Today at homeschool, my 5 year old had to write a short story. He has been learning about the parts of a story. His manual is also teaching him about the weather too. So, for today, he was required to write a story involving the weather. I let him have freedom in the story he would tell though. He dictated, I wrote. Here is what he came up with:
THE TREE WHO GREW
A little tree lived in the rainforest. It likes to stay with its mommy. The little tree got older and older and taller and taller and bigger and bigger. Then it died. It fell down.
- The End -
I think that it is a pretty good story. My son, understandably, is mighty proud of his work and let me show it off. The photos shown here are not mine. I got them from the web and the pages where I got them are linked to the pictures.
As many of you may well know, I have four very little children, the older being just 6 and a half years old. The other three are 5 years old, 2.6 years old, and about 5 months old, respectively. I am homeschooling the two older children who are now in second grade and kindergarten. They get a lot of attention. The baby, owing to his circumstance, naturally gets a lot of attention. When he cries, I almost drop everything to feed him or to change his diapers. By this time, however, I have learned to feed him as I teach or eat or do other things. My biggest concern then is my third child, who is not as helpless as the baby, but still not as able as the older two. I was, and still am, worried that he does not get all of the attention that he needs.
I knew that because of the newborn baby (he came in the summer), this homeschool year would pose a different set of problems for me as far as caring for all four children was concerned. Initially, to make sure that my third child was closely supervised during school hours, my Husband and I put a little kiddie table in one corner of our little kitchen where, at this point, all schooling was going to be done. We put a box of kiddie puzzles and toys, e.g., Melissa & Doug alphabet and shape puzzles, but our boy was not interested.
So, I decided to give him some educational DVD's, i.e., Jumpstart, to play in my computer just to make sure that he was safe while I was not looking. Pretty soon, this kid got the hang of computer games and would soon tell me "Me, want to learn" if he wanted to play, even at off hours, in the computer. Soon he got bored with those programs and discovered the joys of train movies in Youtube. Somehow, I got wiser and looked for trains that would help him learn the alphabet and numbers and shapes, and similar sorts. I gave him Starfall.com too. It has a nice letter recognition program. Then one day, my boy discovered the joys of Diego and Nick Jr., and PBSKids. He watched them mostly by himself, except for my occasional visits just to make sure that he was not seeing anything inappropriate.
Between Diego and Nick Jr. and Starfall, he must have learned because one day, he started identifying letters and numbers and counting for us.
One day at Mass, to my consternation, he pointed at a "G" in the missal and said aloud - "G for Gabriel".
But I felt bad. I am sad that I could not teach him the way I did the older two children. With those two, I downloaded worksheets from the internet, bought all the Pre-school and Kindergarten workbooks I could find in the stores, and I taught them myself. The internet had minimal participation in their learning. I planned craft activities and we did a lot of crafting together. With my third child, I could barely cut out shapes for us to put together and make trains with. I considered my failure to attend to his learning needs as the cause for his lack of interest in learning or crafting (never mind that he was just 2 years and 4 months old then). But there was only so much that I could do.
These days, there have been some noticeable developments. It might be that he wants to imitate his brothers or that he simply wants to spend time with me, but he asks to be homeschooled. "Homeschool me", he would say. He also shows more interest in the magnetic letters and numbers that we allowed him to play with. When he requests to be taught, I try to accommodate him even if that throws off our schedule some more. However, it is nice to see that even though I cannot teach him all the time, some others are willing to do the job.
He is much more interested to learn when it involves some colorful candies -
and a lot of lap time with Daddy, or me.
Somehow, his new found desire to be schooled has eased a bit the issue about giving him attention.
However, to this day, I try to do these things to give him as much time as I can-
1. play extra with him during diaper changing time and nap and bed time;
2. put him in my lap whenever I can, even when the baby is already on my lap;
3. accompany him in the basement train room when he wants to play in the basement;
4. put him in my lap for a little story time.
I hope this is helpful in some way to those who are similarly situated.
Somewhere in a little town lived a little Mommy, a Big Daddy and their four little children. Little Child # 1 is 6 years old. Little Child # 2 is 5 years old. Little Child #3 is 2 years old. And Little Child #4 is but a baby. Little Child #1 can already read, quite well, if I may say so. He reads books without pictures now. He reads a book as soon as he wakes up in the morning when he could not yet visit Little Mommy and Big Daddy in their bedroom because they are still asleep. He reads books when he is not allowed to play with his computer games. He loves to read and to leave the books all over the place. But that is another story.
Little Child # 2 also likes to read. He likes getting books from the shelves and asking Little Mommy or Big Daddy to read to him. Sometimes, he asks his big brother, Little Child # 1, to help him when Little Mommy and Big Daddy are not available. He can read some on his own now too and he leaves his books all over the place as well. But this is also another story. .
Little Mommy read a lot to them when they were much littler.
Now, about Little Child # 3.
One day, Little Mommy asked Big Daddy, "I wonder if our Little Child # 3 is interested in reading at all?"
She asked because Little Child # 3 just played whenever Little Mommy is reading a story to her older children. Sometimes, Little Child # 3 would bring him a book - the one about 100 trucks with 100 pictures in it. But after looking at 3, 4, or 6 pictures, Little Child #3 goes away. Little Mommy remembers that by 2 1/2 years old, both Little Child #1 and Little Child #3 had caused her some sore throat because they asked her to read their favorite books over and over and over again.
They liked Barbapapa, Little Engine That Could, Take Me to the Zoo, Go Dogs Go, and dozens of Thomas the Tank stories which eventually Little Mommy grew wary of, and even hated. See? Little Mommy read those books to them countless times that she felt their very words were already coming out of her ears, and skin, and eyes.
Ever the wise one, Big Daddy replied, "Give him time". Little Mommy happens to be an obedient Little Mommy so she just let Little Child #3 be.
One day, while Little Mommy was relaxing on her chair, Little Child #3 came. He was holding 'Thomas and Percy and the Dragon'. He also had "Thomas and the Big, Big Bridge' with him. Then he said in his sweet little voice, "Plee read Tombam and Perper me." Which meant "Please read Thomas and Percy to me". Little Child #3 just has the sweetest little voice there is. Little Mommy has this silly wish that Little Child #3 does not learn to talk well so soon so that she can always listen to his cute little words and sweet little voice. But that is just plain silly of Little Mommy.
Little Mommy was happy. She and Little Child #3 went to the couch so Little Child could seat on her lap. And she read Thomas and Percy and the Dragon about 3 times that time. Then she read Thomas and the Big Big Bridge. Then Little Mommy gave up. Her throat hurt. Before the day was over, she must have read the same books again.
Little Mommy has read Thomas and Percy and the Dragon more than a dozen times since then, Thomas and the Big Big Bridge half a dozen times, in addition to Thor and the other Thomas stories that Little Child #3 brought to her to be read. Little Mommy now has a lot more opportunities to hurt her throat. She also learns to read in different ways. Maybe, Little Mommy will be a voice actor one day.
Homeschooling two little children, aged 6 years old and 5 years old, is admittedly quite challenging especially when one throws in a toddler and a baby to the mix, in addition to the daily chores that come with managing a household. Oftentimes, I am barely able to finish the day's manual for each of the two children. When I do, it would be already already time to cook dinner. Sometimes, I homeschool as I cook. Rare are the times when I am able to finish in the early afternoon, and rarer are the times when I finished the manuals without feeling so spent. But somehow, it gets done. There is just no other choice. We chose this lifestyle and whether we like it or not, we need to rise to its challenges. And this is the story of how we handle it. While a large part of the job falls into my hands, homeschooling is in fact a joint effort between my husband, Husband, and me. How does Husband help? Let me count the ways:
1. He makes life easy for me. He prepares breakfast when he can, even when he himself needs to rush to school to prepare for his own classes.
2.When he does not prepare the breakfast, he teaches part of the lessons for the day - mostly Math.
3.He tries to lessen my chores. When he does breakfast, he makes sure that there are no preparation dishes that are left for me to wash. He also took to buying disposable plates and utensils so that I do not have to worry about dirty dishes in the sink. He even buys this kind -
the dainty little flowers do take the sting out of eating out of paper plate.
4. He is our person-of-last resort: the superintendent, the principal, the arbitrator, most of all, the husband and Daddy who we call at every sign of trouble in homeschool - mostly, a child who does not want to do his work, who would not pay attention when told to several times. Of course, it is never about Mommy.
5.He finishes whatever part of the lesson that I was not able to do during the day.
6.He lets me have some relaxing me-time in the evenings and on weekends too.
7.He takes a child to his office when he can and teaches him there.
He does all of those and some. I think that I have a great helpmate in my husband. He is really really really wonderful. (Sssshhhh! Just between us, will he now get me that camera that I have been pining for?)
As the children learn, there will definitely be mess.
When they help with cooking, flour will fly everywhere and coat the countertops, the floor, the utensils, and themselves.
When they scramble eggs, eggs get spilt, and sometimes, crash on the floor.
When they help wash the dishes, there would be water puddles on the floor. They will get their clothes wet and will need to get changed.
When they help clean the windows, there will be balls and balls of windexed paper towels all around.
When they help set the table, utensils fall on the floor, glass sometimes gets broken. Or plates too. There will be a water trail on the floor.
When they make paper crafts, there willd be pieces of paper lying on the floor and on the tables. The construction paper pile will be in disarray. Glue will coat their work surface and everything else.
When they paint, paint will not only be on the brushes and paper. Paint will be on the floor, on their clothes, and on the walls.
Yes, it is messy when children do things and when they do I find my work multiplying. I find myself biting my tongue so that I will not complain - aloud. We want our children to learn skills, we have to accept the cost. In time, they will learn to clean up (thoroughly) after themselves. In the meantime, I savor the doouble victory of having taken the children away, at least for a few minutes, from their videos and computer games and of having them discover something new. I will also savor the satisfied expressions of children who have accomplished something.
Peace of soul comes to those with the right kind of anxiety about attaining perfect happiness, which is God. A soul has anxiety because it final and eternal state is not yet decided, it is still and always at the crossroads of life. This fundamental anxiety cannot be cured by a surrender to passions and instincts; the basic cause of our anxiety is a restlessness within time that comes because we are made for eternity.
If there were anywhere on earth a resting place other than God, we may be very sure that the human soul in its long history would have found it before this. ~ Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen