Tuesday, August 21, 2012

If I had a camera - Our day in pictures

Today was the first day of school in our district. I woke to the sound of kids on the sidewalk outside making their way to the bus stop or the elementary school up the street. My would-be second-grader was curled up next to me. Oliver was sound asleep in the next room, having been up for a couple of hours during the night. Our house was cool and peaceful and quiet. Later, a handful of my friends posted first day of school photos and I thought of posting our own school pictures: Oliver, curled up inside his closet with the iPad and Sami stretched across his bed with a copy of Asterix (in German!). Later, I thought, I might like to take a picture of Oliver standing at his window, playing absently with the cord to the blind and Sami throwing darts while I read to them about how numbers came into use as people began keeping herds of animals. Still later I thought we made a fine picture on our bikes heading to the town library. And maybe I would also include a photo of Oliver playing with the water hose on the back porch during one of our many breaks. Make that many, many breaks.

Back in April when Oliver really stunned us with his breakthrough in communication I felt overwhelmed. I thought I had been teaching to his competencies. Turns out I was wrong. I wasn't even close -- and I really didn't know how to begin to figure it out. So, after we were able to replace our laptop (courtesy of a grant from our local ARC), I got busy putting together some ideas for what we will do this year in the thing like "school" that happens in our little green house. I decided not to focus on building from what he already knew (because I don't know!) but rather to begin new conversations with him about things that we both might find interesting.

We started back to our regular school routine several weeks ago (we take a long break November - February but generally go all summer). And do you know? It has been amazing. Oliver is focused and interested in a way that I've never seen him. I mean, the kid happily sits down with us and patiently writes out his thoughts. Before Oliver could communicate, I would have told you that he was aware of everything that went on around him -- but what, exactly, he was absorbing, was difficult to know. Now, I see that he understands and, indeed, soaks up everything. And, for the first time, Oliver and Sami are on the same playing field. I'm asking them to do the same things and they are equally able -- in fact, Oliver frequently knows the answer when Sami doesn't.

Our Poetry Wall
So, if you're interested, for school this yearw e're doing some standard math, using the Khan Academy (yes, I know, it isn't perfect!). But we're also doing Bedtime Math, and we'll be building these go karts. We're reading and writing poetry. The boys are flexing their imaginations with creative writing (an upcoming post on this, I promise!). We're learning about ancient Greece and Egypt. Both boys are learning to type using this wonderful website. And Sami is working on his German using Rosetta Stone. And, of course, for PE we'll be out and about on our bikes and hiking the trails we know so well.

 I feel very lucky that I can spend this time with my kids. I feel very lucky that I live in a community where I am one of many who have embraced alternative education and so I feel supported. For the first time ever, I'm excited to explore the world of ideas with both of my boys knowing that I'll be learning a thing or two myself.


  1. Sounds like a great school year!

    I have a set of refrigerator poetry magnets. It's so much fun!