You know this whole homeschooling thing is a real balancing act. 1. I say balancing because there’s so many fine lines that have to be drawn and watched. 2. I say it’s an act, because as much as I think I know what I’m doing – a lot of the time, I have no cooking clue and act like I do. Now, don’t use my words against me because I have a fantastic safety net which is my curriculum. So in terms of the actual academic part of it – I’m sorted – it’s more the personality and learning style thing that I’m pretty much gauging it day by day.
I think, all too often, as parents we ask ourselves the question, “Am I doing the right thing for my kids?” Be it if they’re in school or not. I find that I ask this question a lot when it’s the start of a new year or when I add extra material into our day because we’re getting into a higher grade or just in general because there’s so much to parenting.
It’s not easy – I can liken it to lifting weights. You start out really easy – you know, when they’re little and it’s all shapes and colours and stuff. It’s like you’re only lifting the bar on it’s own. It’s ok for some, but others it’s a little tougher than lifting nothing. But then after a few weeks of lifting the same thing, it’s become really easy. Then we pull out the 2kg weights and add them to either side.
This would be like starting to teach them to read. It’s a slight shock to the system and suddenly you think, I don’t know if I can do this. I’m hurting myself – This would be the feeling of “am I doing the right thing for my kid?” but, a few weeks into it, the groove is there and it’s so much easier and the rewards start to show. Yeah! we got this! (cue fist pump)
So it goes on. Ok, so when Jude was born we slowed down a little with regards to our intense study of history and geography and “extra” subjects. We did do them, but it wasn’t like full on. But recently I decided, April was going to be the month that we were going to hit it full on. Shoo! What a massive adjustment it’s been.
I say this because before, when we tried to do these precious subjects, I’d have a little baby/toddler decide that it was snack time, run around wild and do something that I needed to attend to or just plain and simple disrupt our planned schedule. So, thus the back peddle. Which was a good call – it took pressure off me and the girls to try and achieve truck loads of work with a naturally disruptive little person around. (don’t you just love toddlers) This is also the beauty of how we do life as a family. We can go at our own pace without any added pressure around us.
But now he’s older and can actually sit and do activities. This was part of the reason I knew it was time to re-introduce our full time Core subjects. (this might also be one of the reasons why he’s little stressed out – but we can deal with that) For the last few weeks it has been a bit of a bumpy start because he has had to learn to understand that this is what we do when we are doing “this” part of our school work.
Ok, so for those of you wondering, how do I keep a 3 year old sitting and listening to what I’m reading and teaching to a 10 year old – I want you to immediately stop and know that it’s not what you think.
When the girls were a lot younger and they were starting out as little homeschoolers (as I was also starting out as a homeschooling mom) I asked myself the same question. “How do I get my kids to sit and actually listen to what I’m saying?” I soon found out that the answer is, “you don’t”. For the minor number of passive and fully concentrating toddlers out there, it probably is – but not all little people can do this, so you have to aid them with tools on how to listen.
This is when I found out about “kinetic learning”. What’s that? I hear you ask – well it’s when a child is allowed the freedom to do another activity while information is being poured out/in to them. It’s funny because as a parent to teacher of my kids, my natural instinct is to want them to sit and dreamily listen to what I am reading out to them.
Not a chance! So, what I’ve had to do is make that “time” the place where they can play with things that don’t require any form of “thought processing”. (this was all discovered after speaking to a friend about it) So stuff like lego, play dough, nuts and bolts, colouring pages, drawing, write and wipe stuff, quiet car play on a mat, barbies and so on. Some of these items are what my kids are allowed to have in the room when I am droning on about China, World War 2 or Countries in the Middle East.
What’s the best thing, is that I can drone on and on and think that nothing is going in and then when I ask questions at the end of the read – they actually have the answers in their own “little level” type ways. When I discovered this……. It rocked my world and completely changed my perspective on how to teach and how kids learn. Especially when there are 3 age groups involved.
Obviously, this is only the observation and lesson I’ve learned with my kids – but I know that there are other children that need more physical stimulation when they’re learning or need a lot more “quiet” and “focused on the page” kind of approach. But either way – I love that I have the opportunity to discover that about my kids and that it’s a constant process, over the time when we do something new.
Yes, I’m not going to lie that it’s as tiring as carrying 40kg weights – but the reward and success I feel when my kids “get it” or actually take the time to discover something new on their own and learn, without me!- THAT my friends, is why I do what I do and why I love it so much.
I know lots of you most likely have kids that are school going – have you noticed any particular way your kid likes to learn? or find they absorb certain things more than other? do you know why? I am continuously learning about my 3 – I’d love to know what you’ve learned about yours (even if they’re 35 years old…..)