Thursday, November 5, 2015 with magnets!

During the week my big girl is in first grade all day.  That leaves me and the little man (he's 4) home together.  He always gets asked if he goes to school too, and saying, "No," didn't seem quite right, because we do a whole lot of learning during our days, so we started calling it "MamaSchool."  Typically our mornings are devoted to his "schooling," with lunch and a brief rest (and a bit of work for Mama) afterwards, then we go get Q from school.

My background (and my passion!) is teaching early childhood, so of course I can't NOT school my kiddos. :)  

I strongly believe that young children learn primarily through play and self-initiated exploration and their own curiosity with the world around them.  You won't find us doing letters of the week or math lessons....or really any type of conventional "lesson" at all.  However, we do spend our days learning a whole lot.

We base our days and our studies on my Little Man's interests.  Right now he is ALL ABOUT doing science experiments.  Not sure where he heard about science experiments--probably one of his audiobooks.  Anyhow, that is what he asks to do any chance we can!

He has also been interested in magnets.  I don't remember exactly how that came about, but he was asking questions and expressing interest in magnets, so I followed his lead.  I got out a few magnets I had from my classroom days, and we went to Mardel with some of his birthday money and bought  a little set of various magnets (the strong science type that have the poles marked on them.)  Then we got out a tray of stuff and set to work figuring out what things the magnets would pick up and which things they wouldn't.  As we worked, I began to use the correct vocabulary--repel, poles, attract, etc. as I talked with him about what we were doing/seeing.   I showed him how two magnets with the same poles would push away from each other.  We just played and played with magnets.  Through this, he was absorbing and exploring fundamental principles of physical science and of magnetic force.  We were also having so much fun!  Of course the first day he used the magnets for about 5 minutes.  But we've gotten them out every day since and he's stretching the time he wants to spend exploring.  He'll repeat some of the same activities again that we've done previously (repelling magnets, etc.), but often I will show him (or he will figure out) something new.  Today we put paperclips on a tray and moved them from below with a magnet.  

As I teach my son science simply by DOING SCIENCE with him, I hear the wise voice of one of my wonderful college professors in my head.  He drummed into us the importance of teaching science by just letting kids do science.  Not by vocab sheets or matching terms or definitions....not by writing out a lab report...but early on, just by doing the work of a scientist.  By using the tools scientists use--and learning to use them correctly.  By trying things.  By exploring.  And that makes me smile, because Dr. Vincent is right.  
Tonight the kids decided Matt would read bedtime stories to Quinn and I would read to Beck.  Beck commented that boys go with girls and girls go with boys (Matt/Quinn & Beck/Me) and further observed that it was kind of like magnets, how North goes with South and South goes with North.  AND HE'S FOUR!!! 
Best of all, this type of learning was so easy for me to facilitate.  Magnets and objects....and that's it!  Other than that all I have to put into this is the gift of my time--sitting down and playing and learning and talking with my little scientist.