Nearly 30 weeks of homeschool so far! It doesn’t seem possible! I was feeling a little blah about it around the holidays, like it was just another thing I had to fit in, but lately, it has not felt that way at all. Elizabeth asks to do school most days, spends hours coloring and tracing letters in workbooks on her own, and is beginning to write and sound out words. It is very exciting for me to watch her as she begins to read. It’s like she is standing on the brink of a big pool which is learning and life, dipping her toes into the warm inviting water, but unsure yet how to swim. Luckily, she has me! I love watching her and helping her with this. If she asks, I never refuse to tell her what something says or how to spell it out; even if we are in the middle of dinner there is always time for reading. I am here to help her into that big pool of reading and I am loving it!
Arts and crafts have really taken a fore-front in our school lately. Elizabeth loves painting and coloring. I don’t often see her drawing with a pen or pencil, but what she seems unable to make come out with finer tipped writing utensils appears with the forgiveness of the messiness of paint and paintbrush. Much of what she does is just filling in pre-drawn pictures or shapes that float around on the page, but all of these activities help build her hand-writing muscles and improve her visual-motor coordination. Art was very important to me when I was younger and I love it as a way to express one’s self as well as a coping method, so I can only encourage her interest and creativity. Interestingly, she has recently started using coloring as her cool-down activity when she is upset. She spent about a year not knowing how to soothe herself after she discontinued sucking her fingers; coloring doesn’t totally replace the self-soothing that she did before, but it is the closest thing she has gotten.
I love to support her love of art, color, and crafts. So school has lots of focus in these activities. But I have been feeling that her interest in math isn’t at the same level as what is outlined in the curriculum. This is fine, all kids move at their own pace and will have preferences, but she does need to learn how to do simple addition and subtraction too. I have found that the math activities in the curriculum guide just aren’t very interesting. Many of them involve using pom poms on cut-outs and making up word problems with them. How many times can apple pom poms fall out of a tree or bean owls fly away? It’s just not really interesting nor applied. I’ve been trying to think of ways to make math a little more interesting and real-life. I accept that it’s not necessary for her to be counting by 10’s yet (though she kind of can), nor by 2’s or 5’s or doing addition up to 10, or even subtracting, she’s only in pre-k. And it’s also ok for her to have her preferences, as well as to advance in one area over some other. At times, different subjects will be more prominent in her learning than others, and math may come around again. There have been times in which certain books have really sparked her interest in numbers, shapes, counting, and even simple addition, Richard Scarry’s Best Counting Book Ever would be one of those. But I guess just acknowledging these thoughts has let me draw more math out of daily life, which makes it non-threatening, easier, and applicable. Rather than do pom pom math, I’m trying to add a little math into our other school activities, giving both more meaning.
Share your thoughts: How do you add math into your everyday learning? What are some of your children’s favorite art activities? How excited were you when your children began reading?