moments from the week

Zion and Harvey looking at the Concord River

pointing out the tree where they played in the low-water summer

Moments from the past week.

Havana and Kamilah on the roof of the playhouse, Harvey leaning out the window

incomplete playhouse = climbing structure

Zion standing on slushy ice

Zion walking on water

Zion swinging on the monkey bars

the playground is open for business

Harvey writing in his notebook homework at the playspace

Pokemon homework


Pokemon school

Harvey's work these days is focused intensely on Pokemon cards (mine too, to be honest). Mostly the game, but also a little bit of the collection aspect. Since we do school at home, what we do at home is all we do at school; when people ask what our curriculum is looking like I have to tell them it's pretty much all Pokemon. Sometimes there's followup questions about just how we're integrating in into the curriculum—or even integrating the curriculum into our Pokemon play. If we wanted there are definitely options in that direction, including some pretty good ones. But the more active educational interventions, either content- or skills-based, don't really align with how I'm feeling about learning these days.

Content-wise, people question how much time and effort kids put into learning about things like Pokemon cards. I've felt the same way in the past, at least about myself: why is my head filled up with useless information about makes and models of cars—information I never even tried to learn!—rather than, say, plant identification?! I'd much rather be able to pick out an American Elm than a Suburu Baja. I imagine that's the kind of thinking that led to the creation of The Phylo(mon) Project, a crowdsourced trading card game that aims to build on enthusiasm for TCGs to help kids learn real-world facts about things like ecosystems and women in science. Which is totally cool! I just wonder about two things: how necessary is that knowledge, and how fun is the game?

Because you have to imagine that at least some of the fun of Pokemon is intrinsic—it can't all be fad or peer pressure. Most likely the reason why kids are into it is because they like it, and it's fun to be able to master something you like. So if, as an adult, I was to try and trade on that to trick kids into doing Pokemon-themed spelling worksheets, wouldn't I just be telling the boys that their interests don't matter, and that I'm the one who needs to direct them towards the real work?

To be honest, playing Pokemon builds skills without any intervention from instructors required. On the simplest level, it requires reading (to understand attacks and abilities) and math (to calculate damage). And then to get good at both playing and deck-building takes some good brain work in systematic planning, probabilities, and psychology. The specifics of those skills might not be particularly transferable—and the content area learning certainly is not—but I don't think that matters. Developing elasticity of mind and practicing learning are totally valuable on their own; any person who knows how to learn will in time be able to pick up any knowledge, or even skills, required of them.

That said, the teacher part of me is glad to see Harvey's enthusiasm around making a Pokemon Trainer's Notebook (making from card stock, sheets of paper, and embroidery floss) and then starting to write down deck lists and other notes. Especially when he told me he'd have to work to make his handwriting smaller to fit everything in. That's about as schooly as we're going to get around here these days, and that seems fine.


moments from the week

the boys in front of Lexington's Old Bellfry

tourists in Lexington

Moments from the past week.

the boys watching football with friends

sports fans

Havana and the boys trying to light a fire

wet weather for fires

Lijah on a hike

becoming a confident winter hiker

Zion biting into a sandwich picnicking in a field

a cold sandwich

Lijah playing big legos with Liam

lego buddies



the boys on the snowy ice exploring an island

wide open spaces

Life changes from time to time. Like when Lijah was born, and all of a sudden our house—and, to be honest, our life generally—was a disastrous mess. Now we have three pretty big kids, and they can play by themselves more then any before... but they also need intellectual and physical stimulation over more extended periods. There's no more naps, needless to say.

At the same time, our parenting schedule is changing too. Leah has shifted to working full-time, and beginning this week I've reduced my hours working at the church. We hope that will give the kids more consistency in their schedule, and let us parents spend more time doing what feels more productive to each of us. With four weekdays home with the boys, I'm looking forward to getting into a little more of a rhythm. One thing I've noticed already is that, when I'm home more, I'm readier to plan fun outings. Our version of fun, anyway: so far this week we've gone hiking in a dog park near Costco and visited the library in Lexington.

Does more time at home mean more writing time for me? So far, not at all. But I have high hopes for the coming months!


good morning hens

Sunday we were out late, playing Pokemon and eating lots of delicious food a our friends' house (I'm told there was also a football game on the television, but I didn't attend). So yesterday morning I wasn't ready for the hens to enthusiastically up and about before 7:00. In late May, on the cusp of summer, having them wake me up isn't so big a deal... but in February I'd rather not have to think about them that much.

Of course, I can't complain too much: ten of seven is not really anything like ten of five, and I should probably just be rejoicing that I can even think about sleeping in til seven on a Monday morning. Yes, the life of a home education consultant is a good one. And the hens have been laying all winter long, so I suppose they're entitled to some attention of a morning.