Reflections on our home learning – its been a while, up to week 35/2

Last week was one of those weeks I have only dreamed of in regard to how our week of learning and life goes. This time last week is definitely a dream, “a did it really happen like that week?” This week, Bob and Kanga are congested and I have been like a box of firecrackers that accidentally got set alight, a monthly event, but when mixed with children under par than things can get rather crazy round here. Suddenly my levels of confidence nose dive, I grab my schedule, cross examine every inch of it and work out how to fit triple maths and grammar and spelling in to catch up. I re-examine our diets and panic over our sugar, grains and whatever else we are consuming intake and dread the thought of facing the dentist. Screen time for the children gets banned while I dive into Facebook, blogs on the perfect home educating styles and the perfect way to raise perfect children and hide.

Today though I am listening to the gentle whispering voice ‘download the photos’, remember what you have all done this past while, remember this is not a forever moment. This week is not forever. The fireworks while stop again and we will have another even keeled 3 weeks. Maybe in those 3 weeks we as a family can come up with some better tactics for these weeks.

Weeks like this one I feel clumsy, I feel stuck, downloading photos is time consuming, words I have feel empty and shallow. Everything is taken personally, I am reactive and frustrated. Last night after a horrendous time with maths in the morning I sat there in the evening wondering how to do it differently and I was reminded that at this age manipulative are still a great tool. So I prepared the lesson using lego. Something that last week would have been obvious but this week it was all dry and black and white. So armed with blocks of tens and singles we navigated our way through addition, subtraction and then in blocks of varying sizes through multiplication and division and he got it, it made sense. Bob is still very much at the visual tangible point of learning. He needs to hold it in his hand take it apart and rebuild it. He needs to understand it before he can accept it. Learning the times tables means nothing till he plays with lots of lego pieces that carry the same numbers as the tables he is doing. I just want him to remember that 2×3 or 3×2 will always be 6. Today, yesterday and tomorrow that fact will not change.

We have also stepped up writing over the last two weeks as we are beginning to introduce cursive which he loves but at one level it feels like we have taken a step back. His manuscript was becoming neat but various articles I had read and others had said to me was that he might well find the flow of cursive less frustrating and overall I think he does but he is adapting to a new style of writing so letter size feels like it has gone out the window again. The material we are using from ‘Anything Left Handed’ had said that might happen but the apparent lost steps would be quickly regained so to speak. Bob definitely is more willing when it comes to cursive writing practice than his usual handwriting practice.

Zog has developed definite learning hunger and I cannot give him enough projects to work on. He has decided that letters are something worth discovering and he loves for me to write out names of African animals for him to write using scrabble tiles. He is also enjoying practicing writing the Alphabet and is very confident of his use of the pencil though also left handed.  This is no real surprise as he has always been a prolific artist and loves colouring and is physically more co-ordianted and confident than Bob.

Kanga, never one to miss out, as soon as I say it is time for lessons gets all the reading books down and ‘reads’ to us all and has a definite order of subjects we will cover. She has also shown us that with 3 nouns, her name and Mum and Dad and plenty of prepositions and colours than that is all you need to be able to say to communicate perfectly well. Her brothers are referred to by prepositions depending on where they are. So if I am hanging out the washing she has to name who all the clothes belong to even every pair of sock. And so when it comes to one of her brother’s items of clothing then she will point to it and say ‘up there’ if that brother is upstairs ‘ or ‘down’ if downstairs or ‘over there’ if somewhere in the garden and she can see him to point to.

Due to Bob’s hip recent hip issue our Nature Wanderings group have been wonderful and come to us most Thursdays which has been a highlight for all 3 children. We have been in competition with the Nursery school next door for number of children and volume of noise. One of the highlights as been seeing them use the space and find objects to create games with. Two weeks ago on a really hot afternoon Bob and one of his friends worked out that if you out a plank of wood over a roll of wood and stomped on one end you could jettison an object up off the other end. This very quickly was adopted by all of them with large empty yoghurt cartons filled with water and soon it was a case of what was the best angle to have the plank at and the position of the cartoon to get the water the highest, furthest, to stay dry or get soaked. Thanks to the amazing news we had last week from Bob’s latest X-rays that all was clear we are now going to resume going to the park as he is now free to run around and be a fully active 7 year old again.

We have started a medieval time line, Zog gave a talk on Buffalos to our home ed community, we have built castles, the group has cleared a large area in the garden and sown wildflowers, we have learnt about ants and grasses, made our own weather front, read, drawn, had time with friends, lost another tooth, made jigsaws, started learning the times tables and the list goes on, continued to work on our character – the children’s and mine. Imaginations have roamed far and wide across African plains and through far flung planets, through this world and worlds I was unaware of. The garden has come to life with foliage and colour and our hearts and minds are loving it. Just sometimes like this week we need to be reminded to take a second look and see it all for what it is both in this moment and in the bigger story. .

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