The famous educational Rs.
Reading, wRiting, and aRithmatic.
But when we are talking little boys, (or MY little boy) a fourth is an absolute necessity.
While I am somewhat comfortable in the academics, the exploring is pushing me just outside of my comfort zone. Usually when something creeps, crawls or slithers, I am headed full speed in the other direction. When I hear my son say “Mom, you have got to see this,” I know, full well, that I would prefer not to.
For example: On a recent walk, Harry disappeared behind a dune and called out “This one’s a beauty,” I climbed to get a better view: this crab was about 1 foot wide, but I would not let Harry’s get close enough for a size reference. It was taken with a large zoom lens.
I am learning to be more open-minded when it comes to learning through exploration. Especially the up close and personal with tails kind of exploration. Just no snakes.
It’s January. It’s Monday. Back to school. After a very generous holiday break, Caitlyn’s online classes started a few days ago. The Middle School girls go back on Thursday. Harry and I are easing our way back into our homeschool schedule.
With 2 months behind us, every week for me is still an extremely steep learning curve of finding a good rhythm and pace, and adjusting just how much needs to get done each day.
If you look up at the heading menu on my blog page, you will notice a new subject: LEARN. I will be adding to this topic as I come across interesting learning experiences, great books, fun games and helpful websites.
I share a few of my discoveries and experiences regarding the 4 Rs.
Harry loves information. Even as a tot the books he wanted us to read to him were factual. Encyclopedias about animals. Books about weather. Picture books that explicitly labeled diagrams of trucks and airplanes. This desire for REAL information over stories never wore off. While I usually believe that as long as kids are reading something, all is well. The problem is that English class, from now thru the end of his schooling, will include topics such as character, plot, theme, genre…. and while he doesn’t have to like them, he does need to recognize, understand, and write stories and poetry along with factual reports.
So, how does one get a little boy to read? I don’t have a solid answer on this one, but we are making progress. The first thing that helped was giving him free rein to choose a book. We have started out with no difficulty requirements, or subject requirements, it just had to be a chapter book that was a story (no science text books, encyclopedias, etc.) The other aspect that seems to be helping is that he has to read one book a week. The thought behind this was that he wasn’t reading enough at one time to actually get into a book. By reading 2-4 chapters a day I have found that he is getting hooked. I have even caught him picking up the books outside of the assigned reading times “just to see what happens next.” He seems to be hooked on kid mysteries (we are through #4 of the Box Car Children series – I am thankful there are over 100 more to go) and books that are silly and gross – throwing up, farts, licking things, etc. I imagine that we will have some Fried Worms and Wimpy Kids in our future.
A great reading resource: http://www.jennysbookreview.com/ Jenny is a mom and a librarian and my friend. She is a wealth of knowledge and her blog helps one find age-appropriate books for kids. We will be making use of her wonderful book/film list as we read as a family through 2013.
This was the main reason that we decided to homeschool this year. Harry needed more of a focus on writing than his school was offering. Harry hates to write. If you ask him to tell you about a subject or a story, he will bend your ear for an hour. If you ask him to write about that same subject, you will be lucky to get a 3 word sentence. He gets frustrated with the physical act of holding a pencil and creating words. He hates the laborious time involved in writing, editing and producing a piece of writing.
Much to his dismay, we are writing every day. A lot.
I would gladly welcome advice on this subject.
Thus far we tackled the physical act of writing with a two-pronged approach. He learned to write in cursive (which is much smoother and neater than printing for him) and he mastered typing on a keyboard. While he is still writing in math and science by hand, we are mixing it up a little in Language Arts by typing spelling sentences and some of his creative writing pieces. For more pencil holding time, each week he is illustrating his finished writing pieces – a fun, colorful and more relaxed form of fine motor skills.
This was always one of his strongest subjects. I didn’t have many worries, but I knew that moving around during his very early years of elementary school there was bound to be some gaps in his foundation. One of our favorite programs online is http://www.ixl.com/ The work goes from Pre-K through High school. Every topic in each grade level is broken down into multiple online quizzes. All of my kids are working on this website. It is awesome for review of topics from previous years, work on their quick math facts AND identify weak areas that could use some additional instruction.
To balance the book and computer work we are doing lots of hands on math. Who doesn’t love to add, subtract, multiply and divide M&Ms?
The highlight of having the time and flexibility to set our own schedule. Whether we are measuring ingredients for a recipe, creating a science experiment, or hitting the great outdoors, this is where I completely tap into Harry’s strengths and learning style. A walk on the beach, a hike in the rainforest and snorkeling were perfect reviews of the last few chapters of his science work.
The impact of humans on the environment. We picked up almost 200 pieces of beach glass as well as litter while discussing what people can do to improve the Earth’s problems with pollution.
Organisms adapt to match their surroundings. Concepts really sink into his brain when he can find real live examples.
Habitats. Seeing living things in their actual habitats can’t be beat!
fish in the sea
lizard in the rainforest
snail on a tree
Two months into this venture and I feel like we have found some level footing. 2013 holds the subjects of space and weather, multiplication and division, and hundreds of spelling and vocabulary words that will find their way into wildly creative stories. I can’t wait!
Please share your favorite and most effective websites, ideas and games.