Here I Go Again

It occurred to me that if I did school work with her, too, it might help keep Avril occupied. (Duh.)

It has be age-appropriate school work, of course.

So, while Norah did her handwriting pages this morning, I helped Avril hold her marker correctly, hold her paper with the other hand and draw counterclockwise circles.

It’s an old trick I learned from The Well Trained Mind. I get to call it an “old trick” now because I used it with Norah years ago when she was Avril’s age and it worked. Norah never really did struggle to hold her pencil correctly.

On a separate note, it’s sobering to look at the photo above and consider the fact that I am at a point in my homeschooling journey where I am now repeating things I did years ago with another one of my kids. It seems like it was only yesterday that I was wrapping Norah’s chubby little fingers around her pencil and “doing swirls.”

What a privilege to do it all again! What a benefit the years that have gone before will be to me as I go forward!

Make a Schedule For The Day

“If you don’t have a schedule when you get up in the morning make one up and then tell it to your child.” -Susan Wise Bauer

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.

First Language Lessons

We did our first lesson on verbs in First Language Lessons, Level 1. To add some spice to the lesson, I had the bright idea of letting Norah find photos of verbs in an old camping magazine I was getting ready to throw out. (It was Monday and Fly Lady says to purge your old magazines on Mondays.) Norah cut and glued and then told me what verbs to write under the photos. I think she did well!

Downloaded a Lecture by Susan Wise Bauer

I spent my free time this afternoon listening to a lecture called “Teaching Students to Work Independently” given by Susan Wise Bauer. It was only a few dollars to download and it was well worth the cost, in my opinion. I probably had to pause it fifty times to deal with the kids and the phone, etc. But it is nice that I own it so I can listen to it again in the future.

While some of the content of this lecture didn’t exactly apply to us right now (she speaks about how to teach all levels of students from elementary through middle and high school), I found that it was a good reminder of why I am trying to do all that I am doing now and how it will “pay off” for Norah in the future. So much of what I am doing now is training her to be capable of so much more later on.

I think I will try and listen to all Bauer’s lectures available online here. It’s certainly more productive and inspirational than watching crap on Hulu with my free time!

Here’s a short quote from the lecture that I really liked. So many people are critical of schedules and plans. Sometimes I even wonder whether they don’t just squash all joy and creativity in the learning process. I guess I want both the academic rigor and freedom that’s possible with home school and it’s hard to know how to create an environment to allow for both. But Bauer answers this concern well, I think, when she says:

“If the kid gets really into one subject and wants to keep doing it all day, absolutely, this is the point where you ditch the schedule. The schedule is not your master, it’s an aid. What you do then, if the kid does history all day long, is that the next day you say, ‘You can’t start with history today. I’m going to pick your first subject today and it’s going to be math.’ You do have to be the one to keep the balance during the week. But, yes, absolutely, why are you home schooling if the kid can’t grab something and run with it? You should always let them do that.”

Are you meeting your own expectations?

I listened to another lecture by Jessie Wise Bauer called “Homeschooling the Real Child.” One of the topics she addressed in this speech was the frustration homeschooling moms feel because their daily expectations aren’t being met.  But she also pointed out that many home school moms have unrealistic expectations of what they should be able to do in one day.

Bauer suggested that home school moms take a few moments to “Write out what your perfect home school day looks like.”  She said this is a good way to find out whether or not your home school expectations were even realistic to begin with.

I did what she suggested. If you’re interested, here’s my “perfect” home school day right now:

I feed the baby and she goes back to sleep. I complete my morning routine while the girls play quietly. We have breakfast, read the Bible and practice our Bible memory work. Norah starts her morning routine while I dress Avril and feed and take care of the baby. I clean up after breakfast. Norah finishes her morning routine. Norah does her math page while I do math with Avril. The baby plays or naps.  Norah does her reading and skill and logic workbooks while I practice phonics and do skill workbooks with Avril.  Avril plays quietly while I do spelling, language and writing with Norah.  I feed the baby again and then we eat lunch and clean up. We all do history together while the baby naps. Norah reads and does her science narration page while Avril plays quietly. Norah reads a book silently while I read to Avril or we all listen to an audio book. Avril naps and I feed the baby and Norah reads silently or plays a computer game. I start dinner. Avril wakes up and the girls play together until dinner. We eat dinner as a family and then sit and listen to a read aloud as a family or play a board or card game. I clean up and feed the baby again. The girls play until it’s time to get baths, etc. and we all get ready for bed. I feed the baby, do my chores, and then we all go to bed.

Now that I have articulated what I think our “perfect” day looks like I am encouraged because I see that I am usually meeting my own expectations when we spend the day at home just “doing school” and working around the house. But if we run errands or go outside to work in the gardens or meet up with friends at the park, we usually can’t do a full day of school work, too.  I used to get frustrated and quietly stew over what I didn’t get done on the days we were outside or away from home. But when I think about it rationally, I see that it’s not realistic to think we could spend hours and hours away from home and still do everything that we manage to do on a full day at home.

Collect History Supplies Way Ahead of Time

I’ve started buying and collecting the supplies for Norah’s history projects. We’ve chosen one or two projects for each chapter of The Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times.  Collecting all the project supplies ahead of time has been really rewarding. It is causing me to focus less on the stress of doing so many crafts with Norah since I am handling all the tedious work and planning now. And it is allowing me to focus more on the fun of what we get to do this year. I am not very crafty but seeing everything in one place is actually making me excited about the stuff we will get to make this year in history!