I have to admit, I am a new homeschooling advocate. A convert.
As an experienced elementary teacher with 20+ years and a MA in Curriculum Development, I felt more than qualified to teach, guide, support and influence my first grade students.
Why then, was I so hesitant about my abilities to home school my own son?
It took several weeks after we removed him from school before my son would tolerate any school-like work. I found myself feeling like a ninja, secretly presenting educational opportunities, hoping he would bite.
Slowly, his tolerance and stamina grew.
I am told by other families with similar experiences that it can take much longer than just weeks to get that interest back.
I guess we are lucky.
Yesterday, a scientific experience organically presented itself. Without any prompting by us, he took this opportunity and ran with it!
A fly, that had made its way into our house, was clearly at the end of its life cycle. My son saw this, put his winter gloves on and crouched down over him, cautiously observing the creature that both disgusted and intrigued him.
Seeing this, I thought he was waiting for me to come and dispose of the fly. I expected that a quick retrieval with an oversized napkin would take care of the problem and then it would be forgotten in minutes.
When my son realized my intentions, he was horrified!
He planned to save the fly, study it, classify it before its certain demise.
I tried to persuade him to put it outside. He was shocked by my matter of fact tone. He argued that the fly would have no chance if he was left on our patio.
It wasn’t moved outside. It was placed on the bookcase, safe from dogs and mothers wanting to rid the house of flies.
He retrieved his magnifying glass to aide in his investigation. We stood back and watched as he bounced back and forth between closely examining this fly’s characteristics and his computer. He eliminated many possible types of flies and searched for specifics that would classify this particular creature.
As I witnessed this, I was struck by two things. First, his kind heart and compassion for something so small and considered by most as insignificant.
The other thought was that my son knew how to conduct this type of investigation. He knew independently how to observe, classify, investigate, and eliminate possibilities without any assistance from me.
He didn’t need a worksheet.
He didn’t need a classroom.
He didn’t even need a teacher.
I want my son, and my students, to be observers, thinkers, investigators.
This fly project proved that he is still drawn to curious investigations.
Very easily, I could have leaned over my son and smashed the fly without any thought. This tremendous learning would have been lost.
Have you almost missed a valuable learning experience?