Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gearing Up For Not-Back-to-School, Part 2

My son had a blast going through my "teacher books" that have pictures to show what the project is.  I'm using those selections as a framework to figure out what we'll be learning about.
Planning for the school year isn't actually as much of a neat, step-by-step process as I was liking to imagine on my last post on this!  Steps 1 and 2 of the system I laid out before seem to be more or less complete, but now I'm working on Steps 3 through 6 all at once!

I'm discovering more and more as time goes on that my 6 year old in particular seems to be very much a tactile learner.  I think by letting him pick out a lot more of our activities, he will be able to excel more this school year, especially since the activities he's picking out more, like making models, doing experiments, and cooking, are all geared very much toward a tactile style of learning.  It also reinforces how strongly homeschooling is the best educational option for our family, especially for him, since tactile learners often struggle the most in school, since that environment is geared more to sitting down, shutting up, and doing what the teacher says so the children can score well on their standardized tests.

This difference in learning style is why we struggled so much at home last year as well, I think.  I'm more of a visual learner, so I did great in school as long as I didn't listen to the teacher (which confused me to no end, in so many cases), but just focused on what the books told me to do.  With this monkey, he won't sit still long enough to look at a book, so I've been very challenged teach him to read!  I think I have it figured out though:  I'll use instructions for things he's motivated to do, like recipes or crafts, as the reading lessons themselves.  No need to sit down with worksheets or boring lessons that won't stick to his brain and just frustrate him.  Rather than fighting the flow, we'll use it to learn what he needs to know!

So far (I'm no where near finishing scheduling out the things he wants to do), it looks like our major themes will include outer space, European history (Middle Ages), early American history and prehistory, mastering time and fractions, several holiday themed units, drama, transportation, states of matter, and several units on biology, including ocean life, herpetology, dinosaurs, and birds.  Like I mentioned, the reading (and math) lessons will largely be incorporated into projects he wants to do, so he doesn't have do sit down and shut up to be edumacated like he would at a school.  Not bad for a first grade education, eh?

Once I finish (I will finish someday, won't I?) cataloging and scheduling out the activities he picked out, thereby completing my self-imposed "Step 3:  Find out what the kids want to do", I'll move on to "Step 5:  Decide what we are actually going to do" and probably add some other activities that I think he would be interested in, plan out some recipes to fit our themes since cooking seems to be a highlight in his lessons, and maybe even slip in some worksheets that look fun that he could do while standing on his head or something.

All in all, I feel pretty good about this school year, despite feeling a bit behind and unorganized at the moment.  The way I'm planning things out, my daughter should be easy-peasy to take care of lessons for, since she'll want to be doing the crafts and things that will be the focus of the lessons too.  Most of the materials for these crafts are pretty easy and cheap to obtain too, so that shouldn't be a problem.  Now if I can just get my husband to stop throwing away the toilet paper tubes I'm saving for school, we should be all set for the year!


  1. Our boytwin (the boy and girltwin will be six on Nov 1st) is going into kindergarten this year, thanks to his late birthday. He's already reading at a 3rd grade level, adding and subtracting double digits, counting so far that we have to stop him for fear of going insane, and is learning to add and subtract fractions with the same denominator. His sister is not reading as well, but is on par with her peers, and while she doesn't have his instinctual grasp of math (he looks, squints his eyes, and answers... she *works* the problem) she does seem to understand the methods and processes better. Boytwin has high functioning autism, girl does not. Boytwin is like your son, doesn't like to sit, has to move around a lot, short attention span unless he *focuses* on something and then he can be there for literally hours. The girltwin is pretty normal in all those respects. :) She's going to do awesome in school, and he's going to suck. LOL...

    We're lucky that sis is a special educator as well as a mom. She's got his learning stuff down pat.

    Do you use things like pizza for teaching math? The kids *love* pizza fraction nights lol... Each of them gets a pizza round, they put on whatever sauce they want (tomato for him, usually pesto for her), then we start with the math. Let's put one quarter of our mushrooms onto pizza A, and 3/4 onto pizza B! Or they make theirs then tell us the math of it when they're done. Awesome, fun, delicious learning!

  2. @Rev. Allyson my husband is a high-functioning autistic. He hated school with a passion, found it so very boring. He tested out of high school at the age of 11, but his mother refused to let him leave school (she was afraid his social development would suffer if he didn't stay with his peers). He seriously wishes he'd been allowed to go to college when he was 12.

  3. I haven't done pizza math, but that sounds fun. I think we will have to do that in the near future!

  4. @Patricialynn, yeah, we're lucky in that if the kids want to move forward, we'll let them. We're rather loud advocates for our children LOL... We homeschool a lot even though they also attend public school. With their mom being a teacher we're always watchful, and she knows what everything means on their report cards. Teachers tend to love us, and principals hate us, because we're in their face a lot. *grin*

    @Chris K, it's a blast, and of course they get the fun of eating it afterward. I also did an interesting Passover lesson for them, and we talked about what it meant from a Jewish and Christian perspective, and then made unleavened bread for the Passover meal. :) That's a good one for timing, because you only have something like 8 minutes to get the ingredients from "separate" to "in the oven" before the very air around you is considered to have leavened the bread! It was fun!

  5. Hey, for your medieval research, try looking into your local SCA group (Society for Creative Anachronism) and see what they offer. It's a medieval learning and re-enactment group, and a lot of times you can get some really cool info from people who've recreated period clothing, fighting styles, arts and sciences!
    It looks like you're in Midrealm, the Middle Kingdom, and you can find out specifically your local group through which should list your local group and the contact.

    ... you may also be a different kingdom, depending on where in Michigan you're in.

  6. Good idea. I do know some people involved with SCA, so I'll have to see about enlisting their help :-) Thanks.