Thursday, September 03, 2009

Grade 4, Lesson 2, Day 4 ~ I Hate Review

Oh, we are grumpy today! Me especially, but J-Baby is giving me a run for my money. I think know the environment in the family room has deteriorated and that is something that we can remedy this afternoon. It's my fault ~ I decided to clean out a closet and that mess spilled into the family room. Also, we moved the desk to make more room on one side of it, and now there isn't enough room on the other side, so it has to be moved back. Traffic flow is important.

On to my report for the day. I hate reviewing. There, I said it. I hate it because a) it's boring, and b) it's beyond frustrating when my children seem to have forgotten every single thing I've taught them.

Place value. It's second grade work, and despite the fact that we ended up unschooling the second half of second grade we did cover place value. Indeed, my mantra for second grade was place value and Frog and Toad, because those were the benchmarks we needed to hit. The boys know place value inside and out mentally and intuitively, but it trips them up when it comes to written problems. So out comes the abacus/counting frame and we go through it again. I try to be patient, something I find far easier with new material than with review. I want the boys to be like I was in school, quick as lightening and the type to rarely forget anything. They mostly are, and I suppose if I am honest these days I need a lot of review when it comes to things like how to operate on the model train layout or how to turn on the Blu-ray player.

When people ask me for advice on homeschooling I often talk about relaxing, following the child, and playing lots and lots of games. I may talk about Waldorf and other holistic methods. What I should tell homeschooling parents is that the most important thing you can do is try to connect to how you felt as a child. Remember that your child is learning something new and that learning new things can be hard. New skills take practice and repetition ~ lots of both.

One thing that parents can do it take up learning something new themselves when they are homeschooling. A couple of years ago I taught myself to knit. I remember how hard it was to cast on and how I sat for hours trying and wanted to toss the needles down in frustration. I ripped it out and did it over and over. The next day I sat down to do it again and had seemingly forgotten everything I did the day before.

I knit for hours that summer, all knit stitch, no purling. It was terrific practice and now it is part of my muscle memory and I am unlikely to ever forget the basics of knitting. I am lucky to have crocheted before taking up knitting and so my tension was even and my knitting actually looked pretty decent. As hard as it was to learn it was still easier for me than it would be for a child who hasn't fully developed hand-eye coordination and fine motor control.

Perhaps a more difficult task would be to learn a foreign language, and not one you studied in high school or college. Learn to speak it, to write it, to read it ~ not just simple things but literature and poetry. Even so you will have more to work with than your child does. You already know about nouns and verbs and conjugation. You intuitively understand idioms and while they are different in various languages you at least know that they are not meant to be literal. You recognize root words and can decipher their meanings.

No, it is impossible to go back and learn as a child learns; we have decades of experience behind us. But we can connect with it in some way and bring that understanding to our homeschooling. Any effort will pay off. The attempt to understand will bring you closer to your child.

Because the temperatures are still high and the air quality is still unhealthy we did more science work for our main lesson today. This will actually free up our day tomorrow as we don't have any work to catch-up on. I've decided not to feel badly about not having done the OM4 social studies lessons this week and last as Papa has resumed reading A History of US to the boys so we are still hitting social studies.

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