education · family fun · Homeschool · Montessori

Day 260: It’s a December miracle!

We got through an entire school day with no whining and no resistance. How, you ask?

Enchantment. It’s not my concept—we read about it in The Brave Learner—but essentially the idea is to inject some combination of surprise, mystery, risk, or adventure into homeschooling. So today, instead of just insisting that the kids write their assignments, I had them attend a writers’ meeting, complete with steaming mugs of coffee hot chocolate, which seemed to me like a prerequisite for a table full of writers trying to meet a deadline.

Their writing assignment for the month is to create a magazine of sorts, a guide to local businesses to support during the pandemic. They each have to research and write blurbs about five local businesses, select images to go with the copy, and do the graphic design to create one publication.

At our meeting, the kids took turns reading us their draft blurbs and sharing suggestions or ideas for each other’s write-ups. I acted as secretary, taking notes on yellow post-its. By the end of the meeting each child had a plethora of sticky note suggestions attached to each blurb; they left the “writing room” and went back to the computers, where they wrote for another forty-five minutes straight.

I don’t know if it was the hot chocolate with marshmallows or the idea of a “writers’ meeting” that enchanted them, but the kids all participated in writing today. I haven’t looked at their updated work yet, but I’m hoping to see some good things there.

Tired of bribing the kids with sweets, I took a different approach with geography. We began our study of Nova Scotia with a review of landforms à la Montessori: everyone got a tray of kinetic sand and we each made our own example of each landform. In this picture, R and N are both making archipelagos (which weren’t in the curriculum, but are definitely my favourite landforms, just slightly ahead of isthmuses.) The kids kept creating more examples of landforms we’d already done just so they could extend their time playing with kinetic sand.

We moved on to science, which was linked to geography in that we learned about lighthouses, prisms and the Fresnel lens. We headed up to the attic to do an experiment: first with a flashlight and then with a candle, we measured how much farther away you could see the same diameter of light beam with a Fresnel lens than without.

Word to the wise: if you’re trying to show the impact of adding Fresnel lenses to lighthouses, definitely use a candle. Most flashlights already have a lens of some kind, so the effect is less pronounced.

We came back downstairs and the kids finished writing up the experiment in their science notebooks. With that, the school day was over (except for some sort of read-aloud that I’ll do with them this evening.) Miraculously, nobody cried, screamed, tantrumed, stormed off, ripped up work, threw binders, or even yelled at their siblings. It was oddly peaceful and cooperative.

So next time I complain about a homeschool day gone completely sideways, please remind me that days like this happen too.

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