Saturday, June 30, 2012

Noticing Natural Learning Instead of Recreating School At Home

People of all ages, but especially children, naturally want to go and find out and explore and try and do.  If not required to complete workbooks or practice skills that they don't enjoy, they will still continue to learn and will enjoy learning because the things they do are coming from themselves rather than being imposed.  They will enjoy what they are choosing to do (writing or reading or watching or drawing or figuring out or calculating or playing) because it is something that they are interested in and it is meaningful to them.

Some children may enjoy working with workbooks, but there are so many ways of learning and some children do not thrive or end up disliking certain subjects or learning in general because of recreating school at home.  Others do what is asked because they want to please the parent or because they know they have to.  

If you want to try this (summer might be a good time as there is less pressure to do school), watch and notice what your child is doing and see the natural learning that is taking place.  Help when they want help, bring things of interest to your child, have fun and play and explore and visit places together.  But don't force him/her to do anything s/he doesn't want to do.  This post by Pam Sorooshian gives more clarity on the active role of parents in helping their children with regard to learning:  Maybe take a photo (casually and only if your child doesn't mind photos) or jot down what learning you see or what you notice him/her doing - even a couple words can remind you if you are pressed for time - (but only for you to see so s/he doesn't feel self-conscious) and notice over time if s/he becomes interested in new things or seems more confident or relaxed.  When able to pursue your own skills when and how you see fit, it is freeing and you realize you don't have to fit into anyone else's box or follow another's timetable and that in itself can make for a happier person and better relationships.  It also helps you to get to know yourself better such as what makes you tick, what your passions are, and what you do and don't like which is a great life skill that many don't find out about until much later in life if they ever allow themselves to.  A person who is trusted to learn at their own pace may feel more self-confident because their parents trust them to learn and live according to their individual interests and who they are and believe in them to learn in their own way and time without feeling like they can only learn when they are being told what to do.

Learning outside of doing workbooks might look different.  

If you are noticing that your child is not enjoying doing workbooks or seeming to be turned off to any certain subject or skill that you are assigning, it might be good to ease up for a long while and watch and notice if learning is happening in a different way.  Let's use hand-writing as an example.  If your child seemed to sigh when you said it was time to practice hand-writing, rather than say let's bust through this lesson and get it over with (which would further turn her off and give her reason to think it was some unpleasant yet necessary task to get through), don't require her to do it.  Instead  begin to notice what she does write.  Does she makes lists of her own or add to the grocery list?  Write letters or notes?  Stories?  Poems?  Diary or journal entries?  Type on the computer?  Keep a birthday wish list or a to do list?  Make cards for others?  Label things?  Does she have any interest in trying out other kinds of writing like calligraphy?  Hieroglyphics?  Creating secret codes of her own?  Likely we model writing much of the time and our children will likely want to write down things too when they see a purpose for it.  

To go a step further, what if s/he was unable to write with her hands.  Could s/he still survive in our world?  Is it truly necessary to practice hand-writing?  Could s/he type on the computer?  Use a typewriter?  Text?  Could s/he communicate with words to explain things well enough for others to understand or follow instructions or help if s/he needed help?  Some computer programs can turn your voice into writing.  Some cell phones or other electronic devices allow messages and notes to be left by voice.   Hand-writing often is in my opinion helpful to fill out forms and such.  However, many forms are completed online now.  And although people may be glad to help others complete a form if they needed help, hand-writing will progress over time as it seems necessary or meaningful and is used.  

Some kids love writing their names or practicing letters over and over. Others find it drudgery, especially if they are made to do it.  Some kids love hearing the same favorite book or watching the same show over and over.  Trust they are getting something meaningful to themselves out of it, even if you don't understand exactly what it is.  They may practice or re-watch or re-read until they are done for their own reasons.  Having the freedom to delve into subjects and things of interest as much or as little as one likes makes for enjoyable and meaningful learning.  Having the freedom to think and process and relax when one sees fit is important too.  

If given the time and space to practice things if and when and how they want to, they will learn over time and feel good about it and themselves.  A side benefit is that they see you on their side helping them learn and do what is of interest to them and that will strengthen your relationship, which is to me, the most important thing in life and my life with my family. Doing school will eventually end, but your relationship and trust and partnerships will last a lifetime.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Horseshoe Crabs at Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick, Maine

6/10/2012 - First time at this campground ( Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick, ME  ). Attended a horseshoe crab program. The grounds were lovely and clean and I want to go back again to hang out and swim!

Makana sat with me for a while at the program, but was called to the beach where she had major fun! 

She and Li dug in the sand and poured water in the hole. Love love love how they play together! 

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Daddy and Kanoa

Hattie McCarthy, her son Ian and her daughter Ginny also went to the program!  It was so nice to see  them as they live far away.  We planned on meeting there again sometime and going to the nearby Botanical Gardens too sometime soon (on different days).

Carol Steingart was the woman running the program and she was full of fascinating facts. She said she tried to make the program good for all ages and that she liked this outdoor location especially.  I can't recall exactly what she was describing in this photo...she showed us so much! 

While the group was up attending the program, Makana found a horseshoe crab in the water and was so excited!!  I tried to capture it on video, but it moved very quickly.  Then I went back to the program myself as I was interested in hearing what Carol had to say.   

Baby horseshoe crab!

Horseshoe crab eggs! Green little eggs!

A lady holding the baby horseshoe crab.

Me holding it.

Ginny holding the baby horseshoe crab.

Ginny checking out the horseshoe crab.

Kanoa feeling a little cold after getting wet.

Horseshoe crabs - larger female pulling the male. The male hangs onto the female so he can be one to be closest to her eggs and fertilize them with his milt.

Book recommendation: "Extraordinary Crabs" by Julie Dunlap - I read this book when Katie was little and this was the book that I saw in a pile of Carol Steingart's things.  It was very good and I think I will check it out from the library.  I'd like to read it and I'll offer to read it aloud if anyone is interested too.

Montsweag Roadhouse and What the Kids Do On Long Car Rides

Montsweag Roadhouse - On our way to the horseshoe crab program, we needed to stop and use the bathroom, and get some water.  While we were there, Jim bought a raffle ticket for a boat he sees almost every time we pass by.  Good luck to him!  

Maybe someday we'll try one of their burgers!  It did smell really good!  
This is what Makana loves to do in the car while she drives or waits....she loves to eat!  So I try to pack foods I know she likes.  Or sometimes we stop and pay for a fast food burger....99 cents or so is not alot to spend for a quieter ride and a satisfied girl.  And if I or Jim wanted something along the way, we'd just stop and get it as long as the other person was we do the same for the kids.  Another thing Makana loves to do is play games like find the abc's in order on signs and such as we drive.  That is another favorite thing.  
Li often lets Kanoa play on his Nintendo DS Lite.  That and eating O's are what he most enjoys on long car rides.  So nice that big brother is so generous with him.  And it is also nice that Kanoa likes to watch Li play as well.

Katie's pillow

Katie made this cool pillow in school!  She also made a couple of other beautiful ones.  They looked professionally made and she told Li and Makana that she'd make them ones.  They are excited to pick out the fabric they would like. 

A Drawing for Daddy

One night, the kids and I stayed up quite late and weren't as quiet getting into bed as I had hoped and we woke Jim up (oops!!!!).  He didn't say anything, but felt mad.  In the morning he found this drawing that we made for him and he said it made him feel so much better.  So glad it was there waiting for him, but we will work on either being more quieter or going to bed when he does.

Hairy Legs

Quienes mas macho?!  Joking.  I was born with hairy legs.  And arms.  I was aware of my hairy arms when I was four years old and locked myself in the bathroom and shaved off my arm hair - maybe I saw my mom shaving and wanted to be like her??  I am trying to learn to accept my legs and myself as I am.  I do find it funny that I have more hair than Jim, but only because I was brought up in our culture - if it was not a big deal for women to not shave, I don't think I'd even think of it.  It doesn't make me more masculine or less feminine nor does it make Jim more feminine or less masculine.  We are what we are and I think we were both born perfectly. our culture, many females shave off their hair.  Maybe because it is accepted in our culture as looking more feminine or attractive or they feel more that way because they were brought up in our culture to think that way?  Jim prefers it when I shave, so I do sometimes, but not all the time.  In the winter especially I don't shave.  It's interesting to me how I change over 2005, I was very into being natural and me as I am and accepting myself as I am and I didn't shave.  But then a year or two later, I shaved again.  Now a few years later I am not doing it as much.  Why should we shave anyway?  To please others and fit in?  I might do it for my husband at times.  When else might I shave?  When I needlessly worry about what others might think. I'm working on that right now.  Trying to do what *I* really want to do and right now I want to be comfortable being Who I Am.  I want to like all of me...each and every hair.  And if I choose to shave it off for Jim, I want to feel good about that too.  I also don't want to shave it off to please anyone else.  But I'd do it for Jim because he likes smooth legs.  And I can deal with that if it means something to him.  

Duck Contest Display (was around the end of May)

The kids and I made this display for a contest sponsored by the Rotary Club.
We had a sign professionally made that said, "Penobscot Pension Services will help build your nest egg" and placed that on the board where we thought it looked best.   Makana and I dropped off our entry and then we watched all the ducks (about 2500 rubber duckies!) be tossed into the river for the Duck Derby!  It was cool to watch!