Now that most of the kids are winding down with their school, checking off one subject accomplished at a time, I have been able to do official “school” more regularly with our almost 5 year old. There have been teaching moments (mostly through games and play) with him sporadically throughout the year but lately, he’s been more focused about having one-on-one instruction time. Five in a Row books (borrowed and some on our shelf), an old unused Handwriting without Tears workbook (bought for his older brother but never used), a hand-me-down Math U See Primer set (he has joined the club watching Mr. Demme), and our twice used, neatly laminated Spell to Write and Read phonogram cards are some of the things he’s into at this point. And he’s going through some of them really fast.
It’s been wonderful timing that I can actually take advantage of his eagerness right now (so in contrast to how the rest of us feel now that our school year comes to a close). Seeing him excited about learning also gives me the boost of inspiration I need, having already gone through counting-to-one-hundred and memorizing phonograms with his four other siblings before him. When I’m actually having fun doing this, I start wishing I could just devote my time teaching him a host of other things. Then I realize I only know of these potential learning scenarios because I’ve come across them while teaching his four other siblings. So, although homeschooling just one child seems like an attractive idea for an instant, I have to admit that having a whole bunch of them at home, though challenging, has been a richer experience…and quite beneficial to this last child.
This little guy has quite an artistic flair about him, so I imagine spending hours teaching him to draw (the Mona Brookes way). Even if I’ve spent very little time formally instructing him over the past year though, it seems his art skills continue to improve. Perhaps spending time using “colourings” (what they call crayons or colored pencils) with his two older siblings has helped. With them, he has also spent countless hours completing science notebook pages with illustrations or worked on their Draw, Write, Now books or just doodled for fun. Observing his oldest sister edit photos or videos has also provided him with opportunities to study artistic elements. Just the other day, another older sister showed me a picture he drew of a road. This 14-year old sibling, currently studying “perspective” in her Artistic Pursuits lessons, was quite amazed at her youngest brother’s understanding of the concept. He’s probably paid more attention to the sketches in her drawing pad than she ever thought.
For this youngest child, what is true with regards to art skills holds true for almost everything else. For instance, although he’s done his own little experiments from More Mudpies to Magnets, he probably learns a whole lot more watching sister #1 work with acids and bases, sister #2 examining slides under a microscope, only brother learning about circuits and batteries, or sister #3 observing plant growth and explaining to him the difference between true seals and sea lions. And even if we never got through all of his Saxon Math K (while majority of his siblings did) and have done away with the Saxon K Meeting Book (daily calendar older ones also completed to familiarise with months/days and to get them counting), he is comfortably writing his numbers (with little help where they face) and will readily start counting anything – even how much pages he’s done in his writing workbook!
Thus, it has been exciting to watch as this rising Kindergartener joins his siblings in their love for learning. And although it is tempting to straightaway design him a program of studies and get him on a sequence his older siblings have taken, I have definitely learned from experience that none of the kids do take exactly the same path as they are so differently made up. I see this now in my high schoolers who, after having dabbled in a little of this and that, are beginning to focus on the fields that they have the most passion for…and even for just these two, those choices are quite contrasting. While his brother before him began reading way before he was writing comfortably, this little boy would much rather practice his A’s and Z’s than go through his phonogram cards. And so he will probably learn almost anything in his own unique way. My part is to relax, observe, guide, and allow him to be what God has made him to be.
P.S Tolkien’s The Hobbit has rotated my children’s bedside tables multiple times. I now proudly announce that the well-worn fairy tale rested on my own bedside table for a week or so this month (had to discuss this for literature with my 9th and 10th graders). Though my children enjoyed Mr. Baggins’ adventure at the wonderful age of nine, I am quite satisfied to have enjoyed it myself (at an age I am equally satisfied to keep to myself). I only regret the children’s fondness of snatching away the suspense of the story by their sly hints and devious smiles.