Now I can see that it was a combination of things. My attitude. Umberto not being ready. So here we are now in just the right spot. And it's not been totally easy. My house is a mess. I feel like the other kids are getting a bit neglected. Umberto needs me to right beside him for most of his work. We're working on independence, and I know it will come, but right now it's a bit confining. The positive in this side by side work is that Umberto and I have become very close. I think it's often the case that a child reaches their teen years, they drift away. It's nice to not find that happening; to have the opposite occurring as we work together. We can get creative about where school happens as well. So sometimes we do our work on the floor while Jude plays, giving us a few minutes to be together between baby care.
In addition, to our closeness, I've watched Umberto develop new interests. He has ended up really loving history which surprised, I think, us both. And he has learned to take pride in things. The other day he yelled "Yes, a 100 on that the Math quiz!" and it came from him not because we grade or because we even emphasis that kind of accomplishment. But for a kid who often struggles with academic self worth it was a pretty awesome moment. Maybe because it came from his own sense of accomplishment as opposed to pressure from others.
But I think the neatest moment came when Umberto had to build a diorama on a habitat of his choice. He was pretty blah about it, and it kept getting pushed to the back burner by both of us. I knew it was going to take a lot of effort on my part to get him started and since he was not feeling it, it would likely lead to conflict. I thought about just skipping the assignment. I've always though dioramas were kind of boring, and a waste of time anyway. Memories of horribly failed projects from my own child were foremost in my mind. I always had grand ideas that never quite coalesced into reality.
Still it was his first science project and I thought it would be good to just bull through and do it. We could mark it as done and then decide if it was something worth doing again. So last Sunday night, I found a shoe box, and said "Let's do it." What happened was pretty awesome. Piper and Camille were instantly interested when I brought out the air dry clay. I explained to them Umberto's assignment, and they both wanted to help. Soon we were all sitting on the floor in the living room, the Ipad propped up in front of us with images of coral reefs before us, surrounded by National Geographic magazines and clay. Piper was making sea turtles, and Camille started in on shark. Umberto was looking through the magazines, and talking about making a clown fish. Then we downloaded some coloring sheets, everyone peeking over my shoulders as we scrolled through pages of options. There was coloring, cutting, and discussion.
On Wednesday when the clay was dry so we started to assemble the diorama. At first it was just Umberto and I. Camille came out and wanted to be involved. I stepped back and let them go to town. They came up with creative ways to get the big things in the front, and the smaller things in the back. Umberto used H's wedge idea to have the fish appear to be standing. He also came up with the idea of how to hang the seahorse. Camille made Popsicle stick props to keep the coral upright.
In the end, we had a group effort. A family created project that arose from something that I was dreading. And it's what I really love about homeshooling. The improvisation. The unexpected fun and joy.