In my life this (past) week…
I experienced a repeat realization
this last week. Something that I have recognized before, but,
then, neglected to adhere to: My children do best when I take no more
than 5-10 minutes on the computer at a time once all three of them are awake. For even when the kids don’t “need” my direct
interaction, their behavior and displayed emotions indicate that they do best
when I am more fully present with them than I am when I am working on documents
So, it is that I have started disciplining myself (again!) not to be on the computer for long periods during the day when all three of my child are awake – a boon for parenting, homeschooling and the happy-peaceful atmosphere I seek for our home, but, perhaps, a hindrance to the pace at which I’ll be blogging. (If this post is anything to go by, it will be, at least. For, I started this post before the kids woke up Friday morning and am just NOW posting it!)
In our homeschool this (past) week…
|Nina thoroughly enjoyed our penny experiments.|
We experienced the benefits of “strewing”, of direct focused lessons and of freedom to enjoy experiences that we might not if the children drove away on the big yellow bus each day.
Strewing is an unschooling term that refers to the art of allowing your children to discover things that you casually leave out, almost like seeds, which help a child’s curiosity, joy and enthusiasm germinate and grow. Although we don’t unschool here on a regular basis, we have been through some “unschoolish” periods and continue to value the learning that happens spontaneously in the rich soil of unscheduled, yet well-seeded time.
Beautiful moments that have sprouted due to strewing last week included:
- Luke pouring over Story of the Orchestra book during every free moment he had one morning and singing “Tchaikovsky wrote a great ballet...” to himself and us as he went about his play (a tune he learned from The Story of Swan Lake).
- Luke beginning to learn about playing the piano again and spending a lot of time one day playing Jack’s little electric keyboard. Nina asking Daddy to re-string her kids’ guitar and, then, all the children and Daddy dreaming up a future family band.
- the children “reading” to each other in precious moment after precious moment about ancient Egypt, their imagined space wars, changes in time throughout history. The book A Street Through Time particularly fascinated Luke and ignited all of the children’s imaginations.
Focused lesson fun and success has included:
- games! Learning games focused on specific standards-based goals. A large chalkboard has become the game board for Nina’s phonics and early reading lessons, Luke’s “flip the sound” strategy practice, reading numerals up to 100 and counting by 5’s... A calendar became a game board to bring Nina one step closer to mastering counting and reading numbers through 31 – a goal she is almost at. Cut up papers have become handwriting practice and, then, cards for Slap!, Go Fish and Concentration while studying both phonics and sight words. Focused lessons has been fun around here this week!
- math challenges! There is just something about calling addition work, number work and other skills-based math exercises “challenges” that makes doing otherwise rote tasks so much more appealing to our children.
- post-dinner science experiments. Exploring acidity and experimenting with how common kitchen products make old pennies shiny again was a huge hit for all three children.
- Daily Five time – formal and child-driven. Afternoons, when we are home, the kids are getting into a routine of The Daily Five time. First thing in the mornings and late in the afternoons, they often choose to engage in informal sessions of it, too. I just LOVE hearing them “read” to one another or seeing them hanging out in comfortable places reading to themselves.
- Jack joining in at the beginning of our Drama Kids lesson this week (since Daddy was a few minutes late). It was so precious to see him jumping right in with all the “big kids”. Then, after he left the class, Luke finally figured out the difference between projection and shouting and Nina delighted in delivering a line of our scene in an expressive, loud voice front and center stage.
Freedom borne from homeschooling has afforded us opportunities to:
- make snowmen, snowwomen and snowdogs while the snow was perfect for it. As I shoveled the driveway so we could get out to a medical appointment for Jack, all three kids played and sculpted in the snow. Later in the day – and week – they repeated their snow breaks often.
- enjoy mid-day skating. A local homeschooling group has organized the best deal with a local skating rink, so every few weeks, we get to go skating around lunchtime ultra-affordable. Jack tried skating the first week, but now prefers to watch and then take his nap in my arms. Nina and Luke, though, wow! With persistence and joy they are teaching themselves to skate. Nina made such great strides – or rather slides – this week with thanks to another homeschool mom, Kristen’s, help. Seeing Nina smile as she skated across the rink and back was awesome.
- spend an entire day between two libraries and a playground, enjoying a fabulous music and movement class that a friend led, meeting a craft challenge in preparation for a feast day next week, playing educational computer games, playing board games, zooming wooden trains, swinging, enjoying dramatic play and slipping in some more academic, formal lessons.
- visit a homeschool friend’s house so Mommy could plan for our spring co-op while my children were fully and graciously entertained by their friends. I just love witnessing the multi-age interaction that homeschooling affords and how development is evidenced and encouraged as older children excitedly engage younger children and vice versa.
Yep. It’s been a good week!
Helpful homeschooling tips to share…
|The kids were so happy to finally use the snowman kit that Auntie got Jack for Christmas. I was equally delighted to recall that enjoying the snow in the morning when it is expected to melt by afternoon is a benefit of our chosen lifestyle.|
Comparison, doubt, worry, have to’s, should do’s and all the rest of the things that snuff the joy right out of homeschooling creep up so surreptitiously. Then, darkness falls.
Pause, prayer, love, acceptance, hope, perspective... All of these things spark smiles once more. After being beleaguered by dark and doubt at times two weeks ago, I am glad last week found us on fire again here and am hoping to keep feeding the flame even as darkness keeps creeping back into my brain. To this end, I am recording a little tip for myself to look back on and remember for when things inevitably sputter:
Do it their way, your way and His way. When I refocus on following my children’s lead,
accepting embracing my style and making a greater effort to see,
feel and live with the Spirit working in our home and homeschool, things get so
much better. Attitude, authenticity
and a strong portion of grace can be the difference between a “good” homeschool
experience and a “bad” one. I just
wish I could remember that 24-7, because lately I have forgotten it for at
least a few hours a day.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Besides the things I already wrote about as part of our homeschool review, and a family nature walk we enjoyed on the Sabbath, the biggest highlight of the week – which was a rather quiet and reflective one – was that both Mike and I got to be present at Adoration this week.
I encouraged Mike to go Adoration two weeks ago and was surprised when he took me up on a suggestion that I could get the kids to bed after I came home from work if he would like to pop on over to nearby Adoration chapel for some quiet time. I was even more amazed when Mike asked if he might go back to the chapel the following night.
Unfortunately, prior plans did not allow for Mike to make it to Adoration on two nights in a row, but we were able to rearrange it so Mike could go to Adoration again that week, and, now, we think we have our schedules figured out in a way that will allow him to enjoy at least one weekly Adoration hour.
And, bonus, we might be able to work in time for me to go as well. In fact, this past week, I was able to spend some quiet time with Jesus at the chapel after work one night, I didn’t know how much I needed that!
I hope this trend continues.
My favorite things this (past) week were…
- hearing my kids develop their “peacekeepers” and “attackers” story. They have been making up a saga inspired by Star Wars for months now, and, this week, they have sat with books a number of times, using the illustrations to inspire new chapters of their collective imaginary adventure.
- daily evidence of the will to serve others in each of my children. Nina takes the lead in displaying generosity and kindness. Jack models after it well. Luke even bandwagons at times. Well, that is when he isn’t saying, “If Nina’s too generous, she’ll give herself out of house and home one day.” The boy cracks me up.
My kiddos favorite thing this (past) week was…
"Ryan and Katelyn!" Nina danced about saying as she related that our weekly homeschool playdate was among her favorite things this week. “And computer time past when you’re supposed to be to bed,” she continued. I guess I know what the kids and Daddy did while I was at work and Adoration.
"Video golfing last night on your computer," Luke chimed in. Yep, it is confirmed. Daddy treated the kids last night.
"Seeing Tucker," Jack recalled. “I build tree with Tucker.” Actually, I helped Jack build a tree as a part of our craft challenge at a playdate this week, but our friend Tucker was there, too, and, boy, don’t our kids love Tucker and his family.
Things I’m working on…
|If I can find balance and joy in life like Nina finally did on the ice this past week, I will be golden.|
...some of the same things as last week: circle time plans, blog drafts, home organization, healthy eating, balanced living, daily five reading time, Morning Basket retreat time, etc. More than that, though, I am working on mindset -- keeping priorities in focus, trusting baby steps and focusing on nourishment, rest and rejoicing are vital for me right now. As I already mentioned, I keep slipping into dark moods these days. I am not sure why. But, I keep getting discouraged, doubtful, down right grumpy. Hopefully, I can continue offset these times with greater periods of pleasantness. Life is good. My attitude just isn’t sometimes. (Prayers and grace, do your thing!)
...with groceries that are killing our budget. I really must find a balance between how we eat and how much we spend on it
I’m grateful for…
...opportunities to work to help supplement our family’s income. I have a lot of independent contracts scheduled from now through May and am going to be leaning hard on the Holy Spirit to let the work work for us and not offset the balance of life too much.
I struggle with our daily rhythm a lot anyway and now, adding more to it, I am a tad concerned about total disharmony.
I’m praying for…
...the openness and discipline to better listen to the Spirit, among other things, and the strength of character to live as salt and light even when life starts seeming tasteless and dark.
A photo to share...
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This post is will be shared at the next Homeschool Mother's Journal. since I missed last week’s.