Friday, March 28, 2014

An Awesome Week of Really Cool Stuff

 It's 5pm. Friday afternoon.
Lu takes his guitar to the window and sings me a song,
 a lovely way to finish our homeschool week.

 Lu is getting more and more involved in facilitating workshops.
We've been doing hooping workshops at the local public school.

 He's a pro at hooping.
Here he's sharing some of his tricks:

In our homeschool records, I put this down as "Leadership Skills".

At the end of each class we do a hoop snake,
and run around linked up with our hoops.
 It's a blast!

I've been a workshop facilitator for most of my life. There is a deep satisfaction in seeing my son inherit my trade. Not that I want him to dedicate his life to it, unless that's what he wants, but it's a wonderful feeling to see him doing something that he learned by watching me.

And as a child who has taken workshops from hundreds of facilitators from around the world, he has a really good handle on what works, and what doesn't. He knows how to adapt to different ages, engage the group, and to lead in a way that is respectful and inclusive.

I didn't teach him. He just learned through participation and observation. I imagine that the same goes for the jeweler, or the butcher, or the writer... You don't expect them to want to learn it, but it makes you very happy if they do. Even if it's just one more trick up their sleeve.

*   *   *   *

 We're making a HUGE world map to learn geography
with the kids in our after-school program.
Lu helped out with the tracing.

Two friends are drawing and painting the map onto 3 huge panels. They came over to draw it out with a projector, and Lu just jumped right in. "Can I help?" I wasn't going to say no. Even though it was pretty much already bedtime. And this is one of the great things about homeschooling. You can have exceptions, and changes of plans, and unexpected activities whenever you want!

We also participated in a 5-hr symposium called
"Awakening the Dreamer"

It was 5 hours long, with video-watching, discussion in small groups, sharing in circles... We learned about environmental justice and sustainability, and we heard other people's perspective on how we should go about reducing our impact on the planet.

Lu was the only child in the group. I think it was a really valuable experience for him, and that his participation enriched the whole group's experience as well. At one point he shared this: 

"I am happy and grateful for the technology and the knowledge that has been developed by people before me, that I can learn from."

Every now and then I am left in awe by my son.
This was one of those times.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bird Watching and Engineering

Early Monday morning, 
Lu hears a rustling in the tree outside the window by his desk. 
He closes his math book and takes out his binoculars.

"Mama, I think there are some birds making a nest there in the tree.
Can you open the big window for me, please?"

"Shhhh... be very quiet."

"I think that was the papa bird that just flew to that other tree.
He's probably getting more material for the nest."

"See, right through those branches. Can you see?"

"Can I stay and watch them for a while?"

That was just the first day. 
All week he's been very attentive to their movements, 
especially today that mama has been sitting in her nest all morning. 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The other exciting event of the week has been the discovery

Lu's been at it for days now.


He started with the mini-catapult.

Then he decided to try and make a bigger one -
twice the size.

He also made the projectile launcher.

Engineering. Great stuff!
So many skills coming together to make something cool.

 I love it when he gets this excited about something.
Such fun!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Designing Our Days

One of the things I love most about homeschooling is being able to design our days according to what we want and/or need to do. Our schedule is different each day to fit in all the different stuff we have chosen together - develop skills, gain knowledge, exercise, enjoy nature, cook, make music, dance, walk our dogs... These are the things that make us happy, and that we want to make sure to do.

Lu got absolutely into the guitar last year.
Even though it is only on our schedule from 8-8:30am every morning, guitar practice happens all throughout the day. He even has the guitar near when we're watching a movie, so he can play whenever we pause for bathroom or snack breaks. He also has a private lesson with a teacher each week.

Math is daily at our house. Sometimes even twice a day.
Lu sometimes sits down to do two hours of math and not even notice.
But that's not every day. Some days 30 minutes is too much.

Science is officially 3 times weekly,
but we often end up watching science videos 
and documentaries during breaks or with lunch. 
Lu is always up for doing experiments, he'll do them just for fun.

History is pretty much daily, between reading and watching documentaries, we do something history related almost every day. This is my favorite subject and Lu enjoys it most of the time, except when he has to write a lot. This definitely isn't a year of enthusiastic writing, but that's okay. He's written a lot in past years, so I'm not pushing and just hoping that he will find his own writing inspiration in his own time.

Wednesdays are lake days.
We try to make it each week, after all, that's why we live here.

 Slowly but surely, Lu's clubhouse is moving forward.
Whenever there's a chance,
 Lu will go bang in some nails or sand some boards.

 Cooking, like music, has a place on the schedule,
but also happens all the time, throughout the week.

Jewelry-making has taken a backseat
to cooking and guitar, so it's not on the schedule,
but occasionally happens when Lu's in the mood.

Geography happens twice a week.
This year's focus is on regions and landmarks.

Language arts is not one of Lu's favorites, and I have come to accept and respect this. We still do a little English spelling and some Spanish grammar, but it's very minimal. I used to insist on more, but I'd rather he used the extra time for what he's truly passionate about.

Lu specifically asked for basketball this year, so every Friday morning, at 7am (before the public school's P.E. classes take over the court) Lu goes to play for an hour, and comes back sweaty-faced and red-cheeked. I should go take some pictures of him playing one of these days, but this is sacred empty-house coffee time for mama :)

  On Thursday afternoons 30 other kids come to our house/center for arts classes.

 And since the volunteer teachers live on site with us,
Lu often has the chance to get some one-on-one with them.

As Lu gets older, my role shifts more and more from working side-by-side with him, to making sure we have lots of interesting resources, organizing our subject matter so that it fits in the year, and trying to put it all together in a way that flows nicely for us, in a flexible schedule that molds itself to our needs.

When it all comes together, we finish a day satisfied with having completed the work we'd planned on doing AND having time for art, exercise, hobbies, research, new interests, exploration, naps, outings... This is a perfect day.

I feel that this year we've really whittled down our academic plans to what is important for him to learn for the life he desires. This gives us much more time for all the other stuff we want to do. And yes, I push for certain things (like spelling and grammar), but I do it with a strong argument, and it only goes if I can manage to convince Lu. If in the end he really doesn't want to do something, then he won't. He has his own reasons for studying science, math, and history. He has real interest for learning where things are in the world, who invented what and when, what black holes are, how dogs' brains work... If I force my own ideas about what is important to learn, I'm taking time away from him following his true interests.

So, maybe we won't be reading Shakespeare together in high school like I had envisioned, but there will be engineering, and culinary arts, and maybe a rock band, and a bunch of other stuff that I never envisioned because they weren't my interests. But I LOVE my son's interests, just because they're HIS. His very own. 

And when he is engaged in what he's doing, he glows. He shines. 
He is REALLY learning. And that is what it's all about.