Thursday, January 8, 2004


Well, it's official. My brother has gone to Iraq. Mortar attacks yesterday in the Suni Triangle have injured 34 soldiers and killed 1. I don't own a television, prefer to leave that toxic stuff outside of our home, but I always have the radio on now... now that I need to hear the news. I also get the Fox news alerts over the computer. Just got one -- A Black Hawk helicopter crashed. 9 soldiers dead. My head hurts; I just can't stand this.

Yes, I said no television in my home. I suspect that has a lot to do with why my 4-year-old reads and writes in both English and Spanish and both the 4-year-old and the 2-year-old are utterly facinated by concepts of math.

Right now, we're concentrating mostly on addition and subtraction, but the older one was begging me to demonstrate some multiplication and division yesterday during our daily "tea-party." (We do afternoon tea, complete with little cookie-cutter shaped finger sandwiches... the Victorian style of tea, with hot hors d'oeuvres, sandwiches, cookies, fresh fruit...) She especially enjoyed the division.

We use both objects and number lines for our little math problems -- depending on the operations involved -- and will soon be moving into positive and negative numbers. I am definately homeschooling these children.

The secret of success in teaching children is not in forcing them to learn, making them perform, showing off intellectual tricks like some well-trained pet, but in gently shaping them to love the process of learning and to desire it for themselves.

The children beg me to teach them because they are excited by all the things we can do with what we know. We take our math to the kitchen and the grocery store, our reading to books, instructions for puzzles and games, sales papers and so on.

Rather than settle in front of the television -- mind numbing, passive entertainment at best -- we do things. Yesterday, among many other things, we painted lots of lovely, colorful pictures and we took down the tree.

We made many of the tree decorations, with paper, glitter, paste, etc. Some we used the pictures from Saint candles. We cut out the Saints' pictures from the labels, and pasted them on fancy cut paper and sprinkled with glitter.

They turned out so lovely, I couldn't bear to put them away. Pictures of the Saints are good any time of year... so I hung them -- la Virgen de Guadalupe, Chango, Ochum, Yemalia, Obatalia, Elegua, Ogum, Crula, Nino Divino Jesus -- from the ceiling, where the breeze through my drafty apartment moves them gently... very nice.

We took the gold and red bead garlands, twisted them together and draped them over the picture of Lakshmi, Ganesh and Saraswati that hangs over my computer.

We have a happy home.

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