Tag Archives: homeschool

Writing, part II

Last week I posted about EJ and writing. My struggle to strike a balance. I want to nudge him so he progresses but not so much that he shuts down. There seems to be a very small window between the two. This week he completed the second All About Spelling writing activity I mentioned in the previous post.

Objective: Use the following words in sentences. You may not use all the words in a single sentence, but you may combine one or more words into each sentence. The sentences may be unrelated to each other or related forming a paragraph.

I let thirty minutes go by before checking in on him. He had nothing on paper, and no ideas. My husband saw both of our frustration and stepped in to help. I don’t know if what he said helped EJ, but I do know that five minutes after his dad talked with him he brought this in to me:

feeding | spoonful | toothless | sobbing | plays

“I am feeding a toothless baby blue bird spoonful of bird seed. It eats, it plays, and it naps. feeding birds is fun!”

2011-Oct-20_001

This is beautiful! Aside from some minor errors, for a boy who dislikes writing so much to come  up with something unexpected, is just an amazing thing! He has a great start here and I’d love to take it further, develop his idea a bit more, but I’ve made a decision to not critique his writing at this time. I feel he is a baby bird just peeking over the nest and will all too easily startle.

I have had a hard time pinning down exactly what my goals are for EJ and writing. In the long-term I hope that he is able to write well even if it’s never his passion or spark, but I know arriving there may take years.  Finally though, I think I’ve discovered my goal for the near future. That is to help him forget that he hates to write. To help him break the cycle of believing he cannot do it, to actually begin thinking of himself as a writer.

The Writer Within

My 8-year-old son despises writing. Although it’s not a big factor, I do count this fact as one of the reasons we homeschool. He is a creative, energetic, verbal, bright boy, but if you ask him to write anything from his head he can’t do it. Tears are not unheard of no matter how gently I approach writing. Fortunately for my own peace of mind, I have found that this is not at all uncommon for boys this age. There have been several interesting discussions over on the Secular Homeschool forums of late that help me reinforce my approach with EJ and writing.

Despite all of the angst over writing, every once in a while EJ surprises me with some spontaneous original writing! For example he came up with this during a math lesson and dictated it for me to write:

Things I could do if I was flat.
Inspired by Flat Stanley.

  1. I would win more often at hide and seek.
  2. I could slip under doors.
  3. I could repair a sail on a boat at sea with just myself.
  4. I could fly like a kite.
  5. I could mail myself in an envelope.
  6. If I turn sideways no one would really see me.
  7. It would be easier to climb a rock wall.

This summer, much to my amazement, he wrote a poem that he wanted to put in the birthday Thank You notes he was writing. We typed it up and glued one into each note below his handwritten thanks.

Summer’s fun will last forever.
No matter the time, no matter the weather.
Summer’s fun will last forever.

Recently his spelling lesson (All About Spelling) added a new activity that I knew would cause angst. Of course I had a choice, I could have skipped it entirely. But the reasoning behind the activity was well explained and felt it was valuable. He was given the related words below and was to create several sentences using these words.

rainy, dripping, ponds, melting, quickly

Ultimately he didn’t do the assignment. When he was stuck, I tried to help by suggesting he imagine a scene where the words might all fit. He was unenthusiastic so I sent him off to figure it out himself. After a while he came to me with this:

It is spring.
The birds are singing, the snow is melting, getting warmer.
It is spring.

I’m so happy that he took the assignment and made it his own. I could focus on the fact that he only used one of the five words, or the fact that it is really very simple. I know that his peers are probably writing fabulous book reports and essays about their weekend, but for EJ and today it’s enough that he was asked to sit down and write and he succeeded! I’m so proud of him.

Week 1 Wrap-Up

The Secret in education lies in respecting the student.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This was our first week back to our curriculum for EJ who would now be considered a third grader, and a beginning of sorts for JD who would be in kindergarten. I prefer to ease back into our lessons rather than BOOM, try to fit everything in right from the start. Easing back into lessons for me means starting with the basics. For EJ that means math, spelling, printing, and of course reading. For JD, just starting out – it’s math, printing, and pre-reading skills. To round out the week I added in a science lesson about friction.

Monarch TaggingFirst some fun stuff. We spent some time at the local nature center with our homeschool group this week. The center catches and tags monarch butterflies in last summer for Monarch Watch and they invite kids of all ages to come, help capture the butterflies, tag them, and then release them. Unfortunately we’ve been having very wet weather so the butterflies weren’t fluttering.  They did get to learn about the tags and watch one monarch be tagged and released.

Red Spotted NewtToday the boys found a red-spotted newt in the pool which was very exciting for them because while frogs and toads are plentiful, they have not seen any salamanders. They actually identified it incorrectly as a tadpole. Oops! I guess we’d better learn a bit more about that.

JD has been eager to “do school” as he puts it. The challenge is that he has his own very strong opinion about what constitutes school. In a way I think he is more playing at school, which is fine, he’s still young and I don’t feel the need to rush him, but sometimes our goals don’t mesh. One of his favorite “games” is for me to act like the dunce so he gets to show off how smart he is. I’ve started him on Right Start math level A which he is more than ready for. We are also working on letter writing, and pre-reading skills using Handwriting Without Tears, and All About Reading Pre-1. He had a good week, I think he enjoys the extra attention and I enjoyed spending the extra time with him.

EJ was also eager to get started particularly when he realized that all of his friends were heading back to school and would not be available to play during the early part of the day. He put in a great effort this week as we muddled through spelling rules that we had both forgotten since the spring, and argued over math. 

Full disclaimer, everything is not always sunshine and rainbows here at the meandering homeschool. EJ and I had quite a row during math one day this week. It is obvious that he is a natural mathematician while I am, well, not! I’m still processing the event but I believe that I need to work on getting out of his way a bit more, work on being more respectful of HIS math process and not let my own math insecurity get in his way.

EJ loves to read but has trouble finding books to his liking. It’s not the only area where he is picky so I suppose I should not be surprised. We recently discovered the series Secrets of a Lab Rat. He loved the first book, No Girls Allowed, and has requested the other two. So that’s a win!. Our literature read aloud, and narration title is E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan. Although I’m very familiar with Charlotte’s Web and even Stuart Little, this book is new to me and quickly becoming my favorite of the three.

FrictionRounding out the week, we took some time out for science. In the spring we concentrated on the physics thread in BFSU and because we only have two more physics lessons I decided to finish them off first. This week we learned about friction. Using a variety of non-round objects they compared how different materials will slide, or not slide, down a ramp. This led to a discussion of rubber, when they discovered that a rubber eraser didn’t slide at all, and how rubber can be used when we want lots of friction. The next day we compared sliding objects with rolling objects and of course found that even the fastest sliding object (the play slice of pizza) was slower than the rolling object. The boys were great during the busy activities, but in hindsight, this lesson needed to have one more day because I felt they got lost a bit toward the end of the second day. Every day is a learning experience in so many ways!

Jewel Weed

Photo by MemeNH

I’ll close with one more photo of JD looking for Jewelweed seeds to explode. We learned about these cool and edible seeds last week during a foraging for food gathering we had with our  local homeschool group.

Jewelweed, also called Impatiens or “touch-me-nots” grows in damp spots, has lovely little orange flowers, and when the seeds are ripe one only needs to touch the seed pod to see a little mini explosion! This is of course how they propagate, as animals brush past them the seeds are released and are carried on their body or fall to the ground. The tiny seeds are edible and taste like walnuts. The plant also has a sap that can be used to ease poison ivy rash. They have one final secret. If you remove the outer husk the inside seed is robin’s egg blue! How cool is that!

Touching the "Touch-me-not's"

JD looking for ripe seeds to pop.

As always, thanks for reading! I love to receive comments so if you enjoyed this post or have a question just let me know!