August is here. That means the official school year start is soon! Only 3 weeks left to get all of my plans in place. And 3 weeks of having my nephew and niece here before my nephew goes off to gr. 2 and the other two start again.
My nephew and niece have been with us 2 days so far. Yesterday was pretty good: not too crazy for the most part, activities I had planned I didn't even end up mentioning because they were just enjoying themselves so much.
Today, however, things got a little crazier. It didn't help that we've had two days of rain and with 2 boys who feed off each other's energy and couldn't really play outside (nephew didn't have proper gear, plus dh had put weed and feed on the lawn yesterday morning before it started raining), they've been cooped up and little room for expending energy. My van is out of commission at the moment which means no going anywhere to expend energy. But now my son is napping and my dd (almost 10) is playing with my nephew (7) and she's the one getting all goofy and crazy. Of course, my nephew is laughing like a mad man at it, so it just encourages her.
Observing them, though, and analyzing a bit their movement from one activity to another, I can't help escape the feeling that this type of play is an escape from a feeling of boredom, a feeling of not knowing what else to do and not seeing anything worthwhile around them to do. Adrenaline being used at the end of the day is certainly combined with that.
So I find myself now contemplating how to go about things come Monday morning. The past two days, I've basically spent my mornings on the laptop, with many distractions, working on school stuff--mainly CALM and French planning for the oldest--and in the afternoons, just this and that, then when it really hits the crazy peak between 3 and 4, I'm too tired or just not properly focused to think of ways to engage them in activities that will truly engage them. So, what to do?
First part of the answer came to me right away: focus on the environment. Always the Montessori answer, isn't it? ;) I need to set up specific trays, placemats, something with different types of activities that will attract their attention. Instead of me trying to think up, "Well, which of the activities I thought of would be good right now?", the activities can be pretty much ready and they can have my involvement whenever they need it.
Second sort of answer was questioning the idea of perhaps some sort of routine or schedule. But old habits die hard and implementing structure at this time could be difficult, particularly with my nephew since my place has always been his play place. Which brings me back to making sure there are lots of activities outright visible and available for them to do. Sure, some stuff will be on the shelves, but I think to get them going, I need to have things out and noticed. I have a home, here, not a classroom!
Third part of the answer is to NOT do work stuff, household stuff, anything like that, at least for a set period, like either morning or afternoon; could even just make it the day. Make myself totally available to showing something or helping with something. Then if craziness does hit, I'm not being pulled from something I'm already doing, I'm being "invited" to invite them to something more enticing.
What kinds of things could I make available that they would be likely to do?
- My nephew has always loved cleaning the plant.
- Polishing pots is usually an enjoyed activity.
- Geogmagz (perhaps finding some designs online they could try to imitate or just a 'centre' for them to play at with them)
- 100-chain; if my 1000-chain is complete, the boys would be ready for that, too
- bingo (regular, letter, math, etc.)
- painting (perhaps even had a model to try to imitate)
- pin map? colour continents of the world? label a map? hm, maybe
- baking stuff all ready to go (ooh, like making homemade buns)
Hm, I'm kind of stuck at the moment. That doesn't seem like a lot. I'm actually feeling like I could have a nap, but pizzas are on their way so it's not a good time. I'll have to do some exploring in Montessori books/websites to come up with more. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comments!!
So, other than figuring out how to actually spend my days with my niece and nephew here (ooh, I can't forget about her, either! she's ready for some early Casa activities), I have to:
- write up short year plans for the 4 school kids to submit to our teacher advisor
- write up my own year plans, more detailed than the above, for each of the kids; the oldest's are pretty much done, except for her science courses as the 20-level science courses are changing this year and the school doesn't have new courses up yet; her brother's are partially done; not sure about dd or ds
- finish creating a French course for the oldest (a little more involved than the other course plans)
- create a French course for her brother
Shoot, can't remember what else and I apparently have to remove myself from the computer right now. Too many interruptions around here!