Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Information Junky: the Learning Requests of My 16 Month Old

Information Junky

My one-year-old is officially an information junky.

He wants information and he wants it now. And the more I give him, the more he wants.

We recently started getting back into a routine with our flash cards. I am a big believer in starting small, then adding more as you grow accustomed to your routine. And since we are somewhat out of practice, I figured a good place to jump back in would be 3 reading sets, 1 math set, and 2 encyclopedic knowledge sets (each set is roughly 7-10 cards, by the way).

As you can see in the video I posted on Monday, Damien is very adamant about getting his cards and getting them now. He will bring me our little file folder with the cards, shouting, "Number! Number! Number!" until I appease his demands.

In the video he sort of wavered off towards the end, ready to be done. But five seconds later when I put them away, he started crying, got them out, and said "Again! Again!"

Today even after going through all six sets of cards (some sixty or so word and picture cards) he still was not content. So I added two new sets of encyclopedic knowledge cards and a set of math dots. 

He has been "on" me all morning, constantly requesting that I either teach him some new cards, read him a book, or sing him the alphabet song with his wooden alphabet flip blocks. He did take the occasional break to color in his notebook but, for the most part it was, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!"

It is both wonderful and exhausting at the same time.

Of course, how can you be frustrated when your baby is begging you to teach him how to read and do math and phonics and identify all sorts of interesting animals and musical instruments and colors and so forth?

But on the other hand, phew. This mom was thankful for nap time to come around today.

And in the meantime, so much for starting small. I suppose I am going to have to get it together and start churning out quite a few more cards per day than I expected, cause this little guy is moving a lot faster than I originally imagined.

"Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips..." Psalm 21:2

Damien is 16 months old

Monday, October 29, 2012

Asking for Flash Cards at 16 Months (Video)

Asking for Flash Cards 16 Months

Damien really loves his flash cards. And is very adamant about letting me know when he wants to see them.

This video shows a random flash card session after he requested them. We normally show the cards quite a bit quicker but, with a camcorder in one hand and only one hand free, it was kind of tricky to go any faster.

I recently got a new little video camera (to replace my 2006 one that still ran on tapes) so hopefully I will be blogging lots more videos of the kids and myself showing little bits of what life is like and sharing some useful information, too.

"Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me..." Job 31:35
Damien is 16 months old

Friday, October 26, 2012

Outsourcing Teaching: Swim Lessons for My 7-Year-Old

Outsourcing Teaching: Swim Lessons for My 7-Year-Old
I have always been a very "do it yourself" kind of parent. I really do believe that parents are the best teachers and are the experts on their own children.

 This is especially true during the early years. A parent can often accomplish infinitely more in teaching their child than the most skilled expert can.

Why? Because not only do they know their child better than anyone else, but because their child trusts them and is completely comfortable around them, making the child receptive to instruction and learning.

Additionally, teaching that happens in the home can always revolve around the child - it is not an arbitrary, paid-for class at 3 pm on Tuesdays, but something that can happen whenever the parent senses the child is at his best and is completely interested and ready.

So a big part of Doman parenting is this sense that parents are the very best teachers for their children. All of the Doman books are about how you can teach your child. They instill that parents do not have to be number geniuses to raise children who love math, or be expert runners to raise children who can jog a 5K.

You can even teach your child things that you previously knew nothing about, like a foreign language. It is about learning with your child, and that is a big part about what I love about the Doman philosophy.

 However, there comes a time, particularly when a child is older, when outsourcing your teaching can be an effective and beneficial alternative or supplement. I am still a big do-it-yourselfer in these middle years, hence the homeschooling. But we have come to a point in our swimming lessons where I feel like an instructor can offer Hunter (7) more than I can. Why?

1. I think he will benefit from the "second opinion" of an instructor Hunter has for a while remained at a point where he is comfortable with his own skill level when it comes to swimming. He can perform an effective crawl stroke, back stroke, and a few others, float on his back, maneuver in the water in many ways, and feels that he has learned all that he wants to know about swimming.

I of course can see that he has room for improvement, to move from a decidedly "intermediate" level to a truly "advanced" level. But at this point his only goal is, well, playing in the water. And he can do that just fine, so he doesn't much see the point in my critiquing his areas for improvement.  Having a second voice (swim instructor) telling him to turn his arm just a little more this way or straighten his toes more firmly will hopefully help him to see that I am not crazy, that he does have room for improvement, and, well, that he doesn't know everything about swimming just yet.

2. Observing other swimmers Usually when we go swimming, it is just with a bunch of other people goofing around in the water. He doesn't ever really get to see anyone doing an excellent crawl stroke or a proper dive. He just does what I tell him and watches my example, but doesn't get to observe anyone else. (And to be honest I'm not completely sure I am doing it exactly right all the time, which was fine when he was learning the rudimentary techniques, but as he works for perfection I think he needs to see, well, perfection.) I am hoping that the group lessons will help that, and he will be able to see the techniques he is working on and attempt to copy them and know what he is aiming for.

3. Peer influence Being around a group of friends who are all focusing on the same goal (learning how to swim better) will ideally be a motivator for him and discourage his "I know everything I want to know about swimming" attitude. 4. I have come close to my limit in things I can teach him I would like Hunter to go above and beyond my skill level. In both swimming and in life. So there comes a time in both where I have to either hand him off to someone else, or let him take off on his own, to go further than I did. And right now we are somewhat at that point. I could definitely learn more about swim instruction and techniques, and teach him myself, but due to the above three mentioned points, as well as my own time constraints, I feel that outsourcing is a good idea at this point in his development. The additional benefit of outsourced lessons is that they have more equipment and capabilities than I have access to, such as diving instruction, life saving devices, and so on.  

So there is my big post about my decision to sign my kid up for swimming lessons. It may not even be worth that much thought and effort for most, but for me it is kind of a big deal. This is actually my first time sending my kid to a class for them to actually teach him something. And it feels weird to me. Sure, he has done classes and activities and such. Soccer. Baseball. Basketball. Vacation Bible School. And the like. But he was never really learning all that much in those things, it was mostly all for socialization and fun. But alas, here we are.

This is not just about fun - I am handing my baby over to someone else for them to teach him something and give him something I "can't". So, here's to a new "chapter" of our life, the point at which slowly, gradually, and eventually, I begin handing my teaching over. Just a little bitty piece today, but eventually, more. As he starts learning more and more things on his own, and learning from more and more different people, things that I can't give him.

 Here's to growing up.

 See follow-up post here: Outsourcing Swim Lessons: Our Less Than Stellar Experience (7 Years Old) Our Swim Lesson Experience  

"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:" Proverbs 1:5
Hunter is 7 years, 7 months old

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Damien Loving His Color Flash Cards

Learning Colors
Damien and I colored some color flash cards today. The front has a color and the back has the word. Such simple fun. For a few seconds a couple of times a day.

He loves them. I really don't know why some people equate flash cards for one-year-olds with child abuse. Babies really do love flash cards when presented in the right way.

"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." Matthew 11:25

Damien is 16 months old

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Day Off to Visit Mummies: Exploring Interests

Mummies at the Museum
A few days ago I wrote about Hunter's sparked interest in Ancient Egypt.
We read something about Ancient Egyptian tombs one night, and afterwards he decided to start endlessly Googling all things Ancient Egypt. When he discovered that most mummies are no longer in pyramids but rather in museums, he enthusiastically asked if we could go to a museum and see some real mummies.
Mummies at the Museum
So a few days later, we did.
Mummies at the Museum
We saw lots of real mummies. Adult mummies, child mummies, cat and bird mummies. Mummies in coffins, mummies out of coffins, mummies unwrapped.
Mummies at the Museum
We saw a lot of cool stuff about the mummification process.
Mummies at the Museum
We also saw lots of other cool stuff, like real Egyptian scrolls.
Mummies at the Museum
And statues of the Egyptian gods.
Mummies at the Museum
And real hieroglyphs.
Mummies at the Museum
And lots of other really neat artifacts.
The exhibit was huge, and Hunter was running around like a kid in a candy store.
We have been to lots of museums in his short life but I have never seen him this excited about any of them.
I love being able to fuel my kid's interests. I love being able to take the day off of school and really make learning come alive. I love that I can customize his education to what he's interested in. I love the quality time together learning and exploring as a family. I love imparting the value of the love of knowledge and inquisition to my child.
It is days like this I remember, why I love homeschooling so much.
"And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south." Genesis 13:1
Hunter is 7 years, 7 months old

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sorting through Flash Cards

Dollar Store Bits Last night I sorted through some of my dollar store bits (flash cards) that I am planning on using with Damien soon. I absolutely love the various dollar store flash cards that are available. In this particular collection I have animals of the world, animals of North America, insects, animals of the air, sea creatures, dinosaurs, musical instruments, kings and queens of Europe, US Presidents, landscapes, biomes, famous landmarks, US street signs, lower and uppercase alphabet letters, and an astronomy pack with various cards (constellations, planets, celestial objects, space technology, galaxies, etc.). Dollar Store Bits All in all there are probably somewhere around 600 pieces of information he'll be learning that I paid less than $20 for and didn't require any work other than we sorting them into sets (made up of around 10 cards each). They're not perfect but sometimes easy trumps everything else in a world where time is limited and precious. Do you use dollar store flash cards to teach your kids? Most of mine have come from Target.
"Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off." Isaiah 33:17
Damien is 16 months old

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Researching Ancient Egyptians in Free Time

Researching for Fun

A little peek at our evening.

Just for fun, we were reading a history storybook before bed. I googled some pictures as we read. Sphinx. The Great Pyramid. Mummification. It is fun to see lots of real life pictures to illustrate what we're talking about.

Researching for Fun

And when we were done Hunter kept googling things.

He clicked on pictures and went from site to site. He searched one thing after another. Google's feature of guessing what you are typing (or suggesting similar searches) was a huge help that lead to lot's more searches.

Researching for Fun

He read about the country of Egypt, Egyptian kings, Egyptian names, mummification. He watched videos about Tutankhamen, Cleopatra, pyramid building.

When he found out that most mummies are no longer in pyramids but in museums, he asked if we could go to a museum and to plan the trip soon. So we talked to Dad and agreed to go to the history museum near us this week or next.

Researching for Fun

All in about 30 minutes before bed.

Then he kissed me goodnight and said, "Can I please look up more about ancient Egypt tomorrow?"

Did I mention that I love technology?

"And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel." Isaiah 27:12

Hunter is 7 years, 6 months old

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fear of Moving Forward – Grade Skipping and What Comes Next

Fear of Moving Forward

"He's only seven and doing fourth grade work? So what are you going to do when he's done with middle school by age 10 or something?"

The question is half serious and half in jest; a pat on the back for our "achievement". But it's an honest question that I sometimes think about, yet just as often ignore.

My child is a bit ahead, yes. He started reading and doing arithmetic earlier than most and has stayed ahead of the curve ever since. On top of staying ahead of the curve, he is moving somewhat faster than the curve too. It doesn't take him a whole year to master a grade level's worth of work at this point, and I'm totally ok with that. I roll with the punches and tailor my kid's curriculum to his needs.

To me, that's what homeschooling is about.

But the question does come up sometimes. Sometimes from others and sometimes from myself.  What will happen as he creeps further and further away from the "normal" scale? What will happen if he keeps at this pace and ends up finishing junior or senior high years before he's "supposed to"?

I suppose what is really being asked is whether or not I should be slowing him down or holding him back, for the purpose of keeping him "normal".

But really? I have no desire to hold my kid back. I don't care if he's not "average". It's about what my kid needs and it doesn't matter if other kids his age are at whatever level.

To be honest, I already have a hard enough time keeping him challenged and engaged at the pace we are going now. He always wants what's next. Once he understands something, he wants to move on and not to practice it in a dozen different ways day after day.

So we keep moving. And he's going fast. And if going fast means "finishing" pretty early, then so be it. Because when it comes down to it and I have the choice between putting a cap on my kid's educational achievement and keeping him "normal", or giving him the tools he needs to move forward at the pace he desires, I am going to go with what is going to keep him interested, engaged, and motivated.

Might that cause a "problem" later? I guess it could. But it's really a "problem" I'll be happy to have, especially considering the alternative (read: bored, tuned out, disinterested, disengaged).

If he "reaches the end" early, I am sure we will be fine. We can just keep moving forward. He can take online or community college courses or, just delve into whatever interests him. After all, as Mr. Stevenson said,

The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.

"And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory."
Exodus 33:18
Hunter is 7 years, 6 months old and in "2nd grade"