Saturday, February 22, 2014

A step forward

While we were at the Pacific Science Center for the Visiting Scientist program a couple of months ago, Sean spoke to a psychologist who studies fonts and which ones are easier to read, and other ways we respond to font types.

He showed us several different experiments. He asked us to read a sentence written in two different fonts. He asked if there was one that looked like a feminine font. Sean gave him a blank stare. The man turned to me and asked if there was one that looked more feminine, and one did stand out to me, but I wanted to wait until Sean had a chance to answer.

I wasn't sure he understood the question, so I said, "Is there one that looks more girlish, or boyish, to you." He looked for a long time at each one and finally said, "No."

A volunteer at the center was standing with us as we were doing this exercise. He had been glancing at me while Sean was studying the fonts. We waited, and when Sean answered, "No." We both smiled.
I told the psychologist I believe Sean's reaction to this particular exercise was an example of progress in our society.

The volunteer said, "I think that is really awesome."

This is not to say that Sean doesn't recognize certain things as masculine and feminine, but in general he views activities as a matter of interest rather than a "girl" thing to do and a "boy" thing to do.

While we were at a family function, a family member was engaging in conversation with Sean about his activities. She asked him, "Are you going to take ballet?" She is in her late 70s, and to her it was a way to joke around, but he took it as a serious question, thought on it for a moment, and then said, "I don't know. Maybe."

He walked away and she said to Chuck and I that she was really just kidding, but it looked like he was considering it. We explained he is interested in everything, and he doesn't really view ballet as a girl activity.

Children become very focused on making sense of the world when they are around age 7, 8, 9 ish. The traditional roles of households and working world are very important to them. They sometimes say things that don't sound very Politically Correct. I've seen adults get offended when a child talks about their religion, for instance, and insists that everyone is supposed to go to church. In their minds if their family is going to church everyone is supposed to. Just like all mommies are supposed to do whatever their mommies do, and daddies are supposed to do what their daddy does. That is what makes sense.

But Sean has been in a diverse community, and a diverse household, and family. He went to school with transgendered kids, and kids of all faiths and backgrounds, ethnicities, and origins.

It's a big world out there. We don't all fit into a mold. Sean makes decisions for himself based on his interests, and not what others would expect him to choose. That is a beautiful thing, and I hope he will be able to follow his own path and not that of others as he gets older.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fraction circles

When the math tutor arrives I usually retreat to the couch and plug in my ear phones on the laptop. It is my Downton Abbey time, because I don't want to be a distraction. It's a great time for me to plug in and escape since we can't get the station that airs Downton Abbey on Sunday nights.
I occasionally pause the show and turn down the volume enough to listen to something Sean and his tutor are working on. It's usually some type of algebra, and just recently they've been working on fractions.

Today I plugged in my ear phones, and watched a bit of Downton. Then I noticed the fire was waning, so I unplugged and gave the fire a nudge and heard Corey say, "Why don't we get that fraction circles tray."
Music to my ears.

I bought the fraction circles last year, and I'm so glad we have them. It haven't spent a ton on materials, but sometimes it feels like they are just sitting on the shelves not being used. So to see Sean actively working with them today was great.

I asked Corey if I should get the fraction skittles that go along with it, and he said only if I find a set for a cheap price. He said they are really not used very much, but the fraction circles can be used over and over again. I found some on Jump Start Montessori on sale. If you're interested, you can find them here.
These fraction circles are plastic, and include the whole all the
way down to 1/10. I must have gotten these through Alison's Montessori.
I notice it says for age group 6-9 years, but he is using these for math
work in Upper El also.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mesopotamia, Babylon, and King Nebuchadnezzar

Our study of ancient civilizations is moving slowly.
This history curriculum is not Montessori, so there aren't any hands-on activities with it. It's straight forward information with questions at the end of each chapter. I've decided that if we breeze over something and Sean's not interested, that is OK. He will at least have been exposed to the information, and maybe the next chapter will spark his interest.

I wanted to illustrate for him how we get information from various sources, so I combined the study of Mesopotamia and Babylon with another book called, "Ancient Civilizations, The Illustrated Guide to Belief, Mythology and Art," and I've also flipped to some books in the Bible to read about Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar.

We finished up this lesson last week. It wasn't really of much interest to him, but he listened and did what was required. He actually seemed more interested in ancient man and the lifestyle prior to settling into agriculture.

We are now starting on Egypt. I plan to use the same sources, and I'll ask him to find some others. I'm hoping this one will appeal to him more, since we were able to see the King Tut exhibit when it was in Seattle, and we have a DVD of King Tut's tomb, and there is so much more information about Egypt. I'm going to look for some hands-on work to go with the study of Egypt as well, in hopes that will get him excited about it.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

To All Homeschooling Parents

Your performance as a guide/teacher has not gone unnoticed.
Your dedication, perseverance, patience, and your ability to spark a chid's interest in learning is admirable and inspiring.

You spend your days not only guiding children and presenting lessons, but cutting out materials, laminating, arranging, rotating, and researching them. You comparison shop, maybe even spend hours upon hours creating materials. You take the children on field trips, and you look for ways to supplement the work you are doing with them to reinforce the learning.

You worry, you doubt yourself, doubt your abilities, wonder if you are doing the right thing for the children. You look for resources to help you do your job even better than you already are.

Each day you come to work ready to do the job, and on weekends you continue to inspire children to not only learn and practice grace and courtesy, but to navigate the world and have the skills to collaborate and get along with others. You work with them to express their feelings instead of lashing out, and you help them learn how to become independent, life-long learners.

You are the guide/teacher, the mediator, the cook, the nurse, the custodian, the counselor, the bookkeeper, the secretary, and the specialist. Your days "off" from your teaching/guiding job are filled with more duties and demands.

Though you are guiding your students to be appreciative and kind, you rarely get a thank you from anyone, or an acknowledgement for your commitment to this important job.
And so this is to serve as that acknowledgement.

Your abilities as a guide are amazing. You are doing the right thing for your students. You do a great job of researching and finding bargains on materials. You are so talented at creating materials. Everything that you have for your students is enough. Whatever you don't have will not harm their education. You are making the right decisions. You know your students better than anyone else does. You know what they need. Your commitment will pay off in spades. Your students will thank you someday.