Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Homeschooling Notes

We're starting off slowly with the homeschooling. Mostly because I didn't do enough planning so I only have a very fuzzy sketch of what I want to accomplish this year. I'm having a hard time trying to figure out how to adapt the Enki materials to accommodate Oliver's developmental needs. I'm hoping all will be a little more clear if we just dive in.

Today we spent some time reading books of Oliver's choosing. He tends to gravitate to the same books all the time so I put most of his preferred reading materials out of sight and had him choose from books that are familiar but not often read. I'm hoping that this will help when I start to introduce completely new materials because traditionally he is very resistant to new books. This was somewhat successful, although we had to get through a bit of crying at the start when Oliver kept insisting that he only wanted to watch TV. At least he did eventually focus on the books. I read and he turned the pages. When my finger rested on pictures he labeled a few of them spontaneously so I was very happy with that. Also, once I made an excuse to set the book down and when I picked it up again I held it upside down, Oliver took the book from me and turned it the right way and then waited for me to begin reading again.

Instead of our adventure walk I incorporated some vigorous dancing. Oliver loves music and loves to dance so that seemed to work well. I know that movement helps all of us to focus a bit more during the day. I read somewhere that the effects of exercise last up to seven hours on the brain so I hope to do this as early in the day as possible. Part of the Enki approach is to incorporate movements that require the child to cross the mid-line to help get the two hemispheres of the brain working together. I didn't manage to do that but I have some ideas percolating for next time. Then we segued into some work on rhythm. One of the foundational objectives in RDI is that a child should be able to repeat a rhythm of three beats so I was testing that a little bit. He can do two with no problem but I'm not sure about three beats. But he had some fun with the musical instruments so I think we will make that a regular feature of our mornings.

When we were cleaning up the play area I happened to pull out the Mr. Potato Head. Oliver has never really shown an interest in this kind of toy but at least today he didn't run away. I was also pleased to see that he put the potato head together to actually look like a face rather than just a jumble of parts. At one point he put an arm where the nose should go and I teased him that it looked like he was building an elephant. He smiled and then replaced the arm with a nose. Then when I pulled each part of the face off to put it away I asked him to name the part and he was mostly able to, which again, really surprised me.

Then we built a train track together and I only gave him a limited number of pieces. We worked together, assembly line fashion, but at the end it was obvious that the last two pieces weren't placed so it would create a loop. I used this as an opportunity to work on our RDI objective, which is basically that Oliver will learn to study elements of uncertainty and to use social referencing as a means get more information: yes, that's right; no, not quite, etc. -- the referencing becomes more of a monitoring tool rather than a solution. Oliver is great at referencing for information but in moments of uncertainty he tends to look to us for all the information and not try to figure things out for himself. So I was pleased that he actually took the time to try and figure out the problem rather than either running away or insisting that I fix it. He still didn't look at me to monitor my reaction but I was thrilled to see the "studying" part, anyway.

And lastly, we worked on our alphabet letter sounds. I'm planning to take one letter per week and work on the sound that it makes and associate it with various words. I devised a little rhythmic song about the sound of the letter A and together we hopped down the stairs singing the song. I've learned that Oliver responds to things really well if I put them to a rhythm so I'm curious to see if this is effective. When we were hopping I would sometimes stop singing at the end of the verse and he would have no trouble filling in the last word or two so I'm hopeful.

Oh, and on the way to pick up Sami at pre-school we drove by a nearby train yard and Oliver and I walked a bit on the tracks and checked out the cars that weren't in use. So, maybe that counts as our first 'field trip'? Its nice to start seeing how all the things that we would do ordinarily can have a greater value once I start drawing connections between them.

Altogether, it was a pretty nice day and despite my fuzzy map I'm feeling optimistic.


  1. I'm pretty impressed with your "fuzzy map!" You gave me some ideas to try with Nik. Glad the first day went well, too. :-)

  2. Anonymous8:01 AM

    I'm impressed with your "fuzzy map" too. As a home schooling mama, my tendency has always been to plan TOO much, and my plans get cast aside as things unfold.