Friday, January 6, 2012

Knitting and Filling in the Holes

One of the perks of homeschooling is that we can feed the children's curiosity wherever it may lead. At this point in our homeschooling, I try to keep to a minimum the things I structure and schedule: the things that I choose to teach and that I actively teach them in a way that what most people would consider "teaching" (my knitting). There are plenty of opportunities to let them take the reigns on their own learning (letting them fill in the holes). Through self-education, they are a whole lot more interested in learning, we can cover the topics for much longer each day because they are engaged in the topic they chose, they are more likely to take time to learn independently above and beyond the teaching I lead, we are able to delve deeper into each topic, and we can draw connections to other areas of our lives and in our learning.

Now that we are "back to school," I asked Bean what he wanted to learn. Bean had no hesitation when he said he wanted to learn more about the night, like nocturnal animals and the night sky. Our challenge then is to place before him resources and experiences to help him explore that topic. Bo got a bunch of books from the library after a church meeting this Wednesday night, and I picked up some additional ones this afternoon. We also have more on hold waiting to be picked up from another library. That's a good start. Bean, in particular, learns a lot from reading non-fiction. At times, Tey enjoys listening to him read and he enjoys reading to him, so this helps them learn the topic together and independently too. I try to connect what their interests are to other things they are familiar with. For example, when we ate the star fruit earlier this week, we talked about why it might be called a star fruit, and then talked about stars from what we had learned about in books we had read.

Right now I feel like my biggest area of weakness is exploring the arts with the kids. For this topic, I tried to run with the nocturnal theme. We listened to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, thinking about what he was thinking and feeling when he composed it, what he was hoping that we would feel, and what of this song reminds us of moonlight. If you listen closely, you might be able to hear the owl that we thought we heard. 

Then we listened to the song and painted with water colors. The boys painted Van Gogh's The Starry Night. At nap time/quiet time, I wanted to take a stab at painting Delaunay's Simultaneous Contrasts: Sun and Moon. It was really relaxing. I need a creative hobby. But I digress. Bean saw what I was doing, was really impressed and asked to take over. "Sure!" It was also my secret ploy to get him to paint something more difficult and to try to copy the details. It worked! Too bad this video is so short, I ran out of batteries. I know, I'm horrible at recording :/

If a week ago I had shown Bean a picture of Simultaneous Contrasts: Sun and Moon and asked him to paint it, he never would have. Or maybe he would have, but he would have dragged his feet...likely because he would have doubted if he could do it or because it would have seemed like a random, pointless assignment. Certainly, we would not have enjoyed it as much as he did.

This week, I became even more sold on Charlotte Mason's ideas of self-education. I'm reading more and more of her stuff and I really like her style.
"No one knoweth the things of man except the spirit of man which is in him; therefore, there is no education but self-education, and as soon as a young child begins his education, he does so as a student. Our business is to give him mind stuff. Both quantity and quality are essential." - Charlotte Mason

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