Saturday, January 30, 2010

Finding our way

I am struggling with homeschooling right now. Sean doesn't seem interested in doing any work unless I am right there in the room, and I am frustrated. I can't be in the room all the time. I have to work. So he wanders aimlessly, picking up a toy, or a cat or turning on the TV while I frantically work on deadline. In those moments (days on end) I cannot be two people, so I have to focus on my work. I have tried and tried to encourage him to work on his own, to choose a work that he really finds interesting and wants to learn. He has interests, but he isn't motivated to do the work unless I'm there.
Sometimes I really wish I had a lot of money. I'd hire a Montessori certified teacher as a nanny.
The past two weeks have been very hard. I was writing and editing and putting out fires and on deadline, and he wasn't working.
We did get the cursive sandpaper letters, so he was interested in that and worked on it for a few days. He was able to practice the o, u and e.
Yesterday was a lighter work day for me, so we began with some practical things, like making his bed, putting away some clothes, and then we played a game.
Last week he mentioned the stamp game and that he has forgotten how to play it. So yesterday I had the time to look at the presentation and I said I would bring it out and present a lesson on it. He wouldn't cooperate. He wanted to watch from the couch, which meant he was looking at everything across the room-and upside down. So I asked him to please sit beside me, but he wanted to stand across the room, on the same side this time, but not beside me.
I felt myself getting frustrated. I spent two weeks working, him doing practically nothing, and me stressing and worrying that he isn't really gaining anything from doing this at home. Then when I am able to spend the time in the room, he isn't cooperative.
I said, "I'm going to put the stamp game away, and when you're ready for me to give you the lesson you can come ask me."
We went for a walk and when we got back he looked through a children's dictionary and a nature book. Those totally count, and I was happy that he chose those on his own. He learned about a turtle that can climb trees, and he was looking at the various types of drums in the dictionary.
I'm still waiting for him to come to me about the stamp game. I think I will move it to a more prominent place on the shelf and maybe it will become too tempting for him to ignore.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A surprise package and some review

We got a package on our doorstep yesterday. It was from my oldest son, who is 24. When he was a little boy he loved helicopters and machines, and always wanted to learn how things worked.
Inside the box were books from his boyhood all about flight, helicopters, science, machines and things he loved to learn about as a boy.

Sean has been devouring them one by one. For now, he is all about the helicopters. These books have taken his reading to a new level. As a typical child of the information age, he first reads the book, then takes the book and has it beside him as he conducts Google searches for the same aircraft. He compares and contrasts the various features of the different helicopters. He was shocked by the size of the Apache helicopter today when he saw a picture of a soldier standing beside one.

I haven't been feeling well at all since Saturday. Strange symptoms and I can't identify the cause.
So homeschool has been on the back burner, since work does not slow down for me and I must plug away even if I don't feel like doing it.

Each day I encourage him to work, but I haven't had the energy to stay on top of it. Today I encouraged him to work, and he brought out his box of place value numbers. I can't remember what this is really called in Montessori speak, but it's a little box that has numbers painted on small wooden "cards" for the units, tens, hundreds and thousands numbers to 9000.

Yesterday he had these out and created a really huge number (more than trillions) and asked me what it was. My head was throbbing and there was just no way I could figure it out.

It is one of the math lessons I've worried that he would lose, the place value. He doesn't choose math work very much anymore, and I try not to worry, but I do. He can tell me the value of the numbers in the box of numbers. I ask him to construct numbers for me with those, so I'll ask for 8,543. He brings out the 8000 card, the 500 card, the 40 card and the 3. Then we slide it together and see that it makes 8,543. But I wanted to see if he could recognize a number without the box. So I wrote a number on our dry erase board today (only thousands) and asked him to tell me each place value. He had forgotten about them, but quickly remembered.

He has hit that stage that I heard about during one of my parent ed hours at his Montessori school. The disorganized stage. (I think I've been in that stage since birth.) They said it hits sometime in the lower elementary age. It's here.

More and more things are left out, pencils strewn on the table, work left on the floor, etc.
But one day last week, maybe it was Friday, I saw that old Montessori orderliness kick in. He seemed so happy, calm, quiet and purposeful in his work as he accomplished his tasks and moved across the room. I love to watch that happen.