Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kindergarten at home...

So... it is official. Kiddo is 5 years old. School is now in session. Had we not seen the masses of people and huge displays of supply lists at the stores, we would have found out simply by the number of people that ask kiddo "Are you in school?" Which he answers now, quite quickly and with just a hint of irritation "We homeschool." The reactions we get are mixed and long enough to fill lists even longer than the Kindergarten required school supply list.

I say we have been homeschooling since birth. To say that we just started is a little ridiculous, but I suppose officially, we have just started. By that I mean that I have started keeping daily notes of some of our activities in a student planner. This is what I plan to use when family members start poking. Family members do poke. Poking is not fun. Only I know what happens all day every day with my son. You know why? I am here, with him, every single moment of every single day. Every meal, snack, lesson, question, game, play time, experiment... did I mention the questions? I am the answer lady. The Googler if you will. The speller, the sounder outer, the encourager, the counter, the comforter. I am also many times the student. He has so much to teach me, and stories to tell. We live in an open learning environment. We all share with each other what we know. It's the best and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Really the only frustrating part of homeschooling, is explaining it to other people. Kiddo has had the question from family members "What did you do in school today?" After he looks at them a little crazy, he will look at me like... ummmmm. Learning has no start or stop for us. No official seat. No line to stand in. No certain time for math, science, spelling, snacks, socializing, art, story time. While I understand schedule being important, if we want to play dominoes for an hour and then talk about special effects used in movies, we do.

He knows the basics. He can write his letters, numbers, colors, shapes, is reading and sounding out words. He will stop me if I am helping too much. He will put his hand up or shush me. He enjoys being challenged and is the first one to challenge himself. He is determined, excited, open, confident and very sure of himself and if any of those dip just a bit, he has me. The person who loves him the most in the entire world (now there is a list of folks that would argue that but I know better) to help him and fill in the blanks.

Today he woke up, came in and gave me a giant hug. He told me I was the best Mom in the whole world and that he wanted Halloween Ritz crackers for breakfast and some apple juice. We continued on with our day, him constantly coming with questions. How do you spell this or what comes after 29. Stories, all day I get stories. Tells me about his dreams, or makes them up, you choose. I don't miss out on anything. So anyway, later in the day he asked for crackers again. I started to explain again to him that he needed to eat a balanced diet. About carbs, protein, vitamins and nutrients. Then I thought of the food pyramid. I Google image searched it and blew it up on the screen. We talked about the different types of foods and how those foods fuel your body in different ways. I asked him what he had the most of and what he needed to complete a balanced diet for the day. From that we fixed an early dinner that contained pasta, meat, vegetables and dairy. He was VERY excited about the one part of the food pyramid he had not eaten. You know... the top tiny little triangle. We called it the treats triangle. He is quite the self monitor when it comes to treats anyway. If he had a tiny package of m&ms he will be the first to remind you if some other sort of treat comes about during the day. "Oh I already had a treat, remember?" He decided today it would be a chocolate popsicle, one of his favorites.

He absolutely loves to draw. He will draw pictures of anything and everything. Detailed or not so detailed. Almost always there are stories to go with the drawings (unless they are love letters to me or his Dad, I certainly do not argue with those... ever). Since he has learned to write all of his letters and some words, he most often labels his drawings. We once did an activity where you had to number which picture in the story sequence came first, second, third and forth. This is now showing up in his drawings. A child's drawings can speak volumes about what is going on in their head. I still remember what a huge thing drawing was for me. It is an limitless way to express yourself.

Anyway, I decided it would be a fun idea to draw a blank food pyramid and let him fill in the spots from what we had learned earlier. I wrote the major group names and asked him to sound out the words. He really works hard to prove himself to me. To show me that he knows things. So he sounded them out, figured all of them out and then he started drawing pictures in the correct spots. I had him sound out the letters for the names of the items he had drawn and he wrote them in. We made it to fruits and he chose apples, oranges and tomatoes. At first, just from what I had thought for so long, I wanted to say "That's a vegetable!" Then it occurred to me that in fact, tomatoes are a fruit, and I thought it was very interesting that was how he classified them.

I know I am going on and on but hey? This is my stinkin blog! I wanted to vent. To explain a little bit about how a day in the life of our type of homeschooling goes. I don't purchase gazillion dollar curriculum. I don't have a schedule. I don't have certain things that I have lined out to learn every day. Yes, we have official Kindergarten workbooks that we sit down and do. Most often it is him asking "Can we do school today?" To him, school is sitting down to do 15-20 pages in his workbooks. He doesn't realize that from the moment he opens the door from his room in the morning, class has already started. I like that. That way, there is no "Isn't it the weekend? Do we have to do this today? I don't want to sit down right now." Which brings up another point. A child of his age should not have to sit in a chair. They are growing, moving, experimenting, testing their physical abilities. Movement and fidgeting is just inside of them. On the other hand, I will tell you that I have had countless people come to me, most of the time in restaurants, to tell me what a well behaved child he is. Just two weeks ago I had an older lady who ended up sitting with her back to him in the adjoining booth. She stopped me as we were leaving and told me that when her friends chose that booth she thought "Oh great..." but that it was only moments later she completely forgot that there was a child there. He knows how to sit still and behave.

We have many many rules. It is not a free for all. The neighborhood kids know about the rules. I remind them all the time, make up new ones as needed. We are by far the most strict house on the block. I keep a close eye on them when they come to play. Having said all of that you would think this would be the last house on the block that they come to knock on the door, but the opposite is true. Rules are important. They offer safety and consistency. Kids will always always always test them. Push them to see what they can get away with, but in the end, rules are a good thing.

I don't know/don't care about classifying what type of homeschooler we are. There are enough labels and cliques in the world, education doesn't need to be a part of that. The boy is learning, he is happy and he is completely brilliant.

Have a beautiful day!


Jamie said...


TMCPhoto said...

and another good reason for considering homeschooling the Peanut :)

At 3 we're not quite at the best behaved child in the restaurant stage or at the writing all the letters (she drew the letter A yesterday, upside down but she told me what it was as she drew it)

From your post I can tell how well your son is learning, and how well you are learning too. Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

What a smart mother/teacher you are! I think you are both brilliant.

salvation78028 said...

The best post of all time...ever...anywhere!

Oh, so good!