Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Instead of That, Let's Do What?

We are home from yet another disappointing Home School class at a local Arts & Science center.  As we were walking to the parking lot after the class, Punky turned to me and said, “I don’t enjoy these classes, when can we stop taking them?”  About once a month, or more, I enroll Punky in some sort of class that is offered to homeschoolers by a local museum,  science or art center,  library, or other organization.  More than half the time Punky doesn’t enjoy them.  I keep signing her up though!  Why do I do that?  
 First, I do it because I want her to have the chance to be exposed to as large a variety of topics as possible.  Second, I sign her up for classes that cover topics I’m not crazy about, hence ones we really aren’t doing at home.  For example, I sign her up for a lot of science classes because I’m not exactly a science person, so this way she at least gets exposure to the subject.  Third, I want to make sure she has the opportunity to interact with other children in a ‘classroom setting’.  Now I’m left thinking:  My first reason is a good one but the other two, yeah, not so much.

It’s not that there haven’t been some of these home school classes that Punky has enjoyed, but not as many as I sign her up to take!  I think her level of interest is similar to mine.  First, the topic has to grab me in some way.  For example, I don’t care much about say… Physics, but I have read books that I found fascinating, about synchronicity that included components of Quantum Physics. So even though science doesn’t get my motor humming, some aspects or components of it do.  Second, the topic has to be relevant to me; meaningful.  I never conquered higher math.  It was never relevant or meaningful to my life.  I’m sure if I had had a burning desire to be an engineer or mathematician I would have, not only enjoyed, but conquered higher level math.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 

Punky is just like that as well.  It has to grab her attention and it has to be meaningful to her.  I don’t know (shrug), maybe all kids are this way.  However, Punky isn’t interested in the ‘mechanics’ of anything.  She is interested in the personal relationships of things.  For example, she has read the first two books of ‘The Hunger Games’ series.  All of her questions revolved around the personal relationships in the novels.  She never once asked me, ‘How did it get like that?’; but she questioned me seven ways to Sunday about ‘How did I think this person felt when such and such happened.’  Her only how is "How would feel if."  On top of that, Punky likes things that are physically engaging; activities where she is doing something or making something.  She’s not much for sitting and listening.  Even when I read out loud to her, she has to be doing something.  I know what this mean, I did the research –she is predominately a kinesthetic learner.
A large part of the reason we elected to begin home schooling was due to the fact that regular classroom instruction wasn’t engaging enough for Punky.  First grade was great (because of the teacher, I believe)!  There were a lot of games, activities, movement, singing, and creativity.  Punky did well.  By Second grade, things were getting serious (at least that teacher felt it should be so) and there was a lot more ‘sit at your desk and listen’.  I say that, to say this.  I realize, now more than ever, that she doesn’t learn in any form or fashion that looks like traditional learning.  So many of these classes that offered by various organizations, museums, and science centers, haven’t yet figured out that many, many kids don’t learn in the auditory modality and if they did they might still be in public school.  So more often than not, these classes talk at the kids, have them look at things, and perhaps give them a handout to read or a worksheet to complete.  There is just nothing in that for Punky who is a kinesthetic, social learner which means that she has to be engaged with her surroundings and fellow human beings. 

Now that I know we should not do much of ‘that’, I have to figure out what our ‘do this’ is going to be!  I’m starting my search for those types of engaging activities that excite and motivate Punky and in the meantime, I’m going to fall back on what I did when she was Pre-School age.  I’m going to pick a topic, or let her pick one, and dig up cool, fun activities that expose her to the general, underlining principles.  It won’t be enough, at some point anyway, and it might be entirely inappropriate, but it’s where we are in our journey. 

P.S. If you’ve never seen this website, I highly recommend it!  It was the ‘opening of a door’ for me in homeschooling Punky.

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