Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Lesson in Ladybirds

One of the things I'm still learning, four years into homeschooling, is how to take life and make a lesson out of it. You would think that merging home and school would be easy, it's called homeschool isn't it? But detaching from traditional teaching methods imbued into my soul as a young child is not. I'm slowly relearning while I teach.

A few posts ago I wrote about our aphid issue in the garden. I had the epiphany, while searching for live ladybugs on Amazon, to go ahead and order a few early elementary level science books to go along with them. Then I went to Enchanted Learning -the best site for printables- and printed out coloring pages on a ladybugs lifecycle.

I'd like to think that these past four years that is how I've done things; relating learning and projects to real life situations. Unfortunately, this has been a hard lesson for me to learn. I struggled for years trying to fit in what was on the list for a particular grade/age of a particular child based on public school requirements* and still be able to bake, change diapers, play with the kids, clean, grocery shop, get oil changes, do laundry, garden, drop off donations and the million other things that make up my day while still wedging in a slice of time for personal goals, college and projects. And maybe even get in a shower. School isn't about what you do in life, it's what you learn in books, right?

Throwing a stick in the cog of my mental processes, I headed outside. Crayons, printables, books and ladybugs in hand. We sat, we read, we colored and we learned. We released our ladybirds and watched excitedly as they explored the garden.

Then we sat at our gorgeous new picnic table. In the beautiful cool morning breeze we colored our books and learned about how ladybugs live.

I even learned some things I hadn't known about these marvelous benefactors to my garden. While we were doing this, Max was doing this...

We were careful not to squish any as we watched them run around, fly away and um...feverously mate all over my vegetables. They crawled all over as Emmy squealed in delight when one got up the gumption to crawled all over her. Fifteen hundred ladybugs is A LOT. They were everywhere in a few hours and even places we didn't necessarily want them.

The ceiling in the house.

I think the kids had a better time learning about them hands-on, seeing how they related to our lives and were important to us. I didn't have to fight to get them to sit and listen or read. I got to tend the garden while they were participating instead of being frustrated I couldn't get out to do what I needed to. I hope that I can learn -and remember- to incorporate more of these life-school lessons as we go on.

*These requirements are guided to meet a test called the FCAT here in Florida. A test that is in our top three reasons why we DO NOT send our kids to public school. Is administered every three years and directly relates to the monies the schools -and teachers- recieve from the gov't.


Anonymous said...

In your reading about ladybugs, did you read that they migrate? Just wondering because we get an "infestation" of them twice a year -- in the spring and in the fall. A few always decide to live permenantly on my kitchen ceiling, making weird plinking noises as they bounce off the light fixtures at random times.

We lived in Florida when I was a kid being homeschooled (3rd-4th grades, I think) and I remember being absolutely TERRIFIED when I had to go take that assessment test. I'm so glad we don't have to do anything like that here in Missouri.

Crystal said...

Yes,we learned a LOT about them from a minibeasts book called Ladybugs (isbn 0-531-14826-2 $4.99) We get some but not nearly enough to get my aphid and white fly issue solved.

As for the FCAT, I never had to take it, but a friend's daughter's teacher had her so worked up over them she would actually vomit before school...she was in third grade.