When I went into this, I never expected it to flourish into what it has. I was quick to point out when I started blogging about our pre-k activities that I was not officially a ‘home-schooling parent;’ that I had no intention of continuing to home school past pre-k, and that I was ‘just’ a parent looking to make the most of the time I have at home with my kid. Well, things have changed since then. Matthew’s gotten so much out of the experience, that it’s evolved on it’s own into something pretty solid -- something I was almost trying to avoid.
Matthew has really started to blossom over the past few months, time and time again blowing me away with the things that he’s capable of really absorbing. I thought that most of what we were focusing on with each week’s “inspired lesson” would make for good exposure, but that most of the information we found in our little investigations would probably blur together and scatter away once the week was over and a new topic was introduced. I was thrilled to notice him developing a real love for exploring his interests -- but it wasn’t until I gave more traditional teaching tools a shot that I realized just how much of this stuff he’s actually digesting. All of those flashcards and workbooks and puzzles I said that I hoped to avoid leaning on? Well, they’ve definitely found a place in our hearts. Matthew eats them for breakfast, almost literally! Since we’ve introduced them, he’s asked for them every morning before even getting up from the table to get the oatmeal wiped from his chin.
So it makes sense that we’d adapt. I guess you could say we’ve turned a little mainstream with our home schooling. Charts and stickers for good work, schedules and lessons planned ahead. Flashcard games, math and science tools… yup, even workbook activities.
Here are a few ‘For Examples’ of our newly integrated daily or weekly activities:
We’ve gotten into the habit, for example of taking baths with measuring cups so that we can experiment with how to measure out tablespoons and cups and quarts of soapy water. We add and subtract and we make predictions about how much more or less we’ll have in the end.
When we eat our snack, we take out the scale. He measures out a group of crackers, nuts, etc. on each platform until they equal the same weight and the scale settles decidedly into balance. One of my favorites is the kinder-calendar.
Every morning we start the day with an oversized calendar. We make a prediction about the weather, and we choose from 3 stacks of weather-themed date cards that we tape to each new day’s calendar square. If it’s a cloudy morning and we predict rain, we take out our rain stack. Then we find the day’s square on the calendar and we decide from the pattern of numbers so far, what number today is. I lay out an option of 3 or 4 numbers for him to choose from, and he picks the correct date number. He practices using the tape himself to tape it to the calendar. Even though we've never tried to explain concepts like yeterday, tomorrow, or next week to him -- he's learned them in the first week of having this thing. It also helps that my birthday is marked on the 17th, so everyday we reference how long it's been since my birthday has passed.
Our computer time has shifted a little, too. We still do all of the same phonics games (though we’ve graduated from simple pre-k stuff into the Early Readers games!) but now, he’s in control of the curser. Matthew has excellent hand/eye coordination, which until I looked into the hole gifted thing and took more notice of his abilities compared to his peers, I hadn’t realized was such a skill. But when I showed him how to navigate the cursor on my laptop and let him take hold of the reigns, I realized it’s something worth letting him have the extra (albeit VERY closely supervised) practice with.
I also made it a point to get him doing more creatively than just arts and crafts. We took out his instruments and I let him goof around on his sister’s giant keyboard a lot this week. I’m too musically inept to actually teach him anything regarding music, but I want him to start learning to explore other facets of creativity, too.
Recently, for instance, he’s been very into fixing things. When he broke a hanger trying to get a pair of pants down over the weekend, he begged me to fix it instead of toss it out, and I realized that it was the perfect opportunity to give him that experience. I handed him a few strips of tape, some glue and the broken hanger, and I watched as he tried to reassemble it himself. Even though it only held the pants for a few hours, he actually WAS able to reattach the hook to the base. I think it was a great learning experience. (His dad has this uncanny ability to fix virtually anything. I’d be doing my future daughter-in-law someday a huge disservice by not nurturing this interest as much as possible...)
Lastly, I'm getting him involved, once a week, in helping me make simple treats. If there’s one downside to having an insatiably creative kid, it’s that his willingness to follow directions… um, SUCKS. But if he can see (by me reading the directions, even if he can’t read them himself) that following specific steps in a recipe can produce something awesome, maybe he’ll learn to apply that somewhere (ANYWHERE!) else. Having him navigate around the computer has helped with that already. There are plenty of buttons to click and explore when he wants to poke around -- but he learned quick that if he wanted to accomplish something specific (like highlighting a sentence one word at a time) he was going to have follow very particular steps in exactly the right order.
A note about this ultra-cute video: Matthew is NOT big on being put on display… (I know, if he only knew :-P) In fact, most of the pictures I do have of him doing something I’ve written about were taken in secret. BUT I did manage to capture this absolutely adorable video of him completing an alphabet maze in his workbook completely on his own… obviously pretty proud of himself (-- and apparently giving in to my obsession with taking pictures of him while he learns. I knew we’d get there someday… ) Also, he is very nasal-y from a cold, which (even though it's disgusting because it's snot) kind of makes it even cuter.