Saturday, August 07, 2010

Got to get planning!

I had a vision at the beginning of the summer of how much I was going to get done, the sort of routines I was going to have, and how prepared I was going to be for when my nieces and nephew came for most of August.


This summer has had so much busyness, part of me feels like I haven't really gotten done any of the things I wanted to get done. And while I've had some moments here and there to kind of think about things, I am certainly not prepared for this coming Monday, which is when my nephew and nieces will be with us.

What is my vision for August? A baby step at a time, I want to incorporate Montessori lessons into our day. I want to have a more structured day for all of the kids. I want my son to work on his handwriting and math. I want my nephew to get a feel for what it would be like to actually homeschool with us (he's been kind of pestering his parents, but whenever he's with us, ds pretty much gets the day off or he does his work really early, so my nephew has never really seen a homeschool day in action; well, except when he was 4--he's now 10). Basically, I want structure, I want the little ones in particular to be directed, I want activities prepared and in the boys' face that will get them involved in something other than scootering, biking or playing in the yard.

That's all fine and dandy. But how will I make this work? What will I specifically show them? I have a tendency to want everything all planned out ahead of time, every last detail, and I know that's self-defeating. Let me just ramble with some thoughts:

*I would like to present the Great Lessons to them. I haven't presented the Great Lessons in years. I had hoped to present the first one this coming Monday, but I don't know if I'll be ready because we are so very busy this weekend.

*I would like to have science activities ready for them. But what? I need to figure this out. I have a bunch of different books with science activities. As much as I would like it to be all Montessori in nature and everything connected, I think I have to suck it up and just show them things.

*I remember having done with dd and another girl I had been homeschooling some homemade baked playdough models of the core, the mantel and the crust. We also did something on dinosaurs, but I can't remember what--it was 7 years ago. I really ought to have a look in the Montessori science albums I have! See how blogging can bring things back to mind? :)

*I want to have a sort of schedule, at least for the little ones. They are the ones who need the most direction right now. A modification of Maria Montessori's original schedule. Something along the lines of:

(Before school begins: I need to make a specific plan for the day, have activities prepared, lessons practised, etc.)

8:30 - 9:15? Arrive. Put away shoes properly (instead of literally throwing them into the closet). "Circle time"--we won't really have a circle since there are only 3 of us at that point. ;) We'll chat a bit, talk about the day before, etc., and have a  story time. Maria Montessori "eschewed" (where did THAT word come from in my brain?) obviously fictional stories (fairy tales, talking animals, etc.) because she found the children weren't very interested in them the way they were interested in them compared to stories about real things. However, I have found my nieces love everything, so I will probably mix it up between real stories and fictional things like "The Wind in the Willows". In Maria Montessori's original schedule, she had "religious exercises" listed as part of the first routine of the morning. I have no idea what that means. I could maybe read them a little Bible story or teach them a prayer, I suppose!

9:15 - 10:15 "Intellectual exercises" Maria Montessori writes. "Objective lessons interrupted by short rest periods. Nomenclature, sense exercises." Essentially, LESSONS from any of the Montessori subject areas, except probably not room care nor grace and courtesy. Because the latter comes next.

10:15 - 10:45 Grace and courtesy lessons and practice. This is almost like a game time for the kids. Walking gracefully, moving chairs without making a noise, practising greeting people, thanking people, etc.

Maria Montessori's schedule would be moving into lunch prep right now. The kids get to my place 30 minutes before MM's schedule starts, plus I've shortened the first routine because there isn't really any room care to do, although perhaps I could add it in. Actually, 10:45 would be a perfect time for us to do a pre-lunch clean up (not just the little ones, but EVERYONE). We have a tendency of having lunch around 11/11:30. So, 10:45 could be the check the rooms, see that everything is in place, maybe dust, prepare the table for lunch, prepare any lunches as needed, then we could all sit down together, say grace and eat lunch. Then do the after-lunch clean up. We could be done lunch by 12.

The afternoons:

12 - 1 Maria Montessori has free games at this point. I think this might have been a time where really little ones may have gone off to sleep, too. In any case, part of me resists this idea as I've tried it and it doesn't seem to work for us. So, instead of free games, it'll start with quiet time: free reading or writing. Assuming my 2yo niece still needs naps, I will put her down for a nap at this point. (Ach--I just had the reminder that I was hoping to work on potty training with her. I have to try not to do too much at a time, though. Maybe have a week with the schedule then add in the potty training.) So, around 12:30 or so, I think I will move on to the activities Montessori had planned for later in the day.

12:30 - 1:30 Manual work, clay, art... I actually have a fantastic book of guiding children through art projects. I could pick a particular medium each week, or maybe have different things each day--one day is painting, another is drawing, another is collage, another is sculpting... I find it so hard to make these kinds of decisions, even though it probably doesn't make much of a difference. I'm thinking at the moment that to have a varied week is probably better, because it shows them more things. Of course, with the little one down for her nap, she will miss this part, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Now the Montessori schedule really breaks down for me. I would love to go outside and have directed outside time. BUT with a little one sleeping inside... I'll need another hour of indoor activities, or give them free time at this point, then when the little one is up, we can go for a nature walk, play games outside, etc. At the moment, I'm thinking from 1:30-2:30 could be me reading aloud for 30 minutes, then free time for the older niece. Although maybe the read-aloud would be better for 12:30-1? Although, that would be right after their own reading time. Does it matter? (Dang, far too much perfectionism in me trying to find the "right" time to do a read aloud!) I'll leave it for 1:30. And free time can be until the littlest one wakes up. That will give me a chance to do some planning, prepping and my own free reading. :D

So, roughly 2:30, weather permitting, outside we will go. Start with a walk or maybe head to a playground or a path or area where we can do some nature observations. We could make it CM style and bring books and pencils to do some sketching. (I'm still very confused about CM's "brush drawings" while out in a natural area--did they really bring paints with them? Were they already mixed and wet? I don't understand!) This could take up to an hour. Of course, some days we could just go into the backyard or into a field and play around with a ball, badminton, stuff like that.

Back home, maybe around 3:30?, good time for music :) Spend maybe 15-30 minutes playing an instrument or showing them how to play something or just letting them explore. Then they can have time to play board games, card games, Lego, go back to artsy activities, etc. while I start supper preparations.

It's a very structured schedule compared to what we have been doing. Of course, I'm going to have to prepare for some "interruptions", such as showing things to the boys, taking the littlest one to the toilet or changing her diaper, etc. But I like the general feel.

Now, this is all fine and good, but that doesn't make me any more ready for the Great Lessons or whatever else I'm going to do with the boys next week. Dd will be away at camp, so I have all next week to figure out things for her. So, off I will head to now to read up on the first Great Lesson!

No comments: