Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lifestyle of Learning: Volume 4

One of the things that is so appealing about homeschooling is that it is so flexible and adaptable.  I know each of my children very well.  I know their strengths and weaknesses, the things that they are interested in and those that they dislike, and their personalities and temperaments.  One of my goals is to create a learning environment that best suits each individual child.  This is often times difficult to do, particularly when you have children that are nearly polar opposites of each other.  It requires a lot of time, energy, consideration and prayer.  There are other confounding factors as well.  These children are always growing, shifting, changing and their learning environment must grow and shift and change as well.  Also, their learning environment is impacted by my strengths and weaknesses, my interests and dislikes, my personality, my mood, my personal struggles and insecurities.  Other family members and situations we find our family facing all have an impact on the learning environment.  I am always struggling for the 'right fit'.  Sometimes I find myself feeling overwhelmed or insecure and adjust what we are doing and how we are doing it only to find that I have failed to exploit one of the things that I find most appealing and valuable about homeschooling - its flexibility and the ability to adjust the learning environment to best suit the needs of each individual.  Recently I made one of those changes.  I began to feel as if we weren't covering enough material in some subject matters, that the children's studies weren't rigorous enough so I began to present the material in a fashion that allowed us to get through far more material.  I began to "teach" in a more conventional fashion.  I created 'riveting' lectures complete with pictures and music to put events in to context.  I created fun ways to record all this new-found knowledge but, alas, this did not go over as well as I had imagined.  My students were not hanging on every word I spoke.  Bishop enjoyed the time that he got to spend with me but Maceo yearned for independence.  So, in an effort to be flexible and adaptable as homeschooling allows for, I have adjusted things again.  The plan for the week is that Maceo will have control over his schedule.  I will make note of things that I want him to accomplish and he is responsible for getting it done.  Bishop and I are going to work one on one.  And it has worked fabulously this week.  Tension has been reduced and enthusiasm has been revived.
Here is a little of what we have been up to this past week.  (Please keep in mind that Maceo is working independently so there aren't any pictures of him and his work.  I will have to rectify that.)
I now present February 17-23:

An invitation to explore the human body.
Baskets of resources to play with and peruse.
Yet another invitation.

And the first thing he grabbed was the Somebody game.
We played, he won.

Identifying parts of cells and their respective functions after having listened to a rap about cells.

This human body model is truly inviting. (Even Maceo can't keep his hands off of it).
Preparing a slide so as to examine cells.
Bishop LOVES the microscope.
He looked at cheek cells, onion skin, mold, prepared slides of plant and water life, and just about everything on the nature table.
Another invitation - let's look at the central nervous system.

Lunch and an introduction to the systems of the body.
The making of a mini-book.
-Ectomy: a fabulous game about the parts of the brain and their functions.
We played, he won.  (I am beginning to see a trend here).
Welcoming the newest scouts to the troop.

Bishop and I began to study the human body.  I prepared materials as if it was a unit study but I simply use it all as a guide, a jumping off point and I allow Bishop to pursue in depth that which grabs his attention.  Maceo studied history, math, logic and form drawing independently.  He also spent a great deal of time researching the movies nominated for an Academy Award.  I love when he gets immersed in a subject matter such as this one.  This is when I see the greatest educational gains for him.  He will expose himself to a great deal of new information and many a new idea will develop as he independently researches those things that catch his fancy.  (I will definitely write more on that later).
Maceo and Bishop both attended their first funeral and learned a great deal about empathy and kindness and compassion as they extended themselves to their friend who just lost his mother.
Life has so many lessons in store for us. 

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