Reflecting on Preschool and Imperfection

We’re trying our hand at doing a very relaxed version of preschool this year.

Last year we put Graham in preschool despite him not turning 3 until that October… we knew he was intellectually ready and we thought starting him a little early would give him an extra year to adjust and help with “socialization” since he is shy in big groups of people. (The idea of “socialization”…this is something I may write a more in-depth post on someday seeing as I now have some mixed emotions on that word.) Getting him to class just twice a week was a struggle. He never wanted to go and there were almost always tears each week…people told me, “give it a few weeks, he’ll be running in without saying goodbye.” This never happened. In the end it did more damage than good and about a month before the school year ended we pulled him out.  It was the best thing we could have done with him. Within a week we noticed some positive changes including his confidence level increasing greatly.

We talked about trying a different preschool a few months ago, thinking (again) that it could be good for him to be around a group of kids a few days a week, but the mere mention of school had him anxious and worried about us leaving him somewhere “alone”. Every child is so different and develops at different rates in their own way. Graham still has 2 years left before he would start Kindergarten so I decided that learning from home would be a good option this year…we can test it out and see how it goes.

Honestly….I’ve always wanted to homeschool, it was something I’ve thought about a lot and dreamed of what it could look like. I was homeschooled for a year and a half and it was a wonderful experience…I really excelled in the home learning environment. I’ve followed homeschool moms, movements and read up a little on styles. I think it has the potential to be one of the most incredible things we could do for our family. But then…I have my hesitations. Can I teach my son what he needs to know as well as someone else? Will he miss the school experience or be lacking in some way in the end? Is this the best option for my sons growth and development? And then there’s the social pressures, the norm, the weird hesitations in people’s conversation when you say you want to homeschool…the comments of people trying to be nice but totally not agreeing with your choice. And that’s all ok. This is a process and trial run for us and we’re going to make the best call for us, when the time comes. 🙂

I have a curriculum that I’m using loosely to guide me and we’re doing little projects throughout the day. I’m still uncertain on how we’ll proceed with schooling in the following years but, as of today, this is what we’re doing and we’re both enjoying it.

Last week we started with the letter “A” and the color Red…and a little bit of “B” because he just couldn’t wait it seemed like it was meant to be:

Handwriting practice. Graham is left-handed. To be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to how a left-handed person writes their letters so I did my best. He looked a little awkward trying to copy my method so I downloaded a free letter formation guide for lefty’s so that we can have as little frustration as possible in this area.

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He loved drawing on the whiteboard and then tracing on the paper the next day.

Playtime: On Tuesday, during our daily upstairs kitchen play, I “ordered” only items that started with A. Asparagus, Apples, Apple Juice. And then Graham ordered only items that were Red. This is a nice way to teach and review during play. It really is so natural to teach from home…in reality, we’ve been “homeschooling” since he was born and everything we do is a life lesson.

Apple Art…We used acrylic paint and cut up apples. The original idea was to place a paper inside a box, drop the paint colored apple into the box, and then roll it around to create some fun effects. Unfortunately it was garbage day when we decided to do this and all of my boxes were tossed in recycling. Fortunately, Graham had no idea of what was supposed to be happening so we improvised. We tried tossing the apples (my not so awesome idea…they all ended up in the grass) and then decided on apple stamping, which turned into finger-painting, much to my surprise. Having a child who has struggled with sensory issues I tend to plan messier projects if given the opportunity. First, to stretch and encourage him, and second, because I know how careful he is and that he can absolutely handle it and follow my directions within reason.

All about me: I wanted Graham to fill out an “all about me” sheet so that we can do another one each year and compare them. 🙂 He was happy to answer the questions but when I asked him to draw a picture of himself and our family his immediate response was “I can’t” (more on that below.) I realized that to a perfectionist, drawing on a paper is very permanent, and can be scary, so we practiced drawing people together on the whiteboard. I made sure to be free with my “expressions” of our family which he found hilarious and it gave him the confidence to try. After he realized his awesome skills he drew some pretty epic pics on the paper! 🙂

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Cutting Practice: 

I ordered him some lefty scissors that will be easier to use but until then we had fun with the pattern scissors. (Scrapbook supplies for the win!)

A fun Surprise!!

It just so happened that Graham received his monthly Koala Crate from Nannie and Pop and it happened to be bird themed so naturally we started studying the letter B…made a bird costume, read a bird book, made a clay bird, and because the bananas were way past ripe, we also made banana bread.

img_5844img_5845It’s funny, sometimes I feel like we don’t do anything throughout the day/ week and feel defeated but then I look at this weeks list and I feel pretty good about the learning we’re doing. Perhaps that’s why I love documenting my life…it’s easy to downplay how awesome life really is and all that we have to be thankful for.

So, the consensus after week one (which I realize is a very short time to make any real judgement) is that right now this is working well for us. I love the flexibility of learning at home. We can do our projects while Finn is napping or in quick 15 min increments throughout the day. Graham loves learning, doing projects and he keeps asking to do more “pages” and to learn the next letter… He is so smart and I love watching his mind work.

Some Observations:

I hadn’t noticed before that Graham lacks confidence more than I thought. It’s something I didn’t realize he struggled with. (When we do art projects together he has no issues (I’ve always applauded and admired his free creativity) but when it came to “school work” he used phrases like “I can’t” and “I’m scared” when I asked him to try to something new, like circling or tracing a letter. He also said, “I broke it” or “it’s ruined” when he didn’t do something perfect. This made me sad to hear from my boy. To combat this we tried doing things together the first time and  I reminded him that this is just practice and we’re having fun learning new things… that it doesn’t have to look perfect. This seemed to ease his fear and allow him the freedom to try his hand at the new skill.

Also, I can tell that he doesn’t love doing something he isn’t good at…(I mean, who does?) so he only wants to trace something a few times before he says it’s too hard…to which I question him, “is it too hard or you don’t want to do it anymore?” I want to make sure that he’s telling himself the real story, that he’s being honest with himself …something I believe is so important, but that’s something for a different post. 🙂

Anyways, the whole thing caught me off guard as I’d never heard him say anything negative towards himself like this before. I’m glad I’m aware now so that we can work diligently to help change and shape the way he thinks with more positivity.

I want him to love learning, allow himself to make mistakes…allow himself to be imperfect. It’s ok to be a novice at something while simultaneously realizing that it’s not a permanent state of being.

This really hits home for me as someone who has let perfectionism hold me back on too many occasions in the past. Too often I have been too afraid of doing something because I didn’t want to suffer through the awkward beginning when you’re really awful at something. I was too embarrassed to embrace the “learning” phase. It’s something I’m still working on. 😉

 

Nate has always been so incredible at teaching Graham. He shows him how to care for our home, how to use tools, how to be clean and is an incredible example of discipline. I’m so lucky to have him on my team.

My parents always told us to be better than they were…to teach our kids to be better than we are…and the generations will just keep getting better. I like to think that’s true! 🙂

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And speaking of parents…isn’t my dad just so cute with his grandsons!? This picture was taken right before Finn started crawling! Ah! So fun!

Thank you for sticking with me through a long one! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

-Gisele

 

 

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