Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Mommy School" Summary

As we draw to a close of the summer, we near the end of this summer's session of "Mommy School" (Cameron's term for his learning with me over the summer).  We've had a particularly positive experience and again learned more about how to work together and how to adapt learning methods so that we're both enjoying ourselves.  I think the biggest challenge was when he would want to be right so much that he'd argue about something like an algebraic fact.  He'd get so upset and insist that, for example, -2+(-3) = 1.  We did all sorts of things to help work around this block and were eventually successful, as usual, once he's learned something, he insists it's a "piece of cake".

The biggest challenge for him academically and we made tons of progress.  I offered choices at the beginning of the summer, and, we still weren't finding something that he was eager about doing.  My first big break through was suggesting he write me lego instructions for how to build something.  It worked beautifully!  He was interested and he learned about being precise and he had some enjoyment.  We found he was getting to dislike it more and more though as it just seemed too long to him, so we decreased the number of sentences and focused on writing them with particularly good handwriting.  Finally, three weeks ago, he was resisting again and we tried decreasing amount of writing to learn cursive.  Wow, he did his first run through the cursive alphabet the first week and has been writing 40 cursive words each day for the last two weeks and his writing is already better than his print!  He likes the idea of being able to write faster :)  Also, throughout the summer, he's been doing a typing program and getting faster and faster with that!  So, with cursive and typing, we're working on the physical difficulties of writing and by writing each day, he's getting better at expressing more detailed ideas.  It's still the subject he puts last each day, but he's improving!

We completed both the Ancient (started well before the summer) and the European History at our House classes this summer.  Considering how much writing is a challenge for him, I took dictation for the tests and review sheets, but he did really well on them (especially considering he moves so much when listening and sings to himself often so that it's hard to imagine he's listening).  We're still keeping the knowledge current through my use of History Go Fish and History Taboo.  To finish off the summer, we're listening to some of the History Through Art classes which he skipped during the first listening because he wanted to hear what happened next in the story.  We also completed a college course in mythology lent by my dad which was lots of fun!

It's gone through many different implementations, but over the summer, Cameron has practiced math each weekday and learned or cemented his knowledge of: all basic arithmetic (including long division and multi-digit multiplication), fractions (including finding a common denominator), decimal word problems, exponents, square / cube roots, negative numbers, and basic algebra.   While he often doesn't remember the correct way of saying what he's doing, he understands these manipulations of numbers and seems to really zoom through these subjects.  He does have an investment in doing well and will sometimes reject something new as a threat to his view of "I'm good at math."  We work on developing that growth mentality i.e. finding something challenging is good, it's the way it should be and part of learning something new, not a threat to his current skills.  For the last three weeks of the summer, I finished up introducing new material and had him practice mixed arithmetic drills so that he could brush up on quickly getting responses to those questions.  (I was noticing that he'd occasionally get stuck for ten seconds on an arithmetic question and need to figure it out instead of having it memorized.)

A little older picture from when we first started algebraic equations… now he doesn't mind if the variable is squared or cubed and, yes, he does have pants on, but he rarely makes it through the homeschool day without taking off his shirt.
Overall, I'm quite pleased with our summer experience.  We were really flexible and listened to each other and he grew a great deal.  Reading isn't on our list because I just do that a bunch naturally as does he.   He's always been at least three or four years ahead in reading (started reading before age three due to hyperlexia) and I've found any measurement or even tracking of reading tends to rapidly turn him off.  (I fill out the occasional request from school for a reading log for him without letting him know because his motivation gets so drastically reduced if he hears about this.)  I'll definitely take advantage of this flexible approach in the future to keep us enjoying learning together!

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