Sunday, November 13, 2005

It's been awhile

I'm not very good at remembering this blog, am I? :)

Let's see, what's happened in the past month and a bit... My most resistant one is reading more and more, which is great. We are getting more and more work done, but he relies on me so much to actually work. There's a part of him that thinks he should be off the hook from working if he can't have my undivided attention. There's so much he can work on on his own, he's just so unmotivated. Or scared. I'll have to work on that more.

This week, the two oldest are going to be expected to plan out a bit more what it is that they want to get done this week, then all will work on personal daily plans. I'm not expecting anything highly detailed, although the oldest (11 and 14) who have the least amount of homeschooling and Montessori experience, really need some sort of framework, personal goals, to keep them going so that they don't drop everything when they've finished their first work item and turn to me and ask, "What can I do now?" They need to think more about what they want to do and have it to fall back on when they don't have something capturing their attention.

As much as I've always hated many of the "Montessori" work plans that I've heard of, I'm leaning more and more towards them being vital for the two oldest. The two middle children have only known homeschooling and my Montessori attempt at it during their 'mandatory schooling' time (grade 1+). They are quite self-directed and are usually fine when I make a request of a certain type of work from them. They can go with the flow quite easily. The two oldest have a number of years of public school behind them, plus they're older, so I just think I need to meet their needs in a different way than the two youngest. I don't want to tell them, "Do this, do that" but at the same time, there are things that will be forgotten or put aside that I really think they need to work on (ooh, the big Montessori question--what 'should' they be working on?) And I think they just need more structure, and I hope that they can self-impose a structure that will work for them.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Slowly getting there!

Yesterday was one of the best days in a while. But, I didn't follow my usual expectation of spending considerable amounts of time on language and math. We started the day going through what kinds of things would be in a travel brochure (the kids are going to create travel brochures for planets--they have to be as factual as possible!), then we spent some time on music, then our week-end cleaning, then we went out for lunch and a movie (ds' birthday party).

That little inner voice has been nagging me for some time that I should be doing more cultural work with them--science, music, etc. I know that it's the main key to helping the children develop fully, as these areas captivate them so much and get them naturally involved in the language arts and math skills which are so important to living in this society. I think I've been too engrained by traditional education to worry about the language arts and math and have not been looking at the WHOLE child. Yesterday was a great eye opener for me.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

One week done

It was a struggle this week. Part of me thought we could just sort of continue from where we'd left off. I shouldn't have been so naive! We needed to resume good routines, have lots of group stuff... I didn't have my meeting with the 11yo as I had planned and I think that definitely didn't help things. We will have our meeting Monday morning.

Good things from the week: some work got done, the idea of using the tablecloth has been working well, the kids have been quite good at picking up after themselves, not sure what else.

Things to work on or things learned: I must practise lessons before I give them instead of the winging I did for one; I need to have more group time and group lessons, especially to make sure that our activities from Building Moral Intelligence and Raising a Thinking Preteen get done (it's basically grace and courtesy stuff, but in a different way).

I know that part of the problem was that one of the kids was away for the week, so I wasn't totally willing to get started with the cultural lessons and the read-aloud. I'll have to plan things out, and practise things as necessary, for next week.

Friday, August 26, 2005

School year almost started

(As a recap: with things going on (like the 9yo essentially being away for almost a week), the routines and whatnot that I had last posted about didn't take place. And ds didn't do the Lagostina pots.)

I'm starting school officially with ds and the girls (7 and 9) on Monday. The idea has put butterflies in my stomach. I don't feel ready! I guess that tells me what I have to do these next few days: finalize the plans for our first few days before the two oldest come back.

The 9yo doesn't have her school supplies yet, but I want them to start their work journals, so I may just have her write on a sheet of looseleaf and we'll put that in her work journal once she has her stuff. I just want them to get into the habit of putting the date at the very least.

So, what are my plans for Monday? Let me ramble... Get my kids ready for the day by 7:30. I'd like to read aloud to them in French before 8. At 8, we get together and they write in their work journals, we'll talk about what we'll be doing for this week, what we'll be doing Thursday when the other two start, get ideas from them for things they'd like to work on, etc. Of course, ds (not quite 5) won't do all of this, so perhaps I need to show him an activity before the morning meeting. I think I'll pick a PL activity for him--maybe cleaning the plant leaves or polishing the Lagostina pots.

Dd has been wanting to do a small report on ducks, so I think I will encourage her to work on that. I'd like to do a cursive lesson with both of them--they've already been told that we will be working on cursive a lot this year. I don't want to get started on the Great Lessons until the others are here, so I guess cultural presentations will wait until the week after, but they are, of course, free to study things that interest them. I could present the World Puzzle Map, though. I think I'll do that. Ds could do it with us.

I might start on math. Maybe I should just plan on doing math but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. We are starting our year off with numeration--understanding place value, reading and writing numerals to at least 10 000, reading and writing number words to at least 10 000. I should make sure I have materials ready for that. Ds has been wanting to work with the Golden Beads but I've either lost or thrown away (I think it was damaged) the Decimal Tray. I'll have to take care of that. And a sequence of lessons or detailed made-up lessons so that I know exactly what I'm doing. I should technically practice it first, too.

All right, so this gives me a focus for this weekend: finalize my plans for next week, particularly Monday, get whatever materials ready that I need to and practise the lessons. Oh--can't forget to practise how to get the written part of the folders of lessons done. I think it's crucial that we get started with this right away.

As for the rest of Monday, focus on those routines: regroup and clean-up before lunch, put a table cloth and set the table for lunch, prayer before eating, silent reading after lunch. We're going on a small field trip (just us!) in the p.m. I still haven't figured out when I'm going to do the English read-aloud. More things to think about this weekend.

That's it for now.

Monday, August 15, 2005

A Gentle Start

I'm going to get started on some basic routines with the kids today and work at getting at least one lesson per day with each child. Since there are only 3 of them at the moment, I think it should work out okay.

I'm a little nervous about getting started with the folders of lessons described in Donna Bryant Goertz' book. I'm going to start this with the 9yo today. She really wants to get going on French reading and writing, we're going to get started with that today. She's not interested in doing the basic format of learning the sounds, then learn to read individual words, then move onto sentences... She wants to read books. So, I've made up a lesson with a very simple book we have from the library. We are going to read it together, then the specific lesson for today is to pick out all the words with 'an' in them and write them in her notebook. Follow-up work for 'an' will be to practise reading those words in the story and in her notebook, to find 'an' words in other books. Follow-up work for this book will be for us to re-read it on other days and do the same thing as above, but with different phonograms (on, ou, eu, etc.), as well as copying out some pages (the pages are all one sentence!) to work on remembering the spelling of French words.

With dd, I'm going to do some exchange work with the Golden Beads. We'd discussed doing this earlier this summer but we haven't done it. Now that things have calmed down, I think we should get to it.

Haven't decided what to do with ds today. I have some Lagostina pots which are becoming discoloured--I could bring out the stuff necessary to shine them up. If he doesn't want to do that, maybe work with the number rods. We haven't done those in a bit.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Spontaneous Activity in Summer

One of Maria Montessori's big ideas was the focus on having the children have spontaneous activity and how, when properly prepared, this spontaneous activity was what spurred their development forward. I've been witness to this the past couple of weeks.

We have not yet resumed 'school' and an initial attempt at having a routine down, at least, went out the window with preparations for company and then their 3-day visit. That didn't stop the girls, 9 and almost 8, to still engage in spontaneous, purposeful activity other than play. I prepared some simple animal report sheets, which they couldn't help but use when they discovered them. Dd's been using a cursive practice placemat rather frequently. They've written down songs that they know by heart, practised recorder, played on the piano and just today, dd finished a story she found in a pile I had been going through. There is such joy and pleasure in these activities they spontaneously choose and which meet some inner need on their part.

I see how much many of the activities they have engaged in have been the result of some small lesson previously given or something suitable made available in the environment. It is a reminder to me to keep giving little lessons here and there and make sure there are new suitable things in the environment to capture their desire for work.