Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Beginning

In 2012, we decided to take our first steps into homeschooling with the girls.  Tater Tot has been working on various topics in a relatively laid-back way for her Kindergarten year.  Thus far we have covered trees and life cycles, space, sewing, and frogs, to name a few.  I am going to try to begin documenting at least some of these things as we go along.  We started off with some basic themes, but were still covering a variety of topics on the side, with a little overlap.  I have recently switched to trying out a full-themed approach with our unit on frogs.  For an entire week we pretty much revolved all subjects and activities around frogs.  This seems to be a fun approach for Tater Tot and feels a little less like I'm bouncing around subject matter.  Of course, Tater Tot is a rare breed, and has kept up just fine regardless of the way I teach.  For most things, whether we go over them numerous times or briefly mention it in passing, she absorbs and retains that information.  In the first few days of our adventure into homeschooling, Boo Bear was very interested in doing "school" with us.  She particularly liked all the crafts that are a pervasive component in our studies.  However, she quickly lost interest and I struggled with keeping Tater Tot on task and feeling as though Boo Bear was being ignored while she played in the nearby room.  She even became very destructive in her attention-seeking behaviors.  After a couple months, Tater Tot began to show her first signs of complaints and resistance, too.  "Do I have to?"  and  "I don't want to write." were becoming more frequent statements.  In an effort to keep Tater Tot from getting burnt out, we basically just stopped any "formal" learning.  She was allowed to just do what she wanted and I would just sneak in various interesting facts or projects when I could without "doing school".  This was fine for a while, but as the television-watching started to peak and I began to feel like it was dragging on entirely too long, I started to get antsy.  I am a very eclectic homeschooling mama to begin with and I am a borderline unschooler, but I still find it hard to ignore my years of ingrained beliefs that we must be doing something.  The upside of this sabbatical, however, was that Boo Bear began to feel included again, since her sister and Mom were more available, and so my frustration level with her went down as her inappropriate behaviors subsided.  Regardless, life, which is our primary educational platform, must go on and even Tater Tot began to feel like she wasn't doing what she should.  One day she came to me and said she "thinks we should do some school again."  I smiled in relief and said, "sure" and so we started fresh for 2013.  Oh, we can still have some pretty lazy days, but that's okay with me.  I focus on quality, not quantity, and I think she is getting that.  Even Boo Bear is becoming a little more involved again, showing her first signs of paying attention and retaining some letters and numbers.  Sweet Pea has grown enough that she can happily play with her sisters for good amounts of time without needing my constant attention, too, which has also enabled me to focus my time more efficiently.  It's a constantly evolving thing and I'm happy that I am able to recognize that and accept learning in all its wonderful forms.   

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