to watch. Both teams are yelling pretty much the same things to the two blindfolded people, who are trying to recognize voices amidst the chaos.

 There was also this beautiful collective creation they made -

Lu's been reviewing fractions and decimals
with Khan Academy -
in the office

Making a poster about Socrates -
in the living room

 Reading and taking notes on important people
of Ancient Greece, like Pythagoras and Pericles -
in the kitchen

Learning how to figure out the surface area 
and volume of a cuboid -
 back in the office

And making tortilla pockets 
with his Kakchikel (local Mayan language) teacher -

So, lots of learning, all around the house.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Writing Flow

There's a lot of writing going on around here lately. 
It seems that Lu is finding his writing flow. 
And writing is becoming second nature.

Questions like:

Does it have to be that long? 

How do I start it?

Can you give me some ideas?

have become a thing of the past.

(knocking on wood so that it lasts)

He recently finished the first two books of the Narnia series,
so he wrote a few paragraphs summarizing, comparing,
and critiquing them.

Lu originally wanted to read straight through the whole series, but then decided he needed a bit of a break after Prince Caspian. So he read a very fun book in Spanish about a bowl of story-telling noodles, and wrote a short summary about it. 

I asked him to limit himself to two paragraphs. He said it was impossible to fit it into so few words, and tried to get me to up it. So we talked about how it can be very useful to know how to get your point across in as few words as possible.

Anyway, I'm thrilled that he's asking to write more 
rather than less.

As we are bilingual, I try to make time every week 
for written work in both languages.

Much writing also happens in
history and science.

 Lu does most of the writing, but sometimes I give him a hand
by writing what he dictates.

I try to vary writing assignments as much as possible - reports, reviews, creative writing, dialogues, descriptive paragraphs, summaries, note-taking....

I used to make the mistake of correcting
spelling and grammar in the first read.

Now, instead of handing in his work to me, when Lu is done he reads aloud what he wrote. Then, he edits his own work. 

Reading it to me helps him find his mistakes. 

Then we put it away. I won't check spelling or grammar until a few days have passed, and only comment on content and wording. I give as much praise as I can, to compensate for having been overly critical in the past. And his writer's confidence has definitely improved.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Practicing Happiness

This is our third year homeschooling. We are currently in 5th grade math and spelling, so that's what grade we say we're in, but in all our other subjects (history, science, language arts...) most of our material is not grade-specific. Some of it isn't even specifically intended for children, but if it works, it works.

I don't normally hand out advice here because I still don't feel like a homeschool expert, but - you know what? - I'm starting to. So, here are some things I've learned.

1. Don't put on too much time pressure. 

Yes, I know, we want to teach them about everything under the sun. 

It's all so exciting! There's so much to learn! 

But, if you want quality, you have to give it time. 

This afternoon, we were supposed to do math, history, and typing. But instead of pushing for all of that to happen, I let Lu work on his Alexander the Great poster all afternoon. I let go of my own expectations and gave him time to do something that surpassed my expectations. 

Some unschooler is reading this thinking "yeah, duh..."

2. Go outside.

Take advantage of the freedom that homeschooling gives for this.

If you've been reading my blog since the beginning (I'm very honored and thank you), you may have noticed that I am MUCH more relaxed than I was at the beginning about things like schedules record-keeping, tests, grades, and standards. 

I wish I had trusted the wise women who told me, through forums and blogs, that our kids learn - for the most part - despite our attempts to educate them, not because of them. The standard stuff gets learned because... it just does. I promise. 

So, go outside. As much as you can.

3. First and foremost, harmony in the home.

If something is wrong health-wise, house-wise or family-wise, give it priority.

Spelling can wait.

There is much learning that comes from the peace and well-being of living in a harmonious home, where everyone is working on feeling good, communicating, well-fed, taking care of themselves and each other, and with no leaks in the roof.

Nothing is more important than learning how to be happy, and we believe that happiness is a decision. We have to remember this when things don't turn out as we wanted them to, embrace the positive, and move forward. There must always be time for practicing this. 
Every day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

And Then We Did Some Schoolwork

On Monday morning, Lu had dance and theater.

And then we did some schoolwork.

 Learning about Kinetic Energy in Science class.

 On Tuesday, Lu had team-building and cooperation games

And then we did some schoolwork.
Adding and subtracting with negative numbers in Math class.

Today we went to the lake to swim...

and play with our shadows.

We'll do some schoolwork... later.

(btw: Lu wants you to know that he IS wearing a bathing suit)