Thursday, November 11, 2010

Homeschooling Highlights of the Week

I love it when the kids do educational stuff on their own. One of the highlights of homeschooling is watching the kids voluntarily, for FUN, do things that other kids have to be forced to do. Like write stories. Or do science experiments. Or write plays. Or compare movies to books. Or create art lessons for other people.

This week somehow turned into writing week, it seems. Caleb wrote a review of Tim's show and posted it on his blog. Anda is writing and illustrating a book on fairies (after she and her two friends make a house for fairies when they were playing last night). She's also slowly but steadily creating the illustrations and text for a book on (mostly) imaginary animals that live in a land called "Environment." Daniel is learning a vital skill (which most kids are taught NOT to have) of identifying not just what he likes, but WHY he likes it. That was something it took me almost 2 years to teach my junior high kids in English, but it's the key to learning how to write well--first identifying what you think and why. (It always took a long time to un-teach the socialized "like what's popular and who knows why" mentality that kids get in public schools).

Anyway, we had some other fun times today. I love learning and teaching, so it's QUITE enjoyable for me to sit with the kids and listen to their AP Biology and AP US History lessons and then discuss them with the kids. I put the lessons on because I figured the kids could handle them, despite the fact that they are 7 and 9 years old, and they can handle them just fine, but I do have to spend some time "translating" what they were just taught, expanding on it, giving more examples, and basically forcing their brains to be engaged. It works to have them learning AP-level stuff because I'm not expecting mastery. I figure they're going to hear all of this again, so anything they get out of it is good enough.

Still, it was fun to sit with Anda and have her totally get the parts of a chromosome (and be able to label the parts and what they do), the organization of DNA and  how it's packaged in the cell (stuff they didn't teach when I was in AP biology--maybe they didn't know it 20 years ago?). But it was most delightful when we started talking about X- and Y-chromosomes, and to see her so excited about the fact that she is the only person in the family who carries a copy of Tim's X-Chromosome. Once you get beyond the biochemistry stuff (she doesn't really care about the molecular structure of DNA, and whether it unzips and copies from the 5' or the 3' end--and I don't blame her), she really loves biology. And gets it quickly. It's cool.

And it was fun to sit and talk with Caleb about the distinct natures of the different British Colonies in the New World, and how the nature and history of the Mid-Atlantic Colonies actually led to the development of a culture in New York that allowed the Restoration of the Gospel to happen. It's also fun to see how the different ideas of the leaders of the different colonies developed and led to the Constitution and to ideas we still cling to today. And it was fun to see Caleb learning about Galileo's physics experiments and just eating it up.

So it's fun for me to learn all this stuff again, in small chunks, and fun for me to teach it all.

After this year, though, those two kids (at least) will NEVER be able to jump back into public schools. Can you imagine Caleb, after studying US History on an AP Level, going back to your normal, run-of-the-mill 5th Grade US history next year? Yikes. Or Anda trying to jump into 3rd grade biology next year? Double yikes.

I actually don't think they're so far advanced of the capabilities of other kids their own age. I think the education system, in having to balance between the behind and the normal kids (they don't really try to deal with the ahead kids very well) have done all parties a disservice. For example, I think all average 4th graders can grasp the concept of the "2 other" states of matter that they just don't teach. Understanding that hyper-charged gasses are called Plasma, and that it's a further state of matter, and that we see it in fluorescent lights and also the sun and stars is NOT that difficult for kids. Might be too hard for some of the teachers, though.

Anyway, even though we missed a day of school completely this week (sigh), today was certainly a day of being glad we're homeschooling!

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