Warning: this is a happy post!! I haven't had some good news for awhile, so I thought I needed to do something cheerful.
The most exciting thing which I have experienced as a new homeschooling mom is the connections that Catherine makes, showing me that she is learning what I am teaching her. When she was at school, I really did not know what she did all day and what she was learning. At home, I know exactly what we are doing. At least once a day Catherine will say something that makes me realize that she has absorbed and comprehended something we taught her. Here are some examples:
-- While we were in the hospital she and I read a book about Rapunzel based on the Disney movie. It is a beginner reader, so she reads it to me and I help her with the words she does not know. She stopped at "kidnapped" while reading the book. I explained that kidnapping was when someone takes a child away from their parents, like when Mother Gothel took Rapunzel out of her parents' castle. Catherine said OK and we finished reading the book.
But, the little wheels in her head were still turning. Later that day, Catherine asked me if Dr. Kirsch kidnapped her to do the surgery. I realized that my initial definition of the word was inadequate and I had to make some clarifications.
-- Last night we made a chart of different kinds of nouns: persons, places, and things. As we were talking about it, somehow the word "she" was mentioned. Catherine said "that's not a noun, it's a pronoun." I was shocked because we have never discussed pronouns and I don't think her class ever discussed any of the parts of speech.
I asked her how she knew what a pronoun was. Catherine said "you taught me what they were when we were in the hotel." I said "What hotel?" I had no idea what she was talking about. She said "When I was reading the Snow White book and could not find her name." Suddenly, I remembered her reference. Back in July 2011, we went to Disney World and stayed at a hotel. She was reading a book about Snow White, which was written in the first person from Snow White's perspective. Before she started to read, she told me she wanted to count every time the author used the term "Snow White." She became very frustrated because she could not find the term "Snow White" anywhere. So I explained that every time the author used "I" or "me" or "mine" the author meant "Snow White." This little mini-lesson on pronouns satisfied her to the point where she could stop crying and read the book by herself. I had not thought about this incident again until Catherine mentioned it yesterday. I am so impressed that she remembered the lesson and was able to apply it accurately.
-- As part of the curriculum we are using, we have to do Social Studies lessons about once a week. The last lesson was on voting and laws, how they are created, and what they do. The lesson gave a few examples of laws which first graders can comprehend: stop at a read light, etc. The lesson directed me to ask Catherine to name a law. She said "When Daniel was alive, the law was that he could not pray to God." I was shocked that that was the first law which came to her mind. About a year ago, Robby had taught them the Biblical story of Daniel being thrown to the lions because he broke the king's law and prayed to God. I loved how she is seemlessly blending two subjects: Bible study and Social Studies (one philosophy of home schooling is an attempt to break down the compartmentalization of education). This kind of connection that Catherine makes is humbling to me: I have to constantly be aware of what I say and what she hears. She is not just listening, she is comprehending and remembering!!
- In Math we are strengthening addition and subtraction skills. The kids spend a few hours a week in the car, so I try to get educational DVD's from the library. I found an arithmetic one which included some songs to help learn the addition facts and a scene involving "Detective Digit." In the movie, a child is faced with three addends (1 + 4 + 6). The child has no idea what to do. Detective Digit calls this a triple threat and teaches the child to add two of the addends together, get a sum, then add the third addend to the sum to get a final sum.
When we were checking into Egleston hospital two weeks ago, we had to wait in the registration lobby for about two hours. Catherine pulled out some of the toys she brought with her. She lined them up so they can watch tv with her. She had 4 princess figurines, 3 Barbie dolls, and 2 stuffed animals. She said to me "4 plus 3 plus 2 - that's a triple threat!" Then we looked around the waiting room and found some other triple threats to add, such as green chairs plus orange chairs plus tables.
As I have said before, one of my biggest stressors with home schooling is knowing whether or not the girls are really learning. Am I just doing busy work? Is she retaining this? Am I going too fast? Does she really understand what I am teaching her?
I love it when she says something that correctly connects what we have taught her and demonstrates to me that she truly understands the material. Praise God for moments like that!