Language Arts

Ever since my daughter has learned to read she has professed to not be a fan of language arts. She claims she doesn’t like it, it isn’t for her, and she wants only to get it over and done with so she can move on to another subject. As an English major, this sort of cut close to the heart for me. How can my daughter not like language arts? That was my favorite subject in school. Then again, this isn’t about me or my loves – it’s about her.

I spent a few years, I think, pushing her in language arts in ways that I knew worked for me when I was in school. It is actually amazing how long that went on before I realized this wasn’t going to work for her. I have to let my children be individuals, and that includes in their homeschooling and learning styles. I’ve learned, with my daughter, the ways she likes to learn and the ways she responds.

This year, in 5th grade, Teresa is learning much more in language arts than before. I can see her writing blossoming, and her reading skills have improved. Where once she complained about different grammar exercises, I now have the rush of pride when she corrects her little brother’s grammar. Although she could probably be a little nicer about it … but at least she’s sharpening up on her skills!

It didn’t hurt that we found something she loves to read. In the past year Teresa stumbled upon mystery books – Nancy Drew, etc – and she LOVES them. She will tear through a mystery novel in a day, where the books I was making her read for our homeschool curriculum – Little House – would sit on the same page for weeks. I always thought it was because she didn’t like to read, as she always claimed. Apparently, it was just that those books bored her to tears, and we just needed to find what she loved.

I look forward to Teresa’s continuing development in language arts next year when she enters middle school, because I suspect she’s starting to enjoy it more than she claims.

Home Economics

To be honest, as homeschoolers, I never considered home economics as part of our homeschooling curriculum. I always assumed that as part of our day to day life, my daughter would naturally help out with cooking and learn all that she needed to learn. How could she not, I assumed. She does much of her schoolwork sitting right at the kitchen table, where I’m always cooking or baking, so I reasoned that her proximity to me would help to teach her.

And in a way, that’s true. Many times we’ve taken a break from working on school to bake cookies or to make some other yummy baked treat, and my 5th grade daughter simply loves helping out. She will go and get my cookbook, add ingredients, mix or stir, and put the cookies on the baking sheet or pour the batter into the pan, depending on what we’re making. Another favorite of hers is when we make meatballs; she loves getting her hands right into the meat mixture and forming the meatballs before I put them into the oven to bake.

Recently, though, we were visiting some friends, and they have a girl the same age as my daughter. I watched as this girl actually cooked lunch for herself, using both the stovetop and the oven. Teresa turned to me and said “Hey, why don’t you ever let me use the stove? Why haven’t you taught me?” That was when I realized that despite all my involving Teresa in many aspects of cooking, I had never given her any instruction at all in the usage of the oven, other than not to touch it or turn it on, ever. How could I have neglected this most basic teaching?

So this year, we’re embarking on some serious home economics. I’m not doing Teresa any favors by not teaching her to use the stove. When she was younger, yes, it made sense for her not to touch it. But there isn’t any reason she can’t learn to use the oven, with my supervision of course. She’s thrilled to have this addition to her studies, and I’m proud of how careful she is in all aspects of cooking. And 5th grade is a great time to start learning how to use the stove, because she’s old enough to understand safety measures and how to properly cook or bake.

All in all, I’d say this has been her favorite part of this school year.