I love…by Zahra

I love my mommy I love my daddy. I love homeschool. I love nature. I love food. I love my family. I love my pets. I love my home I love my movies. I love baking. I love colouring.  I love things.

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Kids Make The Best Teachers

My son's Lego battles

My son’s Lego battles

Last week the kids have been immersed in Lego. Lego heroes, Lego battles, Lego houses. They built Lego together. They built Lego separately, and then joined their worlds into one.

More Lego

More Lego

Lego Land

And more Lego

 

What did I do? Well, I just let them play. It was another lesson the kids were giving me about “letting go.”

I was letting that self doubt start to creep in. Questions, worries, uncertainties.

Are the kids learning enough? Are they learning? Are they having fun? Are the choices we are making adding and enriching their life or diminishing it? Am I making the right choices?

Of course when self doubt creeps in for me, it creeps into the kids and they show it in their own ways. Ways that are not always easy to manage if I’m not in the right mindset. They bicker, they have dramatic upsets, they complain. Their sleep is interrupted, the choices they make may not always be stellar. It’s the cycle that flows from me to them. If I am feeling uncertain and unhappy, of course they will too.

I have become better at recognizing the slippery slope and am able to either catch myself sooner, or pull out of it sooner. So I tried to let go and let them lead the way. They played completely focused and engaged for about 2 or 3 mornings in a row. Then with that space they asked questions, and explored.

I watched them. I read. I practiced yoga. At one point I was watching a video about Math that was focused on the growth mindset that we discuss a lot in our home education days. The kids would pause, watch, ask questions and then go back to what they were doing. The pauses became longer and the questions increased until they moved from their Lego into other areas of creation and math problems.
Their world kept growing and expanding out from Lego to working on tangrams and building shapes.

Building the puzzle

Building the puzzle

 

Finished putting it together.

Finished putting it together.

 

Another Tangram Puzzle...one of many

Another Tangram Puzzle…one of many

 

Tangram Heaven

Tangram Heaven

They watched videos about the Fibonacci sequence and discussed where we can see the sequence in nature. They looked through a book on the works of MC Escher and tried to find the sequence in his art.

Getting push ups in between math problems and checking out the Escher Art Book

Getting push ups in between math problems and checking out the Escher Art Book

They visualized and encoded numbers, created patterns, and worked on various math problems.

And no, we did not end up getting to Origami that day

What do you see when shown a configuration of dots for a under a minute. How many dots are there? How do you see them?

 

What do you see when shown a configuration of dots for a under a minute. How many dots are there?

Everyone sees things in their own way. Each way may be different, but just because they are different does not make them wrong. 

They were engaged, and excited and each one had their own area of interest that they focused on a little bit more.

My daughter expands her knowledge of subtraction.

My daughter expands her knowledge of subtraction.

 

My niece built different patterns with small blocks. She changed the number of elements with each pattern.

My niece built different patterns with small blocks. She changed the number of elements with each pattern.

 

My son drawing out the different ways he sees the dot configuration

My son drawing out the different ways he sees the dot configuration *

Close-up of his work. What shapes do you see? How does it reflect the number of dots in the image you were shown?

Close-up of his work. What shapes do you see? How does it reflect the number of dots in the image you were shown?

 

He also worked on another math problem from the website youcubed.org

He also worked on another math problem from the website youcubed.org **

 

So back to my self doubt and uncertainty. Are they learning enough? Are they learning? Are they having fun? Are we making the right choices?

If they are still showing a curiosity and interest in learning and in the process- then yes they are. So the education continues. My education. Because sometimes I am their guide but really most times I am the student in this.

 

*The majority of the Math videos we watched and math problems we explored that week came from the website https://www.youcubed.org/ along with talks featured on the Ted Talks website. “Hackschooling Makes Me Happy” is a favourite of the kids.

The Ice Cream poster problem that my son worked on can be found here.

**The dot configuration problem can be found in the Week of Inspirational Math (iMath) on the youcubed.org site.

 

Why do we Homeschool?

The dream classroom. Enjoying the beauty of outside and fresh air.

The dream classroom. Enjoying the beauty of outside and fresh air.

What I love and wanted in homeschool. My kids engaged and focus on creative activity. No time limits and bells ringing.

What I love and wanted in homeschool. My kids engaged and focused on creative activity. No time limits and bells ringing.

Why do we homeschool?

We all want the best for our children.

We want them to have the opportunity they need to succeed. We want them to have what we feel we missed or wish we had. We want them to experience and value what’s important to our family.

For some it’s the freedom to pursue what they love or to get the help they need. For others it is freedom to follow a religious choice. And for some it’s a chance to be free from a possibly unsafe environment.

Most of us would say that we do it out of love. Love for our children.

But have we ever stopped to consider that we may also homeschool out of fear?

Yes, fear.

Fear that our children will not get the help they need at school to become successful in our everyday world. Fear that they will attend an uncaring school, one that doesn’t reflect the values and needs that our children require. Fear that they will not fit in to the social groups and norms of school. The peer pressure and “bad” influences. Fear that they will experience pain and suffering because of it. Fear that they will lose the religious values and morals that are essential to some.

Are we aware that we’re fearful? How does this reflect in our homeschool life?

Have you had what you feel are great homeschool days, and then other days that you think are a complete write off? The other day was a day like that in our house. Emotions ran high, I was frustrated and upset, the kids were upset, my husband was upset. We argued with the kids, we lost energy, we lost perspective.

Our momentum was interrupted because of this upset.

This is just one example. Have you ever had days like this? Where does this start? How does it happen?

Have you ever felt upset that your child is not doing what you ask? Have you ever felt tired and under- appreciated?

Have you ever gotten upset or angry because the kids are not “working” or doing what you have asked of them? They are not following what you had “envisioned” for homeschool?  You tell yourself (and maybe them) that you are concerned that they will fall behind their peers in school. That they are not at the same level as some of your friend’s children?

But what is the real fear here?

The fear is that you are not a good parent because you have failed. Failed at homeschooling, failed at providing them with what you thought you could do better. Failed at helping them be the best they could be. They would be failures and therefore you would be a failure.

That is just one example of a fear. A fear that, as a parent and adult, I admit having. What kind of fears do you hold onto?

We keep these fears in our lives, bring them into our homeschooling environment, into our children’s lives and into their mindset. With these fears, are we giving them the tools for success?

How would homeschool life be different if we lived each moment out of love instead of fear? How different would our relationships be with our children? Our partner? How different would homeschool be?

Would life be different if we let go of our fear of failure, our fear of being judged, our fear of what our children look like to others? If we worked on and let go of our fear of what we look like — to our community, family, church, friends – would our homeschool experience change?

Would you still even homeschool?

My friend and I joke that homeschooling is a personal mirror of our bad parenting and life skills. We laugh about the truth of it. Every day we are tested. Our parenting skills, our moods, our patience. It’s all magnified.

How are we choosing to live each day? How are we choosing to homeschool?

Are we doing this out of love or fear? Are we living each moment out of love or fear?

This was post encouraged by a video a friend had shared on Facebook.

I encourage you to watch it. Find it on this link.

Jim Carrey’s Commencement Speech at Maharishi University

 

 

Their Secret Place

Our home forest

Our home forest

 

I read an article about a year ago about a family that unschools. We Don’t Need No Education was the title. Their approach was quite free. Their two sons spent the majority of everyday outside roaming the woods surrounding their home. They seemed to have very minimal if any academic “school” time. Their education was purely child led, independent, outdoors. The boys had breakfast, did their chores, then went outside by themselves exploring until the end of the day. The boys started learning to read when they were ready. They sounded like true outdoorsmen and had what seemed absolute freedom.

I have found that every family’s true definition of unschooling differs. It fits each family in their own unique way.

To me unschooling is defined as allowing personal freedom, choice, and expression in learning. Allowing learning in real life, without scheduled traditional structures that are routinely followed. Where interests are followed.

I thought about this article today because with the weather becoming much warmer, so many days have been purely outdoors. This morning both kids have been off on their own in the woods by our home. Playing, building, eating snacks, creating their own world. I can see their heads and colored shirts through the trees from where I sit outside. I can hear their voices. They are content that it is just them.

My husband told me today how Carl Jung talked about children’s desire and actions in the need to create their own “secret space.” It is a place for their “spirit” to go. I see that in the boys in the article. I see that in my children as well. As I look around, I wonder if we do enough of that for our kids? Allow them to be free, to be outside, and create their own spaces? A space their spirit can be free, and undisturbed from the “order” and chaos of adults?

I see the importance. I wonder if that is what happens to us as adults? Did we develop that secret place when we were young? If so, can we still find it? Do you go there?

A “secret” space where our spirit resides.

If you look hard enough, you may see a dog, and one of my children's heads poking through the bushes.

If you look hard enough, you may see a dog, and one of my children’s heads poking through the bushes.

Sewing Day

Last week was a usual flurry of activity. Some days it rained. Thanks to Grandma M the Magic School Bus DVD collection became a top item in the house.

There was also spring skiing and a lot of creative play.

The kids spent a great afternoon with their Aunty B last Wednesday. She is teaching them how to sew using a sewing machine!

I can’t say how excited they were to learn.

Aunt B started them out with a great step by step process.

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First, the Sewing Maze on paper.

They started out learning the parts of the sewing machine. They wrote each new word down.

They started out learning the parts of the sewing machine. They wrote each new word down.

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They learned how how each part moves and works.

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Aunty gave them each a sewing maze sheet. They used this sheet to write down the parts of the machine. Then they learned how to sew using the maze. Here Thiery is in deep concentration.

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Ronan sewing his maze.

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Zahra came back to it a few times before she finished it all. Learning to control the speed takes practice.

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The first item they sewed was a personal pocket or puppet. They could choose what they wanted to use it for. I say he looks proud.

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Getting those straight lines down takes practice too.

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So does learning to sew backwards!

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Their final product Aunty B taught them to make – Lavender Pillows! They chose their own material.

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They sewed half of the bag before they filled it with lavender. Zahra is cutting away any extra pieces of thread.

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Ronan’s finished product. All three sleep with their pillows at night now.

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Thiery enjoying the smell of her new lavender pillow.

The kids are learning a great skill.

Sewing teaches planning.

It’s a step by step process.

They problem solved.

They used creative thinking.

They applied patterns and sequence.

But most of all, they had FUN.

I love that the kids look forward to bedtime so they could use their pillows.

Thank you Aunty.

The Flow

Homeschooling is a different flow.

Some things work as planned, some things do not. Sometimes there are no plans, and the world flows naturally.

Some days are busier than others.

Both of my kids are active in various sports and activities. On the farm we are 30 minutes from town so on busier days we are usually home later in the evening. Because of this I try to keep busy-ness down to a bare minimum those mornings.

I am finding as I meet and talk to more and more homeschoolers a lot of the longer term homeschoolers are like this. Each year they better get to know themselves, better get to know their children and contrary to belief, instead of pushing them to learn more, learn faster, cram everything in and finish early, they instead slow down.

They enjoy their time with their children. They allow them to play, to explore more. They travel, they read, they surf, they ski, they build. They take it as a great time to build on their relationships. They go with the flow. 

How much am I going with the flow?

Yesterday morning my daughter asked if she could watch a specific video and then play a game on Brainpopjr. One thing that I am fairly strict on is the amount of screen/TV time my children have. This is not something I would usually allow first thing in the morning. But that morning I said okay.

Why not?

There was something specific that she wanted to see. Isn’t that why we do this? When our kids have an interest or curiosity, we let them follow it.

I let her watch and play on the computer. My son and I played chess. Then my son took a turn on the computer. 

It was actually a math game on number concepts, fractions, decimal percentages. Treefrog Treasure. I sat with both of them and we talked through some of the problems that were presented.

Which is bigger? 3/4 or  1/2? 

If you think of the decimal .5 as 50% where on the percentage line would that go?

When I was making lunch my daughter and I drew some fractions out. I would draw the “pie” and she would colour and then write out the fraction. My son soon joined us. We took out a measuring cup and compared the fractions on paper to where the fractions are on the measuring cup. 

It was a fun, quick, hands on lesson.

Remembering to just go with the flow.

We started playing chess using the Chess For Dummies board. It is a great way for young learners to understand and remember their pieces and how they move.

We started playing chess using the Chess For Dummies board. It is a great way for young learners to understand and remember their pieces and how they move. Ronan has now become an avid player. It is getting hard for me to beat him!

Learning fractions. Zahra's doodle sheet. Plus some play on words we were having fun with.

Learning fractions. Zahra’s doodle sheet. Plus some play on words we were having fun with.

Ronan and Zahra's fraction doodle sheet.

Ronan and Zahra’s fraction doodle sheet.