When My Kids Ask to do Their Schoolwork

I was going to give all of my boys the day off today and just let them play and explore.  We had an early morning appointment with the orthodontist and I didn't want to spend the morning rushing around any more than was necessary.

That had been my plan.

However, at 8:30 Ian was calling up the stairs to me and asking if he could do some schoolwork.  Of course I said sure.  I'm certainly not going to say no!

My kids don't often ask for schoolwork.  I hear from some homeschooling moms about their kids willingly working ahead in their books and taking it upon themselves to do schoolwork but that is not normal for us. 

It has happened on occasion though and that's when I usually decide to just follow their lead. 

I asked Ian what he wanted to do and he said math.  I offered up Khan Academy, his math workbook, or to print out another coloring sheet like the ones they've been doing.  Ian asked if I could find a coloring sheet that worked with adding three digit numbers together.  I found a few in our book and since he had been looking over my shoulder. he asked if we could do the one with the guitar.  I asked Alec if he wanted to do the same sheet while I was copying it and he said yes so I made two copies.  

When I don't have lessons planned and I'm letting the boys lead their learning I'll often offer up a few various suggestions if they don't readily have their own idea ready. 

While Ian was busy coloring he told me he planned to finish reading his Weirder School book and told me he was out of books to read after that.  We're just about ready to return all of his Bulldozer books and he told me that many of them were part of a series and there were other books in the series about excavators and graders that he wanted to read.  I sat beside him and logged onto our library's page.  Following his lead, we ended up putting in requests for 20 books on diggers, dump trucks, and construction equipment.  TWENTY!  I really thought we had long since exhausted our library's resources on construction books but having some titles to go by we were able to broaden our search and find many more "new" books for him to read.

I try to capitalize on the moments when they're showing the initiative to do more; in this case sitting right down to order books while we were both thinking about it. 

 It's great to see my reluctant reader so excited about getting so many books from our library!

Evan wanted to play a game for math today instead of working in his books and after many suggestions and a bit of frustration we finally settled on addition war.

He loves the card game war so I suggested we'd make it more math related by flipping over two cards, adding them up, and comparing sums.  We left the face cards in and decided a Jack was 11, Queen 12, and King 13 with Aces being 1.  He did amazing adding up his sums and often knew without adding who would win.  He remembered to start with the bigger number and count up from there.  He immediately added 10 to any number and often had the king so he quickly memorized that 10 + 13 was 23.

We had many wars even though we never had two of the exact same cars showing so he quickly learned that the higher sums had many numbers that would add up to them.  The game seemed to be ongoing and we played until he got bored and asked to quit.

If the boys are asking for work and planning our day I go by their interests so when they want to stop playing a game because it is no longer fun I honor that request. 

Evan went and pulled the Dick and Jane book out of the book bin and asked to read a few more of those stories today.  We settled down on the couch and he read me three more.  He actually thought that he had only read two and started to argue as I went to put it away.  Not really thinking I showed him that we had, in fact, read three books but I probably should have just asked him if he wanted to read more!

I try not to stop them from working when they're on a roll and enjoying what we're doing. 

As Evan and I were reading, Alec was working on his math and ended up slipping his page under the door for me to check over.  I came out of the room with Evan to find Ian and Alec playing a game of regular war.  Alec commented that it was too bad all of the real wars couldn't be settled with a simple card game like war.

My mom showed up and it was time for Alec & I to leave.  He decided to finish reading his Minecraft book today and brought it with him to the orthodontist.  He finished up the book just as he was called into the exam room.  It was a bit lengthier today and as he was waiting he often commented that he wished he had brought his other book in with him too.  Ian had finished his Weirder School book before we left and since Alec loves that book series also he grabbed it to bring with us as a back up.  Imagine my surprise when he started reading it on our way home and informed me an hour later that he was done.  Ian marveled that the book had taken him over a week and Alec read it in an hour.

I encourage them to take everything at their own pace and not to compare themselves to each other. 

 After Alec's appointment we ran home and picked up his brothers then headed right back out.  I offered to take them out to lunch and then we dropped our completed March postcards in the mail.  The boys knew I had gift cards for the car wash and talked me into going through today.  It sounds so silly but this was a huge first for my boys.  We always wash our cars at home and had never been through the car wash.

They thought it was amazing.

Ian understood that I wasn't driving my car and it was being pulled along by the machine.  Alec and Evan were enthralled with the rainbow soap and all the cleaning bristles hitting the car and the windows.  They commented on what they saw and what they heard.  The blowers at the end reminded us all of a plane picking up speed before taxiing down the runway!  They loved it and it was so nice to have a clean car once again.

We toss in some unexpected fun; especially when they request it! 

Look at those faces! 
Once home we all played Mario Kart 8 until the fighting became too much. I sent the younger two to their rooms to cool off and Ian and I settled down to work on his bulldozer report.

I take the time to play with my boys and make time for one- on- one interactions as I'm asked. 

We ended up finishing up the whole thing and affixed it all to his board.  All he has left to do is cut out and paste on the title.  Evan came out of his room and saw that Ian's was done so he asked if we could do his too.

He helped me glue everything down and while his board is a bit more bare than I'd like he has worked really hard and I have to respect his desire to see this end.  I told him we'll fill up the rest of the white spaces with his title and that will be fine.  We usually fill up his board with lots of photos and labels but we only have a black and white printer now and it's just not as fun.

I find it funny that our day off was filled with so much schoolwork but I've learned never to say no when they ask learn.


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