Hilarious Homeschooling: Boobs, Gravity, & Peeing in Space.

children's drawing planet earth and family in space

© Miss P, 5.97 years-old.

There are things that we say, when we think our kids aren’t listening, that come back to haunt us mostly, and occasionally lead to great teachable moments.

This morning, I was laying in bed, when my baby (3.5 years) crawls in, pulls up my t-shirt and starts laughing exclaiming I am not wearing my ‘boob thing’!

Then my nearly six-year-old –and yes I am cherishing every last second of her being five– comes over and declares:

Maman, I heard you once talking on the phone, or iPad, or computer, and you said that if you wore a boob thing your boobs would fall but if you didn’t they could stay up by themselves.

For starters, I am not scientifically illiterate as that statement would suggest. Like all political discourse these days, my words were taken out of context!  What P had overheard was me telling a friend how I couldn’t believe my naïveté, many moons ago, when a hippy friend of mine persuaded me that boobs are muscle and if you don’t work the muscle, etc… You get the picture. How I bought this, despite my stack of National Geographic mags in the corner of my room, is beyond me. Anyhow, running for the bus on a daily basis quickly let me back to my senses before too much ‘damage’ was done.

And here’s where my ninja thinking kicked in. I realised what a great opportunity I had to explain gravity! Because really, what better way to talk about gravity than pairing it with sagging boobs.

 

The rest goes something like this:

paint by number empty paint pots on floorMe, reaching over for one of the many pieces of hoarded tat my kids stuff into my bedside table:

“Watch this empty paint by numbers paint container fall to the floor. See that? If we were in outer-space it would just float away! Instead G-R-A-V-I-T-Y makes it fall to the floor”

I pause, feeling like there is some connection to be made to a previous conversation that had not gone so well.

“Remember when you asked me why we don’t fall off the planet? Gravity is what keeps us there!

My imaginative kid then usually likes to put her own spin on it

“Yes! that’s right, the air, like water but invisible keeps us on the planet!”

Me: Um, not exactly. Remember the… er can’t remember their name in English… you know –les aiments– that pull metal pieces to them?”

P: You mean magnets?

Me: Yes! (sigh when I  realize our entire conversation has been in English and not in French) well it’s sort of the same, the force called gravity pulls us towards earth so we don’t fall off!

Then, I know there is always a sure-fire way to really drive a point home in our household.

Me: So what do you think happens when we go peepee in space?

P: It floats away!

And so the conversation continues with plans for a family vacation in space and how we will handle the possibility of two people pooping while someone needs to peepee if there are only two toilets on the rocket. I am briefly tempted to mention that reading is probably a required skill before boarding a spaceship but I’ve killed the learning moment countless times beating that poor horse. For once, I apply the lesson I repeatedly learn, and suggest she goes make a picture of outer-space.

Et voilà! I’ve not only given my first physics lesson, while sipping tea in bed, I’ve also just bought myself time to write a blog post about it.

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Afterthoughts on homeschooling/un-schooling and my ongoing neuroses.

1. I am pretty sure there is no way I could have engineered a moment so perfectly to get this conversation going. These are the times where I really think un-schooling  and child-led education is the way to go. Sadly, all too often, I  doubt myself and worry that most of my friends’ kids are already reading or nearly there and mine just has no interest. To push or not to push remains an internal argument I have regularly.

2. The other day we were doing a wonderful activity on our place in the world. (Activity featured on what is currently my favorite educational website: kids world citizen) and P had her usual ‘I CANT’ meltdown when it came to coloring the final paper plate to represent planet earth. I tried to give her tips but refused to do it for her and she walked away in tears, refusing to finish.

So imagine my surprise when she hands me the picture (above) she did of space including planet earth. She described it to me, regurgitating the tips I had given her about drawing. Sometimes I guess we just need to give them a little time and some space. (total accidental pun-ilicious moment!)

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Multiculturalism: The Foundation of Our Homeschooling Education.

beeswax 'bandera': the eagle, snake in beak, on the nopal on lake Texcoco

Creative Commons. Image by C Newlin de Rojas

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Homeschool Blogging Carnival hosted by Lisa at The Squishable Baby and Keisha at Unschooling Momma. This month our participants are talking about Multiculturalism.

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I think many homeschoolers will agree with me that learning should be a pervasive part of life and not something that happens between the hours of eight and three. I feel the same way about multiculturalism.

As as a Mexican-Franco-American family living in South East Asia, multiculturalism is not something we have to remember to work into our schooling. It’s woven into every aspect of our life. From the guards the girls greet with Wais every morning to the Amharic they hear when we visit two of their playmates. Expats typically get to meet a fairly diverse group of people if they are open to it —and sometimes even if they aren’t!

That said, living nestled in a multicultural environment can pose its own challenges. For starters, cultural heritage is a wonderful place to begin introducing kids to different cultures. But between our multiple moves and birthplaces, they are a little confused about where they come from. One of my daughters will tell you she is from Singapore. It’s true she was born in Singapore but 18 months was hardly long enough for it to have a huge cultural impact on her. Whereas my 6-year-old, who was born in Brooklyn and lived in Singapore from 2.5 to 4, still sings Oh Singapura and bemoans the loss of chicken-rice hawkers. She would probably happily swap passports if given the chance.

My time with them at home as both their mother and educator also translates into my cultures playing a dominant role. The girls are half Mexican but culturally you wouldn’t know it. Living on the other side of the world where Mexican expats are as rare as helmet-wearing Thai cyclists translates into a lack of opportunities to really embrace their Mexican roots. This would have been a different story had we stayed in Brooklyn. This saddens me but I try to remember that it’s more than just our cultural heritage that’s important.

What we need is a deeper understanding and acceptance of others around the world. That’s the true key to gifting them a ‘rich’ future. Cultural literacy should not just be a nice add-on a couple of times of year. I love that people are embracing world holidays and their favorite cultural snapshots but learning about Mexico or Sweden needs to be more than a lesson about Cinco de Mayo & pickled herring, respectively. Multiculturalism needs to be part of the engine of our children’s education, not just an enjoyable accessory like seat-warmers for those stuck in Nova Scotia!

I was reminded of this last night when a caucasian friend of mine who has adopted a gorgeous brood of ethnically diverse children and lives in the US shared a disheartening story. Today, her six-year-old African-American son was told by his supposed best friend —who is ethnically Chinese— that his mother doesn’t talk to brown people. Her son was understandably deeply upset by this. What’s more astonishing is that these two boys go to a school that is in fact incredibly diverse. There are only 2 white US-born kids in the class and their teacher is African-American. (That’s going to make for an awkward parent-teacher night when it rolls around.)

Sadly prejudice runs deep and is usually the offshoot of ignorance and fear. It’s also still pervasive and can affect kids by osmosis. If we want to change this, we need to expose our children as early as possible. With this in mind, I’ve decided to radically shift our approach and embed multiculturalism at every level. As homeschoolers, we are privileged to have the flexibility to place multiculturalism as a pillar in our children’s educational foundations. Please join me and let us be at the forefront of this movement!

 

p.s. I will be writing a lot more about this and I hope to create a repository for resources. One of the latest things out is The Global Education Toolkit. It looks amazing. I haven’t got my hands on a copy yet but I’ll definitely be reviewing and likely implementing lots of ideas from it. Please share any relevant links and Pinterest boards too!
 

 

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Visit The Squishable Baby to see how you can participate in the next Homeschool Blogging Carnival where we will be talking about Homeschool Mythsconceptions . hmschool blogging button

 

Please take the time to read the submissions by other Carnival participants:

 

Fire Safety: Do You Make the Grade?

I found myself in a situation that any parent would dread. I rang the fire department hotline and NO ONE ANSWERED.

Fortunately our house was not on fire. We had a sizable python in our garden so it really didn’t qualify as an emergency –my dog who was on the menu probably disagrees. I thought to myself: My god, what IF my house had been on fire?

What would I have done? How would my kids have reacted? How much do I really remember about fire safety apart from the school drills where we slowly schlepped through school corridors, more relieved from a pop quiz reprieve than any message of safety.

The next morning I told myself I needed to prioritize Fire Safety but like many homeschooling mums, other pressing matters soon clogged my to-do list, like finalizing my goals for the school year 2013-2014 — shhhh please don’t remind me we are already nearly at the end of said year. And my good intentions fell by the wayside.

A couple of weeks later, I was half-heartedly preparing a Mexican map activity –read checking Facebook on the sly– when the most amazing thing happened, a gift from the universe really. I was contacted to consider reviewing the Sparky Schoolhouse videos and lesson plans, a fire safety curriculum FEMA is promoting. Someone somewhere is looking out for me!

I jumped to the site and started watching the Little Rosalie clip which is a song about what to do if you find yourself in a house on fire. My girls must have heard from the other room and they came running in. After asking a few questions, C my wee girl shouted “Again, again!” while P my 5.5 year old started pestering me to drop our map project and organize a fire drill like she saw in the video.

Check out Little Rosalie:

Since there was no appeasing my two little beasts we followed with hilarious What’s that Sound? This one made me want to break out my old roller skates with purple glitter laces and boogie to the tune.

There was no denying, Sparky Schoolhouse passed my kids’ test with flying colors! They passed my test too but then I am partial to pushing workbooks aside and dancing instead. Now I had a great excuse!

I promised them some more sessions and then kicked them out of our little office so I could check the lesson plans. I ended up choosing the 1-2-3-4 Order lesson plan. My girls love to cut and paste and this provided a fun way to reinforce the order of the safety steps.

You can check out the other lesson options here

As a homeschooler, it opened my eyes to the fact that despite my best intentions, I had some glaring gaps in my lesson plans, things that might usually be covered by school authorities. That said, I think the best part of this experience for me was not just finding an easy program my kids enjoyed, but the fact that I learned as much as they did.

And heaven-forbid I find myself in a case of fire, which is a very real reality given my forgetfulness, I now know I did everything I could to prepare and get my children to safety.

Homeschooling on a budget: Minimum Input, Maximum Benefit

So I am about five months into homeschooling my two little girls: P, now 5.5 and C nearly 3.5. It’s actually been much less since I embrace the international school holidays, of which there are many. In addition, I had a rather stressed and horrid start for a number of reasons I won’t go into now.

Most of the time, I feel I haven’t really started yet. Especially when I am trying to finalise my ‘goals’ for each girl -and here’s a chance to give a shout-out to a most impressive Mama and homeschooler Jody from Mud Hut Mama for providing so much help.

Friends will say I am being too hard on myself. I am sure they are right to an extent. And then maybe not. There are not many days I’ve actually planned stuff ahead. It seems that whenever I do, we go off track. Overall, I’ve just been enjoying time with the girls and often letting them play. But every so often, a little gem presents itself to me. I got lucky today.

If you walk into any toy store or mega market, you will find a number of shape sorting toys. You can opt for cheap and cheerful plastic ones or the posher, tree hugging (that’s usually me) wooden versions. In the end, I’ve noticed it’s almost always the parents guiding the kids. And if feels like a rather futile exercise.

So today, once again I am focusing on life skills (aka fobbing off my homeschooling duties) and by that I mean: help me put away the dishes, brush your hair, your teeth get dressed by yourself, etc., in the hopes we would make it out the door in time for this amazing Friday art class a fellow homeschooler organised at Attic Studios.  Unfortunately the Bangkok protests made it impossible for us to get to the class leaving me with nothing planned as usual.

As I walked back in the house, closing the door covered in Halloween stickers and dropped my bag by the fully decorated Christmas tree, I looked upon the red Chinese Lantern waiting to be hung and realised I could no longer postpone taking down end of 2013 holiday decorations any longer.

While the kids sorted the decorations, It dawned on me that I had a sorting/classification activity before my eyes. There were several groups: salt-dough decorations –from a burst of Pinterest parenting from Christmas 2012, which looked more like the ‘I nailed it’ meme than actual decorations– fragile Mexican figurines, wooden decorations and then the subdividing of my favorites: the traditional swedish straw decorations.

I felt rather chuffed about this and, as I went to take a picture for this post, I noticed that the girls’ morning chore of putting away their clean dishes and my cutlery could also qualify. 

So here you go: a cheap and, in my opinion more important, useful way to teach your kids classifications. Because really, I always try to stick the pentagon in the hexagon slot so why would I expect my 3 year old to get it right.

Image

 

p.s. Notice how I lump shape sorting/grouping/classification all into one group. I figure they are close cousins and must be developing similar cognitive skills, whatever those may be. #whinging it.

p.p.s. I can’t believe I just hash-tagged within a post. It’s official, I have no shame.