This morning Stiggy chose to read a book that was a little challenging. I encouraged him and helped him with the dificult words. For some reason, after about 2 pages he got hung up on the word ‘looked’ (which he’s read several times before). I explained that the k-e-d is simply said ‘kd’ and then told him to sound the whole word out again. He wouldn’t. He slouched, he slumped, he pulled a face and whinged. Now, we’d already gone round this roundabout with about 4 other words, and I wasn’t going to allow him to give up. I then had him read the rest of the sentence and go back to ‘looked.’ Grudgingly, he eventually read the word.
Most of us teaching our children have days like this. And if you’re evil like me, one too many of these episodes will produce a ‘you’re-gonna-have-to-go-to-school-if-you-don’t-try’ lecture in the hopes of bringing about a change of attitude. I frequently remind Stiggy how lucky he is to be learning to read sitting on his own sofa with his blanket and doggy, the cat milling around, a warm drink at hand, etc, etc. I told him that he wouldn’t be able to say, ‘I can’t’ and just give up, and I’m not going to allow it, either.
I know, I’m so mean.
Now, some days it’s best to put the lesson away when things are going bad. But I knew this was simply a case of ‘I don’t wanna’ rather than ‘it’s just not a good time.’ And I want Stiggy to develop his will and self-discipline.
Anyway, we got through the lesson, but it had set me a little on edge.
We did a few other things, then moved on to our natural history lesson. We’re using The First Book of Birds, which is a lovely little book. I read a small section on birds at rest. The vast majority of these few paragraphs gave information on where birds sleep. When I’d finished, Stiggy looked at me and said, ‘But where do birds sleep?’
This isn’t the first time Stiggy has failed to take in a lesson, but lately it’s been happening more frequently than it should.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, but it didn’t help.
I was in full meltdown mode.
I put my head in my hands and fought back the tears. I asked him if he could tell me anything about Ancient China. Nope. Ancient India? Nothing. Ancient West Africa, which we’re studying now? Zilch.
I excused myself and went upstairs so I could bang my head against the wall have my breakdown in privacy and went on a mental rampage about all the time, money, and energy I’m wasting on homeschooling…all the planning, all the excitement, all the hope…and it’s failed to produce any results…he’s learned nothing.
Ok, not nothing. He is reading well when he wants to, his math skills are excellent, his handwriting has improved by leaps and bounds, he can tell me a million things about ancient Egypt, gives great narrations, picks up his memory work with ease, he’s loving poetry, art, music, British history, grammar, Monet, Spanish, and he knows far more about plants than I did even when I graduated hight school…
…so it hasn’t been a complete disastrous failure, I suppose.
And then I reminded myself that it isn’t imperative that a child do history at this age. The point is to get a basic overview and develop an interest…which is what we’re doing, and doing well.
So, I went back downstairs and Stiggy and I went through our curricula, subject by subject, and I asked him what he likes and doesn’t like.
He likes everything except:
He’s just not interested in learning about birds right now. He wants to learn about reptiles, snakes in particular. Ok, fine. Great. We’ve got a book on reptiles, the library will have a ton of books on reptiles (I can’t seem to find a living book on reptiles, but I’ll keep searching), and I’ve ordered him a colouring book. Lovely.
Narration and Copywork in conjunction with traditional stories linked to history
He doesn’t seem to be enjoying most of the myths and traditional stories that we use to supplement history. He likes some of them, particularly the ones in Story of the World, and the nice picture book ones like Once a Mouse, and The Story about Ping, but he does not like the ones I read out to him from the Baldwin Project. I think they’re too advanced for him and there are few pictures.
I used these myths/stories for his Writing with Ease narrations, but he does enough narration with history, science, grammar, Shakespeare, art and even math. So, I will choose one suitable traditional story that I know he will enjoy each week (if I can’t find one, we’ll do an Aesop’s Fable). As for the copywork, I will make this from poetry and he will do one line a day. Our schedule has been so jammed that we haven’t had time for poetry, which Stiggy has really missed. On Friday we will skip poetry, read the well-chosen traditional story, do a narration, and I’ll create a copywork page based on his narration for him to do (again, this format is taken from Writing with Ease). He’s happy with this arrangement. He gets his copywork, we’re still follwing Writing with Ease, and we can cut out the stories that no one was enjoying and weren’t enriching our history study anyway.
We can try them again during the next history rotation.