Sunday, December 10, 2017

Even More Thoughts on Education

Quite some time ago I wrote about my educational philosophy and some questions that typically arise when pondering living out that philosophy.  What does this type of education look like? 
 What exactly is the parents role? 
 Without following a standardized scope and sequence how do you insure that there are no gaps in your child's knowledge acquisition? 
These are questions that have been asked of me and that I have asked myself.  Previously I addressed the question related to what this type of education might look like.
In this, long overdue, post I would like to address the second question - what exactly is the parents role?

What is a homeschooling parent doing if he isn't developing a scope and sequence for the year and years to come and seeking curriculum that will satisfy those goals?
What is a homeschooling parent doing if she isn't developing lesson plans and a schedule that will allow for all those plans to be completed?
What is a homeschooling parent doing if he isn't maintaining that schedule and assigning worksheets, papers, projects and tests?
What is a homeschooling parent doing if she isn't correcting and grading those assignments and documenting those grades?
Most find it difficult to envision what the role of the homeschooling parent is if education doesn't require the tasks listed above, if it doesn't look like school.
Naturally it is difficult for people to envision that which they haven't experienced
But, in this case, let me suggest that if you have school-aged children (or older) you do have experiences to draw upon.

In that post about my educational philosophy I write, "Consider our infants acquisition of language, we didn't contemplate some contrived way of teaching them to speak we simply spoke to them, engaged them, loved them.  When they were learning to walk we did not give them didactic lessons on putting one foot in front of the other we, just in the simple act of living, modeled the act for them and then supported and encouraged them.  We also didn't assume that they would all learn these skills at precisely the same age, we offered them a safe space to explore who they are, what the world is about and their place in it, we offered opportunities and encouragement and then allowed them to develop at their own pace."
If you have walked alongside a young child while they learn to talk and walk then you have experiences that can help you envision what the role of a parent is who subscribes to a "lifestyle of learning" approach to education.

Here are some of my thoughts on what parents do when helping a child learn to walk; they are presented in no particular order.
-We create a safe space for our children.  One that is both physically safe and emotionally safe.  One that reduces the risks of physical harm for those little tykes on wobbly legs.  And one that is overflowing with support and unconditional love.  One that doesn't label them as failures or deficient after taking two steps and falling on their bums.
-We give them the resources and create the environment they need to accomplish the task.  We encourage them to learn all of the smaller tasks that help set them up for success.  When they are itty bitty we play games with their legs, bicycling them and bouncing them, that helps build strength.  We give them tummy time and encourage them to crawl which helps develop, among other things, cross lateral movement.  We buy toys that encourage them to bounce and build strength in their legs.  We buy them walkers.  We steady them by allowing them to hold onto our fingers.
-We model walking for them and, by doing so, set up the expectation that they too will walk.
-We cheer them on with a hearty "you can do it!"
I'm certain the list could be lengthier but I think that these points illustrate the parents role in helping their children learn.
The parents role is to support, guide, facilitate, encourage and model.

Likewise, when employing a "lifestyle of learning" approach to education the parents role is to support, guide, facilitate, encourage and model.
-We create an environment that is conducive to learning - one that encourages literacy and numeracy and the asking of questions and the acquisition of knowledge and the pursuit of understanding and truth and one that celebrates the making of connections between bits of knowledge.
-We listen to our kiddos being really willing to hear what is in their minds and their hearts.
-We support their interests and find resources that will help them pursue those interests.  We may facilitate the pursuit of those interests by finding the right curriculum but it is more likely going to require finding the right expert or book or video or podcast, etc.
-We take our kids to interesting places and seek out interesting people.
-We model learning for them by pursuing our own interests, not in a self-absorbed way but in an enriching way.  We share those interests with our kids, not in a demanding way but in that way that people share things they know about with other people. 
-We offer them opportunities:  "I saw that the library is having a program on that subject we were talking about the other day.  Are you interested in going?"  "You mentioned that you wanted to learn to sew, Grandmama has an extra sewing machine you can use if you would like."  "I really want to go to that powwow this weekend.  Anyone want to join me?"
-We learn alongside them and are willing to learn from them.  We allow and encourage learning to infuse our lives.

This is the role of the homeschooling parent who subscribes to this educational philosophy.
It is a challenging role. It requires flexibility, creativity, perseverance and more.
It is a rewarding role.

Lifestyle of Learning 2017 Edition: Volume Forty-Five

December 3 - 9

"If you want to build a ship don't herd people together to collect wood, and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
-Kahlil Gibran

Bishop spent eight hours on Sunday discussing worldviews, ideologies, philosophies and more.  He knows, understands, and discusses such topics at a very high level.  He is actually quite a profound thinker!!!
Bishop completed his entry form for the art competition that he is submitting work in.
And it is mailed!!!

Maceo made cookies.  I love that he has been getting in the kitchen more frequently!
Bishop had his culinary internship.
Bishop attended scouts.  He gave his presentation on his community for the Citizenship in the Community merit badge.  He picked his topic for his five minute speech for his Communications merit badge and listened to a presentation on constructing an effective speech.
Maceo had rehearsal for Titus Andronicus.
We celebrated St. Nicholas Day!

We played Skip-Bo.
This pic was taken in honor of Maceo and his girlfriends seven month anniversary.

Bishop went to pottery.
Maceo gave vocal instruction to a young student.
It was announced that Maceo was selected to join Home Team, the premiere improv team in town!!! Maceo performed with Home Team and substituted for a performer on another team.

Bishop did additional work for the caterer he works for.
Podcasts and music were listened to.  Games were played. Discussions were had.
However, overall, the week hasn't gone as originally planned.
Our furnace isn't working, the temperature is dropping and, most certainly to add excitement to our lives, our power outlets, and a light fixture or two, are failing.  The upstairs and the basement still have power but there is no power in the main bathroom, Maceo's room, Bishop's room (with the exception of his overhead light), and the dining room (with the exception of the overhead light.)  The living room has two outlets remaining and the kitchen has overhead lights, the stove and the refrigerator working.  The electrician won't be out until Monday so we are in for a long cold weekend.  And the whole thing is throwing off our Christmas traditions.  I can't set up the hot chocolate bar or the Christmas tree which really means that all the boxes remain in the attic until this issue is resolved.  But that is ok, that is life.
The boys are spending most of the weekend with friends and I am sure that they are doing some great things and having a great time!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Lifestyle of Learning 2017 Edition: Volume Forty-Four

November 26 - December 2

We began the week with Stir-Up Sunday which means that, although it is traditional to mix up fruit cake, we mixed up a big bowl of our hot chocolate mix and had our first cups of hot chocolate.  Let the season begin!

Maceo had three hours of advanced improv class.
Maceo had three special two hour long rehearsals with his acting troupe.
Maceo and Bishop played Magic.
Maceo, Bishop and I had an extensive conversation regarding the value of video games and books and more.
We all went to our university's art BFA graduating seniors art exhibit.  In this previous post I shared that my boys became subjects for a BFA photography students post.  Although Bishop and I typically go to these exhibits, this time we all decided that we had to go.
And here it is!!!

And there we are!!!
(Yes, she compelled me to get into the picture as well.  I wasn't prepared for that but...)

Here is the photographer with her mother!

We took a look at all the exhibits - always looking for inspiration.

Maceo, Bishop and I went to a student jewelry exhibition and sale.  It included some jewelry by the artist shown above.  We did a little Christmas shopping!
Bishop and I went to the student pottery sale, as well.
Bishop and I have been working on getting pictures and measurements done of his pottery so that he can enter some pieces in a competition.
 Podcasts and music were explored.

Maceo had Titus Andronicus rehearsals.
During science group we studied seeds and dispersion methods.

We got to experience the glory of Touch-Me-Nots several weeks back during our watershed field trip.
The discussion was followed by a creative/critical thinking activity that involved using a variety of supplies to create something that emulates one of the dispersion methods.
Bishop had "water" and simply placed his seeds inside of a balloon contending that the balloon "fruit" would get carried downstream then would burst when hitting a rock or log (etc) thereby dispersing the seeds.

He also found that beans inside of a balloon make a really cool sound when shaken.

And we found that the balloon method of dispersion could be quite explosive!
Bishop had four hours of culinary internship.
Maceo performed for his improv team, Improvable Causes.  So funny...can't stop laughing!!!

Maceo and his youth acting troupe performed two holiday shows.  It was an original play, written by one of their instructors, and involved them doing the puppet portion of the show.  Maceo was the Grinch.  It was so clever.  And the entire show was so entertaining.
Maceo went to see a production of Elf Jr.
Maceo performed with the leading improv team in town, The Home Team.  I think that this might be part of his audition process to join the team.
I ended the week by going to the Laura Ingalls Wilder home for Christmas at Laura's.
Not a great picture.  It was so beautiful - her house festively lit up.
I went with these cuties.  We had treats made with Laura's recipes - molasses cookies, gingerbread, applesauce cake and apple cider.  And the kiddos had a little visit with Santa who was waiting for them in Laura's house. 

Afterwards, we drove through an rv park that had a lot of Christmas lights set up while we listened to Christmas music playing loudly on the radio.  However, that radio was not nearly as loud as these kids singing Christmas carols on the drive home.
It was a nice way to end the week and begin the Christmas season!

A Little Improv and A Lot of Laughs

One of Maceo's newer endeavors is doing improvisational acting.
He began it last year with his youth acting troupe.  Then, this summer, he got onto two different improv teams.
And he is funny!!!
It seems to come somewhat naturally to him.  He is so smart.  Smart and funny - perfect for improv.
Last night one of his teams performed.
It was a really, really entertaining evening.
I so wish you could hear what all was going on but the photos will have to suffice.

Maceo as Wynona Ryder along with Kristen Bell, not Christian Bale.

Yes, ringing a bell...Kristen Bell.

Meet Bell and Bale selling some rather versatile products.

How to Kill a Mockingbird starring John Wayne.

Papa Duke teaching Duke how to be a man... killing that mockingbird.

Yes, that mockingbird.

After learning to fire the weapon

and failing to kill the mockingbird...

...Maceo declared his father to be wrong

...and the path to manhood really involved befriending the mockingbird.

Internal dialogue.

All of them sooo funny!!!