Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Week 2

End of week 2. I can honestly say that our new rhythm is WORKING! It isn't perfect, so I'm still tweaking things, but overall it is working. And I stuck to it. I'm pretty proud of myself for that. 2 whole, entire weeks without tossing the plan!


More about that in a moment. First, Egypt. I didn't get to read Egyptian myths with E. He listened to them on Jim Weiss' CD. He also read the book about Egyptian jobs on his own, as well as Cat Mummies and a few others. All I have to do is bring the books home, stack them up, and attempt to look through them. They disappear faster than I can blink! Which is good for our time frame- so many books, so little time!


We built pyramids, figured out how many sides, angles, lines, and cubes were involved, and tried leaving central passages. The cubes were the most played-with thing for 4 days straight!


Next came cartouches. We read Casting the Gods Adrift, a fictional account of an ancient Egyptian boy whose task is to create the royal family's cartouches. E wanted to carve his, but the best I could do right then was glue and cardboard. Even E admitted that they came out well! E's is in cuneiform instead of hyroglyohics because.....well, because he's E.

Then there's this:

Totally E. He told me the other day that he likes Waldorf because it doesn't restrict him. :)


I took the kids to a library homeschool art program the other day. It was not quite what we expected for something billed for school-age children. It was more like a preschool presentation: a cutesy picture book, some painting activities, and a few slides with some big words like 'secondary colors' and 'osmosis' thrown in. Crayola watercolors and brushes, thin paper. My kids raised their eyebrows but quietly did the paintings. Once home, we tried it on our own thick paper with vibrant paint. Much better! The effects were barely, if at all, visible on the library paintings. On ours,'s the salt:

It was fascinating to watch! Not only because of the way the salt seemed to suck up the water. It has been a long time since we did a purely abstract wet-on-wet. The way the color fans out and blends is mesmerizing. How have we never done salt paintings before?


e is chugging along through her Animal Tales block. So many great stories of wisdom, trickery, and foolishness! E always listens in. Who can resist? Here is the hungry fox, who fasts for five days so that he can fit through a crack in the wall to get at the peaches....only to have to fast again in order to get out! (My painting is the top one, e's is the bottom.)

Which brings us to this- rhythm, routine, and planning. The piece I wanted to add this week was the meal plan, and I did! After our shopping trip, I spent an hour in the kitchen combining what I had bought with days of the week, and bam. A plan. Everyone loves it. It takes the guesswork out of food prep, keeps the fridge shut between meals, and E can relax because he knows what food is coming and when. I no longer run up against forgetting to thaw meat or trying to throw together random ingredients at the last minute, and the asparagus made it into the oven before it spoiled.

So, about this planning thing. When I was a teacher, I was a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort. My students had learning and behavior disorders, so my job was to fill in gaps. Gaps, by nature, are just that: gaps. Where they begin or end is not readily apparent. Once one is discovered, it could take a day, a week, or a month to fill. The end is usually discovered as abruptly as the beginning. How does one plan for that? So I didn't. I knew what was developmentally appropriate, I knew the standards, and I had a zillion tricks up my sleeves. It worked. With E, I have had to pull out every last trick. And it worked; I've gotten him this far! He always, always tests above grade level, as does e, and his thirst for knowledge has not waned. He still loves to learn, still has burning questions every day, still delights in new information.


Now, however, he's noticing that he spends so much less time at schoolwork than his peers. He doesn't want to 'fall behind'. He sees how much more of the curriculum e is getting than he did, and he worries that he's missed out. So- time for action, right? That's what E is working on. If you are worried, take action.


This is where the plan comes in. I bought two planners and laid out each child's main lessons. Then I overhauled our daily rhythm, turning it back to times when the kids were tiny. Morning outings, afternoons home. Getting myself out of bed consistently at 6am.


A few things have become cemented as they truly, wonderfully work: E's lesson time from 1:30-3 (with a whole lotta breaks). Swimming Tuesday mornings. Wednesday afternoon teaching trade with S. Playing cards in the evening with e before C goes to pick up E. e's independent math on the computer with Teaching Textbooks right after lunch. Getting up early to just breathe.


Others, well..... I'm still working on where to put e's lessons, when to do chores, which kid chores will be the most help to me, and, most importantly, how to get to bed earlier! Which goes back to finding everything a place earlier in the day so I'm not faced with it all after putting E to bed... time, trial, and error. I'll get there.

I'm just amazed at how far E has come. He has not pushed back at all about school time. When I forget math or spelling, he is quite quick to remind me. We are now working our way through Gilgamesh the Hero, and he is even doing some of the reading to me. Now my task is to stay on top of this new rhythm. It's working!


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