Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stephen and SIDES, two months in

Spring break is over and we are back at school. Last Friday was the end of our first reporting period with SIDES. We are awaiting the results from his teacher of the first set of material submitted.

Stephen is still very happy with his decision to work through SIDES. He tells everyone that asks that he really likes how it is going.

Stephen is 10 and would be in grade 4, but he is about 1/3 of the way through the grade 5 curriculum. He is motoring his way through the material fast enough that I think he should be allowed to slow down.

I am not talking about him not being some manner of structured learning, but doing more creative things with more of his time because he is getting far enough ahead. Since he is working at his own pace, what takes place in the school over a week or two he does in a day or two.

With the speed he is going through the material, and the flexibility of how he can meet the requirements, we are getting more relaxed in what Stephen does during the day. We are allowing him to do more creative things for longer periods

Stephen has had a chance to do some interesting things.
  • We did an experiment on heat transference so that he could understand why water heats and cools faster than air.
  • We pulled open the truck hood and looked at how an engine works after having viewed some videos about how a 4 stroke engine functions.
  • He is learning to play the ocarina - his idea
  • He is recording stories on the computer with special effects
  • He is learning how to podcast
  • He is writing a SciFi story
  • He is using his Warhammer as his art project and will be building scenery shortly

Not only is he doing all these interesting things, I am at hand when he is doing them. It is interesting to be so closely connected to what his learning and how he is learning it.

The most active teaching I do is with chess. He is rapidly learning how to play chess very well and loves chess problems. In the process of working with Stephen on chess, I am finally properly learning chess. It is in teaching him formal openings, tactics, strategies, end game and more that I am dramatically improving my own game.

In most things Stephen is self directed and comes to us for direction to get started or to explain some part of what he is working on.

I have been looking for some online resources and I have found some good ones, though I would like to find some more, if you know of any, please let me know. If it were not for the online resources for everything, it would be very hard for us to work with Stephen. I am not sure how people managed it in the past.

There are down sides:
  • He is in the house and does need some supervision, this impacts our ability to work
  • Stephen sometimes does the absolute minimum and asks "Am I done?" - I can not watch him all the time and have made it clear that if he bullshits us the whole process will not work.
  • He can get frustrated and adopt a whiny defeated tone at times, when he sounds like that it pushes all my buttons.

So far, so good. I am happy with how it is going. More and more people are choosing different choices from the child's education, I wrote about this recently for 24 Hours in Vancouver.

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