Friday, July 16, 2010


So, we've just been taking it easy and recovering from all of the busyness the past while. It's been good to just relax! Well, okay, not ONLY relax, but do lots of it.

We went to the Street Performers Festival on Wednesday with a friend and her kids. Saw a very kiddie pirate show,  ate, the kids all spent some time in the City Hall fountain (it's okay, they're allowed ;); it's like a mini-pool with water spraying all over), saw part of a comedy/balloon show (very, very funny) and a hip hop group called Rhythm Speaks. Oh, and a not-quite-family-oriented hula-hooping act. :0 She was funny and amazing with her hula hoops, but some of her comments... Eek. One of the roaming individual acts got in on the Rhythm Speaks show before they began--someone dressed up as an old granny, who did some hiphopping herself! lol. I took more videos than pictures and can't figure out how to take stills from the videos to post here, so can't show you much. In any case, see how this little boy is dressed in balloons?

Well, the guy running the act managed to pick a tall guy as his next volunteer and put that orange-white-black balloon combination on the tall guy, but of course, it could only fit like a diaper. lol.

It was cloudy and the predictions were that it was going to be cloudy all afternoon and we'd have a late-afternoon thunderstorm. Well, we ended up in the sun, no sunscreen, and we all got burnt. :( Lesson learned: Always bring sunscreen! I normally do, but was trying to pack light.

What else have we done? Dd is back to working on whatever it is she's writing. She doesn't usually let me see what she's working on, although I catch glimpses here and there. Always stories inspired by whatever she's reading, sometimes her own versions of the stories or continuations. It's kind of funny that so many programs will require that students do this kind of work (retellings, their own version, continuations), yet I suspect plenty of kids are like my dd and would simply start doing it on their own! Of course, she's reading like crazy, too. She filled out a form at the library a week ago, asking for some book suggestions. The form is really good--goes through what they do and don't like, favourite books, most hated book ever read, etc. She got a list in the mail the other day, sent from the library. I think the suggestions she got from the librarian were really good. Of course, she'd already read one or two of them. ;)

Ds has started reading the How to Train Your Dragon series. He's now on the 2nd book. It's nice to see him branch off into something other than Geronimo Stilton, Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes. ;) I shake my head at myself when I see him sitting around reading, because I had worried for so long about if I was doing the right thing in letting reading go with him. I can't say it's harmed him in any way! In addition to the How to Train Your Dragon books, he's pulled out a book on animal facts and has been going through it, which has led him to using Google Earth to find out where some of these places are.

There is soooo much learning and growing going on! It's great! :)

Next week, I'll have my two nieces and nephew, just for the week. It'll change the calm around here ;) and, unfortunately, it'll change ds's reading habits. Although, I may just insist that after lunch is quiet time with a book, while I get my younger niece down for her nap. My nephew (10yo) has started having a bit of interest in reading, so it may work out really well. I do need to really plan the week, though. Although I know the boys will likely spend a good deal of time outside on bikes and scooters, if it's too hot or if it's rainy (which the weather forecast is predicting), they'll be inside, probably going, "What can we do?" lol. I talked to ds last night, and he said he'd like to do some fun science stuff. "Like what?" "I don't know. Something I'd like." lol. Chemistry or building things are always good. I actually had the thought of maybe presenting the first Great Lesson. Ds probably hasn't seen it since he was 5 and may not even remember it! I also have some science albums from Montessori R&D, which I could have a look at and see if there's anything I could get started this coming week.

I have sat down and started working out some routines I could use with the girls. (Well, the two little girls. :) ) Basically, it's just a reworking of Maria Montessori's original schedule, starting with a bit of taking care of the environment, having story/discussion time, I'll include that some word or sound games (like I Spy), then move onto some lessons (will have to plan those and practise the presentations), etc. I haven't worked it all out yet, but given it's Friday, I should maybe get on that so I can practise at least Monday's presentations before Monday hits!

On to another previously posted-about topic: Charlotte Mason. I'm going much more slowly through the first book than I thought I would. I had to stop taking notes because there's just so much! So far, I have to say that a lot of her thinking matches up so much with Montessori: hands-on math as much as possible, connect with real things, little ones under 6 should be taught how to clean and dress themselves and so on... Even all the focus on habits isn't really any different from Montessori when you think about how the children are shown how to do so many different things in very specific ways--when they do them over and over, that is really just the development of a habit. The courtesy lessons are all about developing certain habits... A light bulb moment went off in my head while I was reading what Charlotte Mason had to say on the subject. (I'm still in the habits section in the first book.)

The further I get into the book, the further I understand Charlotte's true love and respect and admiration for children! I had never read enough previously to get that; CM had always felt like kind of a stiff approach, for some reason. Getting a feel for who she was has changed how I see her approach.

I have to say that the real difference, for what I've read so far, is that Charlotte Mason would have the teacher decide what the child is to learn and when, whereas Maria Montessori would have the teacher show the children all the things they can learn, and let the child follow his inner guidance to choose what he will learn at any given time. Of course, this encompasses other differences, like CM training a child not to dawdle over things that don't interest them, but still having to do those things, and Montessori saying that if a child isn't interested in something, let him find something else to develop focus and attention.

My heart and mind still believe very much in Montessori! I like the "what"of CM and think I will be able to incorporate a lot of the "what" into our schooling--science ideas, history ideas, certain books that I can read aloud to them, etc. Because so much of Montessori for older kids depends on having lots of kids around for the "what", it's one area where CM can be very helpful. CM also reminds me that direction is not a bad thing--and Montessori would say that the child who needs more direction ought to have it. Getting the CM structure in mind I think will be very helpful for working with Bob this coming year. In some ways, CM ought to have been a more natural approach anyhow for Bob for high school: the work he is doing this coming year is prescribed by the government. He must cover certain work in order to get the credits. He can't do the Montessori thing and take his time to go in-depth on a subject that interests him--he has to cover the work.

Of course, if I want to have the CM series completely read by the end of August, I'm going to have to get really going with the reading!!!

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