As I begin this journey of homeschooling, I am learning there are days when our lessons and activities go just as planned. Similarly, there are days when Little Man quickly becomes frustrated or seems uninterested in what I had planned.
Life in the physical school classroom is no different. There have been many times when I’ve been five minutes into a lesson with a room full of disinterested middle schoolers and can sense my well-thought out lesson is about to be a complete flop. When I can tell this is about to happen, I try my best to think on my feet and change what I am doing in order to engage my learners – because at the end of the day, it’s about them and their learning – not about my well-planned lesson.
I am learning that homeschooling is no different. This week, we did quite a bit of these ‘thinking on our feet’ activities. Particularly, I’ve been trying to teach numerals and work on Little Man’s fine motor skills (cutting in particular). So after some flops (including looking at some numbers in books) and cutting patterns on pieces of paper, I decided to do some more ‘impromptu’ and hands on learning.
After scouring Pinterest quickly, I found the activity below for practicing cutting. He loved it. Although cutting through cardboard was more challenging than cutting paper (and next time we’ll probably do a similar activity but on paper instead of cardboard), Little Man was eager and excited to participate. I love how simple this is. The only prep involved was drawing the face and pre-cutting the hair.
While playing with cars one morning, I thought about an activity I had already seen on another blog: making a race track inside with painter’s tape. So we did this, but I simply added some homemade flashcards at various points on the track. We then made a game: race around the track but shout the numbers as you get to them.
While doing this activity, I could tell that Little Man needed more practice with the numbers 6-10. So using that feedback, we’ve since spent more time working on those numbers. We will continue to review these numbers before we’ll do an activity like the one above again.
That’s what teaching is all about: taking the feedback you get from the activities you do and using that feedback to inform your next lessons. In the classroom, oftentimes, teachers do not have the time to do this sort of intervention. We feel compelled to ‘move on’ because of the weight of the curriculum or because other students are ready to move on. Homeschooling allows me to pause, see the needs of my child, and then plan and move forward after considering his individual needs.
While the above picture may just seem like a normal outing, it represents some significant gross motor development – and some courage – for Little Man. While out at our aquarium, he decided that he was big enough to begin climbing these rocks. I was so proud of him for taking this step – for trying something that was out of his comfort zone!
Homeschooling also allows for you to investigate the interests of your child. Currently, Little Man is very interested in volcanos. So yesterday afternoon, in a quiet moment, I asked him, “Hey, do you want to make a volcano?” The activity was completely unplanned, but we had some quiet time, my iPhone and Pinterest, and thankfully, all of the necessary ingredients. Watching the volcano ‘explode’ was a huge success. We repeated the moment numerous times. And as you can see, even our Little Guy wanted to be a part of the action.
After a first full week of homeschooling, I am finding this to be one of things I love the most: that I get to be so intentional about the time I spend with my children. I get to take time in the day to allow activities that encourage his growth. I have the time to research and plan and think about him as an individual. And the best part, I get to be a spectator for every part of it. Of course, there are moments when the intensity of the time spent with an 8 month and three-year-old is exhausting; however, planning for and then watching his personal growth is priceless.