Our homeschool life goes through stages. Some days everything runs so smoothly and I feel incredibly positive about what we’re doing. Other days getting Gordo to do anything is like pulling teeth and I feel scared about not knowing exactly how to entice him with what we’re learning. Sometimes we have ups and downs in the course of just one week. Other times we go through what feels like ages of everything being hunky dory and then what feels like ages of fighting over everything we’re doing. I suppose it’s just like regular life and relationships of all kinds.
We’ve recently come out of a pulling teeth stage. Gordo was regularly telling me he felt like he was a slave and we were his masters, and he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t decide for himself what he wanted to do with his days (play videogames all day and all night, for anyone who’s interested). I felt terrible about that sentiment of his for a couple of reasons. One is that I don’t believe anyone, even children, should ever feel like they are slaves or don’t have a choice in their own lives. Two is that one of the core reasons I wanted to homeschool was because I wanted to be able to work with his interests to foster a true love of learning, and these feelings he was having were pretty much the opposite of that. I’m lucky that he is able to verbalize so well what he is thinking and feeling. I knew we could turn things around, because we have before, but I wasn’t completely certain how to do it this time.
We started with some new household rules. I know that seems counter-intuitive to implement on someone who is feeling restrained, but previously he was allowed a certain amount of media on a daily basis, and he was fighting doing anything else but media-related things. So that wasn’t working. I knew that I had to make him feel like he was more in control of his daily life. What I did instead of giving him an allotted time for media was to give him a list of things that I expected him to do on a daily basis, and as long as he does the things on his list, he has the freedom to do anything else he wants with the rest of his time, even if it’s playing videogames for hours. It worked. He now does his work, reads, plays, puts away his dishes, tidies his belongings, brushes his teeth and gets dressed without being asked and doesn’t answer back. In return, he has the freedom of choice for the rest of the day. The truth is that he probably plays videogames less now than he did previously, but because he feels more in control, he is enjoying everything else a lot more.
I was also trying to find ways to incorporate a little more fun into some of our lessons. There is a facebook group I belong to called Homeschooling with Netflix. One of the members posted something about the show Wild Kratts and using these worksheets alongside the show for lessons. I hadn’t seen the show but knew lots of people LOVED it, and I like trying new things to see how Gordo responds. So I did, and it was FANTASTIC!
We use Oak Meadow for everything but language arts and writing. Our science lesson for the week was on termites, and it just so happened that there is a Wild Kratts episode about the fascinating insects called Termites vs. Tongues. Do you know what I loved most about it, besides the fact that Gordo LOVED it? It’s that this lesson, that required very little planning, incorporated so many different subjects and levels of learning. We did our own version of a couple of the worksheets and also built our own termite nest. It was a 3 day, fun, family affair and it included learning in math and practical skills (making the simple clay), art (drawing, sculpture, painting), science (learning about termite life), vocabulary (prey vs. predator), geography (using a map) AND writing. Phew! That’s a lot of learning incorporated into one super fun project!
We watched the show first and did the worksheets with it. The next day we made the clay and built our structure. The following day we painted and added finishing touches. We are very much looking forward to future science lessons with the Wild Kratts!
Clay recipe we used:
Starting our Termite nest sculpture:
Painting with Daddy:
Finished nest complete with a fungus chamber, queen with eggs, and soldiers: