This last week or so I've been learning a lot more about homeschooling. As you may have noticed, we've been struggling lately. I have tried everything I can think of to make homeschooling a positive, inspiring experience for Mitch, and I keep coming up short. I tried some different curriculums, a stricter schedule, a more relaxed schedule, focusing on the basics and letting the rest go, trying to be more well-rounded in our learning, doing hands on things, doing more bookwork, you name it.
I was feeling pretty frustrated and incompetent. And I'll go ahead and say it, I was considering that maybe Mitch's special needs were more than I could handle. Maybe teaching him was just always going to be a battle and by positioning myself as the teacher, I was inviting many more arguments and meltdowns into our home and our relationship than need be.
But then I had a conversation with a certain wise farm mama and I realized that maybe I was being too pushy. I had tried everything I could think of to make him learn, but I hadn't tried NOT making him learn. At least not since this summer, when we weren't "technically" homeschooling yet. Over the summer our "cave lessons" were a big hit with all the kids. We were just exploring something intriguing and not doing English or Math per se. But lately I've been more panicky and worrying about what will happen next year if we get him back into his Montessori school and he's fallen behind. I'm forgetting to just live a day at a time. So with that in mind, instead of trying to make Mitch learn, I tried to make myself see the learning in what he was already doing. I tried to get back to my Montessori roots and "follow the child".
So where did I find his "school"?
Lots of great storytelling going on, even if none of it makes it to paper just yet. Dress-up is a game the whole family can agree on.
He loves videography and was receptive to my requests that he storyboard his scenes instead of just screwing around with Grandma's camera (though that's fun too).
He discovered the computer game "Timez Attack" (a great free multiplication game) and I had to kick him off of it eventually for fear his eyeballs would melt from staring at the screen for so long. He got discouraged at level 3 because it was getting too tough for him and so he decided to delete his profile and start all over at level 1 so he could get more practice. Cue the angels singing "Gloria"...
And tonight he fell asleep rereading "Diary of a Wimpy Kid". I think I can live with this.
It also seems like if I set out things that I'd like him to work on, enticingly displayed on the shelf, he gets around to asking about them or taking them down eventually, in his own time. I'm usually just not that patient. I need to work on that. So, going all Montessori on y'all again, I need to work more on preparing his environment and putting all kinds of 3rd graderish work close at hand and work less on "teaching" him anything.
Everyone did like our themed lessons over the summer though so I asked Mitch if he'd like to do some more of those again and he said yes. So at Mitch's suggestion I'm working on getting some car and truck lessons going.
I'm also praying more. Dear God, I'm at a loss with this boy, show me what to do with him (or not do with him as the case may be). And I feel like He's answering.