I have decided to try a new approach to our morning school, focusing on establishing the habit of table time instead of accomplishing a checklist for both big girls that seldom gets met. When I vented my frustration at not being able to get through the basics of our table work, Erin of bearing blog suggested I should try to think in long term instead of short term: where do we want to be in a couple of years when I have four kids doing schoolwork? Obviously, I’ll want everyone in the habit of sitting down and doing work quietly every day. So she suggested I should think in terms of creating a box and then filling it instead of approaching it as a series of discrete tasks. So my new goal is 20 minutes of everyone sitting at the table and working quietly– today I got about 40, which is what I was rather hoping for. The girls each did a page of copy work and then read to me. We did no math, but I have decided to make that lower priority for the summer while I really concentrate on getting them to a level of fluency in reading.
While the girls did copywork and I made some copywork pages for the next couple of days, the boys filled out coloring books and workbooks. Lucy napped, she went down before Dom even left for work, which is probably why it worked so well.
Ben was doing some little Leap Frog preschool workbooks and was quite frustrated at trying to count twelve and then fifteen objects. He’d try to count the things on each page and then ask me if his tally matched the number on the page. He really wants to be able to count like his sisters and really he is getting pretty good at it. Yesterday he identified all the numbers on an analog clock face and was able to tell me that five and one more was six and that six and one more is seven. Later Bella flipped through the book Ben had been using and identified all the numbers as prime or not-prime. Well, she wasn’t using that term, but the one she learned in Life of Fred: boxable numbers. I hadn’t thought of it before, but non-prime numbers you can arrange a bunch of dots into a box of evenly spaced rows and columns. With primes they don’t fit that way. So maybe I could say she did a bit of math after all.
Then I read the first part of a chapter of the Tipi book. Then lunch. Then the rest of the Tipi chapter. All about construction, which poles are put up in what order, the fine points of tying the poles and arranging the flaps and pinning the cover on. Fascinating stuff. After that a chapter of Down to the Bonny Glen, which this time did lose the boys’ interest as it was about the wedding. And then several pages of Paddle to the Sea, which the tipi book reminded me of and I thought Bella would appreciate. Also a few pages of a book I found while hunting for Paddle to the See: Looking inside a Castle.
Field Trip day. We did start out with table time. We got about half an hour. Bella traced a few numbers while I read about the saint of the day, St Margaret of Scotland. For copywork Sophie traced over an antiphon from Sunday’s Liturgy of the Hours. Sophie has stated that she likes doing “holy things” best so I guess she’ll stick with antiphons for now.
Bella read me a Bob book. Ben colored and so did Anthony. I had to shoo the boys away while Bella was reading. She hates having them look over her shoulder.
All this occurred while Dom was still here and eating breakfast. He was able to help distract Lucia a bit. An advantage to getting started early.
Our field trip was to Gore Place in Waltham, a beautiful house and grounds, what used to be a working farm and still keeps a variety of animals. We met some friends, another homeschooling family. First we stopped by the barns to see the animals. Then we started up the hill to the house but got sidetracked–inevitably!– by the two weeping beech trees. They are irresistible to little children, who see them as magical houses. Bella was up the tree like a monkey with her friend. The other kids climbed on the lower branches, like swings.
Finally we made it up to the house– spurred by the need for a bathroom. So I got to see a bit of the house as we all trooped in to use the facilities. There was a tour of the house at 1 and as it was already 12:30, we decided to have a quick lunch and then split our forces. My friend took the big kids on the tour and I stayed outside with the little ones who I didn’t think would appreciate it. Instead I downloaded the app and did part of the guided audio tour of the grounds. We had a lovely walk and saw rabbits and chipmunks and squirrels and birds.
The guide evidently was impressed by Bella’s book learning. Bella was full of information: “The drawing room was originally called the withdrawing room,” she told me. Sophie said it was very nice.
When we got home no one was all that interested in having story time, especially me. So we skipped it. I made dinner, the kids played.
Bedtime story was the See inside the Castle book.
I woke up really late this morning because I left my phone/alarm clock in the laundry room last night. I thought I’d left it in the bed when putting Lucy down to sleep, but I guess not.
So we got started really late, but still managed about 40 minutes of table time. Bella protested at the end that she hates sitting still for so long and I reminded her how much longer she’d be sitting still were she having to go to school all day.
Sophie and Bella both accomplished some copy work. After Sophie had traced over her antiphon she grabbed a piece of construction paper and copied out the full alphabet in capital letters. So she got in some extra practice.
After that Bella and I moved to the couch. I read her the first couple of chapters of Holling C. Holling’s Seabird. Then she read me three Bob books. Then I read another chapter of Tipis. Then I sang Anthony a song from the Go in and out the Window songbook: Pop Goes the Weasel. Then a Brambley Hedge story for Ben: Winter Story, which is a favorite. Then Sophie read me a picture book, which is the library favorite that everyone calls “Trucks, Trucks, Trucks on the Long, Long Road” even though the real title is something more boring and less memorable. Then I read Bella the first chapter of the Yue’s Pueblo.
After that everyone migrated back to the table. Ben and Anthony asked for puzzles. Sophie and Anthony played with pattern blocks. Sophie did a page of Miquon math so that she could listen to a bit of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe on her iPod. Then Bella did a page of Miquon math. I wrote out a few pages of copywork so they will be ready to go the next few days.
Then we all had lunch and then Lucy went down for a nap. Over lunch I read them the daily mass readings and the life of St Barnabas, since it’s his feast. Once Lucy was asleep, we moved outside for afternoon story time: Down to the Bonny Glen, Francie on the Run, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Everyone munched on pistachios while I read. Bella got a bit worried during Francie on the Run, so I let her run away inside for a bit, but she came back and finished out the chapter. Ben asked me to read Make Way for Ducklings. And then we were done with story time.
We pulled out the flower press and loaded it with buttercups, clover, wild roses, and creeping charley. And one rhododendron. We checked the progress of our garden, marveling at the height of our sunflowers. Then Bella decided to write a letter to grandma. I wrote out the text on the white board and she copied it out onto a paper and then decorated it. Sophie cut out flowers from a gardening catalogue and pasted them onto a paper to make a garden. Ben and Anthony each drew a picture for the other. Then everyone ran back outside for more play except for Bella who was really focused on her letter, going back and forth between writing and cutting out flowers to decorate it.
I guess today was really a high tide day. Lots of reading and writing going on. I also did some laundry and housework in there between bouts of educating kids. This is the kind of day I think every day should be. But of course it’s silly to set this kind of day as a benchmark.
Bedtime reading Mike Venezia’s Botticelli, which was a bit disappointing in it’s total dismissal of the Middle Ages as uninterested in art and culture and generlaly illiterate. We talked about evidence that points away from each of those misconceptions. It was at least a fruitful conversation. Bella is already shaping up to be a pretty critical reader.
We were up early. Bella had an orthodontist appointment– her very first but not, alas, her last. She’s going to have to have three more teeth pulled and then back to the dentist. The poor, poor thing has a very crowded mouth and her adult teeth keep erupting behind her baby teeth. This is not going to be fun at all. Poor kids, genetics is against them. I fear they are all going to be seeing way more of the orthodontist than I like.
Anyway, Dom took Bella and I stayed with the other kids. We still had table time and, honestly, it was much smoother when we were down a man. Sophie did her copy work and a math page. Then I had to nurse Lucy and while I was doing that they all drifted away from the table and started playing some game.
Lucy didn’t actually nap and after her little break Sophie read me Little Blue Truck Leads the Way. Dom and Bella came home when she was in the middle of that and then I tried to get Bella to do a little copywork. That was all she did and then they were all running about outside. So I puttered around not actually accomplishing much. I couldn’t figure out what chores I wanted to do and so did nothing.
Well, not nothing. I went out to the yard and gathered a bouquet of flowers and put them in a vase: some irises, daisies, wild roses. And put the vase on the prayer shelf. This in lieu of cleaning off said shelf and organizing it, which I’ve been putting off for weeks.
Afternoon read alouds were Seabird by Holling C. Holling. Bella is suddenly enamored of this book and really of Holling in general. It really is just her cup of tea. She loves learning about the world through story. This one has all sorts of delicious facts stuffed in to a great adventure. Sophie wanted to keep reading on Paddle to the Sea so we did several chapters of that as well. Bella was less keen. A chapter of Down to the Bonny Glen– such a surprise when Miss Norrie was dismissed! And relief that the incident with the embroidery thread didn’t turn out too badly after all. Bella really can’t handle the dramatic tension when children don’t follow the rules. It’s why we gave up on Betsy Tacy and why Francie on the Run isn’t her favorite. Ben’s request was for an Inch and Roly book, I think it was The Very Small Hiding Place. Then Bella demanded more See Inside a Castle.
Today was a day with lots and lots of playing outside and intense playing of games. Compensation for so much book time yesterday? Well enough since tomorrow is supposed to be rainy and also will be a grocery day.
Bedtime reading. Bella wanted the Smithsonian backyard book about monarch butterflies. Sophie wanted the picture book about Jonah that they got for Easter.
Grocery day, but I got up early and was able to get in maybe 20 minutes of table time, so I call it a win. Sophie did a page of copywork. Bella did most of a page, but left off the last two words. Sophie did a math page, or part of one, I think. Neither did any reading practice. Bella was having a really hard morning. She couldn’t settle to her work at all. She said it was because she hadn’t had time to look at her favorite nature book (North American Plants and Wildlife). So I let her bring the book to the table and look through it. After a while she was going back and forth copying a word and then looking at her book. Just getting her to sit at the table and try to do her work was a triumph today. She had a headache by the end of it, she said.
Going to the grocery store drains me. The children are very well behaved, but I have to constantly remind them to move out of other peoples way, to not touch glass bottles, to leave things alone, to not push and shove each other. Bella is getting quite helpful and can be sent off on little errands. That’s nice. Some day perhaps she’ll be a real help in getting the shopping done more quickly. She’d very good at recognizing labels and remembers where things are, so not reading fluently doesn’t slow her down too much if I send her to get an item we buy regularly. And I’m a creature of habit so most of my cart is things I buy regularly.
Lucy fell asleep on the way to the store and didn’t wake up till we were almost at the checkout. Which meant, of course, no afternoon nap. Ugh. And she was cranky as could be and very demanding of attention.
Still, I managed to read part of Paddle to the Sea and See inside a Castle. A chapter of Down to the Bonny Glen. And we finished the Tipi book and read a bit of the Pueblo. But that was it because then Lucy was done and so was I.
We had dinner out because it was Anthony’s feast day and because I was suddenly too tired and cranky to cook.
Bedtime story was a bit of the newest Bink and Gollie (from the library) and something else. I forget.