Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Things didn't go as I had hoped. Dd decided she wanted to learn about flamingos, but once at the library, we couldn't really find any suitable books and she was so discouraged, she didn't want to see if there were any to request from another branch. I may try to help her do online research, which I try to limit until fter they've already got most of the information they want.

The 9yo was in a mood today and did pick a project--rabbits--but then proceeded to the computer immediately. I had her come back and asked her what she was doing. "Research." "What do we usually start with, instead of the computer, when researching?" "I don't know." Once I stood firm on her starting with books, she refused to do any project.

The 11yo is fighting any kind of learning, especially anything involving reading and writing. He didn't pick anything he wanted to learn about.

The 15yo picked out something last week: Jack the Ripper. I wonder if it'll be something she'll be able to share with others. I'll have to talk to her about 'audience' before she begins narrowing in on her topic.

I feel very un-Montessori in what I want to do--we'll see if I feel the same and follow through tomorrow: I want the 9yo's and the 11yo's time much more structured. They are similar in a number of ways and fall quickly into goofing off mode--and this can last for days/weeks if not nipped in the bud. Trying to work with them to get them back on track is frustrating, to say the least. It'd be different in a classroom full of other kids working, I think. Here, the tendency is towards entropy. :( With certain distractions this week, they are taking full advantage of it and doing absolutely nothing. Seriously. The 11yo spent close to 30 minutes rocking in the rocking chair with a baby block in his hand on Monday. I need to pull them back. I need to direct them more as they are not handling freedom well at the moment. Any work habit the 9yo had has slithered away and hid somewhere. The 11yo hasn't had a decent work habit in two years. Things have got to change. And I've got to be the one to direct the change.

So, what I've got at the moment is a list of things for them to do tomorrow, with guidelines on minimum time (and minimum questions) they should be spending actually working on these things. They get to pick the order. If I don't state approx. times and amount of complete work, they'll take advantage of it. They're both quite talented in getting away, or trying to get away, with doing the least amount possible. The 9yo will write one sentence in cursive, which takes a whole minute, and says she's done cursive. She'll do 5 addition problems (she's currently working on multiplication) which take maybe 5 minutes and little effort and says she's done math. She somehow got in her mind that if she did a little bit of everything, she could be 'done work early,' even if that means that she's done 'everything' in 20 minutes time (during a 3-hour morning work period.) This was something we had ONE day many moons ago when we had other things we wanted to do and she still seems to think it applies. Or the 11yo will take 30 minutes to do 2 math questions--not because it actually takes him that long to figure them out. It'll be made clear that it's the amount of time actually spent working that counts, not how much time you spend in front of the questions, or out of your spot after having said you would do math. I know this isn't Montessori, but I'm not sure that even Maria Montessori would have let these two be much given the circumstances.

The oldest is doing fairly well, although I do have to direct her to more French work. Dd is doing quite well, too. Ds learned to tie his shoes with both 'bunny ears' and a single 'bunny ear' this past week, plus still likes doing all kinds of math things, reading the clock and all kinds of spontaneous things that help him progress. I've started introducing little things to help alphabet/sound knowledge along further as I can tell he would like to read and write, but he doesn't have the skills to do so yet. It's just the two really reluctant learners, both lagging academically, who seem to have reached a point of just wanting to do nothing productive/useful and play. Part of it has been that certain routines got affected with different things going on and they've not gotten back to them. I also know both have stress issues in their family lives right now, which may be part of it, but at the same time, I can't allow them to disrupt everybody else. If they would at least spend their down time reading, writing, drawing, something other than the various things they do that hurts everyone else's work time, I wouldn't have a problem. Well, not as much. ;)

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