Family Engagement - April 2020
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April is the coming of Spring – a glorious season! Being outside, getting our garden ready for planting, preparing for Earth Day. Planting and Exploring Literature in Nature. And our celebration too: OUR FIRST SPIRIT WEEK!
COVID-19 At-Home Learning: Per Governor Cuomo, all schools in New York including The School House are to remain closed until further notice is given. Please see updates to our LEARNING AT-HOME SECTION OF TSH PARENTS
Please send us photos of your homeschool day! If we can’t be together, at the very least we can “see” each other and learn how each of us is handling these trying times ... usually made lighter by the presence of our children. firstname.lastname@example.org
A Math Activity that Worked & Why
The experiment I chose this week centered on a question: Could I hold my Learner’s attention on one topic all week? The topic was math and my intention was to do counting on Tuesday, addition on Wednesday, followed by subtraction and multiplication. For a 6 and 8 year old counting seems easy, but still… sometimes I see gaps. And after all, if you can’t count fast and furiously, the other applications are quite hard.
1. Open with a story. I took a quick look at the History of Math. Math began with commerce. We needed to keep track of things. So I asked my boys to get me a few things from the kitchen without counting… hysterical. I also asked them to make big connections… why was Math emerging just as we were moving from hunters and gatherers to agriculture in Egypt? Suddenly, it didn’t matter that your cave-husband killed a beast. It mattered that you went to the blueberry farmer and got 100 blueberries. The story connected them to the work.
2. Make them a special book. The book I made was just plain paper folded and stapled, but I wrote their names beautifully and called it their counting book. They felt special.
3. Give them freedom within structure… but not too much freedom! They could count and record anything they wanted. However, they had three rules. They had to do half of them independently. They had to count twice to verify their first number. And they had to - if possible - touch the object as they counted. This hand-to-brain work is fundamental in Montessori. The result was that they had independence within parameters.
I determined this was successful because they were fully engaged… it was something their mind needed and they did the project for 90 minutes without me. This could be because there were two of them and might have been shorter if it was an only child.
They also moved constantly, so they were joyful, not subdued. They were able to quickly see their mistakes and self-corrected them. And this project naturally led into another: when they counted hundreds of windows in our home (they counted even the little strip panes thinking we lived in the South of France) they found it impossible to keep track of those big numbers. This was a problem for them to solve. And the solution came in setting up groups, which let to multiplication. Finally, when their dad asked them about the best part of their day at dinner, they simultaneously cheered: math!
This project led to a whole week of math including scale, money, building and even a board game. It’s what the Educators know so well to happen when a topic is presented in an engaging way.
This and other projects will be updated every Sunday on the parent’s section of www.theschoolhouse.org so if you’re not doing formal academic work or want to add new projects, you can find them in one place. If you have a project that you feel worked especially well and engaged your child for 30+ minutes please send it to email@example.com.
What to Watch:
Unstoppable - about Bethany Hamilton (this is the second, follow up documentary) - the pro-surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack on the North shore of Kauai. Bethany surfs big wave Fiji (and other places around the world) with one arm (having lost almost every other competition that year) nursing her one-year old baby on a boat between heats. Her story from 13 year-old victim to constant and consistent survivor is so valid as we examine our own struggles and strength throughout this time. If she can do what she’s done… we can do what we’re doing: forging on - despite our setbacks - to build the best education for children here and beyond. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xbNitFJlqk
About Family Engagement: At The School House, family engagement activities in lieu of homework are sent home by our teaching team. These are family-based projects that enhance our weekly, monthly and seasonal curriculum.