16 January 2009

To Be or to Do -- that is the question

How do I steward a child that prefers to Be rather than to Do? It fascinates me how some children would prefer to be told what to do, others would prefer to do on their own, and some would prefer to be. To exist. Isn't that what Buddhism and Hinduism aspire towards? To be present in the moment? And yet as parents we must guide our children into the ways of the world teaching what we know of the past and present so they can move into the future.

Many of my efforts to orient Augustus toward a new project or a new study are met with resistance particularly if it involves him DOing the work on his own. His attention span for work tasks seems very short. Yet when I accompany him, and constantly steer him towards the goal, he can be very engaged. Also, I try to put patterns of rigor in place, or structured schedules with good results--for a time. After a few days the schedule seems to fall away. In part, I feel it is because I have my own list of things I want to get done. (Do other homeschool parents actually do nothing else while their kids are schooling?) I do see improvements in reading, and have begun to ask him to handwrite in cursive each day for dictation and spelling. We cover history and his online class covers physics. I'm introducing geography as we read history. Math for the moment continues to be the weakest link, but I feel he'll develop into that with time and periodic reintroduction.

I think the answer is that this organic development called Augustus' education continues to find it's roots and grow. He is not a creature of habit, rather of place. Augustus basically wants to be in his own space and on his own time. I'm striving to teach him a balance. It's not easy, but I do continue to believe that seeing Augustus growing in more than academic ways is just as important if not more so. What I see developing is a solid emotional, ethical, and intellectual foundation of a human being. And in the meantime I slip in academics as I can.

20 November 2008

Vedic Math

One of the issues I've been wrangling with in Augustus' education has been regarding Math. He gets simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. But when we move into multiple digits he stumbles. A friend recommended we take a look at Vedic Math. This is a math system based on ancient East Indian way of doing math.

Vedic maths is a math form inspired by the Vedas, or sacred Hindu texts. Between 1911 and 1918 Sri Bharati Krsna Tirthaji (1884-1960), a saint-yogi, researched the ancient Indian scriptures, wrote 16 sutras, or word-formulae and created Vedic math.

Western mathematics is very left-brain. Vedic math utilizes the right brain as well. Vedic mathematics is based on interrelations and patterning. It allows for creativity and multiple pathways to the answer - often done on one line or mentally!

Very comprehensive site: http://www.hinduism.co.za/vedic.htm . I'm no math whiz and it took me a bit to master the concepts here-in particularly because when I got the answers it seemed so easy! There are several ways of doing this math that use cross hatches for the very visual. I haven't even begun to tap into all the sites available online. So I'm intrigued, but I need to learn this before I can teach it. I want to learn more and was even thinking to propose finding someone to teach a Vedic Math course. Like many things that seem easy, I realize there are rules to learn here and significant study to really absorb this subject fully. I welcome any feedback.

Some more:

Tata for now, and happy computing!

17 November 2008

A day at the Beach

On one of the last beautiful days of indian summer Augustus asked if we could go to Indiana. we had nothing else on the schedule, so we went. We took the long way there trying to stay by the water. This proved impossible during stretches du to factories, but we ended up at a place called Miller Beach. We drove straight to the water and walked the beach amazed at the quantity of small driftwood pieces aligned by the surf. We made sculptures out of the sticks, a castle in the sand and sent a message in a bottle--it was the day after the election so our message noted that and asked therecipient to email Augustus when the bottle is found.

We then looked for a place to eat. Imagining we wouldn't find much, we stumbled on a Zagat rated restaurant--quite fancy and delicious. It was quite "grown-up" and Augustus and I had lovely conversation. Then we headed home after a bit more exploring of a place I hope to return to.

11 November 2008

Catching up

This is the first of what I hope will constitute a chronicle of the year of Augustus' home schooling. There is much to say to catch up since I should have been doing this from the get go. Needless to say, all is in order and I'll be able to "wrap this thing up and summarize and conclude real quick" (RosannaDannaDan).Then I can get to the fun stuff like posting adventures and pictures, etc. SO for now we're up and running, home schooling since September, though it's almost more De-schooling, or unschooling. What I feel I've been doing is to dissect how Augustus learns what he does, and how he percieves his world. What do his senses feed his mind. What sort of filter is his mind and how does it decode all the information he takes in.

Since home schooling, so far, is a study in how Augustus processes information, thus how to engage him--it is a gently unfolding, organic thing. (Mostly, I think I'm closer to "unschooling".) Eg., Wondering why he didn't want to read, or why he would fall asleep after 20-30 minutes of reading got me thinking about his visual processing and vision issues which led me to wondering about his vision--so we got his eyes tested. Turns out he's a bit far sighted; just enough to make reading really tiring. So now he has reading glasses and reads just fine. It's not his favorite thing, but he does it willingly. (How is it that school doesn't test vision?!) Anyway, things like that, getting into this with baby steps.

The next processing issue I need to explore is math. He has a hard time with it. So I need to understand how his brain wants to process complex multiplication 'cause the way I'm trying to teach it doesn't make sense to him and we both get frustrated. Roger is reading a book on how math is taught in China and I'm waiting for him to weigh in. So for now math is playing darts, or making change at the store, or finding other practical applications. I figure the way we learn anything when we are pumped to learn it, he's not falling behind,i.e., he'll catch up on any subjects we're missing. He also learned to really ride a bike this fall--something he's been afraid of for some time. He is a different child to the outside viewer--more calm, happier.

For structured activities, we are still doing suzuki cello, and an interactive (live) web class for physics (sciencejim.com), as well as AYSO soccer and fencing. Then, we pair up medieval studies with the fencing--sometimes we read, sometimes watch movies, or, for example, today we made a sword and shield in the wood shop. We have a latin curriculum, but I have yet to jump into it. We've been taking full advantage of the online library system which now allows one to request any material in the Chicago Public Library system to be sent to one's personal branch--books, movies, audio--luxurious!

That's all for now folks. More tomorrow when I post photos of our first field trip out of state!