Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's Working....It's Working

Homeschooling is as much about faith as it is about academics. Faith that the method we choose will eventually lead to learning. Faith that our children will accidentally learn something from us or his world. Faith that we are doing the right thing. Inherent in the faith concept is that we walk without sight most of the time. It's a good day when we see a glimmer of a result.

I love the scene in the movie, What About Bob?, where Bill Murray works at taking "baby steps." It's become almost a mantra in my life when I face hard things. My SJ gave me some hope this week that those "baby steps" might lead to a crawl.

I've taken the gamble to really back off from anything that looks like school and approach learning in an eclectic fashion, using what life presents. With only a month of school left, we've also taken this as an opportunity to try freebie programs and sites I've run across through other homeschoolers.

Yesterday, for instance, was consumer math day. We started by comparison shopping for a washer and dryer. SJ wasn't all that engaged but he did listen in as my friend and I grilled the salespeople as to features, benefits, and costs of the machines. Afterward, when I asked him what he learned, he made the observation that one salesperson seemed to know his product better and therefore gave him (SJ) greater confidence. A valuable insight? Absolutely.

Next was grocery store math. From the first aisle to the last, I saw a distinct click as SJ went from reluctant to engaged. It was the Pizza Rolls that did it. "Hey Mom, these would only cost $.07 each," he proved. "If I eat 20 of them, it would only cost $1.40 for lunch, compared to $2 for a public school lunch." He got the Pizza Rolls simply on the merit of doing the math. (As you might expect, our next lesson looked at the serving size vs. the calories.) It seems that personal interest is a great motivator.

We read our receipts to make sure we didn't get "ripped off" and wondered together why Heinz vinegar cost double the store brand. 

I know it doesn't seem like much, but for me, it's enough. It's a constant urge not to blaze ahead and succumb to the pressures of traditional "school." If I look at others in a full-on sprint, I still wonder if we will ever get there but I have to trust this process. One friend, whose kids share my son's learning challenge, peppers me with dubious questions. "If you aren't using textbooks, how are you teaching him?" Fair question. But how does one begin to explain? I hardly believed it myself.

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