Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Is He Learning?

With my first son, I was obsessed with preschool.  I visited countless preschool classrooms as soon as he turned two and felt pressure for him to keep up with all the other kids.  Once we decided to homeschool, I researched methods, curriculums and co-ops so that I would be completely prepared.  I chose the curriculum, ordered it and spent our days using the curriculum and supplementing it with other activities.  I was nuts.  Now, I have another preschooler and the approach has been wildly different.

We start each morning with a simple story and activity for my two year old.  After that, it's my oldest's turn.  He is working at the kindergarten level and he does his handwriting, language arts and math first thing.  He's more willing to do the challenging tasks if we tackle them right away.  While we work, my youngest wanders.  He'll stop at the train table and chug around the track.  He'll make his way to the bathroom to do "dishes" with his bath toys.  He'll find a ball and his golf club and practice his swing.  But he almost never interrupts unless he needs help reaching something or climbing off of something.    

Once it's time for history and science, my youngest will join us.  He immediately gravitates toward the brightly colored pages and interesting stories about gravity or farming or the industrial revolution.  Not exactly your ABC's if you know what I mean.  I worry if he's even learning.  So much of it seems way over his head.  At least that's what I thought until yesterday.

We have been talking about temperature and how to measure it.  We used a food thermometer to measure the temperature of their hot dogs before we cooked them and after.  We compared how they felt to the touch to understand that 65 degrees felt cool while 102 degrees felt hot.  We put a thermometer under their armpits to check their body temperature.  We used an outdoor thermometer to check the temperature outside and talked about ferenheit and celsius.  My oldest asked lots of questions and seemed very engaged but my two year old just kept stabbing his hot dog with the thermometor over and over again until it no longer resembled lunch.

A few days later, I warmed up a bottle for my daughter.  My two year old ran over before I could give it to her yelling, "Wait!  We have to make sure it's the right temperature!"  I told him that was a great idea.  He nodded his head and as he ran toward the drawer with the thermometer he yelled, "Okay!  I'll measure it to see if it's just right!"  As he ran, his words began to sink into my mind.  I honestly didn't even know he remembered the word, "temperature".  I couldn't believe he could even pronounce the word.  And yet here he was, applying what we had learned.

While we may not spend as much time making play doh or singing the ABC's, my son is learning.  He's absorbing all that is happening around him whether I realize it or not.  If I can raise children that want to explore and learn about the world around them, I will have achieved my goal.  The ABC's will come soon enough.

Do you find yourself more relaxed with a second child?  Challenge yourself to ease up on formal instruction and let the learning happen as they explore their world.  I promise to work on it, too!

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