Homeschooling and Conflicts of Interest

You know how children seem to be attracted to whatever their parents don’t really like?  I thought it couldn’t possibly happen to me – I’m fairly laid-back about most things.  But Mirin has managed to hit on an interest that does indeed make me cringe – guns.

I’ve never liked guns.  Even when I was a kid I thought the boy gun games were stupid and boring.  My next door neighbor was a kid who loved plastic guns, so I saw them a lot, and heard the “Pshoo!  Boom!  Pshoo!” sound-effects all the time.

While I think guns are very useful, for hunting and humane slaughter of animals in some cases (we use them that way), I can’t STAND the “gun culture” stuff.  However, Mirin is intensely fascinated by them.

His dream is to build his own, functional gun.  I’ve found myself checking out books at the library on building guns, and listening to long, painful conversations on trigger mechanisms [yawn!], historical gun makes, and gun powder composition.  I’m sure we’re on some kind of watch list now from his google searches.  He’s done supervised structural tests on different barrels using fireworks, starting with the old-fashioned bamboo ones.  He spent days drilling out out lengths of metal to make metal ones, and has even been experimenting with lost-wax casting.  He spent hours hand-milling out trigger mechanism hardware from pieces of steel with a hack saw and a file (and this is a child who has trouble not falling off his chair during a 10 minute session of reading or math work – his attention span is obviously NOT the problem).  He’s got several wooden stocks of various kinds of wood he’s been hand-carving out, and the floor of his room is littered with paper drafts and thin wooden pattern pieces of gun innards.  Lately he’s been spending hours with the angle grinder, making either knives, swords, or gun pieces.

BUT,  I have to admit that it has been very useful for our recent homeschooling lessons – decimals.  He’s been ripping through the workbook I got for him to practice with.

Rose, back in second grade, is working on learning the times tables, which we have been doing as a clapping game (very popular, even Clothilde joins in).  We are also working on regrouping (carrying and borrowing), which she is doing well with.  I also showed her the “touch-dot” numbers that I learned in first grade.  I’ve hesitated to bring out anything I learned with, because I had a terrible math education.  These have seemed to help her.  I originally had been working with her on an abacus, and that was extremely useful to show her how the different operations work, but now it seems to be holding her back, as she is very dependant on calculating with it.

I was having trouble finding time to make up practice problems for her, so I bought her a math workbook.  I was hoping for just arithmetic problems for her to practice with a little every day.  I was disappointed to find it very boring and schooly.  To my great surprise, she loved it, has already completed the first month of practice lessons, and asked me to get another one when she is finished.  Mirin would have cast it aside immediately and never looked at it again.  It just shows how very different children are with learning!

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