Learning Lately

Every now and then, I like to make a little post about what the kids are doing for “school” or our approximation of it, mostly to make my life easier in June when I need to pass all the stuff we’ve done to my sister-in-law, who will write our evaluation. Petra, technically, is young enough (by a day!) that we aren’t required to do that for her until next year, but she’s more or less in Kindergarten, so…her stuff is kind of in here too. But it’s mostly Silas.

A couple months ago, I set up a system where I asked them each to do the following, every day: a chore, a reading activity, a writing activity, and a math activity. I made them each a list of the things they could potentially do to qualify as each of those things, but they are also free to say, “Can I do ___ and have it count for math?” Silas was having trouble getting his stuff done in time to be allowed to have his half hour of TV, and he was very frustrated by this (it’s not like he doesn’t have the time–each of those things takes between 15 and 30 minutes, less if they don’t mess around). So a few days ago, I sat him down and helped him write a schedule for accomplishing these things. He LOVES it, and has stuck to it with total commitment. Petra, on the other hand, refuses to be pinned down. I told them, “This is a tool. It might help one of you and not the other. It’s just a thing you can use if it helps you, and if it doesn’t, that’s fine.” Petra, the honey badger, does things only when she wants to. And that’s okay! But I’m happy to have something that works for Silas, and it’s kind of funny to me how well it works. Some people need structure, I guess.

For math, Silas has been doing a Star Wars math workbook that he really enjoys, as well as occasionally playing an edutainment game called “Prodigy Math” (which I’m not super impressed with, but it does provide some practice and he likes it). He does Khan Academy once a week, but finds it kind of boring.

Every now and then, he asks me to make him a math sheet. He only likes them if I include a “boss fight.”

Petra was doing a “hidden pictures” color by number math book, but she blasted through it, and I haven’t found another “workbook” type thing that she likes much, so I’ve just been making her a little sheet of problems each day. We’re working on internalizing basic rules of addition and subtraction, and she seems to be digging it. She liked her one today–based on yesterday’s work, I had her guess whether each problem would have an even or odd answer, based on whether the numbers she was working with were even or odd. She marked her hypothesis on each one and then did the math to check herself. She was very excited to get them right (and I think this will help her as she is often off by only one, so if she knows that the answer should be odd and she gets an even number, she will know to check herself).

Silas, no surprise, has been excelling at the writing activities I’ve offered him. He’s such a hoot. Right now, I’m not worrying too much about spelling, although when he has a word that he consistently misspells, I do offer a correction. But I just want him to enjoy writing, right now. He can learn the details later.

Textual analysis:

Make a “random draw” jar of the various dinner graces we sing:

“I love my love with a [letter]” for each letter of his name….

One he devised for himself: to describe this monster…

with an adjective for every letter of the alphabet:

amazing, bashful, cranky, destructive, angry, fast, gregarious, hilarious, ignorant, joyful, careful, lawful, manly, narcoleptic, obstinate, passionate, questioning, redemptive, sensational, terrible, uncanny, valiant, whimsical, extreme, yappy, zany

He’s very interested in monsters, turning practically everything into a monster. Hey, whatever works…

An exercise on shading. I drew a little ramekin as a demonstration; he…monstered it.


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