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Old 03-22-2013, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am new to homeschooling (just started in January with my kindergartener) and I need some ways to encourage active and child-led learning in our home. Formal schoolwork always ends with groans and whines and I can't say I blame her. I love the idea of child-led but I don't want her to be playing disney princess all day either. Some things we do have:

 

-a garden

-a math board game she loves

-map puzzles

-a magnet science kit

-a butterfly science kit. I will be looking for more science kits!

 

Some things I am thinking about getting:

- more science kits

- a globe

- math manipulatives (any suggestions?)

 

She LOVES art, she would love to do that all day and I have tried to incorporate art into other things like letters and math but I would love some other ideas to make our home more conducive to learning. We take trips to local nature trails, museums,the library and have some outside activities like gymnastics and ballet. I would just love some ways for her to learn some math and reading that are more child-led so she won't be so resistant to it.


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Old 03-22-2013, 06:14 PM
 
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Some things that we have that really spark conversations and learning:

 

Building blocks

Tangrams

Lots and lots of books: Art books, nature books, bird identification books, story books

Calendars the kids can mark on- noting special dates, counting down to events, noting birthdays

Ice- cubes, blocks, trays, w/food coloring, w/plastic toys frozen inside. On a tray, in a bucket, on the deck, in the sun in the bath...I think you get the picture :)

Mail/Stamps- my 4yo has really improved her handwriting (it's still very rudimentary) because she loves to send thank you notes and letters to her grandparents and friends.  And you can talk about handwriting, grammer, parts of correspondance, the mailman and the post office and how mail gets from here to there...  all good stuff!

 

I also like to use 'math' and 'vocab' as a secret code or password or other kinds of games.  So something like, "In 6 minus 4 hours we are going to the pool"  or "you can check out 4 plus 5 books from the library"  Math can be fun and silly and integrated into real life if you pose it as a game or riddle.

 

Okay, that's a start.  I could come up with more if you really got me started. Are these the kinds of suggestions you were hoping for?


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Old 03-22-2013, 10:53 PM
 
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My son is 7. He is suddenly bursting with questions about math. He recently taught himself to tell time (he was inspired by http://www.brainpopjr.com/.) The other day he noted that it was 5:21 which meant it was 9 minutes until 5:30. Last week he noticed that 1/4 of 60 is always 15. Yesterday we were talking about how long it would take you to drive a mile if you were driving 60 mph. He brought it up. 

 

Then there's reading. He has been soooo resistant. He's the type of kid that if you gently nudge him he will refuse to do the activity for a good two years. At least. So I have been so under the radar about reading. It's too important to have him decide he hates it. Still, he's seven and I'd like him to show some interest. So I tried various avenues...phonics games, finding words in grocery stores, trying to get him to sound out a word here and there. Nothing. Just resistance. And absolute refusal to read chapter books. He and his 4 year old sister wanted the same picture books read to them.

 

My friends said that at 7 kids change. They generally start being interested in more academic stuff. Usually they teach themselves to read around 8 or 9. But I was biting my nails. Then I started buying some educational games. He really likes http://www.amazon.com/Math-Missions-Kindergarten-2nd-Grade-Version/dp/B0002J6HV0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364013010&sr=8-1&keywords=math+mission

 

And he likes http://bigbrainz.com/, though addition and subtraction are still in beta format.

 

And I just discovered http://ookaisland.com/ and he's loving it and starting to read without issue. And about a month ago I bought a box of used books off the www.sonlight.com reading list. Various levels of books so I started out with simple Nate the Great and he didn't balk. Then Amelia Bedelia and he liked it. Then The Chalkbox Kid and he said it's a good book. So tonight I pulled out The Toothpaste Millionaire (it's for kids 9 to 12) and he didn't want me to stop reading at bedtime. Wow. All of a sudden he's into chapter books. Shocking.

 

We've always strewed--done the types of activities you're talking about, but we only offered them as options, we never made him do them. (Well, when there were field trips he said he didn't want to go on I said that's okay, he could hang with my husband at work. I knew he'd want to go with me instead of my husband and I knew he'd have a good time.) And we've always allowed an hour or two of "educational" youtube, subscription internet, or dvds. He was really into Betty Crocker to start with. Then moved onto home renovations. Then I got a subscription to The Happy Scientist and a bunch of dvds. Their current favorite dvds are popular mechanics for kids. They've never watched cartoons or sesame street, mainly documentaries. And they love it.

 

My friends were right. At 7 his focus did change. I think me introducing the educational computer games now made a difference as well. My 4 year old has loved playing phonics games since 3. Always at her initiation. And though she's not progressing very fast, she really likes to play ooka island. She is on a totally different path than my son. I'm looking forward to where SHE will lead ME.

 

My recommendation to you is let your daughter play as much as she wants. Granted I'm totally not into the princess thing (thankfully I was blessed with a tomboy, but that's a digression.) And definitely do as much art as she wants. She is exploring the world in her way. Kids MUST play. That's how they learn. Our society doesn't recognize that. She won't be playing disney princess at 18 (or maybe she will, lol.) So let her explore the world in a way that is meaningful to HER. And yes, strew. Offer her opportunities that she doesn't know exist. But if they don't currently have value to her don't ruin it for her  by forcing it on her. Leave it around for her and when/if she's ready for it she will find delight rather than drudgery.

 

Perhaps you'd find this book helpful: http://www.amazon.com/Legendary-Learning-Homeschoolers-Self-Directed-Excellence/dp/0983151008/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364013969&sr=1-1&keywords=Legendary+Learning

 

Here's a factoid: "In 1878, Milton Wright gave a rubber-powered toy helicopter to his sons Orville (age 8) and Wilbur (age 12.) The brothers played with the toy until it broke--then made another one.

 

"That toy helicopter started the Wright brothers thinking about and experimenting with flying machines. And in 1903, they built and flew the first powered airplane that could carry a person.

 

"You never know where a twisted rubber band will take you." (from Rubber band powered flying machines)

 

What probably seemed like play to their parents was so important to their development. What if someone had tried to interfere with their play (or art work.) (and yes, they were homeschooled in an unschooly sort of way. See above Legendary Learning book) So many folks--Agatha Christie, Thomas Edison, Teddy Roosevelt, etc. had parents who got out of the way. 

 

So offer your daughter opportunities she doesn't know exist, but don't worry, she's got the rest under control.


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Old 03-23-2013, 11:25 AM
 
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I only have boys, but I always thought that the "Franny K. Stein" series would be one I would definitely read to princess oriented girls :)  My son loved the "50 ft Cupid" - and you can talk about how long 50 feet is, who is Cupid, how different people interpret things very differently.  Self-directed art is awesome...make sure she's got lots of different materials, and I'd let my kids do it all day long.  You can ask her if she'd like to make art to frame and send to people, and about how artists sign their artwork...and if she'd like to make a card to accompany her artwork...you can get her letter stickers if she's not ready for printing.  Talk about how envelopes are addressed and take her to the post office and explain how letters/packages are weighed and let her pay for the postage and get change back.  That is way more fun that doing worksheets.  Also, nothing wrong with doing dress up and pretend play...you can pretend that the princess needs a  new castle, and build one, figure out what it should look like (architecture) ... oh, and of course you need a drawbridge...I got a book about bridges for ds, and it had some ideas on how to test various designs - you could try incorporating all that.  Or what kind of food does the princess like to eat and all kids like playing supermarket...this is a great way to count items, and money.  

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Old 03-23-2013, 11:52 AM
 
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Books. Books. Books. On a wide variety of subjects.

Rush Hour and similar logic games.

Pinochle or some other card game involving score keeping.
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Old 03-23-2013, 11:55 AM
 
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Find what your child loves, and encourage it. If that's art and imaginary play, that's perfect. It couldn't possibly be as engaging for her if she wasn't learning tons from it: that's how young children are. Play is learning.

With art, make sure she has good quality materials for at least some of her work. Look into some of the lovely art activity books that will encourage her to use art as a vehicle to learn about history and cultures and math and language through doing art. "Disovering the World's Great Artists" by Solga and Kohl, and others in the series, are really awesome for KG'ers, IMO. She might enjoy telling stories with her art, which you can then caption, making "books" that she can "read" to people, or just enjoy as mementos. If you have something you particularly love, you can scan it and have it professionally printed as a keepsake or gift for grandparents. You can work together to make a calendar of her artwork, have it printed at Walmart or similar, and I can pretty much guarantee that having something that she made that she can take an interest in will lead her to all sorts of great learning about seasons and months and days of the year.

A friend of mine had kids who were such prolific young artists that she worked with them to create an art show. They "framed" the art on colored cardstock, mounted it all over the walls of their living room and dining area, labelled it with cards showing artist's name, title of work, date and media (I recall one that was by the 2-year-old, a stub of a brown crayon glued to some green craft paper, labelled "Dog poop on grass, mixed media, 2003") and sticky-tacked it all up in a nice arrangement. Then they made invitations for their Gallery Show Opening and invited grandparents and family friends on the appointed evening. They prepared sparkling punch, canapes and other delections, made an elegant play-list of music, got all dressed up and circulated amongst their guests as hosts and waiters as they perused the art. Her kids still talk fondly of this event ten years later.

The cool thing about kids' enthusiasms is how almost anything can lead to almost anything else. Go with the flow, offering opportunities for the enthusiasm to branch off and fuel a new project or interest. Hope that helps!

Miranda

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Old 03-24-2013, 12:13 PM
 
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Re the art, love the art show idea. I have girls who go through stages of prolific artistry  and a big thing we've done is to make quality art materials available easily to them, as well as a bigish table in their shared bedroom to allow them to draw and keep out projects (we have a small house and most stuff happens on the dining room table which has to be cleared off several times a day). 

 

The other thing my kids like is making a book of their art. Scrapbooking, getting stuff comb bound, making their own books and so on. Go to galleries too. She is probably a little young at 5 for an adult audio tour (though my 7 and 9 year olds are fine with them) but some galleries do kiddie tours.

 

Can I just add something. I know how it is with your first, and I don't want to be patronising but 5 is very little. She will not fall behind if she spends the next few years drawing and painting and playing princesses. Actually, my kids spent years mainly just playing imaginative games and now, with my older two, I'm starting to see how that translates to creative writing and general creativity. 

 

I wouldn't worry about making her learn, about having leading conversations or any of the rest. I'd still be letting her explore. I always think, at the least, give kids til seven with the playing and so on. SundayCrepes is right, there is a shift at seven. I have a 5 year old and honestly, she just plays all day and I'm stunned by how much she is learning that way. Although if she was demonstrating almost no learning I wouldn't be worried. My oldest showed no sign of learning then when we started with maths and stuff at age 7 it turned out he was actually quite far ahead of where you'd expect him to be. From playing, I assume, afaik no one was doing secret math with him! Same for my middle child really.


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Old 03-24-2013, 10:55 PM
 
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A well stocked arts and crafts table/desk has been a life saver around here.  The kids spend a lot of time at their desk making stuff.  Lately, they have both been working with modelling clay.  For example, they each made a house with their father and have spent the last week or so furnishing the house with stuff made with modelling clay and cardboard.  

 

We have keva planks and the kids enjoy building with them once in a while. The planks are a great open ended toy.  They also love putting together kits.  We have lego kits, for exampl (the 3 in 1) kind and they enjoy taking apart and putting those together once in a while.

 

Honestly though, most of the time, they just play.  They are pretty creative in keeping themselves busy.  They are never really bored much.  And I see a lot of benefit in giving them the space to do just that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
 You can work together to make a calendar of her artwork, have it printed at Walmart or similar, and I can pretty much guarantee that having something that she made that she can take an interest in will lead her to all sorts of great learning about seasons and months and days of the year.
.............
A friend of mine had kids who were such prolific young artists that she worked with them to create an art show. They "framed" the art on colored cardstock, mounted it all over the walls of their living room and dining area, labelled it with cards showing artist's name, title of work, date and media (I recall one that was by the 2-year-old, a stub of a brown crayon glued to some green craft paper, labelled "Dog poop on grass, mixed media, 2003") and sticky-tacked it all up in a nice arrangement. Then they made invitations for their Gallery Show Opening and invited grandparents and family friends on the appointed evening. They prepared sparkling punch, canapes and other delections, made an elegant play-list of music, got all dressed up and circulated amongst their guests as hosts and waiters as they perused the art. Her kids still talk fondly of this event ten years later.
 

 

The calender idea is great.  We were planning on framing some of the kids work and giving it to the grandparents but I like the calender idea better.  Thanks for that!  

 

We have done some "shows" but not in a formal way as your friend did.  I think I will consider that too. That could be fun for them :)  We are also preparing a whole wall in the living room where we will rotate their recent works.  The kids work hard, they'd probably enjoy 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

... I have a 5 year old and honestly, she just plays all day and I'm stunned by how much she is learning that way. Although if she was demonstrating almost no learning I wouldn't be worried. My oldest showed no sign of learning then when we started with maths and stuff at age 7 it turned out he was actually quite far ahead of where you'd expect him to be. From playing, I assume, afaik no one was doing secret math with him! Same for my middle child really.

 

I agree.  I have a soon to be 5 year old dd and a soon to be 7 year old ds. They play a lot and their play is intricate and interesting.  I enjoy watching what they come up with.  They have tons of questions too, which leads to discussions about many things.  I have been amazed by the depth of their knowledge in some areas.  So much learning takes place outside of formal schooling!  

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Old 03-25-2013, 09:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much ladies! You have all given me so much to think about! I think you are right, playing right now is the most important and I need to give her space to do that. I always have tons of arts and crafts stuff available so I will make sure to restock and give her all the freedom she wants with that. The art show is a GREAT idea, as is the calendar.I will see if she would be interested in doing one or both of those. You all have made such good points and I feel much more confident in a more unschooling approach for a now. I think I will get another science kit or two as she has loved those and many of them are pretty open-ended as to what you can do with them. Any thoughts on cuisenaire rods? Is that a good open-ended math toy or is that still too much for her age? (she'll be 6 next month)

 

She does ask a ton of questions and loves to read books with me about almost any subject so I guess I just need to let the formal schooling go (we were only doing at most an hour a day). I guess part of my concern is almost all of my in-laws are educators and are constantly asking how she is doing with the "standards", "are you sure she is learning?", and "make sure she doesn't fall behind!". UGh. They really mean well but sometimes I just want to scream "Fall behind WHAT?". Sigh....learning isn't a race but I understand how they feel that way. Their whole lives revolve around it.  Both DH's and my family are very mainstream and we are the first to do so much so differently. (breastfeed, homebirth, homeschool, alternative medicine, ect.) They very much rely on "the experts".

 

I have been doing some more research and found some great websites (the one by LlillianJ is fantastic!) and a Facebook page called Free Range Learning has lots of links to some great articles with very good sources. They will be good to refer back to when I am having a moment of doubt. She is so creative and curious I just don't want to squash that! Thanks for reminding me how much learning evolves from play.


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Old 03-25-2013, 12:40 PM
 
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 I guess part of my concern is almost all of my in-laws are educators and are constantly asking how she is doing with the "standards", "are you sure she is learning?", and "make sure she doesn't fall behind!". UGh. They really mean well but sometimes I just want to scream "Fall behind WHAT?". Sigh....learning isn't a race but I understand how they feel that way. Their whole lives revolve around it.  Both DH's and my family are very mainstream and we are the first to do so much so differently. (breastfeed, homebirth, homeschool, alternative medicine, ect.) They very much rely on "the experts".

 

If someone asks you a general question, you can always answer "yes (as in I'm making sure of xyz)"  ... and you can always follow up with "is there something specific you're concerned about?" - which standards exactly?  

I remember my mom being concerned that my kids didn't go to daycare (funny, because she never sent me to daycare either) and asking me if I'd ever gone to different daycares to see what kids there knew...like WHAT?  I'm supposed to go around to different daycares to interview kids???  Anyhow, it turned out she had met another grandma who was boasting that her little granddaughter had some poem memorized...and that's what set my mom off worrying that my kids aren't behind.  Too funny...because I hear my mom exaggerating to her friends all the time about what my kids do...so whether that little girl had a multi page poem memorized or not, is debatable, but further more, if she did...I'm sure she didn't learn it at daycare!  I'm sure it was the parents / grandparents going over it with her.  

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Old 03-25-2013, 02:19 PM
 
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I guess part of my concern is almost all of my in-laws are educators and are constantly asking how she is doing with the "standards", "are you sure she is learning?", and "make sure she doesn't fall behind!". UGh. They really mean well but sometimes I just want to scream "Fall behind WHAT?". 

 

Yes! Exactly. I just blogged about this awhile ago: http://www.robinstevenson.com/wordpress/2012/12/28/youre-homeschooling-but-how-do-you-know-if-your-child-is-keeping-up/

 

You can't fall behind your own learning readiness... and really, what same-age schooled peers are learning (or rather, being taught- not always the same thing!) is not necessarily relevant.


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Old 03-25-2013, 03:07 PM
 
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Those who believe school is best will always be coming from the direction of "will this child be able to go to school, if need be". That is unlikely to change. The only hope I can offer is that eventually they forget or become numb to the fact that your child is homeschooled. Eventually, in my experience, the questions stop.

I know what it's like to be different than the rest of your biological family. I also breastfed, co-slept, attachment parented, and homeschooled. To say I'm the family black sheep is an understatement! We have food allergies/intolerances to boot. Now my son is saying he doesn't want a high school diploma, much less college degree, because they tried to tell him he needed to 'graduate' four different ways! Thanks, folks!
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Old 03-25-2013, 04:14 PM
 
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We have an open-minded mainstream pediatrician. When she asked my son at his 7 year check what his favorite subjects were he didn't know what she was asking. She was mainly just being conversational, but I'm sure there may have been a bit of evaluation in there. Not in a negative way but it is part of her job. He just stared at her clueless on what she was talking about. I said, "He's really into telling time and he's trying to figure out why parking lots don't move even though the earth is rotating." True answers that satisfied her but also deflected her away from the fact that he is not following a mainstream curriculum. After all, those are age appropriate subjects to explore.

 

I know I gave you a soapbox, "Let her discover the world on her own" response. However, I do try and keep tabs of what mainstream culture considers age appropriate. If there's something that makes sense for my kids to be learning I can provide opportunities for them to explore it. If they don't follow through, that's fine, but at least I provided it. And even if something is culturally expected doesn't mean I feel it important for my kids at that particular age. For example, when my son was three he had mastered all the K and most of the first grade verbal skills in my resource listed below. Now that he is 7 and technically 1st grade I recently saw he is on target for most stuff except reading, and that's fine by me. Of course, I did recently get him Ooka Island and he's making great strides, but I didn't freak out that he's not "meeting standards" since I knew he would in time.

 

Anyway, you may want to consider these guides: http://www.fun-books.com/books/living_is_learning_guides.htm "These guides were put together by Nancy Plent, founder of the Unschoolers Network in New Jersey and a long-time homeschooler. She reviewed the scope and sequence charts and curriculum guides of dozens of schools in various states, then combined the highest standards of elements from each to create these guides. Why purchase these curriculum guides? 1) They may help you to fulfill your state's legal requirement to provide an educational plan 2) They allow you to see some of the highest standards for schools at various grade levels, just in case you are curious about what the schools expect or are anxious about what you are doing 3) They provide record-keeping space that can help organize a portfolio."

 

So, for example, a 1st grade math standard is to count by twos and fives. When my son was 5 I simply started counting by twos and fives around him. He didn't really pick up on it until a few months ago from www.brainpopjr.com. However, it was a simple activity I could do to expose him without making it into a huge scene.


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Old 03-26-2013, 12:54 PM
 
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I guess part of my concern is almost all of my in-laws are educators and are constantly asking how she is doing with the "standards", "are you sure she is learning?", and "make sure she doesn't fall behind!". UGh. They really mean well but sometimes I just want to scream "Fall behind WHAT?". 

 

Strangely enough, something occurred to me just that I don't ordinarily think about when I hear comments like those. I think it's time to flat out state that you have a lot higher standards for what you want for her - that you have a vision in mind that will facilitate a lot deeper love of learning and ability to learn whatever might come along that interests her in life, etc. You know what you want - it may be time to get more assertive in touting it - being on the offensive instead of the defensive. I'm not suggesting being belligerent, but simply giving people reason to stay out of it. I somehow created that kind of space around our homeschooling without ever having to debate it. A lot of people didn't quite understand what we were doing, but they didn't feel a need to question it. Maybe it will just take some time to deschool and find your own language for what you're doing, but it sounds as if you're well on your way.

 

And as an aside, I'd not make too much light of the princess thing, because whatever she's playing can lead to some interesting paths of knowledge and curiosity.  EDIT: Was rushing off to an appointment and didn't have time to elaborate, but I was thinking in terms of the "Disney princess" thing eventually evolving and being related to so many other things - Europe, castles and history, costumes, art, inventions, and most of all use of the imagination, which is the most important element of all. 

 

;)  Lillian

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