Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wee Ones Wednesday - Vegan Academy -Trees

I started this post over a month ago, but here ya go*...

Homeschool is in full fall swing at Vegan Academy. We "school", or "unschool" - as one with a thing for labels might say - all year round. Living is learning. With an OCD seven year old, structure is needed a bit more than with my other two children. Living with OCD has been an amazing learning experience in itself and I plan on blogging more about it in the future. I've thought about renaming the blog since I'm going to get into many topics which aren't food related, but I'm still Linda and I'm vegan so it can stay.
Parker's 1st full day of conventional school (6th grade)
I used my 11 year old's new adventure into conventional public school as an opportunity to rearrange things a bit with our homeschooling.
Huge Blackboard (salvaged years ago from a local school remodel) from Awesome Neighbor Vicky (covering one of our coal burning, thus unusable, fireplaces)
Dedicated Bookshelf to all things nonfiction and/or "educational"
Assorted Workbooks
Now, I only have a seven and newly minted four year old with me during the day and this alone changes things. One of the lovely benefits of education at home is a variety of ages (if you have more than one child or belong to homeschooling groups). I remember the stories my dad told about his experiences in a one room country schoolhouse and his mother (my grandmother) teaching (before she was married, of course, they didn't allow married women to teach at that time...goodness knows what a married woman might pass onto those innocent little glad times have changed). I liked hearing about the younger kids learning from the older ones long before I was a parent myself. I am the youngest in my family with my closest sibling a whopping seven and a half years older, so it made perfect sense to my child brain that a mix of ages in the classroom can lead to positive learning opportunities. I certainly learned much from my sister and brother.
Dema explaining his take on arithmetic
Well, for the eldest this situation can also lead to frustration. I noticed this as a child as well, although my sister doesn't remember ever being frustrated with me, I remember her fury. The four year difference between Parker and Dema is more pronounced now, at 11 and 7, than ever. I'm sure as they grow older the age difference will matter less. The virtual expansion and shrinking of time. Whatever the reason, our current dynamic of 7 and 4 year old or Dema and Josie is working quite well. Dema doesn't feel he needs to compete with Josie and he enjoys mentoring, even when she doesn't really need it.

My sister gifted the kids years ago with some magazine subscriptions. I'm not big into magazines, but I'm so glad she did. They are lots of fun and add to our homeschooling experience. One day in late August, Dema and Josie were done with what I had for them "schooling-wise" and started looking at the magazines, not usual. At the end of one of them, there is a cut and glue type of project which we usually skip, but the kids insisted we put together a little leaf booklet.

This evolved into going outside (which we do every day, several times a day, a bonus to homeschooling) in search of trees we could identify with the booklet. It was so much fun and we roamed for hours around our neighborhood.
 Pine tree in Our Park
 Ginkgo tree in Our Park
Locust leaves in our booklet
Sun and trees - photo by Dema
Aspen tree in the 'hood
 Locust Tree in the Neighborhood
The kids took turns looking for a particular tree and taking pictures. They had a great time noticing the differences between the trees and what trees we didn't have names for and how scientists name new discoveries, etc. We talked about the animals and insects which live in the trees or around them, how they may look for specific trees and why or why not.
 Josie being (a tree)
We ended up playing at a nearby park on the way back home. It is these spontaneous events which make homeschooling so worthwhile for me. The kids are learning about what they are interested in at the time and it sticks with them in a different way. I know I've named some of the trees before, but after our outing, they remembered the names and would point them out in our normal daily lives.

*It is good for me to go back and read this post now that we have a quarter of public school under our belts and trees have turned colors and are losing or lost their leaves. Next Wednesday, I will reflect on where we all are now, Parker's views on public school, our views on public school, and what the younger ones are up to at Vegan Academy.

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