Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Our start: Homeschool

Well, we went to my office on Sunday to set it up for him. Z set up his beanbag chair, lapdesk, notebooks, history wall chart, and other paraphernalia. He was so eager to get started, he sat right down with a notebook and started writing a story - like, actually writing... without a cattle prod up his butt. Ok, only two short sentences, but - hey!

On Monday we had the FIRST DAY OF HOMESCHOOL. I feel kind of awkward there, it is known, but not widely, that I am homeschooling Z at my office. At any rate, I took him to the library and got him into the system so that he can borrow books without me. He borrowed a science book about experiments for kids proposed by Thomas Edison. Then, he pored through the entire book through the day - discussing serial and paralell circuitry, constructing batteris out of lemons, and making candy. Then, he felt like he hadn't done any "school" so he found someone (Heron or Hero of Hellenistic Greece) and studied this mechanical/mathematical genius for awhile. We struggled over his one real "assignment" - writing - but, he got there by adding to paltry sentences to his story from the previous day. When asked what school he did, he said "none". But when asked what he learned, he talked our ears off. Interesting that he didn't equate any of his reading or discussion to "school".

Tuesday, B was home sick from school. So, I had to work from home with two boys - one sick and out-of-sorts, and one that is supposed to be homeschooling. First, I gave them pliers, wire strippers/clippers, a battery, and a lightbulb to work out some of the experiments he'd read about. They bickered and moaned (too may chiefs, not enough indians). I tried to help for awhile... I put on my black-and-white stripes for awhile and got terribly frustrated trying to simultaneously work and referee... finally, I went to J's office downstairs, shut the door, and told them only to bother me if the house was on fire or someone was bleeding. Now, it is basically bedtime and Z is finally at the table supposed to be writing, but is completely distracted by a costume catalog that came in the mail today - I shall take it in a moment if he can't get it together on his own.

So, the sum of our experiences, I was pleased to see Z engaged with real people and nonfiction for brief bits. I saw a lot more completely distracted crazy behavior today while jockeying with his brother. But, without the stress of a traditional school, I see a lot more of the Z that I have always known and loved. I have to stay patient with Z's relentless questions (if only to point out that I am busy and will look later) in that he is schooling where I work - and I really have to work. On the other hand, even putting him off, I probably give him more attention than any teacher has been able to. We are kind of "de-schooling" now - figuring out the difference between School (capital S) and learning (which is what homeschool, to me, is all about). Finally, this child clearly loves the learning part dearly. He hates writing and has to learn to start projects like that that he hates (hence, my one requirement - write something, anything, every day).

While some day it will be possible, if only the kid could voice to paper somehow - he can talk through the most amazing ideas, but is completely stymied about putting them on paper. I can relate and went through the same thing until I learned to touch-type (another goal this year for Z). One small segment of our discussion was a verbal "essay" on how the printed book is dying and how sad it is for books that are out-of-press and what electronic books may mean to changing the style of how people read and hence, perhaps, changes in the complexity or degree of challenge that we might expect in our reading in the future. How sad, my nine-year-old thinks if the type of complex, braided storylines that he so loves won't be cherished by a less-patient electronic readership. What a cool nine-year-old to worry about such things. I sure do love this kid.

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