Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Day 22

I was thinking this morning that teaching is a difficult calling. And the definition of “teaching” for this purpose would be broad enough to encompass what unschoolers, what PARENTS do, to foster their childrens’ learning. It is difficult to find the right balance. It would be easier to have a checklist — do this, don’t do this. But that’s not what learning is about. Learning is about forming relationships. And that has more of a mystery at the heart of it. Of course there are skills and principles, just like there are with relationships. But it is an art, not a science.

LOL, my philosophical way of saying I took the day off ;-).

Not really, but here’s what happened.

I got up feeling tired and sick still, even though I slept lots last night. I was having to restrain myself from grouching at Aidan even when he was just being his normal self. He repeats a lot, echo-speech and patterns, but usually I don’t notice it and can go with the flow and extend into new areas without really thinking about it. But today his repetitions were bothering me.

He wanted to do the pattern words and thinks “top” is “fire”. And that irritated me today — bad mom!

I put on Gregorian music to help me through making the pancakes and sausages! Aidan always wants to help me flip them… again, usually I go with it but sometimes it’s so frustrating because he hasn’t figured out WHEN to flip them — so I turn around from something else and find him scrambling the pancakes, basically.

Then the boys woke up and Sean said he was afraid of his math, because his intelligence really does take a direct hit when he’s feeling ill — very close mind-body connection there.

So then the boys ALL sit down and start playing with Legos intensely. All their Legos are all over the table, and the beds aren’t even made. The upshot was that they played with their Legos all day. I did get them to do their morning jobs and I think I COULD have pushed them through the academics, but the point is that I don’t want to push. So it’s an ambivalent situation for me. This is an ongoing ambivalence for me — 13 years homeschooling now – and I sort of think there is no real way out of it. It is like any relationship — there will be perfect moments but more often than not it’s work and “ALMOST”, not quite.

I told them that the new habit we are working on is doing chores right after waking, because that is the part that I thought I was the most rationally bothered by. They agreed with me on this and we’ll see if it takes more active management or if the reminder was enough.

So then I caught up on a bit of writing I had to do — since the boys were SO occupied in their play and I had time and space — and then I took the little ones out for a nature walk. This turned out to be a turning point for the day. It was chilly and just starting to snow, and the older boys came out too, and the little boys followed them up to our ridge which was really spooky and atmospheric in the mist. I wish I’d brought my camera. We spent an hour or so out there, then I bunkered down in my room and read stories to Paddy and took a nap.

This evening Kieron made butterscotch brownies by himself. He also spent a large part of the day listening to the first book on tape. I think it was Boxcar Children which he is perfectly capable of reading himself, but it was fun for him to listen, and Paddy was listening for quite a while too.

Sean has finished all our Rosemary Sutcliff books now — read the Eagle of the Ninth and The Lantern Bearers — and also raced through Henty’s For the Temple. He made a sword, which is what he does when he’s having a relaxed day, and he did some football with Kevin.

Clare secreted herself in her room all day and said she got a LOT done. All her schoolwork plus some other things.

Aidan and Paddy got a lot of mileage out of the Phonics A to Z electronic game. They played it for a long time in between other things.

So I guess this worked well as a good unschooling day, all in all. It’s not what I had planned, though. And it didn’t feel like a good day, and I have to resolve that in my mind and not let it spill over onto the children. I know I COULD have made them sit down and go through their books but in the nitpicky, frustrated mood I was in it would have killed all our motivation. Another thing I COULD have done was to go to Plan B — minimum 3Rs and a bit of reading. But we ended up in Plan C — playing and outside time and preschool time — and that probably wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

I did vacuum!