We’re about halfway through All About Spelling- Level 1. It feels like we ought to be farther along, but I am trying not to stress or cause Norah to stress.
I added some important words to the end of Norah’s daily goals today:
“Take responsibility for your own learning.”
Then I took some time to sit with her and explain that from now on, every single day she does her routine (which is almost every day of the week), I want her to come to me once she is done with her list and ask, “What do you want me to do for school today?”
Having Norah ask this will be a big help to me since my schedule is all out of whack with a tiny baby. But it should be easy enough to give Norah direction to get her started and guide her through things even if I am nursing the baby or standing at the washing machine or changing table.
We’re depending on our oldest daughter more and more these days. “Norah, can you go get some paper towels from the storage room?” “Can you help your sister put her coat on?” She’s so capable and helpful and has the most easy going spirit about dropping what she’s doing to help us anytime we call on her. Of course, she complains sometimes. (So does her mom sometimes.) But even as she complains, she’s usually on her way toward the chore we’ve asked her to do to do it anyway. (So am I, usually.) And she always apologies sincerely when we correct her for her attitude. She acknowledges that she’s not right in her heart when she isn’t helpful toward her loved ones.
Up to now, it felt natural and good for us to expect her help without compensation since she was a serving as a part of the family, since we all work together, her dad always helping, too, since she was so young she didn’t even understand money anyway and since we were doing right by her in training her to take care of herself, her possessions and understand more about what it takes to live a well ordered life in a well ordered home, etc. Even after we started asking her to help her little sister more and more over the past months, we felt that we were teaching her to consider the needs of others, not just sitting around when someone she loves could use her help with something like their coat or bag, etc. In short, we just expected her to help because it was “right.”
But, at this point, she’s so constantly called upon to help with little stuff she would have never had to help with because both her parents are busy with baby preparations and I am so much less capable of getting up and down and bending over because I am so pregnant, that Dwayne and I looked at each other at the exact same moment a few days ago and agreed that Norah should begin to be compensated for all she does. And we were both eager to reward her for the helpful spirit she has. She is truly a such blessing to us right now. I actually pray that God will notice her heart and service and bless her in His own unique way.
I needed to take some time off of doing school work with her to prep dinner and get it in the crock pot. So, instead of letting her leave the room and get engaged with her toys or the computer, making it difficult, if not impossible to pull her back to her school work later on, I just made my dinner prep part of her lessons for the day. She had to help me from start to finish, read the recipe, get the ingredients and tools out, measure, wash the bowls and cutting boards. Once it had cooled, I even taught her how to clean my skillet, dry it and rub it down with vegetable shortening!
As you can see from the photo, she even proved responsible enough to turn the pieces of beef as they browned in the skillet under my close supervision. She even protected Avril from the hot stove, shooing her little sister away as she toddled into the kitchen to see what big sister was up to.
These little lessons on dinner prep (and child care) are not part of her formal curriculum, as I said, but I think they may serve her just as well or even better than what she learns through her school work. If I have my way and if I train her like I want to, she will capable almost all that I am capable of when she leaves home to start a home of her own.
And Avril totally heard Norah say this, too! They gave each other a big hug because of this and I grabbed my camera because it happened to be right there. When I took this picture, Avril was still gushing over what her big sister had said about her. It brings tears to my eyes to see Avril’s joy in this photo.
The night before this, I actually went to bed wondering if Norah was getting enough “socialization.” We have a lot of her friends over to play and we see friends at church, etc. but I was beginning to wonder if a two year old was a good enough companion for a seven year old day after day after day… Norah had no idea I was thinking about these things. She just said what came to heart at the moment and it just happened to answer all my doubts.
I think one of the weaknesses with formal school is that it can subtly weaken sibling bonds over the years, particularly with siblings that have large age differences. Sisters and brothers are kept from one another for such long hours, for so many months at a time that it’s hard for them to become good friends and they aren’t given the time or opportunity to learn how to appreciate and accommodate someone so very different. I was thankful for such a timely and vivid reminder of why home school is still the best choice for my family.
We (meaning I) don’t like schedules.
We (meaning I) hate them.
But, ever since I heard Bauer give the advice above, when we’re eating breakfast, I’ll make a list of what I’d like Norah to do that day for school and I’ll let her number the list 1 to whatever and we do the work in that order.
She knows reading always goes last because she reads for an hour or more.
The “school” part of our days go much smoother now.
Norah is more aware that she isn’t done when she finishes this or that. She doesn’t go running out of the room before I can gather my thoughts like she did before. She usually tells me what’s next.
Schedules like this are awesome.