Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Archimedean Solids and Learning From Home

"Can you draw a rhombicuboctahedron?" Max is working on geometry. Alex is trying to figure out what happens when electrical circuits are overloaded. William is calculating Lego price values. When Max asked, " what is the difference between a rhombus and a parallelogram?" William asked whether any of us could draw a rhombicuboctahedron. Squares, rectangles and rhombuses are parallelograms. Alex can draw a rhombicuboctahedron, which is an Archimedean solid with 8 triangular and 18 square faces, and William added, "Leonardo da Vinci was the first person to draw one."

In 1 hour we drive to the homeschool headquarters, where we turn in work and share what we've been up to. The children have plenty to share and discuss. I, on the other hand, will be fumbling around, because the hardest part of homeschooling is being the teacher and the administrator. I would love to give up the administrative duties. I contend that there is not enough time to do the paper work and teach. So, I am scrambling to put my stuff in order, answer questions in science, math and literature, and visit Maria's kitchen where she is preparing a picnic and needs people to show some interest in her activities.

Unschool takes its own kind of discipline, but some days it is so tempting. This morning all of the children snuck into our bed. We shared drowsy laughs, then Geoff and I went to the family room to figure out computer/printer/telephone issues. When I went back to my room I found William reading to Alex, Max and Maria. He was reading "Amelia Bedelia" for his sister. They filled the bed and Maria was snuggled in the crook of her biggest brother's arm. They postponed the reading of "The Hobbit," because Maria wanted her book read first. Once Maria's wish was satisfied, they continued reading aloud from their book. Not a school book, not assigned.

They read aloud to each other most nights, and many mornings. Left to their own devices there are many things they seek and decipher, they take apart, figure out and calculate. Together we discover and learn a great deal, and somedays it seems our greatest stumbling block to actual learning is trying to fulfill administrative expectations, prepare for standardized tests and fill out forms. As Alex says when exasperated: Feh.

Max's most recent endeavor is to witness metamorphosis. He read 3 articles about the Pacific Tree Frog, a very common species of chorus frog... that's one part I remember from reading the wikipedia article. I have the best memories of scooping up tadpoles from creeks and ponds when I was a kid. We would drop them in a pail or wading pool or whatever and pretty soon we had frogs. It's magic I have been meaning to share with my children for quite some time.

Last week, while on a country excursion we found some tadpoles. We have them set-up in luxury accommodations, where Alex and Max have applied all they have learned about the needs and delights of the Pacific Tree Frog. We think there are at least 4 of them in there, and they are very, very small. Can you see the dark pea in the algae? That's one! Even when they first transform into frogs they may be as small as 1 centimeter. We will take them back to their creek home once they become frogs... congratulating ourselves for keeping them safe from predators until they are strong hoppers!


  1. Your children are amazing, Natalie...young wonders! I can't begin to imagine the difficulties of homeschooling...My hat off to you in all you do. But given the chatter between the kids...sounds like you're doing a great job! :o) ((HUGS))

  2. Natalie - the way your kids are make me want to homeschool Amira. I haven't been convinced with the 'traditional' schooling methods given my own experience with them growing up. Listening to your world and the schooling/learning experience your kids have - it's so enticing. I get the hard work that you do. That tempers my absolute enthusiasm in wanting to do it myself. But the rewards...

    Your children, they are incredible. Congratulations to them and to you & Geoff!

  3. I love the metamorphosis stuff you guys are doing! If you even want any science ideas let me know. I am a scientist for a living! And I used to bring science stuff into the classrooms at my kids schools too = )

  4. Oh you are doing such a wonderful and important job, and your kids are having the time of their lives. I am full of admiration. I love having kids, but I could no more do what you do than fly. Well done - you're all awesome!

  5. Administrative work really does suck. I hated it when I was still a teacher. I just wanted to teach and interact with the students!

    It is so wonderful, so beautiful, so amazing that your children enjoy reading and learning together! =D

  6. This reminds me it is about time for us to go look for tadpoles in our favorite ponds and fountains.


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