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Monday, March 16, 2015

A Day in the Life of an 8 Year Old Asynchronous Homeschooler

I used to think our homeschool schedule would be clearly determined:

8:00   Start school
12:00 School is DONE!  

But in our experience, I have discovered that learning happens ALL THE TIME. I cannot imagine restricting education to specific times of the day.

Our Typical Daily Schedule

Our typical homeschool day at home (three to four times a week) looks like a mix of project-based learning and a very structured program that challenges our son. The Independent Kid is an imaginative, creative, and asynchronous learner:
  1. does NOT like to be rushed through academics,
  2. wants to mix in his own independent/child-led projects throughout the day,
  3. focuses on creative projects that require a LOT of TIME.
This means our homeschool day CAN last all day: 

  • open communication with our son allows us to be aware of his homeschool needs and deliberate in our methods.
  • we all contribute to the homeschool day.
  • it is fun, engaging, and rigorous all at the same time.
  • learning happens ALL DAY long.
  • it is all-consuming.

  • finding an engaging program (curriculum, books, topics) may take a while and is a trial-and-error process.
  • we still haven't figured out Maths.
  • it is an all-consuming homeschool lifestyle.
  • few understand our intensity.

7:00 Wake Up: Quiet Time

This is the time when The Independent Kid reads or plays quietly by himself. He is now engrossed in the Harry Potter series and presented this letter to his Hogwarts Students (a.k.a. us/his parents) this morning. Why? Because he now wants a broom to add to his increasing costume wardrobe.

8:45 Breakfast

We watch CNN Student News and check our various iPad pets.

9:30 (or later depending on our day) Start School

The Independent Kid will sometimes choose to come to school in costume or with action figures or animals from his Stuff Land.

1 hour of Math: Khan Academy.

Right now, this is the subject that frustrates both of us. Three days into trying out Grade 4, so it is still too early to tell if he likes/doesn't like it.

The Independent Kid likes the Scratch Pad mode and the Avatars.

1 hour of History :  IEW's U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons, Vol. 1: Explorers–Gold Rush and supplementing with other resources. 

He enjoys writing these outlines because he gets to draw.
He doesn't enjoy writing out the paragraphs, but he understands how much he has learned from the IEW programs.
If the first draft looks neat enough, I don't force him to rewrite.
We use movies to supplement our curriulum. This is his first response to Roots Episode 1. Obviously, he was affected by how the Africans were treated.

1 hour of Science: Real Science 4 Kids Middle School Biology. The Independent Kid didn’t feel like drawing cells today, so we worked together to build them on Minecraft instead. 

Prokaryotic Cell - we labeled all the parts.

Plant Cell

We built the animal cell on another day, but I wanted to show you all three together.

Animal Cell - notice he added a moving MineCart, i.e. his "roller coaster".

20 minutes each Foreign Language (depending on the day): GermanSpanish (Grade 3-4 is very S.L.O.W., rethinking this), and Rosetta Stone Mandarin.

Always a drawing. If you know the Muzzy stories, this is a drawing of Corvax.
Today, Spiderman is in our house studying Mandarin. How he can see through the head gear, I don't know.

1:30 Lunch Break 

This usually means leftovers from last night. Easy for Mama.

You will notice that we don’t have a morning break. This works for us. The Independent Kid usually doesn't need a snack or a break in the mornings. But by lunchtime, we both look forward to lunch!

2:15 Resume School

1 ½ hours English Language Arts

Spelling: All About Spelling 6 without the manipulatives for my natural speller. I dictate the words/sentences and  he simply writes them. 

Notice the drawings!

Grammar: Michael Clay Thompson's Level 2. 

The Independent Kid LOVES these word searches and questions.

Of course, our day would not be complete without humor.

And lots of doodling.

Literature, we choose from the Age Levels 8-10 and 9-11 Moving Beyond the Pages units. 

We just started reading Holes by Louis Sachar. Of course he loves it that one of the characters is called Armpit. And when you homeschool a boy, these are the sentences that they enjoy writing:

If you think this is funny, you should see our Mad Libs books!
After the unit activities, he wanted to watch Bill Nye’s Rock and Soil episode. And after that, he wanted to play outdoors.

3:45 Break and Play Time

What's the first thing he wanted to do during his break? He spent about 30 minutes to an hour role playing "Holes" by digging and /or pretending to have his own soil laboratory like Bill Nye.  This kind of pretend play related to homeschool work is a constant at our house. 

Digging and sorting.

Have you guys noticed the gloves yet??? Are any of your kids the same?

5:00 Resume School: Daddy takes over now.


We are indoor rowers. So the little guy does his share too.
20 minutes or so Drum Practice

A lot of dreams at our house.

5:45 School is finally DONE: Quiet Time/Independent Work

These days, if not reading, tinkering with his keyboard, creating a gadget, or playing out some imaginary scene in his head, he listens to his latest music obsession: the soundtrack of  Doctor Who. For the past few weeks, he has independently studied all the Doctor Who Theme Music from 1963 to the present and can now distinguish each song by year and Doctor.

6:30 Dinner

Slow cooked by Mama. I love that I have the time to do this for my family.

7:30 Play with Daddy or watch a show/movie together as a family.

These days, he enjoys playing video games, action figures (Superheroes, Star Wars, Doctor Who), or role playing scenes from favourite shows with his Daddy. He also asks to watch Who's Line Is It Anyway? in preparation for his own upcoming Improv Show at a local theatre.

9:00 Bedtime 

More reading and talking about the good things that happened during the day.

The Best Part

Homeschooling definitely brings us closer.

Like all homeschool families, we have both good AND bad days. Homeschooling days do not always flow perfectly. They are definitely not always how I planned. And I often need to remind myself that the struggles, the challenges, and the frustrations (big or small) must be welcomed as part of the homeschool day because they will always be there. What is important is that we have created a deliberate homeschool lifestyle together that prioritises and encourages learning in a nurturing and enjoyable environment.

Recently, someone asked The Independent Kid if likes homeschooling. Without missing a beat, his heart-warming response was: "I love it!" As for me, there is no other job I would rather have than to be his Homeschool Mama.

I am participating in the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum March 2015 Blog Hop: A Day in the Life of a Gifted Homeschooler. Please visit the GHF website for more posts like this:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mama, Three Things About Me?

You can see his arms around me here while we homeschool (reading together). 

I love homeschooling my son. There is no other "work" I would rather do and I am grateful I am able to do it. Homeschooling is not all perfect though. Sometimes, my week is a collection of imperfect days when I feel like a total failure as a mother. These imperfect days make me feel like I'm trying too hard to be "teacher" and forget that I'm really his "mama".

So this year, I decided to mother more deliberately. I started 2015 with a wonderfully positive habit. At bedtime, I hug my son, we say our good nights, and I share THREE things he did during the day that I witnessed, loved, and admired about him. I make sure these are things that feed his spirit and soul. More often than not, I refer to events that required his effort, charity, and thoughtfulness.

My son LOVES every minute of this new ritual. He now starts bedtime with a "Mama, three things about me?!" More significantly, he has started to share THREE things he witnessed, loved, and admired about me too. Bedtime has become an even more sacred time we share together as mother and child to communicate affectionately and to love one another. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Homeschooling a Young Boy with Imaginational Overexcitabilities: What Does It Look Like?

At 2 years old, this meant a lot of read alouds: 90 books at least a week!

He would "dress up" everyday. Here he is as Merlin (with glasses).

He would talk to statues and make a trip to a museum come alive.

He was always role playing and constantly making up stories. 

Here he is playing outside and creating his October Skeleton Man just in time for Halloween. 

At 3 and 4 years old, his stories grew more elaborate which included character puppets and props.

Most of his day consisted of acting in character. 

Here he is as Beethoven composing by candlelight. 

When he was 5, he wrote his very own fantasy novel.

He wore more elaborate costumes.

Here he is as the Mad Hatter and Edward Scissorhands.

He finally joined the Theatre landing his first role as an Oompa Loompa.
His love of acting never abated.

He also studied actors he loved watching: Johnny Depp and Christopher Reeve. 

A year later, he researched Bruce Lee, Roy Rogers, and Matt Smith.

When he turned 6, this meant using his interests in our homeschool.

Copywork was Star Wars copywork and, yes, doodling allowed.

He asked to "dress up" for school. 

Here is Superman at the keyboard and Zorro doing Math.

He also homeschooled with his various "classmates" and

we used curriculum that allowed creativity and imagination.

Moving Beyond the Page Literature Units have always been a hit at our house.

At 7 years old, his love for theatre only deepened. 

He played Michael Darling in Peter Pan in our community production.

In an Advanced Acting Workshop, his teacher chose him for Macbeth's Banquo and the Doctor. 

He LOVED the process, as seen here in his script.

His love for fantasy and humor also increased.

He wrote a book entitled Pull My Finger by Toot N. Kamen and

continued his elaborate role playing.

He is now 8 and his sense of invention, imagination, and fantasy has not decreased in the least.

For his recent homeschool independent project, he created his own alien creature. 

I can't wait to see what else he comes up with!

More of his YouTube videos here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Math Again Tomorrow?

The Independent Kid doing Math while dressed up as Doctor Who.

Hello Math! We start off our homeschool everyday with you because you require the utmost focus and attention. I love you, but unfortunately, my son with imaginational OE just doesn't like you much. Some days, he dresses up like Spider-Man or Batman or Superman or Doctor Who just so he can get through his "missions" easily enough. Some days, I make up crazy word problems about zombies and vampires and various gruesome tales just so he is motivated to solve you. Some days, we play lots of games. 

Today, Math is Teaching Textbooks on the computer. He is in his PJs (school uniform) and is full of distractions (jokes, singing, talking, and some sort of dramatic scene is playing out with the keyboard, pencil and textbook). It's only our first hour of school and I'm already rolling my eyes.  I am a Monster Mama shouting "Stop doing that! STOP! JUST FOCUS!" Gah! Why won't he focus?!? It seems like the first hour of our homeschool is always dedicated to fixing his "poorly formed study habits". Although in my defense, I do seriously attempt to bury my head in my knitting and frantically veer myself away from his computer screen into relaxation mode instead. I tell myself: it's just an hour and we can move on to the other subjects he has no trouble concentrating in. 

When his assignment is finally completed, I am tired. How can someone so loud, distracted, and unfocused get a 96%? He would be sent to the Principal's office if he were at a real school! Can I do this again tomorrow? 

Found this in his journal.

The Independent Kid looks at me and proclaims, "Mama, you do know that one day I might end up a Math teacher! Just like Andrew Pudewa ended up a Writing teacher!" (Apparently, Mr. Pudewa hated writing when he was younger.)

"You just might!" 

And yes, I think, I can do this all again tomorrow.*

*If you are wondering why I don't go elsewhere while he does Math, it's because he actually asks me questions when he doesn't understand something. Being in the same room quickens the process.

Math and Logic Tips for Kids with Imaginational OE (affiliate links)

Here are some of my son's recent faves:

- Teaching Textbooks: please make sure your student takes the placement exams. These run at least two years ahead of Singapore Maths. (We use SM 4, but TT 6, for example.) I find the problems simplistic, but he enjoys the animation.

- Life of Fred - I'm not a fan, but he loves the stories.

Chocolate Fix - a logic game

Rush Hour - another logic game

Building Thinking Skills - he actually enjoys doing the worksheets

- we have tried Singapore Maths, Right Start Maths, Miquon, Horizons. We still use Singapore Maths to supplement Teaching Textbooks. I suggest reading the Teacher's Guide. It will help with teaching the lessons more coherently. Admittedly, The Independent Kid doesn't like Singapore Maths. I do change the word problems to make them more interesting for him.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum: a Community for Asynchronous Learners

“Am I gifted, Mama? I don’t think I’m gifted.” 

I was editing the 10th anniversary video for Gifted Homeschoolers Forum and didn't realise my son was intently watching me at work. I didn’t know how to respond to this. 

“I don’t know sweetheart. We haven’t tested you for giftedness, but I do know you are an asynchronous learner.” 

His latest standardized test results came back with the largest gap between the lowest and highest subject grade equivalents yet: NINE whole grade levels. Who knew a child’s learning could be so irregular!

Check out other posts for this month's GHF Blog Hop here:

Even when my son was 2 years old, I felt challenged by the way he learned about the world. I struggled to find someone who could help or understand my situation. While one local homeschool support group leader laughed in my face at the preposterous thought that my 4 year old could read Magic Tree House Books on his own and had completed Kindergarten Maths, the GHF community embraced me and helped me understand that I was not alone. 

I love what my colleague at Building Wing Span says, “One of our goals at GHF is to help parents find ways to reach their kids.” If you are a parent interested in homeschooling, educating your children, gifted/2E issues, and/or parenting in general, GHF is a wealth of information and a sensitive, caring community. It is easy to see how we manage to reach up to 300,000 people a week all over the world. 

Thank you Gifted Homeschoolers Forum for all you do. 
Happy 10th Anniversary!