Today we attended a homeschool day at a local museum. I was looking forward to learning about Baltimore's past in the garment and paint industries. The kids really wanted a "stay-at-home" day but I convinced them to try it out, plus, friends were going to be there.
I did learn a few interesting things about Baltimore's history but I have to say that by and large, the presentation was boooooring. Far too much talking for the presentation to be engaging to young kids (or adults like my friend and me). Very schooly--lecture, questions, raise your hand before you speak. Ack! Plus a film on the paint industry using words for these young kids like "anachronism."
The kids were taking it well but I could see the eye-glaze and the general b0dy-slump coming on. It would only be moments before whining or wildness ensued. Happily for us, we aren't in school and we didn't have to stay. We slipped out, ate our snacks, and talked with our friends who initiated the leave-taking.
As sometimes happens, the best laid plans for learning derail. But the great thing is that as often, learning comes when you least expect it. Sitting in bed last night at a very late hour, I was trying to get Levi to stop talking and to settle down into our bedtime reading. He suddenly sat up and announced, "Mama, math is very important! You need it for a lot of things like shopping to see if you have enough money to buy the things you need." He went on to give me his own examples of his understanding of this and I gave him some of my own. Being the joker he is, he suggested that I give him and Oliver some money and let them go shopping for "school." Nice try. We did make plans to get our toy cash register out, make a pretend store at home, and use our play money to shop.
So besides the freedom to leave boring presentations, home schooling gives us the freedom to facilitate our children's learning about ideas as they become important to them. Because of Levi's connection of math to everyday activities, he's motivated to learn about math. Math is not just a theoretical thing that someone is telling him he must learn and telling him when he must learn it.
One of the ways that Levi has started to learn about the importance of math is through budgeting his allowance. As parents, we've gone back and forth and around the block regarding allowance. And if you seek advice from the "experts" you'll find a variety of opinions. We have finally arrived at this: an amount for each child weekly, not tied to chores. At this point, it is their share of the family money to spend as they wish. I wanted allowance to be a tool for the kids to start learning about money, spending and budgeting. And I believe that for them to learn, we as parents, must keep our opinions about their purchases to ourselves. And that we must offer them enough at any given age that it can be used as a tool. Give too little and they're hopeless to buy anything now let alone save for the future. Give too much and their desires meet little resistance compared to their wants leading to no need to save.
It is HARD to watch them buy things that I consider junk or things I know are poorly made and will fall apart and disappoint them soon. I do sometimes offer things for them to think about--the construction of the toy, is it something they really want or are they just wanting to spend their money, etc. But once those things are voiced, I let them choose--and let them learn. Sometimes they are happy and sometimes they are disappointed. I cringe at the "stuff" flowing into the house sometimes--but I also think that I would rather them have experiences with disappointing purchases or what happens when money "burns a hole in their pockets" with five dollars and regarding a Pokemon card instead of now instead of a thousand dollars later.
Maybe we will go shopping for school!
Jokes by Levi
What did the ice cream say when the banana asked when it could come over?
Only on a sundae!
What does a drama king wear to bed?
What do you call a swashbuckling rat?
What do you call a shoe that has a problem?
An is-shoe! (An issue)
What do you call a video game that you play with more than one person?
What do you call it when someone listens in on Christmas Eve?
And one contributed by a friend:
What's brown and sticky?
Levi called me into his room saying, "Oliver's a quarterback." Oliver was on the bed on his tummy with 4 quarters on his back.
What does a crocodile say when it wants to be a rooster?