Monday, February 20, 2012

Encouraging My Reluctant Learner

Months ago, Thomas and I were discussing his reluctance to do his school work. His disdain for all things school related had come to a head and there were issues to be dealt with. We chatted for several minutes before he sighed one of his heartfelt but highly exaggerated sighs and looked at me as if he were about to impart the very longings of his soul.

"Mom, I just feel as if God made me to play all day."

Well.

Actually, I think if we really stripped it down and got back to the basics, God probably didn't design us to do workbook pages and sentence diagramming and memorizing the table of elements. I laughed as I explained all of this to Thomas and then reminded him that Noah built an ark. It takes smarts to do that. Even if God handed off the blueprint, Noah had to read it and follow directions.

Thomas giggled and grimaced and tried his best to look glum about the whole thing. But he got what I was saying.

I heard what he was saying, too. You see, Thomas has a bit of a hard road. He's a boy. In a house full of girls, he's a boy. A bouncing, energetic, make a mess, live out loud, get into it, needs an adventure, wants to do it all, boy. Yes, he has a brother now, but Daniel hardly counts in this scenario, given his less-than-ten-months-outside-the-womb life. And my girls? They are the quiet and self-entertaining types. I say school and they cheer. I say go play, and they dash upstairs to their dress-up clothes and baby dolls.

So. I had some thinking to do. Thinking to create ways to slip in school work for my reluctant learner. I turned to homeschooling mothers of boys for advice. One mom (six boys ages 5-14!) and she told me to get the kid moving! For math facts, I will call out an equation and he will answer with jumping jacks or push ups or jumps or karate chops. (He counts out loud as he does nine jumping jacks to answer the equation 18-9=?) It takes a bit more time, but he LOVES it!

Thomas detests writing. He does his daily handwriting assignment without complaint (mostly due to the fact that complaining about it will have him writing ridiculously long and totally useless sentences), but rather than have him do other writing 'assignments' I have given him a journal with the only stipulation that it's for writing and if he draws a picture, he has to write about the picture explaining it. It will be a long time before he fills it up. Possibly another year or so, but occasionally he wants to jot something down or draw out a wood-working project he has in his head.

I also take dictation. I want Thomas to practice the art of spinning a story, but if having to write it out is what is stunting this exercise, then I don't mind being his secretary. It's actually pretty fun for both of us! Soon, he will take an 'official' typing/keyboarding class so he can type his stories on the computer rather then write them on paper.

Thomas loves all things science, so I tend to pick up all manner of science-y and nature books for him. He's not a big reader, although he has markedly improved over the last year, but he will pick up these kinds of books and inhale them. He reading comprehension is highly questionable, but I remind myself that he has plenty of time to grow there. For now, he's picking up books and reading them of his own volition. I also read with him a lot. He reads a page and I read a page. If he gets carried away and reads several in a row, I keep my mouth shut!

One of the beauties of homeschooling is the ability to tailor the presentation of knowledge to fit the needs and interests of the child. I occasionally worry about my kids in one area or another but I calmly remind myself of the advice of those who have gone before me: 'Create the opportunities for children to learn. They will pick it up in their own time.' and 'Read. Read, read, read. Read to them all the time.'

I'm still taking notes and trying new things. I'd love to hear your experiences and advice!!! Pretty please?

1 comment:

Jodie said...

Love what those minds can come up with! You're a great mom!