Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Keeping Up With Elliot

I am the kind of person who loves the ordinary day.  What I find difficult to manage is the swift passage of time and the rapid development of my children.  Wasn't I just holding Elliot on my lap?  In a recent, although blurry photograph, my eight year old looks like he's well on his way to the teen years!

In this picture, Elliot is experimenting with dry ice.

Add to that difficulty, the challenge of keeping pace with an exponentially growing mind, which is eager and ready for new complexity and fresh learning experiences.  The beauty and the beast of home education is my responsibility to regularly anticipate boredom and fly ahead with lessons that continue to create real learning without overwhelming my learner.

Elliot loves to build and create.  He loves literature and is teaching himself to play the piano.  We are having a blast this year, digging into all kinds of things taken from the library and gathered from our environment.  I am  learning so much about engaging his interest, which has created a stronger bond between us.

Recently, we found a roller coaster building set at our Goodwill for 7.00.  We were a little concerned that pieces might be missing, but that was not an issue!  Over the course of a week, Richard and Elliot built a real working miniature roller coaster in our living room!  It even has a little electronic box that makes a screaming noise when the little plastic people rush down the hill.

I have noticed that a great deal of curriculum designed for home education is over simplified, for the purpose of ease in instruction and organization.  I do enjoy working to build on basic skills, but Elliot needs a combination of simple routine and complex ideas or interesting systems.  This week, we are working through a wonderful book called Eat Your Math Homework!  

So far, we've created Fibonacci snack sticks, Probability trail mix, Tangram cookies, and my personal favorite, Tessellating Brownies.

Another development this year is the deepening bond Elliot has formed with his friends.  We have been extremely blessed by the friendship of another home schooling family, who come to visit or meet us every week.

Elliot loves his friend Aiden and his little sister, McKenna.  Aiden has introduced Elliot to Minecraft, a computer based game that is challenging and educational. Elliot has often been invited to connect to Aiden's server and talk with him via phone calls set to speaker.  The game is a little over my head, and so I'm thankful when Richard can step in to help Elliot when he gets lost somewhere or his character accidentally dies.

The gift of friendship and building relationships is something we celebrate!

And just as spring seems to want to arrive despite the colder weather this year, I feel like I'm emerging from a darker emotional time.  February was personally challenging for me.  I allowed myself to hang on to stress, to anger, to irritable moods much too long.  Maybe making the lifestyle change of "reducing" and breaking my consumption habits made me cranky and sensitive.

Then March arrived, and pounds are starting to melt along with my rough icy mood.  I'm learning to recognize when the burden of stress might be impacting a person's behavior, and that includes my own.

I would like to crack out of my stress shell this season.  It's too dark in there.

Sometimes, just being aware of the presence of stress and the way it works to unsettle me is the most powerful tool to let the light shine through.  Then I can forget what I was worried about, and pay more attention to these ordinary days, these fleeting days of childhood, these happy golden years.

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