Friday, September 7, 2012

First week of school!

Today marks the end of our first week back to school! And we're all still here!

Overall, things have gone well more often than not. There were some wins and some rough spots and I hadn't counted on how tired the change in routine was going to make me. But we're getting back into the groove of having school work to do and I'm sure in a few weeks things will settle into a new normal - at least for a while.

In the win department, we did morning basket every day and that went well. Our morning basket is essentially a time when we all sit together and read. It's how I fit in things like poetry, literature, and even a little music and artist study (or at least, I will over the course of the year), as well as faith formation for my kindergartener. In the past, I've run into quite a bit of resistance from my Mr. Stinky-Pants five year old over sitting with us for morning basket. Miraculously, this year he hasn't complained a bit. He sits with us on the couch, and even helped pick out Bible stories and fairy tales to read. Today I got out our "Can You Hear It?", which is a book accompanied by a CD featuring classical music and gives prompts to listen for (such as, listening for the sound of the birds chirping in Vivaldi's "Spring" or the bee buzzing around in "Flight of the Bumblebee") and we flitted around the room both as birds to Vivaldi and as bumblebees. Those were some good moments.

As predicted, my five year old isn't as eager to jump into school, and therein lies most of my frustration this week. I am trying to find what works best for him - to sit and do several subjects in a row, thereby getting all his core work done; or to have him do one thing, take a break, come back and do another, and so forth. The problem with the first is he often doesn't have the attention span or willingness to sit through handwriting, read a BOB book, and then do a math activity. The downside to the second approach is that once I let him go from the table, it is very, very difficult to round him back up and refocus on schoolwork. This is one of those things that I'll have to work out as I go because he's really unpredictable and hard to pin down. It will take some trial and error (involving a lot of error and a bit of fist clenching on my part) to figure out what will work best for him. He can literally go from asking to do just one more letter in his handwriting book, eagerly practicing his "frog jump capitals," one minute, to slumping in his seat and grunting like a wounded baby animal at any mention of trying to lay out 7 tally sticks the next minute. I knew going into this he would be a challenge in more ways than one, but I'm hopeful that with consistent, but reasonable expectations, he'll come around a bit and I won't have to coax him into doing school work every single day.

My second grader is always eager for learning, but he'd really prefer to spend all his time googling animals and watching Discovery channel documentaries. Alas, I am not really an unschooler, so we do have to work on some other subjects in an organized way. This week we worked mostly on math and some language arts, and a really soft start to our history studies. Next week we'll jump into some science and really dig into history as well. At least, I think we will. I'm already struggling to keep everyone focused for just a couple of subjects. It might take a couple more weeks before we can dive in and go full speed ahead with everything.

We also started a preschool group with a few other families who have little learners. I don't really think my 3-year-old daughter needs a ton of academic stuff, but it will be good to have something fun that is focused on her. So often, she's the little tag along, but this group will be at her level. We had the first group this week and I felt woefully unprepared, but it still went well. We'll meet once or twice a month and do some songs, stories, games, crafts, that sort of thing. I'm excited about it and my boys were excited to have some friends over (older siblings of the 3-year-old set).

All in all, a good week. Now I'm going to go surprise my kids with some celebratory popcorn for dinner. Woo hoo!

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