Home Ed for Babies

I haven’t been blessed with babies who nap long enough 😉 and we have been getting dazzled lately as Tercio is getting quicker and quicker! I have decided to start something I used to do, but haven’t for a while – treasure baskets!

I first came across treasure baskets in the book “How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way” by Tim Seldin. But my treasure baskets didn’t really take off.

At Counting Coconuts, though, treasure baskets are a real inspiration. Make sure you look at her pinterest board too.

Now I am all inspired!

Just Write, Dangnamit!

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Have you got a non-writer? I have one of those. I have tried to be all zen about it, but it is tricky. It’s tricky due to all the usual societal factors, yes, but in our case it was even more tricky because Primus really wanted to write. It was keeping him from doing other things he wanted to do and it was making life more complicated for me because his required level of input wasn’t matching his output. Finding things that suited his learning style was really difficult.

A lot of soul-searching and observation later it dawned on me that there were two parts to this problem: his and mine.

Mine: a long sad story of handwriting-related hostility. There was a real culture of pulling children down at my school, and handwriting was the school’s weapon of choice for me. I wasn’t predisposed to like handwriting!

Then I studied teaching and I learned all about how children learn to write. It was really interesting and fun to see the stages when I was teaching. First it was random letters, then initial sounds, then initial and sounds, recognisable words, etc. I had preconceived ideas about what I was looking for to tell me a child was learning to write.

Oh yes, this is pretty predictable, isn’t it?

For his part, Primus, and his perfectionistic self wasn’t going to try to write when he knew his letters didn’t look exactly right. Nor was he going to try to write dog with just a ‘d’. So he didn’t try.

So I figured he wasn’t ready and didn’t try to provide opportunities.

So he figured I thought he couldn’t do it and didn’t try.

It was a dangerous situation! Luckily I worked out what was going on and we are slowly working on writing. Because of his personality, we are working on things in a backward way to how I was taught all children learn…

  1. I am giving him explicit instructions. Since he already sees a correct and incorrect way to do a letter, let’s teach him how to do the correct way, rather than allowing him to fail when he can’t reproduce what he sees in his head.
  2. We are also learning explicit spelling. Again, he already knows there is the way to write a word tha he always sees in books, and that is what he wants to reproduce. It would be unfair to withhold information from him and set him up to fail that too.
  3.  We are doing little and often. There is no need for sessions to be long and painful!
  4. We are practising and developing finger strength, fine motor skills and co-ordination in other activities too.

Whatever you do, don’t forget the child in front of you. What the books say – any book – is not going to be nearly as much useful information as you get from observing your child.

Noticing

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The bees swarming, and watching the fly off. They all took off from the bottom up. Hearing the buzz. And having time to do it.

More and more I think that’s the best gift of home education. You get time. To notice.

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All Hail the Place Value System!

Place Value is the system that allows us to use the same 10 digits to represent any number by using the position in the digit to represent it’s value. That means 5 in the ones postion means five, but the same digit in the tens position (50) means fifty.

I won’t rant and rave about how amazing a step forward a place value system is. Or the awesomeness of the concept of 0

I will point out that having a good understanding of the place value system is an important key component to actually GETTING mathematics. (As opposed to being able to follow the steps in solving a problem, but having no idea how it works!) And while there are plenty of other ways to learn place value,  I really like the good old MAB blocks.

MAB blocks have been around for ever. You probably used them. They are still around because they work.

As with any new manipulative, I usually just introduce them in free play first. I try to let the child discover what they can in the material. What does it do? Then you can use them in a great variety of games to practice trading and place value. As children grow, MAB blocks can be used for decimals and percentages too, as well as learning algorithms. As far as manipulatives go, they aren’t too badly priced for something with such a long useful lifespan.

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Adventures

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We love going on adventures! Adventures are our daily walk. Sometimes it’s a rambling walk, sometimes we have a specific quest in mind.

Walking in the same place is very rewarding. It provides a chance to notice the seasonal changes as they happen in our own little spot. It also encourages the children to start asking deeper questions about a place. Why do something grow in one spot but not another? What signs of birds or other animals are there and how does that change?

At the moment our own adventures are very similar to the description of Charlotte Mason’s nature study as described in Ambleside online, if you scroll past the prescribed list and read the description of how it should be implemented. Most of the time I just let the children discover what they will, but every so often I will send them off with a quest to look for something in particular – like The Quest for The Golden Leaf in Autumn.

Oh, and don’t forget to bring a bag, for all those leaves and feathers they will collect!