Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cool Things This Week

  • We are currently obsessed with They Might Be Giant's Here Comes Science album. It's playing nonstop in the car these days. 
  • D watched a bunch of homemade lego star wars stop-action films people have posted on youtube, then made a new one of his own inspired by them.
  • The weather has been absolutely gorgeous the past week, and so we've spent a lot of time out at parks and playgrounds taking advantage of it.
  • D figured out pumping! It was so cool to watch him practicing on the swings today, and seeing how things *clicked* when he got it right. I don't know if this was part of it or not, but shortly before I mentioned that pumping on a swing is kinda like playing a game with gravity. I think he liked that. 
  • We found a fun book at the library that's about prehistoric animals, and filled with riddles and puns. It has been very popular so far. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cool Things This Week

  • Zach took the boys to a lego exhibit this weekend, where whole miniature lego cities were on display. After mentioning recently that D seemed to have shifted away from building original creations from legos, he came home from that exhibit and immediately built a small transforming mech/ship, and another adorable little lego spaceship. This morning he made a larger mech big enough for a minifig to sit in, using a mixture of lego bricks and hero factory pieces. 
  • They also went to a physics show for kids this morning, and came back excitedly telling me about all they saw (including how if they covered my phone in aluminum foil it disrupts the signal and won't ring). 
  • We're re-working our lego sorting system, having just bought a new set of plastic drawers to sorting pieces into. This morning D helped me write out some of the labels for the drawers (I was surprised when he volunteered, and was even disappointed when he had to stop because it was time for him and his dad to go to the physics show). 
  • D is officially enrolled in a weekly gymnastics class. He is super beyond excited about it. 
  • At one of our weekly park days D took plastic cups and rubber bands (intended for making marshmallow shooters) and used them to make body armor for his arms and legs. He then kept working at it with our own supplies at home later that day. 
  • Several days ago D mentioned how it would be a good idea if the military used robots instead of soldiers to fight, so that fewer people would be hurt or killed. So I told him about how they do use drones for a lot of things now, and then remembered a NOVA/PBS documentary on drones and we watched it. Which then led to all sorts of (age-appropriate) discussions about the pros and cons of droids, and why people don't like them, and the complexities of war and how things are rarely black-and-white, good vs evil. 

A few thoughts from a homeschool workshop

Yesterday I attended a three-hour workshop called The Art of Homeschooling, held by Diane Flynn Keith and Barbara Phillips, meant for beginners and those still considering homeschooling as an option. I'm realizing how important it will be for me to attend these sorts of events every once in a while, at least while I'm still so new at all this, as they help me feel refreshed and renew my confidence in what we're doing. I also found out about some cool new resources that I want to explore for us.

At one point Barbara asked us what were our top values-- what are the things we most want our children to have when they are grown? The answers included things like creativity, curiosity, independence, authenticity, empathetic, passionate, being able to advocate for their own needs as well as advocating for marginalized groups, what one mom described as "happily ambitious" (having ambition and passion working towards a goal, without being so driven as to be overly stressed about it), being able to manage their money and their time well, etc, and being able to focus on the journey and the process vs only on the end result.

After writing all our answers on the board, Barbara then remarked how none of the things we had mentioned were academic. It served as another reminder that the priority is on helping our children develop and flourish, not on whether they learn to read or write at a certain age.

I've been feeling frustrated sometimes over how I will find things that I think would be so interesting, and D will just be like, "meh" about them. It's hard to know what may be worth putting effort or money into, what could be something that sparks a new passion or if it will just sit ignored. Then I remembered my approach to food-- my job is to put a variety of good food in front of them, and it's up to them to choose how much of what to eat. The same is true for any other interest or activity. In Montessori we have this thing called "indirect preparation" where kids work with something first on a casual level, then later will come back to the same material and use it to build new knowledge based on the familiar concepts. I think of a lot of what I do now as "indirect preparation"-- I want to expose my kids to all sorts of neat, interesting things. They may spark an interest now, or perhaps they will be stowed away somewhere in their minds and rise to the surface again at some later time, or perhaps never at all. But it's not my job to make him be interested in anything particular, just to expose him to it, give him the tools and guidance needed should he explore that thing, and then rest is up to him.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Lately... (kind of a "cool things" catch-up)

We've gone on a couple tide pool walks in the past month or so, one hosted by MSI and another we just went and met up with friends. We spotted sea anemones and plenty of snails and hermit crabs, but on the second trip Zach and D also saw part of a small octopus, an eel, and a starfish, which sounded amazing.

We went to Texas for a week over the holidays to spend time with my family. The boys had a grand ole time with their grandparents, aunts & uncle, and cousins.

After (unsuccessfully) trying to encourage him to do tae kwon do and soccer, D tried out a gymnastics class a couple weeks ago and LOVED it. So we're gonna sign him up for the weekly class. I'm pretty excited for him, and hope his enthusiasm for it keeps up. They also hold "open gym" hours that I can bring both boys to, so that should be a huge win.

D is still very into legos, but has shifted away from building his own original creations. He's more into building sets using instructions (from sets or found online via LDD), and playing with the minifigures (setting up battles, pretend play, and using them in stop-action movies). I'm curious to see if this is a phase or a bigger shifting away. I also wonder if part of it is our lego organization, if having the pieces more separated and available/easy to view would impact things.

We've been working on a hero factory story the past week or two. D recites to me, and I type it onto a document. In the past when I've tried to help him with writing his stories down he'll get a few sentences in and kinda lose steam. But this time we have a solid 3 pages going, with multiple storylines. I brought up to him how we could print out the pages, add illustrations, and make a book to share with others. He seemed into the idea, but we'll see how follow-through goes.

Our friends made the boys these super awesome t-shirts with a logo for our "school." I kinda wanna go make up a bunch of other PFA gear now. ; )