The kids all had dentist appointments last week. Oh, how I love getting them all out the door, on time, dressed, bathed, combed and this time with stellar brush teething prior to departure (most days it’s just subpar-on all accounts.) Turns out subpar is good enough, because they all are cavity free. Juliette only has 2 teeth, so I don’t know if I should count her as a success, but I’m going to anyway.
Here they are in the waiting room.
Eliana is 5 now, so adults commonly ask her about kindergarten. Now that I’ve gotten used to saying the whole H-word out loud, I realize I also have to get used to all the questions that follow. Our dentist was very nice, just curious, as I know I have been in the past when I’ve met homeschoolers. I still felt…unprepared, I guess. She wanted to know what the younger ones did when I did “academics” with Eliana. I had already answered that we do some academics, but I didn’t quite know how to explain it as succinctly or effectively as I would have liked. So, I mostly gave short answers and smiled a lot. And changed the subject to things like, I don’t know, teeth.
I started thinking about how to explain our “academics” with our Pre-K aged daughter. Truthfully, traditional academics are not my main focus with my newly turned 5 year old. Playing, exploring, working on her own projects, going outside, creating all kinds of art, and lots of time spent reading are priorities at this time. I strongly value academics, but I do feel there is time. And more so, I feel that the more the kids can experience and have time for creating and doing what they love they will be better off. They will more readily seek the knowledge necessary to support their interests and passions if their interests and passions are given time to blossom first. After exposure and experience the learning will be easier. It will be more personal and relevant, and therefore more interesting and fun, and who knows, it might just stick.
That being said, we do work on writing, reading and arithmetic often, just casually. The kids do not call this time “learning time” or “school time”. It’s just part of our day. So, for Stephen to know how to answer the question of what he does during Eliana’s school time doesn’t really make sense to him. He’s learning right along side her anyway.
One example of “academics” that just naturally occurs in our days is their calendars. They’ve always had wall calendars hanging up at their height in the house. For Christmas 2 years ago Stephen’s was Lego and Eliana’s was a fairy houses calendar. Last Christmas I made them each one full of pictures of our family (and made copies for both sets of grandparents so it really was a win-win! Thanks, Shutterfly!).
Every morning the kids go through their morning checklist of activities such as take vitamin, brush teeth, make bed, etc. Calendar is also on the list. Some days they mark off the days, for awhile Eliana drew a picture of the day’s activities (there was lots of ballerinas in tutus on Thursdays), or some days they don’t look at them, but in the car they remember “We didn’t do our calendars, Mommy!” so we talk about the day of the week, the month, date, year. Birthdays and holidays get counted down and recently the calendars became part of the pretend play. All stuffed animals and baby dolls now have their own birthdays and Eliana has written it down so we don’t forget.
Rebecca happens to be a stuffed bear who is turning 7, or is it 4, I can’t remember.
Recently they have also grasped the concept of even and odd numbers. Since they fight about everything from turning on/off the T.V., who gets the placemat with the whale on it, who gets the fork that looks different than the others and even who gets to sit on the right side of the kitchen bar or mommy on the couch (at sometime, someone decided the left was just unbearable) Julio came up with letting them each have a day to get all those things. Odd days Stephen, even days Eliana. Well, let me tell you, they now always know the date and know for sure if it’s even or odd. “Mommy it’s the 12th so it’s even and it’s my day! Yesterday was Stephen’s and tomorrow it will be his day, but then the next day it will be my day again!” Sounds like some good preschool math going on to me.
All kids learn so much during the hours that aren’t “school time”, the kids in school and the kids homeschooling by all different methods. We’re just choosing to have more of these hours in our days. When someone asks me, the newbie homeschooler, about academics and school time, I feel obliged to say of course we do that! But really, we are just learning a lot by living life. Not by completing worksheets or sitting at a desk memorizing facts. Maybe one day I will be able to explain this to my dentist.