Thursday, August 10, 2023

Homeschool wins

Not every homeschooling day feels particularly successful, few homeschooling days are glamorous. However, every day includes learning and growing (even if it also includes a little hair pulling (of my own hair, of course, not the children's (why would you think that?!))). I probably have more experience teaching kids how to swim than teaching anything else—in the public sphere—but I believe there is power in just showing up and jumping in the pool. 

At least you're getting wet! At least you're splashing around! At least you're trying! Usually when kids show up and get in the pool, they walk away having improved on some skill (or having conquered some fear), even if it felt (or looked) like all they did was mess around. 

That was one complaint I'd get from parents sometimes as a swim instructor—"When are you going to teach them how to swim? They're just playing around and singing songs!"

And I'd be like, "And three days ago they wouldn't even get in the pool! We're getting to the swimming part!"

And now I'm the parent (and the instructor) and I have to remind myself that progress (1) often looks like playing when children are involved and (2) can be messy. 

Today, for example, Zoë (who is already a quarter of the way through her math curriculum for the year), was finishing up her unit on area and perimeter. She was working on rectilinear shapes, that is a 2D shapes where all the angles are right angles, but which are more complicated than a simple rectangle is, being multiple rectangles mashed together. She was having a hard time envisioning how to break the shapes apart, in order to solve for unknown side lengths or calculate the area of the entire shape or what have you. 

I happened to be in the kitchen cutting up some cheese for Phoebe and had a nice rectangle of cheese on the cutting board, which I was busy cutting into cubes. Zoë came in moaning about her math and then said, "Hey! That's a rectangle!" And then she rearranged the cubes of cheese into an L-shape form, similar to what she had been working on and said, "And this is not a rectangle, but it still has the same area! And if I just split it into two rectangles—like this!—then I can add the area of this rectangle and that rectangle together and I'll have my answer! I get it!"

She popped a cube of cheese in her mouth, I put the rest in a bowl for Phoebe (who immediately set about building a tower out of cheese blocks), and that was that. Zoë didn't ever quite get around to asking a proper question or wait around for a proper answer. She just was thinking about stuff, encountered cheese, and worked out the answer (while simultaneously stealing her baby sister's snack). 

So that was one beautiful moment from this week. 

Another beautiful moment was when I was working with Alexander on his shapes unit. He's still a little guy (just in kindergarten this year, technically speaking, though he's doing Beast Academy's grade 1 math...but in a paper-only version because although I think he would have a lot of fun doing it online, he still needs a lot of practice writing his numbers out, and quite a bit of support from me), so I was sitting with him, reading his textbook aloud with him. It's in comic book form, so we were taking turns reading for different characters, and doing a little discussion of our own between panels.

"So a square is always a rectangle," I said (or read). "But a rectangle isn't always a square!"

"Yeah!" he said. "That is just like National Parks! Because a National Park is always a park, but not every park is a National Park!"

I was floored by his analogy—and that he just came up with it literally that quickly. But he was 100% correct! 

[Square : Rectangle :: National Park : Park]* is an excellent way to think about that relationship.

*This would be read "square is to rectangle as National Park is to park."

Meanwhile, Phoebe had been helping herself to some peanut butter that someone left out on the table after lunch, humming happily to herself, "Mmmmmm...mmmmmm...mmmmmm...more, more! Mmmmmm...more!" with each little (or big) bite that she took.

I suppose Phoebe getting into the peanut butter makes up for the cheese cube Zoë stole from her snack today. Fortunately, she didn't make too big of a mess! She wanted as much as possible to make it into her belly, it seems. 

We won't even talk about how Phoebe has decided she knows how to peel oranges. I have had oranges all over my kitchen all week!

This morning I peeled an orange for myself at breakfast and Phoebe seemed interested in sharing a piece, but although she took it from me, she didn't eat it and instead threw it on the floor. I guess she's finally sick of oranges. She was eating about a dozen a day there, for a little while!

Here's Alexander working on some of his shapes and figuring out how they rotate and reflect (to help with his visualization of shapes, he's been spending a lot of time playing on the geoboards we made last year (??), and to help drawing straight lines between dots he's going to be playing dot-to-dot):

Phoebe is playing with the Anderson marble run:

As far as I know...Grandpa Anderson (Karen's dad) made this marble run. Andrew grew up playing with it and now our kids use it (though Karen purchased a similar one for each of her kids a while back, I know). Our kids enjoy it as well, but it's been put away until recently because...well...marbles are a choking hazard. Thankfully, Phoebe is old enough that—with supervision—she can responsibly play with the marble run now!

We pulled them out the other day because Zoë (who is doing the new Beast Academy science curriculum (they just released the first half of grade three, but are working on other grades)) needed to do an experiment on predictions (and duplicating results), for which she needed a marble.

Phoebe has been watching me type over my shoulder and saw the picture of the marble run and now is begging to play, "Mar.Mul.Mar.Mul.Mar.Mul." So I'd better help her with that before she gets into things she ought not to get into.

But first, here's a picture of Benjamin working on his math book. He's being so organized and responsible about showing his work in his notebook this year!

I could tell you a few hair-pulling incidences from this week, as well, because there were plenty of those, but we'll focus on the positive for today. (And, of course, I have two older kids who aren't pictured because they spend most of their time working independently and who have started attending in-person early morning seminary (because Grandpa was called as a seminary teacher this year)).

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