School update — week 4
I have made an amazing discovery I’ve had a total “duh” moment: We get school done thoroughly and much more quickly when I don’t turn the computer on in the morning. And, why is that? Because then, I don’t get distracted by e-mail. It’s rather like me not answering the phone when we’re doing school. Also, I’m not tempted to “just check out this one thing” online during the kids’ breaks, which inevitably turns into 20-30 minutes on the computer, which is way more time than I can/should devote to the computer during school hours. Instead, I’ve been using their breaks to do one-on-one school with another child who is not on break, or simply read a book to Audrey, or unload the dishwasher, or something else constructive. This way, we are consistently getting school done — every subject, every day, by 12:30.
Speaking of Audrey, I must say that, at this point, the most difficult part of homeschooling isn’t the actual schooling. It’s what to do with a toddler who isn’t in school yet. I’ve gotten a lot of comments along the lines of, “I don’t know how you’re going to do school with a newborn!” Actually, it’s pretty easy to school with a newborn. They nurse, they sleep, and they’re a delight to hold when they’re awake. It’s a lot harder with a toddler. (However, I’m not stupid. I have planned on taking at least three weeks off when the baby comes, and have already extended grace to myself if I need more time than that.) Anyways. For Audrey, I started the schoolyear out with stand-bys like Play-Doh (requires too much supervision) and puzzles (now all mastered) and counting bears. But, the counting bears were all mastered, too, within a week or two. She can now sort all the bears into their proper cups and name the five colors colors. She can count up to five as she puts the bears in the cups. There are 10 bears for each color (minus the few that have been lost), but I’m not quibbling with her skills. The girl is 2.5 years old. So, now that the counting bears are no longer an interesting challenge, she just throws them around the family room, and then highly resists instructions to pick them up. So, no more hard plastic projectiles counting bears. For now. Coloring with crayons works, sometimes, but even with the plastic art trays that we use, she is still apt to color on the table; I have a suspicion it’s on purpose. She’s not dextrous enough to make coloring really interesting to her, so her attention span for coloring is right at about four minutes, which isn’t really enough time for me to get anything done with the boys.
The idea, if you haven’t yet picked up on it, is to find an activity in which she can be amused, by herself, yet stay out in the main part of the house with the rest of us. I haven’t found one. I’m open for suggestions.
So, to sort of make up for the fact that, during school time, I just don’t spend that much time with her, after breakfast, while the boys are doing their chores, I usually snuggle and read with her. After that, when we start school, she plays by herself in her room. Other than the fact that she makes a disastrous mess, that actually works pretty well. And, it works for up to an hour. I keep her door open, and she does come out every 10 or 15 minutes to tell or show me something. I give her about 30 seconds’ attention, and send her back to her room. I also give her the option of reading with us, but the catch is, she has to sit quiet and still, which she can only do for about 30 seconds, then she proclaims, “I go back to my room!” and away she goes.
During breaks, especially if I’m occupied with another child, the boys spend at least part of their “free time” playing with her. Pillow forts get built, the wooden ABC blocks turn into a wall into which she crashes her Little Tykes bus, etc. Each of the three boys take turns playing with her, each for only 10-15 minutes at a time, which is enough to keep her occupied, but not so much that the boys feel like they’re being forced to be babysitters. Actually, most of the time, they all like playing with Audrey. Maybe it’s just because she’s so playful and silly. And cute. And active. She really makes a good playmate, and they all adore her. Until she gets demading and squealy, but that usually kicks in after naptime, in the late afternoon. In the mornings, for whatever reason, she’s almost always pleasant to spend time with.
Finally, at 11:30, I turn on the TV for her. As stated above, we usually finish at 12:30, so that means she’s getting a full hour of TV, but I figure that’s not too bad, although I do loathe the idea of using TV as a child-minder.
Depending on the day, we start anywhere between 8:30 and 9:00, though 8:30 is the goal. So, three kids get a full day’s schooling done in under four hours. I’m quite satisfied with that.
I still haven’t written up schedules. This is the first time in… I think three years… that I haven’t used a written schedule. I’ll probably resort to a schedule later in the school year, but for now, every day after school is done, I just review the boys’ work, check the Sonlight instructor’s guides, look at the next day’s math and English, and put out the stacks of the appropriate books for the next day. That only takes 15 minutes or so, which for right now, sounds a whole lot better than using up the two whole afternoons that it usually takes to get a month’s worth of scheduling written out for the three boys. As long as we all stay on track, I’m going to continue to not use a schedule.
~sigh~ Now, it’s nearly 3:00, and both my current book (Villette, by Charlotte Bronte — more on that, later) and chores are calling. Chores will surely win out, especially since we’re having a bunch of people over on Saturday, and I want the house to be clean without killing myself on Saturday. 🙂 Right now, I’m working on getting all the wood blinds dusted and polished, which is NOT my favorite task. I would grouse, but a while ago, after doing so to a dear friend, she gently set me straight by saying, “I don’t have any wood blinds to complain about.” :blush: