Last night as my son struggled to do his math work, specifically answer questions about seasons & months, I asked Husband to help him so I could finish washing the dishes. It shocked Husband that Big Bird didn’t know which months were in which season. I guess it would shock most folks who went to an institutional school that my kid doesn’t have these facts memorized yet. It used to upset me when my boys didn’t learn facts in the order I learned them. But at home they learn so much more.
Big Bird learned what he needs to learn when he needs to learn it… and now that we live in a state with actual seasons, the learning of the seasons will happen naturally and quickly. When he wanted to know time, he learned time. When he wanted to know about money, he learned money, and when he wanted to know days of the week, he learned those too. Although we go over months and seasons at least a few times a year ( we use Singapore math and Teaching Textbooks) it has never “stuck” because he has had no reason to learn the order of the months and which seasons they fall into.
Big Bird can tell you about decades and time periods, and he writes curriculum for his younger brothers to complete. He can sketch and design his future home to scale (well, semi-scale) because it interests him. He can grow plants and learned how much and how little water and sunshine can keep one alive, or kill one. He is pretty serious about his biome in a fishbowl and takes care of it as if it were a pet. He is learning some very important lessons, just not the way I learned them. And not the way my husband learned them. And it’s scary. At first.
The thing is, I could “teach” all day long. I could teach fractions and diagramming sentences and the classification system of animals, but if my child is thinking about all the plans he is going to draw later, when I’m done “teaching,” and he hasn’t paid attention then did I really teach? Can one be a teacher without a student?
We are pretty relaxed and the kids know that I am comfortable with them taking their time to learn life skills through and through as long as we keep specific practices in place. First and foremost… no daytime tv watching. The television will suck the life out of a homeschool day faster than anything else (except maybe video games, but we don’t play those; if we did, I would ban them from weekdays). Another must is time spent with me each day, whether it be at my desk, the kitchen table, or in bed (when I was sick) learning. I really enjoy the pace and thoroughness of Explode the Code workbooks and they are a must-have phonics program for us. I learned of ETC while using Sonlight language arts. I have used it with all 3 of my kids and it’s marvelous. As is Sonlight’s reading and book collection.
In keeping quality books all over the house as well as paper and pencils, pens, and clipboards, kids will gravitate towards them. If children learn how to read and learn the value of learning and expanding their knowledge, they want more. It’s natural and instinctual to do this when the mind hasn’t been numbed, or dumbed down, due to boring lectures and forced, contrived lessons that don’t appeal to the individual personality and learning style of a child.
Yes, a child may know their months in order, but if he or she hates school and doesn’t do anything with that knowledge, what does it matter? Now that we live in Kansas City, my kids will begin to learn the seasons because they look forward to snow and cold weather. We have 2 fireplaces and a stack of wood outside. They look forward to using all of it in the winter season.
Kids can learn like crazy, but I can’t make them. All I can do is guide them into the knowledge that will make their lives better. I can show them how to live, in an order that makes sense in our lives.
Thank you for reading and have a beautiful day.