This week we rowed Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. Here are some of the fun activities we did:
- Went to a construction site and watched houses being built.
- Made a chocolate cake with Mike Mulligan (a teddy graham), Mary Ann (a small red digger toy, closest I could find to looking like a steam shovel), crumbled Oreos for dirt and more teddy grahams for the people watching Mike Mulligan and Mary Ann dig the cellar for the new town hall. (Found this idea here.)
- Used a tea kettle to make steam, held a mirror in front of the steam.
- Measured stuff. We started with squares, like the cellar Mike Mulligan dug, to understand the concept of four equal sides and four equal angles. We just so happened to be doing “farm school” that day, wherein we brought our school stuff for the day to the local farm where we have a share of produce. The most fun thing we measured was Elmer, the pot-bellied pig. He is 17 inches long by 9 inches high.
- We talked about the literary element of personification, how Mary Anne has a face and feels happy and sad. Firefly drew a personified Wii remote control with attached nunchuck and named it Scott. This was silly and fun.
- You can find some more awesome ideas for rowing Mike Mulligan here.
We also continued with our R.E.A.L. Science curriculum, this time studying a cell by using an egg. Firefly enjoyed examining the egg and talking about it but complained endlessly about the accompanying worksheet.
I am struggling here. On the one hand, it’s the only worksheet I’ve given him all week. Other than a fun little book of crossword puzzles that he chose to do, he has not had to do any writing at all this week. I know this will horrify many parents. Others will be totally fine with delayed writing and reading where a six year old is concerned. I’ve read many stories of homeschooled kids who didn’t truly get into reading and writing until they were seven or eight or even up to ten. They then quickly caught up to the level of their peers.
Here’s the thing: He can read. He can write. He just hates to do both. Herein lies the struggle. Do I let it go? Do I push? If so, how hard?
The Husband says push. His concern is that if we have to put Firefly back in public school at some point, he will be behind. I’m okay with waiting a little longer on the pushing. I just don’t know when to push. He balks at chores, going to bed, not be allowed to watch any more t.v. for the day, but we don’t ease up on that. Is this really different? Maybe it is. I don’t know.
After a full 20 minutes of listening to complaining, exasperated, I said to Firefly, “Do you know what it would be like if you were in public school right now?”
We were sitting outside at the farm, on a blanket in the shade. We had a beautiful view of the mountains and a small lake. We could hear roosters crowing in the background. We had only one worksheet to do before we would could move on to his beloved read aloud and then go have fun exploring the farm. He was getting totally, uninterrupted Mommy time, a rarity in our family.
“You’d be sitting at a desk much of the day either listening to the teacher or writing or reading. You’d have recess and lunch and maybe once or twice a week, gym or art, but then you’d come home and have homework of more writing and reading. You would not play Lego Star Wars at 10 in the morning, you would not be out at the farm on a beautiful fall day, you would not have just one worksheet to do and the rest, fun ways of learning. You would not be able to spend the day having someone read to you or looking up information about hermit crabs on the internet, or watching machines work on a construction site.”
And he said, “I’m sorry, Mom.” I was surprised and touched by that. I asked him to do better. To complain less. He said he would. We’ll see how it goes next week. I vacillate between treating this as a “behavior” issue that we should modify and as information, that my child is really telling me what he needs and does not need at this point in his education. Depending on the day, my point of view differs, as does my plan for how to address it.
If you’ve experienced similar situations with your kids or know of some helpful resources, please share. I’d love to hear about it.