Monday, December 2, 2013

This Is What School Looks Like . . . I Think

I know I've already talked about wondering what a day looks like in the life of a home schooling family. But the whole month of November was difficult and I feel like we got very little accomplished. I'm told this is pretty normal - and a friend of mine who is a public school teacher says November is one of the most difficult months in traditional school, too. Knowing that it seems to be education wide makes me feel better. And maybe next November, when I'll be better prepared for so  much difficulty, will be better.

Last Monday we woke up struggling, again. I decided to start the day with our read out loud book, "The Master Puppeteer" by Katherine Patterson. We have just started studying Japan and I was hopeful that since we were so lackluster in our day already, that beginning school with something we all find enjoyable would help turn the day around. I read and the kids drew - they have to draw things that are related to what I'm reading about. I figured out pretty quickly that if I give them something to do as I read then they focus more. At first this was difficult for me, as that's really not what reading out loud to a classroom of kids looks like. It's certainly not how I did it when I was a classroom teacher. (Which is probably why I had to stop every couple paragraphs and tell kids to be quiet, stop jiggling their desk, etc.)

While I was reading I found that they were interrupting to ask questions about the clothing, surroundings and objects that were being described. I spent two months in Japan when I was 14, so I still have some knowledge of the culture, etc. They also had questions about the puppets that were being described - which I couldn't explain. One of them suggested YouTube. . . and we spent the next 1 1/2 watching videos of this specific type of Japanese puppet, how they are made and move and watching them in action. That led us to Kabuki videos and tutorials on applying their makeup, why it's only men who perform this, etc. Which led us to Geisha girls, their kimono's and how to apply makeup. Then I ventured up to the attic and dug out my box of things I kept from my trip. We spent the next two hours on the floor looking at photos, talking about all the festivals and shrines in them. I have three pair of 'flip flops' and for the rest of the day they tried to walk in them. Violet and Sarah have been trying to go from kneeling to standing in a kimono like a 'lady' does. (And I'm a bit smug because I can still kind of do it. Kind of.)

This was how we spent our day. We didn't stop until it was time for John's speech. It was a really great day. We laughed all day as we tried the shoes on - and looked at pictures of me as a 14 year old in 1987. (14 year old girls don't look like 14 year old girls today. At all. )

Then, as we were waiting for John I realized . . . we didn't do any math. Or reading. Or science. Or journal, calendar, art, grammar, flash cards. GAAAHH.

BUT, when my husband came home and I mentioned that I'd pulled my Japan stuff down he said, "Yeah, the kids told me. It sounds like they had a great time. That's all they talked about in the car the entire time."

And although we didn't get any 'subjects' done, I'm reminded that this, this being immersed in a topic, this is why we home school.