Thursday, December 23, 2004

Learning Log -- December

Not too much to report this month. Suzanne (4 1/2) has been very interested in doing art projects and has asked for one almost every day-- she's painted, she's colored, she's painted and colored. I don't give her projects, I just ask her what she wants. I'm sort of anti-projects to the extent that I think its nice to let her choose what she wants without showing and telling her what to do, but I'm also lazy and don't feel like going to the trouble of setting up a project in which she may or may not be interested. Though she does enjoy that kind of art as well, but she gets that at Sunday school and library story time. One piece of note -- she received a stuffed dog and named it Fetch. She decided to make a house for Fetch. Luckily I'm a sloppy pack-rat who keeps boxes and paper towel tubes and sundry items on hand in case they are needed, but frankly, I like the look of empty boxes cluttering up my hallways... I showed her various boxes and she made some choices and started coloring Fetch's house. After that, she wanted to make a blanket under which Fetch would sleep. Now, while I don't set up activities for her, I'm always reading preschool activity books so I have ideas floating around in my head. One of these ideas is for weaving paper and I suggested to Suzanne that she could do that and thats how she made Fetch's blanket.

We've read books -- lots of Magic School Bus Books. I'm a member of the Scholastic Book Club so we always have new books coming into the house. I figured the MSB books were a good buy because she loves them and the library copies are all pretty worn. However, I don't really enjoy reading them, they exhaust me. As to other books, I enjoyed Squirrel and John Muir by Emily McCully, but I don't know that Suzanne got much out of it. Beautiful watercolors of Yosemite. Another book we enjoyed is Frida, about the artist, its a bit intense but Suzanne liked it.

My 2 year old, Gabrielle, has been enjoying the video Richard Scarry's ABCs and she seems to be picking up some letters. I'm a big believer in learning by video. Suzanne learned the ABC song from I don't know where, but she was watching lots of PBS (bad Mommy) and I think Barney may have had something to do with it.

Which reminds me, we all enjoy Mister Roger's Neighborhood. Its calm and soft and soothing and has wonderful piano music in the background throughout. Its pretty interesting as there is often a short video detailing how something is produced in a factory (it was toilets today, but we've seen apple juice, fig bars, paper bags...). If not that, then they might examine music or artwork. The land of make-believe might be a bit much for adults, but I think the kids really like it because much of their world is their own make-believe.

We've been listening to Classical Kids CDs, when Gabrielle is not screaming for Bruce Springsteen (more on that in a future post). I really like these, they overlay a story onto the music of a particular composer. We especially like Mozart's Magic Fantasy based on his opera The Magic Flute. We've been listening a lot to the Christmas album put out by Classical Kids, it has a lot of Christmas lore on it and explains the genesis of some of the songs and traditions.

Finally, just a bit of truth in advertising -- these Learning Logs encapsule about 15 minutes or less of each day. While our home life is fairly pleasant, it isn't all sunniness and sitting around reading. I'm no paragon of patience, I lose my temper constantly and yell a lot. But there are these little moments in the day, and thats what I choose to write about. But there will be a future post on my parenting style, which I've dubbed Old Testament parenting.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention playing Dominoes, playing with stickers (great for fine motor development) and all things ballet (DVDs, books).


Anne Zelenka said...

You make homeschooling sound delightful... thanks for the caveat at the end to keep me from going into a funk about my inability to hack it as a mom.

We never watch Mr. Roger's Neighborhood but maybe we should. I think maybe we should get rid of anything beyond basic cable TV; Nickelodeon is not adding anything worthwhile to our life.

We used to have (or maybe still have, in storage somewhere) a Richard Scarry counting video. I thought it was really good. Maybe I'll get the ABC one for Laura.

clanlally said...

We're going to have to check out the book with John Muir. At some point I am sure I rambled on about American Nature Writers...well....he would definitely be one of them. How cool that he is in a kid's book!

I was stressing a lot today. We had a party to go to between noon and four. I know that 2:30 with no nap is pushing it. For Erin, not for me. At 3:00, we had a defcon 5 meltdown. She then didnt sleep. Refused to sleep tonight. I flipped out somewhere around 9 or 9:30. Ive been sitting in the basement ever since trying to expel the demons. Its not working.

Marjorie said...

Anne: thanks for your comment. I think I will add boilerplate to my future Learning Logs (maybe even the past ones) -- I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad or hold myself out as some great parent, I just want to record our adventures and show others how simple my view of homeschooling is. I often hear people say, 'I don't have the patience for it,' I don't either, so I'm showing how it works for us.

Mike: Sorry about your funk. When I feel down, I like to visit Meredith's blog, Graceful Presence ( Its poetic and spiritual and it took me awhile to slow down enough to appreciate it, but now I visit it and its brings me a measure of peace. Actually, Mr. Rogers does the same thing for me but activates my mind less.
---Waiting on a Sunny Day is currently playing in the background...that might be another option...

Anonymous said...

I often think I wouldn't have the patience for homeschooling too because of the fear of having to make each moment worhtwhile. Actually, I tend to do that in general, thus, why I am exhausted. I know the happy medium would be better, where is that fictional place?...maybe that is something I need to strive for daily...I always appreciate reading about your "unschooling" because I think I probably overstimulate my children. Thanks for the encouragement.- Jaimie

Marjorie said...

Jaimie: I doubt you overstimulate your kids and I'm betting they'd let you know! Its so hard to know what the 'right' thing is to do. I may understimulate my kids, but my fear is that if I pre-plan I'll end up being a control freak and hovering over them to make sure they do it 'right.' So far, my strategy is to go far the other way and not try to control anything. The only thing that seems absolutely true is that its not easy being a parent and we all second guess ourselves at times.