Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Obstacles to learning

This warm weather is starting to seriously interfere with my kids' education. Who wants to do worksheets when it's a sunny 78 degrees outside?

My daughter does. She seriously loves Pre-K.

So I made a rule.

We'll do Pre-K, but first we're going to play outside. When we come inside to put Jacob down for his nap, you can do some worksheets. But when he wakes up, we're going back outside to play. And we're not doing your reading lesson until after our picnic lunch.

Who knew a four-year-old could love school this much? (Although in Abby's defense, the School of Mommy is incredibly fun, if I do say so myself.)

I spent an entire afternoon going through our workbooks and lesson plans, and managed to trim our remaining weeks of school down to a manageable six. Or fewer. It will depend on whether or not it rains.

Abby's breezing through her telling time curriculum, but I'm struggling with why in the world I'm devoting so much time to teaching her how to read a clock when we don't own a single time piece that isn't digital, and she can read a digital clock just fine. I've been told this is a valuable life skill, and she seems to think it's important, so I guess we'll just go with it. If all goes well, we'll be through our "o'clocks" and our "half pasts" by summer, and we can shelve this time telling thing until kindergarten picks up in the fall.

Caleb is not nearly as impressed with his learn-to-color-in-the-lines worksheets as I'd hoped. They're pretty simplistic, and he'd much rather draw a shark himself and color it in any day. He humors me, and scribbles where he's supposed to until I pass him something more interesting. I think he'll be relieved when we start preschool next year and he has some lessons and activities that are tailored just for him.

In the meantime, he seems to take the focus on his sister's education in stride, and enjoys the times when I give them a project or assignment to work on together. They still make great classmates, and it's fun to watch the way their different personalities attack a problem when they work as a team. They love to solve mazes and puzzles together, tasks that my four-year-old with the focused attention to detail seems to struggle with, but my three-year-old who is great at seeing the bigger picture excels in.

Abby, ever the perfectionist, wants to trace every possible route in the maze with her finger first, finding the ones that don't work and meticulously crossing them out until she narrows down the right path. Caleb seems to be able to take in the entirety of the maze at once, and can find the quickest path to the finish with relative ease. He wants to draw his path as he goes, having already found the winning route in his head. Abby doesn't want to make a mark on the page until she knows she's making that mark in the right place, and has physically traced it at least once with her little index finger to be sure. They make a great team, but the vastly different ways their brains work drive each other crazy sometimes.

It's okay though. With my new streamlined countdown to summer, we're just weeks away from carefree (and worksheet-free) days splashing in the backyard, and my homeschooling days will be over until next year.

If Abby will allow it, that is.

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