Tuesday in Africa
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
cortneyandjon in homeschooling

A full day at home, a hint of the snuffles keeping us inside. Games, blocks, coloring, books, even a video later in the day. Calvin started by creating a pattern, singing about it all the while.

As a homeschooler, a new one, I live in constant fear that I am missing something. I have yet to hit my stride, to get comfortable with the process. There are days when things just work out, and when I think about it those are the days when I follow Calvin's lead, his interests. This week we are talking about Africa and that's because after the African folk tale play we attended last week he wanted to know more, so we are exploring, and each new door opened leads to another gallery, another riddle, and another door. We started with Africa but quickly were forced to delve into understanding continents, because Africa, after all, cannot be compared to the United States or to China, the other two areas in which we've already spent some time. Continent, Country, State, City. He now understands their relationships to each other, and he knows where he lives, he knows where Uncle Curtis lives, and he knows where Aunt Kate lives, in another country on another continent.

We've enjoyed playing Mammoth Hunt with this new knowledge, and playing that game has effectively quizzed his previous understanding of cardinal directions as well, and of counting and adding, as we roll dice and he is responsible for making his own way around the board. He loves games. Probably most kids do, and the right game is a great way to be challenged, to learn. Learning about continents led to us the atlas, the globe, the game, and ultimately back to Africa, because his original interest was not yet sated. So we started mapping the continent and talking about the pictures in the atlas of the desert, the savanna, the rainforest. We researched them, we marked them on maps, we drew them.

And did you know that elephants are so adaptable that they can survive in all of these biomes? Well let's draw elephants then, by all means, but then he was nervous about attempting something so detailed as an elephant, so we looked that up, too. And then we drew them. It's just a combination of circles and lines, really. What a discovery! So we drew them in deserts, we drew them in rainforests, we drew them on the grassy plains. I stand in awe of his elephant drawing capabilities, actually.

And when we tired of drawing elephants, and after we'd gotten our Oz fix over lunch, he decided that I looked like an elephant, because I was all dressed in grey. And he wanted to be an elephant, too, and he had a gray outfit, and while he changed into it I whipped up a quick pair of elephant ears—the healthy kind.

I knew I'd eventually be thankful for those tubs stacked upon tubs filled with extra fabrics. Meet the elephant at the piano.

He trumpets loudly.

Then more books, another game (mancala), and we watch BBC's Planet Earth, the section on world grasslands. We got to see elephants, and some other beautiful creatures.

Today was amazing. I feel great about today. At the end of a day like this I don't feel the lingering doubts. The lesson for me is obvious: I need to be more trusting of Calvin's desire to learn, he needs very little redirection, just help getting where it is that he wants to go. Eventually, with the right kind of help, he won't need me even for that.

Article originally appeared on Cortney and Jon Ophoff's Family Site (http://www.theophoffs.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.