Monday, November 7, 2011

By George I Think He's Got It!

It's time to celebrate around these parts.  Two major accomplishments and both deserve some recognition - hence a blog post to mark the moments!  First, my kiddo has officially memorized the multiplication tables!  Second, he completed reading The Hobbit on his own, all 504 pages of that puppy.  AND HE LIKED IT.  Time to pop the cork and have some root beer.

Teaching multiplication has been an arduous undertaking which, believe it or not, we started in fourth grade - two whole years ago.  Repetition, games, practical application, flashcards, worksheets, stories about people who actually use multiplication..........I sure have those facts down for the rest of my life, too!  Quick - ask me what 12 x 9 is.

Much more than the details of basic multiplication was learned and honored in this grand process - stuff that is worth passing along.  I have learned, and from now on will remember, that sometimes he is primed and ready to receive information, other times he is not.  I'm betting that all children are just the same to some degree.  When their brain synapses are aligned correctly and when Saturn's third moon is hurtling toward Vega and pink pigs with wings are flittering around your hummingbird feeders, only then will kids open doors to genuine learning - when they are darn good and ready!  Not a moment before, either.

What I really want to know at this juncture is had I not put an emphasis on learning his facts, would he have eventually grabbed them when he was darn good and ready?  Unschoolers offer a hearty 'yes' to this puzzler.  I can't rewind the tape or Photoshop in a mom with a different anxiety meter, so I'll never know for sure, but I do have a hankering that he would have been much better off without large doses of my worrying mixed in.  This has been a valuable lesson for me as a homeschooling parent.  I need to back off and wait patiently for my charge to take flight.  I didn't exhibit any of these worries when it came to reading and reading is something he has taken a genuine liking to without prodding.

Yesterday Max and I stood in front of the bookshelf that holds our homeschooling materials and he picked out what he wants to learn about this week.  Everything from how muscles work, Grossology, Picasso, more on Leonardo, Ancient warfare and finishing our current literature pick, to how the HSUS moves large prairie dog colonies successfully.  I noticed that he didn't pick any math worksheets, clever boy.  He did a few practice problems on double-digit multiplication today to increase his speed, but then we were on to something he wanted to learn about.

Grandma and Grandpa visited last week and brought him an old Casio calculator - the kind that has the paper roll attached so that you can print out your totals.  Max checked his work using this calculator and was immediately enamored with it.  I remember my mom's fingers flying over that number pad whenever she brought work home.  The hum of the paper feeding through the mechanism brought me right back to childhood, too.  He quickly figured out how to get more bang for his buck with the paper and fed it through differently so the paper could be used four times  - on both the right and left sides, front and back.  It might be fun to take that calculator apart someday - to figure out how that printing and feeding mechanism works.

If you are a new homeschooling parent, learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before you (like,!)  I'm here to tell you that worrying is wasted energy, that you have plenty of time to prepare your child for adulthood, that you can take time to have fun together and still learn a bunch.  This is the most relaxed I have been as a homeschool mom since I started three years ago.  And bonus, as of today, we know how prairie dog colonies get moved in humane fashion!   Here's the link so you can go see for yourself!:  Prairie Pups.  The Humane Society of the United States also publishes a worthwhile magazine called All Animals and their magazine written specifically for kids is called Kind News.

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