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.