Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Picking It Up Along the Way

Colwyn is making progress both in reading and in math, without us really having to do any work. For reading, all we really do is read books, visit the library, and have occasional conversations about how to sound out words, what letters words start with, etc. From the library, he's figured out how they arrange books, and will look at the bottom of books for the first three letters of the author's last name. He's pretty good at finding books if I say, "Yaccarino. Yyyyy-accarino. Sounds like a Y, right? Y-aaaaa-ccarino. Try looking for YAC." He'll also give me letter/sound hints if we're playing a guessing game, and he's usually accurate, too. I love that he's experimenting with letters, sounds, and words with no pressure, in ways that interest him. I'm thinking of doing some note-writing.. me writing him short notes, and asking him to write me short notes (like, "Colwyn, I have to go change Fiona's diaper, but could you try writing down what you want for lunch?"). It doesn't really matter what he writes, just that he tries. I think it might provide him with some valuable knowledge, so long as he's into it.

He's also learned how to do simple addition and subtraction in his head. I don't know that he'd have the faintest idea of what to do with a written math problem, but if we're talking about, say, cookies, and I ask him, "If everyone in our family has a cookie, but the dog eats three of them, how many cookies will we have?" he can get the answer pretty quickly, and without even counting on his fingers. I was super impressed when I realized he could do this.

I love these validating moments. :)

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

(Grand)Parental Pressure

So, the pressure's on. Mom's said a few things over the last few weeks like, "When are you going to start teaching Colwyn to read?" and "What did you do today, Colwyn? Did you do any schoolwork?" She wants to know when I'll be doing what and how I'll make sure Colwyn stays on grade-level. But then, oddly enough, she'll hear Colwyn doing some math in his head and be completely shocked that he knows how to do that.

She's obviously got a false impression of how we are/will be homeschooling, and I'm not really looking forward to disabusing her of that notion. I think she's waiting until Doug's mom comes up for a visit to have a long talk with us, and I have the feeling that it's going to end up like an intervention or something. Urgh.

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Halloween Party

Today was the Halloween party for our homeschool group. This is the group that I started over a year ago, but only just got off the ground within the last two months. It's been wonderful--we have regular playgroups, people show, we're getting to know everyone, and the kids are all 6 and under. There's a good mix of boys and girls, too. One of our members was kind enough to host the party at her mom's clubhouse, and we all had a great time.

The kids bobbed for apples, played Pin the Stem on the Pumpkin, heard a mildly spooky Halloween story, created wreathes out of leaves, decorated cookies, and generally ran around like maniacs.

Lachlann slept through most of the party (Colwyn's birthday party was earlier in the day, and he was just wiped out), and Colwyn was pretty slow to warm up, but he felt a lot better after he had a big helping of all the nutritious goodies everyone brought for snacks. I was really impressed with his behaviour at the party. I never thought he would bob for apples, but he dived right in. He was even the first - one of the dads said, "Okay, Anakin, you're first!" and he went for it. Then during Pin the Stem on the Pumpkin (pictured above), he let me and Doug stay on the opposite side of the room, he let a woman he doesn't know at all really put the mask on his face and spin him around, and he let another woman (who he knows slightly better) help guide him toward the pumpkin. And when they did storytime, he sat with the other kids and even *gasp* raised his hand when she asked questions. That especially blew me away.. how did he learn to do that? He seriously raised his hand and waited for the mom to call on him before he spoke. Colwyn was delightful and really polite throughout the whole party (except for a bit of forcefulness when asking everyone to *please* call him by his character's name--though I was actually pleased to see him being assertive).

It just really struck me that, given the chance, he'll do things in his own time, when he's ready for it. There's no need for me to rush him or make him uncomfortable; it's much more enjoyable for all of us to let him participate on his terms--and if we do that consistently, he'll grow out of his shyness. And it was also a good example of how unschooled kids will learn to wait in line, take turns, be polite, respect other adults, etc. without being in school.