Today was a disgusting day and I felt as good as it looked out the window. We woke up to a snow storm and the wind howled though the cracks and crevices of the house all day. Our morning of school was broken up quite a bit with play breaks and Mattie breaks and, while I usually like to be done by lunch, we found ourselves still working afterwards. After lunch we played for awhile and once Mattea was sleeping we set back to it. We needed to complete a few things in their seats but we then found ourselves needing to do some reading. We are working through a comprehension course for The Chronicles of Narnia and are currently doing Prince Caspian. It was time to read another chapter and since Mattea was still sleeping we left the table and curled up on the couch to read together. Nikolai asked if he could sit in my lap and they both snuggled in close. With the weather outside so frightful, it was a nice cozy spot to be. Quiet moments like that are few and far between and I knew better than to break it. We ended up reading an extra chapter and finished just as the nap ended.
You could research until the cows come home the many different ways to homeschool. There are approaches after theories on all different topics ranging from strict curriculum-following, to the throw-out-all-the-workbooks-unschoolers. I fall somewhere in between, feeling the workbook approach necessary in certain areas (maybe only to make me feel like I'm 'doing' something) and life skills sufficient in others. I have definitely realized, and did so quickly, how much learning comes outside of what we call 'seat work'. Our lives in general seem to provide ample opportunity to learn and grow. It's in times like this when I wonder why I put in the effort to sit the boys down and force work, when left to their defences they seem to teach themselves and each other (and me!)
Prime examples are the times they will sit for very long periods reading through their science magazines (we seem to have acquired subscriptions to "Yes" "Know" Owl" "Kayak" and "Kids Geographic." All very useful!)quizzing each on what they're learning and relentlessly informing me of the new ideas and information ("Mom! Did you know...?" "Mom, did you know...?" "Hey! Mom, did you know...?") These facts, even if it's exactly the same as in a textbook, will most definitely stay put in their spongy brains as they have 'chosen' to read it and enjoy it. Had I read it to them that very morning, they'd quite possibly have remembered nothing.
Two nights ago was a perfect case in point. How many times did I have to ask them to leave the computer and go to bed? Too many to count. But, they're 'surfing' through Google Earth and it's hard to make them stop when you yourself are as keen to look stuff up. We viewed famous spots in Moscow, followed the rivers of Venice and explored Mt Everest all in one shot. Not to mention Disneyworld, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. What does Antarctica look like from space and can you find a lion on the African Plains?
Tonight was another. During dinner the kids were discussing their heights as Nikolai is determined to be able to ride The Hulk next January in Disney and Riley just wants to be taller than I am. (She's 3.5" away!) When dinner was finished they pulled out the measuring tape and measured each other. Bridger and Nikolai have been obsessed with Yao Ming lately, who even by NBA standards towers at 7ft 6", and so it seemed a natural question to ask how much taller Ming is than they are. To figure this out of course, Bridger had to convert, divide with remainders and subtract. (he hadn't figured out yet that the feet are marked in red on the tape so he was dividing by 12... I wasn't going to tell him!).
This turned into a game of sorts for the boys all evening. They were measuring everything in the house, figuring out how tall, long and wide all sorts of objects were. (Our ceilings are 8'3" just so you know...)Then they decided that they would set the measuring tape at 2 feet and see how many things were exactly that length. They would look at something, guess and then measure.
This is ALL stuff they have in their textbooks, in fact I know that Bridger was estimating just this morning. You could argue that maybe they wouldn't have thought to 'play that game' if they hadn't previously been asked to estimate in math, but if you know kids and their imaginations you might say otherwise. Kids seem to always find stuff like this to do.
So, instead of spending money of math books, maybe I should have just told them to get out their hockey cards and make graphs, compare size, ratios and who knows what else you could glean from the information on those things?