Thursday, June 29, 2006

A year is done

Our school year is done. I had the 10yo for the last time yesterday and could not help but break down after she left. I hope things go well for her in school. (Although, her mother said that if it went really poorly, she'd make the hour-plus-long drive to school each morning and then again after school each morning!)

And yet, it's just the school year that is done. My children's learning isn't. Dd has pulled out her writing folder and has said that we 'have to' have a set time for Writers' Workshop again because she's not getting her stories done and that she wants daily exercise, particularly stretching. It's time like these when I feel I've done something right in my Montessori implementation that she would choose these types of work. Without me even insisting that she work. It's also times like these when I see how much Montessori resembles unschooling. While Montessori does require work and the directress to present a lot of things to each child, it's the child who chooses his route, for the most part.

I think it's going to be a great summer. :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I was thinking yesterday about how much I had fallen away from Montessori and it really bothered me. I considered root causes of changes in the past few months, knowing that my difficulty sleeping enough since the time change has certainly affected things since I'm not quite so mentally spry and flexible and all that when I'm too tired.

My thinking finally took me to a point of asking myself: What are you doing???? In a flash, I could see how everything was intertwined: my lack of sleep, my gradually taking charge more and more, their continual move away from work... I knew my highly structured plan was a mistake. If the 10yo fights everything I think she "should" do before next school year, how is that going to help her since she won't really be learning it well? If the 15yo's mind has really shut off math for now, is insisting she do some going to help? NO!

So today, a fresh start, even though there are 10 school days (including today) left. I am going to provide more things (including SOTW reading time, which I did yesterday and it was great; I also read some Shakespeare-related things and they loved it) and work with them. I'll sit down with the 10yo and talk to her about the different things that she could work on that would help her for next year and let her plan out some things. I'll sit down with the 12yo and talk about his reading, writing and math (I may still require some writing as it's something he will NOT willingly do! EVER!) I know he wants to do some science things, so I'm going to look over this little kit we have today and maybe do some. I'll sit down with the 15yo and talk about her math and what we'll have to do if she doesn't improve on some of the skills before school is out. Her main interest right now is actually studying for her learner's licence and that should probably be encouraged!!

Right now, though, I'm going to find a world map to print off so the kids can see where the teams they've been watching for the World Cup are from!

It feels good to be moving back on track!

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Best Laid Plans...

Here I am, quite ready for my sort of mini-summer school approach for the next two weeks and the 10yo shows up today and isn't feeling terribly well and is coughing a whole lot. What to do? My primary focus for the next two weeks had been on her.

I think I'll go ahead with stuff anyhow. Even if she doesn't participate, the way I've set up the French lessons for the next two weeks will still work if she's just hanging around listening (lots of repetition) ; I can also maybe leave some stuff out today. I can still stick to my French, Math, LA, Social/Science/Read-Aloud plan for the others.

The littlest things can sure throw you for a loop!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

So NOT Montessori!!!

I've been struggling for a while to feel that what I'm really doing is Montessori. I feel like I'm drifting further and further away but am becoming more aware of what is going on and what I need to change. I'm going to have to do some inner and outer preparation this summer as I really want to 'get with the program'! I had been moving towards where I wanted to be for a bit, but I find that the 12yo became highly disruptive this year (or the opposite, would just loaf and do absolutely nothing which still required my attention), which encouraged the 10yo and dd to be more unfocused and less self-directed, as their attention was pulled towards him. As I write this now, I realize that a lot of his behaviour was probably motivated in having attention drawn towards him and I was fuelling that as I tried to keep him in line. If he were in a Montessori school, I think things would work fairly well for him as he'd have people to buddy up with for work and there would be an environment where there would be lots for him to do. I don't have that, unfortunately, and really moved far away from Montessori with him and think I pulled the others that way, too.

That said, however, the next 2.5 weeks (not even--last day will be June 27) of school, if not highly guided, will fall into the kids playing Lego all day while they listen to me read. This wouldn't be so bad, except that with one severely lagging in language and math skills (the 12yo) and another lagging a bit and absolutely HAVING to know certain things for school next year (the 10yo), I realize I've hit a crunch and there is just a lot that has to be done in the next two weeks. Also, the oldest has certain things that would be best done now instead of waiting until September.

While going over the school curriculum here, I see that there will be lots of holes if I don't at least show certain things. Fortunately, a lot of the work will benefit the others, so here's my plan for this week:

The first roughly 30-40 minutes of school time (after our silent reading) will be for French, going over all the stuff expected in grade 4. Some of it she knows, but some of it's very formal stuff that we haven't touched and almost none of it has been tied to written components. This is something they can all participate in as it will be review or even new learning for some of them. There can be lots of role playing for it and I'll make available the written component somehow (word cards, word lists, something, plus worksheets from Enchanted Learning).

After that will be math. I've put together a few things for a gr. 4 test covering local school curriculum so we can go over that and make sure she's covered everything. All of them need to work on their math facts and I'm going to have the 12yo simply work on computation (or math topic of choice) and the 15yo pick a few questions for review each day. Dd can pick what she wishes in her math workbook. With the crunch on, I'm not showing anything new for right now.

After that will be LA. I have NOT been doing Spalding as I had planned and it is first thing on my list for our LA time. The 15yo and dd can pretty much do as they wish during this time, but the other two are going to work on Spalding, then a bit of reading using what they've learned from Spalding, plus just to practise reading aloud, then the 12yo will work on writing something while I do Sequential Spelling with the 10yo and then she will write something. I may simply guide her through a book report this week as she's never done one and it will be a good writing activity for her.

(The order of the subjects may be changed to best suit students' needs that day.)

This should take us to about 10:30, at which point we can check our Tomatosphere plants, maybe do a little science activity or SOTW or read-aloud time. I also need to find time then or in the afternoon to go over music elements with the 10yo so she won't be behind in music class next year.

Whew! Not Montessori at all but with 'outside' requirements in place, it's got to be done.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Constant Changes

It's funny how life throws things in to change one's plans!

Dd and the oldest no longer have to do the math tests. This means that I can back off a bit* on the math review with the oldest and dd can pretty much do as she chooses with math. The 12yo still has some of his math test to finish. The 10yo is actually supposed to be doing a math test, too, at some point, but we haven't received the materials, so I may have to create my own so that her school next year has a sense of where she's at.

I haven't been able to find the books I wanted at the library to do Shakespeare. I've got a couple of other resources; perhaps that will be okay. With various activities going on and the kids now finishing on June 27 (which will be a send-off party for the 10yo), we don't have much time to get a play done.

Other than that, it's a rainy day today. That means we'll either be stuck inside here or we'll have to go somewhere inside as our scheduled homeschoolers' park day will be cancelled. We'll see. My plans for this morning are, after silent reading, to do a bit of math, present some English and French phonics in a sort of Spalding style, have the 12yo and 10yo write something, I'll read to them from Among the Betrayed and hopefully from Story of the World, which I haven't read to them in a very long time, despite my plans. (They've wanted to listen to the Among the... series instead!) Perhaps we'll get started on a Twisted Shakespeare story and they can act it out. I've also got a brownie mix we could do and a bunch of stuff for them to do crafty things, if they wish. I should maybe pull out board games and the like, too. Always have to be fully prepared on the rainy days to avoid chaos!

*(I don't feel I can back off completely with the oldest as she really hasn't mastered a lot of the stuff from this year and she's supposed to have a certain competency to be able to do the level of math she wants to do next year for credit. Of course, I could always let her decide and if she does nothing, then we have to do a review in September, but her main reason for balking at doing the review is that she "can't remember anything" (that's the whole point of the review--to have things come back to you!) ; it's fear of failure stopping her (and a poor view of herself with math), not simple lack of interest. We can do one type of problem each day and even if it doesn't get a full review done, it'll be better than letting her avoid it all completely, I think. To be even more Montessorian about it, I'll have her pick from the review section the type of problem she'd like to do.)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Final Stretch

We had our year-end review this past week. It's so great to have that done and out of the way. This leaves us with a month of school left (until June 30th). The oldest and my dd still have to do math tests and the now 12yo has to complete a math test, but has the option of doing it over the course of several days. The oldest needs to do a full review before the test, though, and only has until this coming Friday to do it. After that, she'll be free to focus on studying for her learner's license, something she's determined to try to get before the school year is out.

Once all that is out of the way, I'll be giving French phonics lessons, recorder lessons, have Sequential Spelling time each day for those who want it, writing time each day and I'll hopefully be able to present some things for science as well as get a lot in Story of the World read. Oh, and our regular read-aloud and individual lessons or work encouragement for things like math and reading. It'll be a busy month.