D & I run on two speeds: sprint & idle.
It's with no small effort that we dwell in that in-between, organic temporality known as the children's pace. This is also known as being on other people's time. I don't mean to say that we follow them around, doting on their every need (is that good for anybody?). But there's a learning curve to knowing when to slow down & when to jump. As unchoolers we need to be so on, noticing their most subtle interests so that we can parlay them into fuller, more comprehensive studies. I mean, we could not do that, but we want them to be passionate about their learning, & we aren't very nice when we find ourselves forcing things. Luckily our family rhythms take the urgency out of most things, allowing us to relax into most of our days. With academics it can be so easy to go fast, there's just so much I want to share with them. They've showed me that they prefer to go slow, to savor every little discovery & play with every new concept for hours, days & even months. So we work within those mandatory guidelines.
"He began walking slowly. He went slower & slower. He went so slow that he sat on a rock."
Our solution to backwards numbers & letters? Embroidery. Mahal is also very fast-paced, rushing to his next musical moment, & he had no interest in practicing stroke orders. So I did a little "strewing," an unschooling technique where you "strew" random curricula all over your house. In this case it was Japanese embroidery books, embroidered books & me, working my own basket of needlework. This basket always holds enough for the boys, of course. He really resists mama assignments, but will happily join me in whatever I'm up to. Projects he designs himself are taken to the nth degree.
So right now embroidery is "his thing." I set him up with a stack of green squares, numbered 1-10, thread, needles, a pencil, hoop & scissors. Then he invited his Grandma & 95 year-young GG (great-grandmother) to help him make a counting quilt.
Their quilts are so very lovely, a by-mail hobby that they always have in the works. Grandma Elizabeth pieces, quilts & binds, while GG does the applique. In the past few years she's taken to doing the same exact square of a daisy 100's of times ~ it's made king & queen quilts, with stacks left in boxes, but she loves it. They have a wonderful mama-daughter love story, with hand-written letters going out daily. I often wonder if this is what keeps her so vital. In any case, it's heart-melting to watch him join their tradition, & he has lots of hints to share with his brother, who'd like to add a square of his own.
Mahal's Tips for Embroidery
1~ You need to wet the thread a few days ahead of time, so that when you put it in the needle, it's hard & pointy.
2~ You need to remember to put the needle on, before you knot the thread.
3~ You need to pull it all the way through, or else it gets all funky & messed up & crazy & stuff.
4~ If you put the thread through where you already did it, it makes it really thick & puffy.
Indeed. We've given him absolutely no instruction & he's invented his own style of chain stitch. Like I said, heart-melting. And there's something to be said about sitting on a rock.