On that note, I have decided to have what we are calling Summer Homeschool. We had good friends visit a few weeks ago and they are a homeschooling family so my kids were able to get an idea of what it means to have "school" at home. Basically we tried to convey to the kids that homeschooling means living life and taking notice of all that is around you so you can learn and reach your full potential. But, we told them that in terms 4 year olds can understand, "homeschool means we do fun stuff together and learn new things. And I will be expecting the best behavior, just like your preschool teachers." So that is our mission: to explore, to notice, to revel in wonder and hopefully learn a little something along the way. I have tried to put my teaching skills to use and put together a loose format and some lesson planning to give a bit of shape to our days. But, mostly we are going to go where the interest takes us.
On Monday morning they couldn't wait to get started. I thought we would start off with handwriting lessons and packets I made up about the colors of the rainbow. So I brought out dry erase boards and markers and we were going practice writing their names. That took about 1.5 minutes. Everyone was doodling, bored and more concerned about using the eraser. I could see their eyes glaze over and their ears shut off as I showed them the "cool" rainbow packets they could write in and color. I was told immediately by Vincenzo that Summer Homeschool is boring and then everyone else started asking when we were having snack. It was 8 am, exactly 37 minutes after breakfast, ugh.
Well... I quickly summed up that we were going to need Plan B. So my adorable booklets and worksheets went back into the Art Closet and we went with Science instead. I luckily had been to the Teacher/Parent store and bought a few Science kits that looked interesting . I also remembered we had gotten Dinosaur Eggs from a birthday party the day before. So I got a few cups of water, let each of the kids put an egg in and explain we would wait for it to hatch. They didn't care that it would take 12-48 hours for this to happen. The idea of that egg hatching kept them so excited they couldn't think of anything else. I saw how they responded so well, so I set up a plastic cart on the back porch and announced that it would be our Science Center. We put the cups with the eggs on it and it was as if I made magic happen before their eyes.
They were so overjoyed at the new Science Center! So I thought let's keep on this track. I quickly opened up the planting kit I had gotten and when they saw that small dome shaped terrarium, they went wild. Planting seeds in dirt, now that was fun! Summer Homeschool was back on! Most of the day they sat on the porch with little chairs watching the eggs and checking the dirt for signs of growth. They didn't even want to go to the park with friends, I had to actually bribe them to go. Then they hurried home to be on watch for dinosaurs. It was all they could talk about that day. How were the eggs going to hatch, did they have enough water? What would the dinosaurs look like? And all day we were all on the same page - the dinosaurs were NOT real because as Vincenzo reminded us - dinosaurs are extinct. Everyone understood that the eggs were to show you how a dinosaur egg hatched, but they are NOT actually dinosaurs. Everyone got it. Until bedtime. Then there was a moment of panic as the lights were going out that the giant dinosaurs might hatch while they were asleep and come into their room looking for them, and on and on. So we had to go through the garbage and find the box the eggs came in and see for sure that they are toys. And we read dinosaurs A-Z that assured us, dinosaurs are in fact extinct. Relief!
Nearly 24 long, excruciating hours later dinosaurs hatched!! We did a lot of celebrating and dancing around. We got out our book to identify each of the 4. Apparently we had one brontosaurus, one T-Rex, and one triceratops. And the last egg hatched the following morning containing a yellow duck. So that was a a whole new mystery to figure out.
Vincenzo claimed the T-Rex right away and has named him, Homeschoolasaurus.
We filled a bowl with water for the dinosaurs to swim, which created endless scenarios for fun times and messes.
So we survived the first week of being home together, we learned a little, we had a lot of fun, we had a few adjustments to make along the way, we had to "reprogram" behavior expectations here and there, but all in all it was great. As we got into the groove of the week it got better and better. And we even ended up with our own mascot, Homeschoolasaurs!