Saturday, September 28, 2013

Why We Do What We Do

I have already written about how Umberto decided he wanted to do more schooling because he wants to prepare for college. And so far things have been going smoothly. We have not had the struggles we had last year. When I ask Umberto to work, he comes to the table willingly. I have also learned to not be so rigid. If Umberto wants to have a friend over, or if he just bought a Xbox game (cough GTA V cough) then we just rearrange things. Sometimes social studies sucks up more time than I had planned so we don't have time for writing. We just roll with it. Letting go of the stress of having to get things done opens up a whole new atmosphere to schooling for all of us. Things are less angry, less hurried. When plans fall through I don't feel the intense stress of having to get it done. We have time. All the time we need. Because really if we don't finish Math lesson 23 today, the world will keep spinning. Before, I would rush, rage, and end up just giving up.

Now I can see that it was a combination of things. My attitude. Umberto not being ready. So here we are now in just the right spot. And it's not been totally easy. My house is a mess. I feel like the other kids are getting a bit neglected. Umberto needs me to right beside him for most of his work. We're working on independence, and I know it will come, but right now it's a bit confining. The positive in this side by side work is that Umberto and I have become very close. I think it's often the case that a child reaches their teen years, they drift away. It's nice to not find that happening; to have the opposite occurring as we work together.  We can get creative about where school happens as well. So sometimes we do our work on the floor while Jude plays, giving us a few minutes to be together between baby care.

In addition, to our closeness, I've watched Umberto develop new interests. He has ended up really loving history which surprised, I think, us both. And he has learned to take pride in things. The other day he yelled "Yes, a 100 on that the Math quiz!" and it came from him not because we grade or because we even emphasis that kind of accomplishment. But for a kid who often struggles with academic self worth it was a pretty awesome moment. Maybe because it came from his own sense of accomplishment as opposed to pressure from others.

But I think the neatest moment came when Umberto had to build a diorama on a habitat of his choice. He was pretty blah about it, and it kept getting pushed to the back burner by both of us. I knew it was going to take a lot of effort on my part to get him started and since he was not feeling it, it would likely lead to conflict. I thought about just skipping the assignment. I've always though dioramas were kind of boring, and a waste of time anyway. Memories of horribly failed projects from my own child were foremost in my mind. I always had grand ideas that never quite coalesced into reality. 

Still it was his first science project and I thought it would be good to just bull through and do it. We could mark it as done and then decide if it was something worth doing again. So last Sunday night, I found a shoe box, and said "Let's do it." What happened was pretty awesome. Piper and Camille were instantly interested when I brought out the air dry clay. I explained to them Umberto's assignment, and they both wanted to help. Soon we were all sitting on the floor in the living room, the Ipad propped up in front of us with images of coral reefs before us, surrounded by National Geographic magazines and clay. Piper was making sea turtles, and Camille started in on shark. Umberto was looking through the magazines, and talking about making a clown fish. Then we downloaded some coloring sheets, everyone peeking over my shoulders as we scrolled through pages of options. There was coloring, cutting, and discussion.

On Wednesday when the clay was dry so we started to assemble the diorama. At first it was just Umberto and I. Camille came out and wanted to be involved. I stepped back and let them go to town. They came up with creative ways to get the big things in the front, and the smaller things in the back. Umberto used H's wedge idea to have the fish appear to be standing. He also came up with the idea of how to hang the seahorse. Camille made Popsicle stick props to keep the coral upright. 

In the end, we had a group effort. A family created project that arose from something that I was dreading. And it's what I really love about homeshooling. The improvisation. The unexpected fun and joy. 


Danielle said...

thats really neat. I hate the group projecta in school. relying on others for a geade etc is stressful. dioramas also seemed to...just...suck. I think modern day version is something like movie/videos and powerpoint presentations? I have lofty ideals for homeschooling, much like early science projects, but they are sometimes hard to break down.

Ginger Stickney said...

I think group projects such when you're forced into them. What I like here is that it just happened:) The kids wanted to be involved in what Umberto was doing so everyone pitched in. I think when you're enjoying what you're doing there's less worry about who is doing what.

When I was teaching college I did use groups because it was easier for some things but I did install ways of making sure everyone was doing their share.

Science experiments are fun when they work LOL. We've been trying to grow mold which normally is no issue in this house but this time? No mold!