|Painting beetles while referring to "The Beetle Book" by Steve Jenkins.|
Some time ago, I shared this interview on our FB Page in which a mum shared about raising innovative children:
"It really drives me crazy when parents say, “I just want them to be happy.” I want more than that. Sometimes being happy can be just laying around, but real happiness comes from fulfilling what you were meant to do. Struggling and succeeding. That’s a much cooler idea.
... Kids don’t [really] know what they like, and so that’s your job [as a parent], to expose them to as much as you can. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You can take them to the library and see what books they pull out. See what kind of skills they have. Your job as a parent is not to say, “Tell me what you want to be when you grow up.” Instead, if you just try everything and are super attentive — not in a helicopter-y, my-child’s-a special-snowflake way — you can be aware of what they gravitate to, and encourage them to do more of it. See if that light still shines in their eyes. Pay attention to what sparks them."
- Jane Andraka, On raising kids who are more than "hoop jumpers"
It made me think extra hard about the way we were homeschooling our boys. We always think of homeschooling as a wonderful way to encourage creativity and innovation, since we have autonomy over our child's learning. But in reality, we've sunk ourselves into set routines and practices that might even hinder such pursuits. These days, I find myself rushing my kids out to co-ops, and then rushing back for the baby's nap. I admit I've been finding "school time" a little stifling, since we rush through our books while baby naps. Following set curricula was something that I defaulted to, simply because I hardly had time to prep interesting activities (which the kids might end up not wanting to do), and I found I needed structure and guidance to teach them for some areas that I was not too equipped in, like Phonics, Math and Chinese. Our days felt full, but I felt like our homeschool was looking more like regular school than anything else.
One thing I still appreciate though, is the time the kids are able to spend together playing, both at home and outdoors. The older two are now inseparable. While they fight half the time, you can tell that they miss each other's company when they are apart. I love eavesdropping on them playing: they hold parties for their animals, they build traps (unfortunately these are usually for their little brother), they sail pirate ships.
But all that extra playtime aside, I've been trying to tweak our approach to learning and our schedule to allow for us to find "what sparks them". Junior J is a prolific doodler, so we've been trying to incorporate a lot more art and craft into our learning. Lil J isn't so ready for lots of drawing and colouring, but is fascinated with the physical aspects of craft: squeezing glue and smearing it, running his hand through buttons, poking holes. So we try to do both, and the crafty side of me has been enjoying those creative sessions too (for more updates on these, please check our Instagram account). Meanwhile, baby J also wants to join in the sessions, so he gets various art materials to work with: do-a-dot markers, Tadoodles, and washable markers.
I've wanted to teach the kids how to cook, but Junior J hasn't been too keen these days. Lil J, though, is very interested, and has been asking to help out in the kitchen, except that I used to chase him out most days since I was always rushing dinner prep. It was always in the back of my head to use one of those cooking lessons for kids, but I found it hard to incorporate those into the mad mealtime rush. So in the end, I decided that I would just plan my meals as per normal, and cook as per normal, except that I would start cooking earlier and let Lil J help in every step of the way. I figured he'd learn all the skills along the way, even though they weren't taught in a systematic fashion. After all, that's how apprentices learn, right?
|Chopping capsicum. He's using a Curious Chef knife, |
which are great since the blade chops through veggies but do not slice skin.
Perfect since he still likes to wave the knife around!
Thus far, he's learnt to wash the rice, chop veggies and open cans. He knows that meat changes colour when cooked, and that he needs to wash his hands after handing raw meat. Each cooking session is a lesson in patience for me, as this boy insists on tasting everything and has to be stopped from licking the raw meat and eating copious amounts of salt... but I must say I do enjoy this one-on-one time with him!
I guess this whole homeschool routine thing will take time, but I guess the beauty of it all is that homeschool does give us a little more time to figure it out. Hopefully we'll be able to light some sparks along the way!
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