Thursday, January 25, 2007

Various Educational Requests From My Children or Self-Initiated Educational Activities They Are Doing

The pace of life in our home has been slowed down dramatically since Christmas, intentionally.

Once we decompressed from post-holiday busyness, strep throat hit the house.

Then we went into the mode of readjusting to non-holiday celebration life and getting back to homeschooling. Included in that was adjusting to the fact that almost all of the fall activities we were doing had ended.

I then tried to institute a new big family schedule. That bombed for many reasons.

I decided to not over-schedule us again and to not even do a lot of playdates. I wanted slow time at home to adjust and to work on the schedule.

The pediatrician gave my older son a new nutritional plan and an exercise regime. That is a very long story which so far I have not shared on my blog. It was so complex that it was mind boggling for me to deal with. Oh, and the television time was decreased from 30 minutes of a children’s program then one show at night with me and my husband to just one show at night with us only if exercise was done that day. That smaller amount of time without television gave my kids even more free time.

It is nice to have time to do our homeschooling lessons again.

Now that the children have more free time they are also asking to learn certain things or are starting their own projects. I decided to share some with you in case you are interested. This is interest-driven learning or learner-directed learning or interest-led learning, and it is the basis of how unschoolers ‘do homeschooling’. However I feel that every homeschooling family no matter what their style or method has some of this self-directed learning going on, unless they are so over-scheduled that there is no time for it to happen. I now realize we were so busy last fall that it prevented much of this kind of thing from happening.

The list of what my kids initiated in the last week (yes, just one week):

Older son asking to learn the history of the invention of the railroads, even though it is not the time period we are studying at this time. I agreed we could study that ‘out of order’.

Older son proclaims his multiplication math is too easy and instead wants to learn fractions. I handed him a book and told him to teach himself (I can only facilitate so much and I’m already doing Math-U-See math curriculum with him).

Older son asking for tests (gasp) that make him interpret tables and charts. (I have not taken action on this yet.)

Younger son asking to do spelling lessons again.

Playing with new talking/interactive globe on their own (Oregon Scientific Smart Globe).

Older son asking to learn chemistry.

Younger son finding a chemistry experiment kit and asking to do it, right now (we did about six experiments right then and there, earlier today).

Older son constructed a model of a robot out of LEGOs with moving appendages.

Younger son emptied his piggy bank and counted up how much coin money was in it (over $18). This inspired our older son to do the same.

Both kids took out GeoBoards and made patterns. They did this on three occasions. I’ve never used these in ‘real’ math lessons. They are asking to make a quilt out of the patterns they have designed. So far we are taking digital photos of the designs so they can take them apart and use the GeoBoard again.

Older son took out a stack of about a dozen books on inventing and inventors and is reading them before bed at night, after he is tucked in.

Older son read a book called “How To Build a Robot” and then designed his own robot including a list of tasks he wants it to perform and a parts list, with a labeled diagram. The next day he asked his younger brother if he wanted a robot and he asked him the questions to help him figure out what uses he wanted and they drew that robot and made those lists.

Older son is reading a book about the history of time machines "How To Build a Time Machine", and is trying to figure out what parts he should be saving now, to build one in the future. Some ingredients so far are old PC parts, broken digital camera, old telephones, and some old gears from time clocks.

They have been coloring in the Dover Stained Glass Coloring Books every night this week. I intended to do these as a history lesson activity but I am letting them just fool around with them instead.

They are pulling out various board games and asking to play them with my husband and me.

Younger son initiated playing some card games with my husband.

Younger son pulled the Coin-U-Lator game out and played games on it.

Older son pulled out all of our DK books about the Star Wars movies and proclaimed he’d read all of them since he hasn’t read them in a while.

Re-reading Calvin and Hobbes comic books, The Far Side, Garfield and some Peanuts books. Asking me to get more Garfield and Peanuts books on

Found a cassette tape of a NEST biography on Alexander Graham Bell and listened to it on a portable cassette player with headphones.

Listening to the Narnia radio dramatization every minute that we are in the car and sometimes in the house. We are up to "The Silver Chair" at this moment in time.

Singing spontaneously throughout the day, the songs they have learned in church choir.

Today I realized (again) the importance of spare time, the importance of unstructured time, of free blocks of time at home. I knew this in the past, but had not enjoyed it recently due to over-scheduling last fall. I am really enjoying being at home for large chunks of time with my children and being available to do all of these things with them. I really like this slower pace and feel it is giving me enough time to keep up with the house cleaning, the laundry, the meal-making, checking emails, blogging, and to also have time to enjoy myself doing other things “just for me”, too.

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1 comment:

Andrew said...

Time, time, time ... who ever has enough of it? I hope it all works out!

Andrew (To Love, Honor, and Dismay)