We’re in our third month of home education with Renee and McKinley. McKinley swears up and down that he never wants to return to school. Renee misses her friends sometimes, but LOVES being able to sleep late. We’ve also been able to make room for extra activities: piano, soccer, and a homeschool co-op in Asheville. After co-op on Mondays we buy discount groceries at Amazing Savings and then go visit my sister and her son, who is the same age as McKinley. I’ve really enjoyed visiting with her on a regular basis.
This morning, piano practice came before breakfast. McKinley went first. His initial resistance to piano is melting a little, and his fingers seem naturally adept. At times he will say he doesn’t want to take piano, but he also pestered me to get lessons, so he’s just going to have to deal. Besides, playing piano has always been such a blessing to me. It may be that they receive the same nourishment, if they just stick with it.
Renee followed McKinley. At first she was cheerful, but she despises my correcting her, collapses with frustration, and covers her ears when I try to sing a particular part of the piece she’s learning. By the end of her practice she is alternating with whining and crying, and I’m having none of it.
We’re learning piano by the Suzuki method, and at the bottom of each practice sheet is a little Suzuki quote: “When nurtured by love, much can be accomplished.” I don’t think this is what he had in mind–this battle of wills between Renee and I–but I’m not going to let up on her. I feel like she needs this sort of challenge. “Use your third finger,” I say repeatedly. “No, it goes like this,” I remind her again. “Tuck your thumb under there,” I say as a demonstrate. I keep my cool, she doesn’t. She’s as stubborn as me, and doesn’t want to be told how to do something. I don’t want to break the stubborn-ness, but there are times when it really doesn’t serve her. Or me.
After breakfast we studied a photograph from the book “Earth from Above.” This is an all around great book. There’s 365 photographs, with a paragraph or two to provide more information. We find the location of the photo on the globe, read the paragraph, and then study the picture for more details. Today’s photo, for instance, was of a small village enclosure in Mali. McKinley found Mali rather easily, and then Naba, the city which was nearby. There were fix or six round adobe huts with thatched roofs and some other assorted buildings, all surrounded by a rustic fence comprised of scrap wood. Closer inspection revealed children playing in a tree, a donkey (“Look, Mom, it’s an ass,” grins McKinley), a cow, a woman carrying something on her head, and rows of grain on the outside of the enclosure.
Then a walk in blazing Autumn sunshine. We practiced our times tables as we walked. At one point they started getting their answers correct, and after that they wanted to quit. I pushed a little bit, and then had them ask eachother math questions. They did this for a little bit, asking harder questions than I had asked of them, and then became distracted with the creek, the changing leaves, the zippers on their coats.
At the creek they built dams with rocks and leaves. The sun was brilliant and it was very pleasant. I think tomorrow I will bring my journal and write while they play. It’s such a lovely spot.
Back at home we did a few pages in our math workbooks while listening to Mozart. Then they read independently for thirty minutes while I made lunch. Now they are playing the wii, and in a few minutes we will depart for piano.
It’s just a snippet of a day, and of a journey we are taking together. So far, so good.