I admit: when Eldest turned to me a few weeks ago and said "I don't want to do anything except draw" (see my post, Educating a Pre-teen), I was slightly dismayed: I know I am more susceptible to the wobbles when there is no obvious learning going on. Happily for us all though, I held my ground and refused to panic - we've been doing this long enough now for me to know it was a phase, and the less I resisted, the less of a problem it would be. I had no idea that it would be so short-lived (not that there won't probably be more such episodes, but I'm relieved this one didn't last for years)!
This morning he came to me and sat down very seriously and said "I don't feel like I'm learning enough" (my internal response: !!!!!!!!!!!!!) so VERY neutrally I asked why he thought that, and in short, what he said was that the things we do are good for his younger brothers but not appropriate to where he's at. He has a really good point - especially since he stopped doing his lapbooks!
The issue I now have is where do we go from here? He was going to a science group suitable for his age, but in his words, "there was too much sitting and listening". He much prefers hands-on learning. Unfortunately most of the groups that I am aware of locally are aimed at younger children. He's really good at playing with younger children, but he is obviously ready to be learning more, and tackling subjects at more depth. So "hooray" and "help"! Watch this space as Eldest and I chat some more and come up with a cunning plan that meets his felt needs and desire to learn.
Meanwhile, Youngest in his sudden appetite for Maths workbooks hit a bit of a hurdle. He has a natural ability in Maths, and really enjoys the subject, however his fine motor skills (eg writing) have not been so easy to develop, and he is not fully competent in forming his numbers yet. That hasn't stopped him at all - he has still been whizzing through the workbook without waiting for help, but his number formation has consequently been a bit 'hit & miss'. So yesterday, while reading one of my favourite blogs, "An Ordinary Life", I remembered that the blogger, Lisa, made a 'maths dinosaur' to help one of her girls when they hit a wall in their Maths. Inspired, I made a number line from 1-20 (Youngest's current level) in the shape of a friendly caterpillar. On each number I added a red dot to show him where to start writing the digit, as that was the bit he kept getting muddled with when I wasn't around to help. Well I showed him his number caterpillar today, and he loves it - couldn't wait to get his workbook out and get going again without me - he is such an independent thing!
Speaking of independence, while I was writing the above, Youngest was just working on a maths page in a new book that I was going to give away as it's now too easy for him, but he found it and wanted to do it... and he has impressed me again. When he showed me what he had done I was puzzled as the instructions said to "count the pictures and circle the number", but looking at the diagrams I couldn't work out why they had showed him a picture of five fish and only given him a choice of numbers 1-3 to circle. In my mind I would have assumed it was a printing error or a trick question & left it blank, but he engaged his little problem-solving brain and circled 2 and 3, because that makes five. Just a little seemingly insignificant act, but it spoke volumes to me.
As for Middle, he is just pootling along in his own sweet way, not particularly enthusiastic about Maths or anything that looks like work (although he is reading voraciously, and growing tremendously height-wise) - but that just goes to show yet again the benefits for home educating more than one: you can treat them all as individuals and cater to each child's specific needs at any given point. Each of my boys may be at a different season in learning, but each season is precious, and more importantly, each season lasts as long as it needs - they can't be rushed or artificially prolonged - at least, not for long. If we pay attention to our children's needs in each season they are in, and if we live in tune with the learning seasons and cherish each one knowing that the next season is just around the corner... well, it makes for a very contented way to learn.