Friday, August 19, 2005

Back to School with Suzanne

I'm a unschooler at heart -- I see how much my kids learn just by living and by my providing them with books and toys to stimulate their interests and guide them in their learning.

Suzanne,5, has been very interested in writing recently -- I should say, in printing capital letters. We've got magnadoodles and paper and pens/crayons/pencils. We've got workbooks scattered around the house. She is doing a great job all by herself and is very motivated.

A friend was cleaning her closet and recently gave me several handwriting workbooks which I gladly took and handed over to Suzanne. The idea is she can work in them whenever she likes, however she likes.

Suzanne is not an unschooler at the moment. She wants school-at-home. "Teach me, mama!" Is her refrain. She wants me to walk her through the workbook. Egads! I HATE it. As a former honor roll student, I'm great at following directions. I could use a bit of work on free-thinking, but I'm a great direction follower. So, if the book says 'start at the top of the letter and make a downward stroke,' I'm going to get annoyed if Suzanne goes from bottom to top. I know I should work flexibility in, but I'm most flexible when I'm completely removed -- hence, my love of unschooling.

We'll work it out somehow, but right now, Suzanne has dictated to me a schedule as follows:

Morning: letters
Noon: numbers (printing numbers, I assume)
Afternoon: workbooks
Evening: encyclopedia and dictionary (I have NO idea what she means by this, maybe that she'll be reading them)

I'm worn out already.


clanlally said...

I've mentioned over on my blog that we have started breaking out Scrabble. After one game, we decided we need to get a dictionary. I went with the Merriam-Webster Collegiate. We try to involve Erin (4) as much as possible. We ask her about letters, we work on spelling and recognizing 3 letter words and she also flips thru the dictionary and asks about some of the drawings.

-your humble student :)

Anne Zelenka said...

When Henry was about Suzanne's age, he would get excited during the summers to do school at home. It never lasted very long though. But he'd come up with elaborate schedules.

I love the "encyclopedia and dictionary" activity she came up with! No matter what it is, it sounds enriching.

Marjorie said...

Hi Mike, I saw your post on that, I'll go back and comment one of these days.

Anne, yeah, I don't know what 'encyclopedia and dictionary' involves but we have a children's Kingfisher encyc. and a Scholastic dictionary, so it must involve them.

For anyone reading, I recommend the Kingfisher books, I think they're really interesting.

madcapmum said...

Hi Marjorie!

I'm an unschooler at heart and "for real", too. Sounds like you've got a booky, organized type on your hands! I find in our house, the motivation for academics peaks and then plateaus; they leap forward in their comprehension, and then spend a month or two (or six) just digesting and applying.

I must say, though, that the onslaught of September really gets my "academic angst" rolling for a while, and then I settle down again. It seems to lessen every year, thank goodness!

purple_kangaroo said...

Boy, I can totally relate.

Marjorie said...

Hi there! DD seems to be calming down about her schedule, I think its because I was unwilling and unable to meet her demands througout the day that I sit with her while she did her workbook.

Dictionary and encyclopedia don't seem to have panned out.

I find Fall so exciting -- I enjoyed school, I love the crispness of fall, the possibility of it all. Now and then I get the 'academic angst' madcapmum mentions, but I call it UPA 'unschooler panic attack.' But my DD is only 5, there's just not much to get worried about yet. I have time to aclimatize.

H. Stallard said...

Having worked with young kids for 36 years, I finally realized that most of them learn things in spite of the teacher rather than because of the teacher. What difference does it make if she starts at the top, bottom, or middle of the letter as long as anyone who looks at it can read it.

Marjorie said...

Thanks, Harold. You're right, but its easy for me to get worried that we need to do what the book says or terrible things will happen. I figure that if writing from the top down is done because its the most comfortable or efficient, the kids will figure it out for themselves and I don't need to force them.

I appreciate your support, thanks for commenting!

dgm said...

Ha! Your admission about the anxiety you experience when not following directions to a T reminds me of my husband's angst when our daughter used to ask him to "play Playdoh." I noticed that he really dreaded it and when I finally asked why, he admitted that "when she mixes up the colors, it just makes me CRAZY! You can never get the original color back in the can." I reminded him that was part of the charm of Playdoh, then volunteered to be the Playdoh player.

Marjorie said...

I can't stand mixed-up Playdoh! I was vigilant with Suzanne that she not mix colors, with Gabrielle, I'm just tired out and realize we have so much playdoh that we can mix some. A very limited amount. And I can't watch while she does it....