One month on the road: here’s an update on what’s happening with the roadschooling.
Before we left the Bay Area, I popped into Lakeshore Learning and spent a pretty penny on supplementary materials for the kids. I had also spent a few months downloading and printing from the Lost Coast, in preparation, and had created a curriculum for the 3 of them that would provide a rough foundation to spring from.
The curriculum is based on Wee Sing – remember that? A total classic. I like it because it takes a song that most of us know already (- and if we don’t, we can easily find it on YouTube) and it weaves activities around it. It is also easy to adjust for the wildly different levels I have going on here.
I have a Waldorf planner to integrate the Wee Sing pieces in, as well as reams of Montessori-inspired activities on the kindle.
These all work – I tested them on the Lost Coast with all 3 kids, they are great and easy…but of course I am finding I am not using any of it much.
This is what’s actually going on:
He works on his journal daily. He hits a lot of birds with that: essay writing, spelling, vocabulary and handwriting. I know a lot of people think handwriting is a dying art and it’s better to just teach kids keyboarding but I completely disagree. I think handwriting is still important and I’m pretty firm with him on that.
He also alternates on different workbooks every day. He has his two kinds of math books, one that is more focused on logic and word problems; the other that’s just basic practice. He has a map skills workbook – we use this one a LOT, a reading comprehension book (which is turning out to be too easy for him). We also have a handwriting book, but I find it’s easier to keep Micah engaged with it if it’s done through the journal. So we don’t use it much.
We also use his apps – some math practice ones, his star-finding and star mapping apps, his GeoWalk are ones we use a lot. He also works on Japanese and Spanish through his apps.
With reading, all of his books are on kindle. I already wrote a post on some stuff he reads and also what we do with Audible/Kindle (here’s the post if you want to read it). He reads at least half an hour every day on his own, usually more.
Well, I learned that she knows her alphabet inside out. Like, she knows it really, really well.
We’re moving into phonics and word assembly through flashcards – ONLY flashcards. I use the regular (dollar store) alphabet flashcards and go over the sounds with her (“B, ‘buh’”; C, ‘sss’; “kkkk”). I also have some nice 3-letter flashcards that work with sounding out words. She digs it.
Moxie’s naturally moving to trying to write, so we use Dora’s Skywriting ABC’s . We were using Handwriting Without Tears (what Micah used) but it’s a little too strict and she gets bummed out by never getting it right. Dora’s app is more forgiving; and since she’s Dora-obsessed anyway, it’s a better fit.
Moxie loves reading. I read at least 4 books every night to her – often more. But never less (the one time I tried to quit after 3, she was sobbing so pitifully I couldn’t take it).
My Challenges as Their Teacher:
I think my challenge with Micah is that, like a lot of smart kids, he needs to be CHALLENGED. I am talking, C-H-A-L-L-E-N-G-E-D. When he’s not, he just loses focus, spaces out. If he’s into whatever he’s doing, he doesn’t have a problem. So the challenge for me is how to make some of the boring stuff interesting and relevant?
I think taking the content and translating it to making or building something he likes would be a good idea – like, creating a transformer using various math skills, writing about the transformer, etc. I haven’t pulled it together yet though.
Since Moxie’s mostly nonverbal, the challenge is figuring out how to allow her to show me she knows something or wants to learn something when she doesn’t have the expressive skills to tell me. I figured out that she knows the alphabet so well by playing games. Games tend to be the way to tease that information out of her.
It’s also difficult to find one-on-one time with everyone. And being on the go most days adds a level of inconsistency that’s tough.
Integrating the Travel:
While being on the go adds a level of inconsistency that’s difficult, it adds a tremendous amount by way of experiential and real-life education. We are delving into the history of Mexico with each new monument we see (and we see a lot of them here), with each museum, cathedral and church we visit. We talk about the plants and animals we see, we talk about the uses of them.
We do a lot of singing and dancing on the go.
We talk in Spanish when possible, we read the Spanish signs. We talk about what the signs mean.
We are talking a LOT about religion – we were not expecting that, but I guess when you think about it, how could we NOT?! Mexico is absolutely drenched in religion, religious symbolism, devout love for God as expressed through Catholicism. While I’m very glad that I was raised Baha’i (- and so had to study all the religions) and glad that I nearly had a double major in religious studies (along with my actual major of Education), I need brushing up with some of Micah’s questions and observations.
I’ve been really surprised by how both Moxie and and Micah have taken to photography. They love it and are so good at it.
I’m surprised by how much Spanish they are absorbing.
I think Micah will be proficient by the time we go home and Moxie seems to have a good receptive grasp. I’m impressed.Moxie knows her numbers (1-10) but you wouldn’t know it to hear her take on how they are said. I was shocked when I found she can say Japanese numbers perfectly. It makes sense, I guess, because Japansee has fewer consonants, and importantly, consonant blends, than English.