We all know people usually do best at the things they enjoy doing the best. It's funny how it works sometimes. Practicing questions on dry readings in preparation for Common-Core tests may turn off the most active young minds. Yet, let those same minds wander into the library and pull out books of their choice and you will be amazed. The kids can't wait to return. You soon have experts on dinosaurs, marine biology and veterinary medicine in your midst. And, if you pay close attention, you may actually learn a few things.
Given it was Sunday and the one day to devote almost exclusively to the things I want, I asked my girls to do a little math with me after lunch. Two out of three were fine with that. My oldest, however, told me she could only stomach fractions. All went well until I pulled out the multiplication flash cards. Then, the elder's dread set in. A nine-year old who takes on Agatha Christie novels with an incredible thirst, closed her mind down and walked away.
In the later afternoon, we did crafts and cooking. My "middlest" wanted to make a bracelet out of charms from her bottle of Wonderstruck. My oldest created a new recipe for "egg pancake" with a special ketchup sauce. My youngest took a piece of ribbon and, using her lanyard string, made it into a necklace which she promptly placed over my head.
Then, I left the girls to their own devices--as any parent probably learns to do more and more as the children age. It turns out they elected a sensei from their midst and began a martial arts class for the American dolls gifted to them. Given their net worth, I was praying for no injuries. We soon found white and orange ribbons for their belts.
After dinner, I told the girls we'd do some science experiments--online. My oldest pointed out that video games (which she loves as much as the next kid) are not experiments. I told her I had a great site with cyber experiments, so great that I will attempt to use it as I teach Galileo's part in the Scientific Revolution today. She was incredulous.
So, we rolled cyber cannonballs down inclined planes to see that distance equals the square of the time (excepting a constant that needs to be added equal to the rate of acceleration resulting from gravity) and that the "square of a pendulum's period varies directly with its length." Can I explain all the implications of these equations to my daughter? Don't think so, but it doesn't mean I can't awaken her interest! I was pretty interested myself.
As I saw my oldest rush to click the release and drop buttons, I watched her surprise as some of the "common-sense" answers were proven wrong. I remembered the moment when I learned that a brick and a feather will fall at the same rate given a vacuum. Don't ask me to try dropping both of them on my feet in a vacuum though, maybe on the moon!
The most amazing part of the day occurred when my oldest blurted out, "Can we do more math related to 'physical science,' Mom?" I then realized what I think I always knew. My oldest doesn't hate math per se. She hates the way in which she is being forced to interact with it, overwhelmed by a mass of work to be completed against the backdrop of a ticking clock, a swinging pendulum figuratively hitting her on the backside. I'll try to find ways to make math more fun for her, but I am no Newton. I already know she loves cooking with fractions. Now, that I know she has an interest in physics, it's time for me to remember that an object at study just might remain at study--if truly interested!