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Saturday, November 23, 2013

A New Direction

I've been contemplating a bit more the wisdom from my high school AP physics teacher.  He sent me quite a long email and spoke about a few different things.  Jon and I discussed some of them.  I think part of my push with the kids is to feel like I'm doing the right thing.  Although I also feel like, as their first educator, that I need to be sure they have everything they need to be successful.  But when I step back and look at the atmosphere that was beginning to be created, it was one of some tension.  So we are going to head in a new direction in our home.  I'm still going to meet with the principal on Tuesday to see how the school can push Carolyn's critical thinking skills.  But at home we're going to keep reading, expanding our books to different cultures within whatever the kids' interests are.

The big step we took today is to cancel our subscription to Reading Eggs.  The kids don't need to push their skills in reading or math.  They enjoyed using the program, but I could also see the frustration at times.  So we are going to dial back the electronics (although we never used them all that much) and turn to interactive things.  Christmas lists this year will consist of plenty of blocks to build large towers.  Some of my best childhood memories are of building towns with Lincoln logs.  The kids seem a bit young for these yet, but we might look into expanding our set for birthdays or next year's Christmas.  I'm debating about some of the math manipulatives I currently have on the lists.  I think that the kids might enjoy having them to make up their own games with.  The shapes I think they'll enjoy creating pictures from, so we'll keep those.  Neither kid wants much of anything.  But we want to continue to encourage imagination, and get away from single function toys.  If I look at what they play with the most, I could get rid of a lot of things in the toy room.  And after Christmas, we may go through and have them decide what we really want to keep, and what we should set aside for a garage sale this summer.  They have some great things that we could probably sell and put the money in their college accounts.  But the main thing is, we're going to stop doing anything "educational" at home.

I gave this a try today and the results were interesting.  The kids played while we were still in bed this morning.  Pretending to babysit their bears.  After breakfast we brought out the playdoh and they rolled and made "cookies" with small cookie cutters we have.  When they grew tired of that everyone but me got a haircut.  And then the kids had a bath to brush off the hair.  We settled onto the couch and read 2 chapters of Mr. Popper's Penguins before lunch.  During lunch Carolyn noticed the labels on the tomato jar we were putting the orange peels into.  So we walked about what 1/2 means, and expanded to 1/4 and she went through taking parts of a pizza.  Then they took a nap.  We snuggled in bed some and both kids asked to play on their iPad/Tablet.  They brought them into bed and Carolyn chose sticker Sudoku to start.  She'd never played it before but was quite quick to catch on.  When she started guessing we suggested she move on, and she chose the Tangrams app.  I showed her she could choose the have it show her what pieces to use and she enjoyed piecing them together onto the picture.  After about 30 minutes we turned everything off, had a snack, and headed to the mall to walk around and have dinner.  On the way to the mall, Carolyn counted from 2 to 80 by 2's.  No prompting by us, she just wanted to see how far she could get.  Interesting what will happen when you don't have a video screen in the car!  We had a nice evening and dinner, let the kids run around in the play area for a while and then came home.  Without any effort on our part, Carolyn did some math "learning" and game strategizing today.  I'm sure there were a couple other conversations to explain things throughout the day that I'm not remembering as well.

So from here we focus on more exposure to lots of topics.  I'm looking forward to our library trip on Wednesday both for the craft and because Carolyn will get to pick some of her own books for the first time since this summer.  First tomorrow we have another day of rest at home and then Monday and Tuesday both kids have trial ice skating lessons for the first time.  This will be a new journey, but hopefully one that keeps us close as a family and decreases the stress on everyone.

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