Today our geography class took to the streets on bikes. The kids’ assignment was to confirm that their map of the neighbourhood was accurate and complete. N suggested heading north today (the map is centred on our house), so we elected him leader.
I have no idea how good a ten-year-old’s sense of direction should be, but I do know that I want my kids to be able to navigate our neighbourhood confidently (and to give useful directions,) and eventually to know how to get home from anywhere in this city. I’d put those two things firmly in the category of “skills for fully-functional adults.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, N seems to have a better sense of direction than R. It makes sense: N’s neighbourhood friend lives farther away than R’s, which means his independent travel covers a lot more territory than hers, and that’s before we even consider his independent 2-kilometre commute to school last year.
As we rode today, I asked the kids what direction we were travelling in. N was almost always right. R was wrong, often comically so. Good thing I brought a compass along. R was insistent that her friend’s house was south of us (it was to the north, actually) and the only way I could get her to bike just a little farther north was to insist on going to the post office. Fortunately, she realized her error before I had to correct her. When we stopped at the post office, the kids pulled out their map and made a few changes: the friend’s house was added, as were the crosswalk, the post office, and the name of the nearest cross-street.
I managed to slip some errands into our school day too: we mailed a package at the post office (actually, I send R and N inside to do it) and picked up some fruit and vegetables at the grocery store on our way home. But errands are only one of the ways that we’re blurring the lines between school and family life.
Today R and E were very intent on playing with their dolls—and I allowed it, even though it was eleven in the morning and they both “should’ve” been doing school work. I simply couldn’t see the harm. They played very happily together until I called them to get ready for our bike ride. This afternoon, N left his writing project open on the computer and followed E downstairs to see the bookmarks she was busily making. Twenty minutes later he was still downstairs, calling for me to teach him how to make a yarn tassel for his bookmark.
We didn’t finish everything I wanted to today: by dinnertime we still hadn’t started history or literature. But the kids are always happy to be read to, so after dinner R made some lemonade and the three younger kids listened raptly as I read to them from The One and Only Ivan, the novel we’re studying this month. It was such a good segue into bedtime that I’m going to try to do more of our literature classes in the evening.