Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Things are always funner with a calligraphy pen

I decided this week to have my 11yo work on his printing by using a calligraphy pen and specially lined paper. Yesterday, he kind of did his own thing with the alphabet. I copied out an alphabet today for him to do exactly the same thing, and he did.

But the kicker is: Both yesterday and today, he used the calligraphy pen to do his math. :D And today, he did his math BEFORE doing the handwriting work. lol

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Exams are done and I tried to get them going this week, but it didn't work. The weather, time of year, people sick and feeling blah... There was a definite need for just some downtime.

I am trying to envision the coming week that I want. ;) I don't know if the 17yo will fall in line--he's got some family stuff going on (he's not mine) and his 2nd semester doesn't officially start until Wednesday, so I'm not sure he's going to really get started on that work until then. So be it. [EDIT: HA! I've planned and prepared deadlines for him for Friday. He'll get to work tomorrow. :P One motivational factor is that two of his distance learning teachers have NOT been accounting for weekends and spring break in their deadline calculations, and he definitely doesn't want to be working during spring break, so he needs to start earlier, or work faster.]

My daughter has been blah this week, too, although she has been attempting to get into work. But it's been hard. She's even found just concentrating on reading hard this week, despite being an avid reader and normally fine with hours at a time. Hopefully this week will be better.

The plan for this week: restart! Take baby steps at reincorporating Montessori more into our lives. How have I let it go so much? I have thus far this weekend had a look at some math albums I bought from R&D, looked at an old message about the folder system Donna Bryant Goertz used in her classrom, have had the urge to start reading Montessori again--I think it fuels me and keeps the vision right there in my face--have worked out a grid to figure out lessons I can give my son. It's just a basic chart. Here's the jist of it:

LESSONS Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri







It is as much a planner for me as a work tracker/planner for him. I can add things in and he can pick an area to spend time in. For example, I've added things where I have something to show him, do with him or a lesson to give; blanks are for him to decide if he will work on it then and if so, what he will do:

LESSONS Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri
Writing Calligraphy drills
Calligraphy letters
More Calligraphy
Spelling pick: French or

pick: French or

pick: French or
Math Next booklet
in fractions
*do at least a few
of the written
*do at least a few
of the written
*do at least a few
of the written
*do at least a few
of the written

Report sheet
for Leo da



(do something
in both areas
by the end of
the week)

It's a start! I have on my wish list to do something from the Chemistry album with him this week, too. I should maybe just plan it in and then it will force me to do it. ;)

Okay, off to find this book:
It's really about kids in difficulty, but it is so inspirational and gives such a good feel for how Montessori can be at the elementary level, I really, really love it and recommend it. It's even good for parents who just want a better insight into kids and things parents can do! I wish there were a good book about the Erdkinder level. :-/

Monday, January 16, 2012

Progress Report

Horrible. lol.

I gave my kids last week the week off, no expectations. Both were coughing lots, not feeling great, my son actually missed his parkour class (you know your child is really ill when...) and I was trying to get the 17yo to get through as much studying and work as he could.

So, I thought, great, a new week, a new beginning! Hm, not quite the beginning I had in mind. My daughter was away at camp this past weekend, where a girl came down with the stomach flu--and it has clearly spread to my daughter. No school work for her today, unless you want to call flushing the toilet after vomiting as a practical life activity. :( And learning that sipping a bit of Gatorade when you feel ready for liquids is good to re-establish your electrolytes. She had just a bit once she was feeling like she could keep something down and she said it made a huge difference in how she felt.

My son woke up looking very tired. He ended up laying down on the sofa for ages. And he's still got this pesky congested cough. He did end up doing a little bit of schooly stuff with his little cousin and ended up shovelling the walk, but also spent considerable time just lying around and not doing much. My niece was kind of like him all day: low energy, just lying around.

The 17yo had today as a final deadline for work. He got a bit more in, which will help with his mark, but he's facing the real possibility of having to retake the course! He wouldn't be able to do it this semester, so he'll have to wait until summer school or do it next year. I guess we'll have to get him through the last exam and wait for the marks to come back before we get too far ahead in our planning.

This means that for tomorrow, my list is already ready for my kids. ;) Hopefully we'll get out of this illness slump and into some learning!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rough restart

This week, even though it's only Tuesday, has certainly not turned out as planned!

Sunday, I was hit with a stomach bug. I was unable to finish up my planning or even do much of anything.

Yesterday, doing a bit better, but my 11yo is sick with a cold, my 14yo is sick with a cold (and slept until almost 10am yesterday!), my 11yo nephew was with us because he was sick... The 17yo came for school, we managed to get all of his science done and some social studies review. My kids... 14yo worked on a sewing kit. That's about it. lol.

Today, I'm still not 100%, my 11yo is coughing worse--and more congested-sounding--than yesterday, nephew is here again, dd is still in bed...

So much for plans. ;)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

French book determined!

I had a look at our bookshelves again and saw that we have a French translation of The Diary of Anne Frank. I showed her Les trois mousquetaires and Anne Frank, she kind of mulled, then I showed her the spines and she chose Anne Frank. LOL. I think this will be a fantastic book to cover. :) Yay!

Now to read ahead and find questions, check vocabulary, etc. lol


And yet, not argh. lol

I have spent some time this afternoon working out plans for my kids for next week. One of the things I wanted my dd to do was to get back into the novel study--The Mysterious Island (in French). I was trying to see if I could find some pre-made worksheets and the like and ended up discovering that our copy is ABRIDGED! ARGH!

A few things come to mind:

1) At least we didn't get too far into it.
2) It might explain why we weren't connecting with the story.
3) It gives us an excuse to do something else. :D
What is the something else we will do?

The Three Musketeers, I think. Unless I can find another Jules Verne book around here that she might be interested in. We do have Le Voyage au Centre de la Terre, but I'm working on it with ds. (Bedtime reading.) We might have something else. I could always give her a choice. That might be better. Les trois mousquetaires is large and complicated! lol. But it's a fantastic story.

I should see if I can find something else. So disappointed that I picked up an abridged copy without realizing it. :(

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Looking back on 2011 and ahead to 2012--part 2

I'm finding it hard to continue from where I left off the other day!

I know I was writing about my son and my goals and plans with him. So far, he has been largely unschooled, with a few things thrown in here and there. Figuring out how to "do" Montessori with him has always been hard. When my dd was much younger, she had a "study buddy" here and it worked so well. My son has never had that. And I've never figured out how to manage the wide range of age levels and personal needs.

In any case, for January, the focus will be on morning time is work time/school time/something. I will really have to be prepared, have plans in place, and the gumption to follow through on the plans. I will need to pray daily and journal daily if I want to be successful at this. (Just had a thought: I could set an alarm on my phone to remind me to journal each evening.) I will need to spend time daily writing out plans, preparing lessons. Facebook and other things aren't as important!

For my dd, it's a matter of getting back on track. We were doing well; just need to reclaim it. I found the Chemistry Manual from Montessoir R&D and can definitely use some of that with both kids. I *need* to read through it though. Days are running out before we are back in school mode. Although, next week is going to be a crazy week for the 17yo. I may skip lessons for my 2 for next week and then make a point to get going on the 16th. I can still plan things out, but there are some definite changes I want to make that might just have to wait until insane exam and finish-all-assignments week is done.

My main desire with my dd is for her to feel like she's accomplishing something, and to see her really grow in French writing. She wants to do a sort of online program for school next year and in part, it's because she wants someone to be telling her how she's doing. She doesn't feel like she does enough. Which usually turns into me giving her more and she rejects it. lol. We have her science text and I think I do need to take more time to be familiar with it, be able to discuss things with her, etc., come up with games and the like. Make it more interactive rather than just leaving her to do it all on her own. She likes doing things *with* me. :)

For my 4yo niece, I want to have covered all the Montessori basics for her age and abilities by the end of June. She will likely be heading to full-time kindergarten next year and is smart as a whip, so she deserves for me to spend more time showing her things, providing things for her to do.

Have I answered and reflected on my own questions? I'm not feeling fantastic today and very tired. I feel like there's more to say, but maybe another time.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Feeling accomplished :)

I will continue on with my reflection on the last part of 2011 and the direction I want to move in for 2012, but felt like sharing a bit of today.

I had prepared a list of things I could do with my nieces, 4 and 6, but when they got here, all the kids (except sleeping 14yo) ended up spending until lunch time playing with Lego. I sure wasn't going to "fix what ain't broke"! (At one point, I said something to my son in German--something I'm working at doing more of--and my 4yo niece looked at him, then back at me and just had this wonderful look of, "Did you say something that made sense?" on her face :D.) We had lunch, then went to the library. When we got back, I was at the computer a bit with the little girls: I had promised my 6yo niece I would get her a pet horse in The Sims 3. We did that for a bit. Then the 6yo, before even leaving the den, was asking, "What can we do now?" Her sister was asking repeatedly to watch a movie. Or rather, repeatedly saying that she would like to watch a movie. I avoided answering the question and suggested a few things. We ended up settling on some stamping (I am a fairly new Stampin' Up demonstrator and have a nice little collection), then it was sort of meandering around.

The 6yo ended up on the whiteboard doing things and the 4yo doing her usual standing around watching, although you can tell she'd like to be doing something. I pulled out some things from the horrendously disorganized shelves. (We usually have my friend's 2yo in the house and I haven't yet figured out how to provide access to the 4 and 6yos while preventing the 2yo from getting to everything and making a huge mess of it--or the 4 and 6yos, or even *me*, managing to make a mess by trying to get around the babygate arrangement with the less fuss possible and not bothering to put things away properly.) I then proceeded to try to organize at least one section a bit and go through stuff that was there. Too many materials out, for one, but found a set of 3-part cards that I showed to the 4yo right away. She loved it! I did not make a whole lot of 3-part cards, but if she consistently goes after them, I will have to make some other sets.

The girls ended up doing silly reading after that--it's after 3pm and adrenaline has kicked in, I think. ;) In any case, it felt like a good day. :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking back on 2011 and ahead to 2012--part 1

I haven't been blogging much this semester, but that doesn't mean we haven't been doing things. ;) With the start of a new year, I would like to take some time to look back on 2011, on what I accomplished, what I've learned.

I would love to be able to sit down and compare my goals to what I accomplished, but I have to say that that is one of my failings, and perhaps something to work on for 2012: keeping my goals where I can see them, revisit them, and therefore have a better chance of accomplishing them.

So, instead of comparing to my goals, I'll think about what my kids have done, what I've done and see what there is to keep and what there is to add. My memory will best be able to touch on this past semester, so that will be my focus.

First, I'll talk about my son. I can't say that he's moved ahead much in writing, math or other studies. He still reads a lot, although has returned to reading comics. The good thing is that he spent weeks recently reading Les Schtroumpfs (The Smurfs), in French. This past semester, I did get him doing more math and some writing, but my biggest failing has always been and continues to be my inconsistency in the name of flexibility. This is definitely an area of growth to work on in 2012.

For my daughter, she has definitely been doing more schooly work, at her request. As the semester rolled on, however, an energy and motivation waned, she did less and less of the academic work asked of her. She did get going as I had planned, with science, math, French and some English. I never put together a proper social studies program, so she has not done much in that regard. She is wanting more structure, more accountability, however, and the last month before Christmas was spent focusing far too much on the 17yo who homeschools with us. (He has a diagnosed Learning Disability and some serious motivational issues.) On the whole, though, I'm not displeased. I did follow through at least initially and for a good while and it will be fairly easy to get back into it.

The 17yo... This was a tough semester and I fell into the whole dilemma of how much to let him sink or help him swim. I probably ended up helping him too much, as usual. The semester started off reasonably well, but I'm not sure what happened. I do know that I need to think about how to prevent it from getting bad this coming semester. His 2nd semester will be even harder than his first and he really will need to stay on top of things to get it all done and pass.

My now 4yo niece, I'm afraid to say, has been wholly educationally neglected on my part. I did start doing a bit before Christmas, but she really deserves to have more done with her.

I think rather than looking ahead to the whole of 2012, I'd like to focus just on this last part of the school year, from now until the end of June.

What would I like to accomplish with each child?

My son: Morning work time each and every day. His current habit, even when he has a bit of assigned work, is to play with his 4yo cousin or to just go off and do his own thing. I've told him that needs to change and that even his cousin ought to be doing school stuff in the mornings. My idea at the moment is to work out an education plan for him, work out weekly lessons I can present and work activities that he can do on his own. Part of that work will entail his doing things with his cousin. For example, maybe he'll show her some sandpaper letters or I'll just give him some sandpaper letters that she's done and she can work on handwriting while he does. He can show her some practical life things, like tying bows and taking care of plants. He can work on his math while she does a math activity beside him, etc. It might sound very "connected" for the both of them, but she's at a point where she usually wants to follow what others are doing, so to start with, I am thinking of having her do more or less the same subject area that he is.

What do I want most to accomplish with him by the end of the school year? I want him able to write a paragraph. What things need to be done before then? Handwriting--he still hesitates on how to write certain letters or it's just a mess. Spelling--I think a good deal of the reason he doesn't like to write is in part because he's always second guessing how to write things. I could have him work on both English and French spelling, although I'm tempted to work on just the French to start with. I want him to have covered all that he would have covered in school for math. I think the best thing for me to do for that would be to print off a sample provincial achievement test, show it to him and tell him that other grade 6 kids will be tested on this at the end of the school year. We can go through the concepts one-by-one until he can do it all reasonably well. I have at least one Montessori math album that could be useful.

That's another thing: I have several Montessori albums that I never use!!! I have a couple of years' worth of science that I can do with him, I have functional geography, too. I have stuff!! I just need to make use of it.

I'm feeling a bit disjointed in my thoughts right now and hope it's not affecting this post too much. ;) In any case, I have a vision of having him work a bit on everything. Plant the seeds of interest while focusing on the mastery of skills. The knowledge stuff doesn't matter to me too much--as long as he's learning and knows how to learn. The skills, those basic reading, writing and math skills... Those matter to me.

How to do this?

First, I need to sit down and plan, prepare. I have to make the time for this. Actually, before that, I need to spend time praying and reflecting, daily. While I may pray daily, I recall commenting to someone ages ago about how our school days fall apart if I don't specifically pray in the morning about them. I have to say it's still very much true. After prayer and reflection--journalling at night is ideal--then I can properly plan and prepare. I'm thinking of doing what I did with my daughter and another girl I was homeschooling ages ago: give him a blank work plan. I would put it in, in the appropriate subject sections, work items I would like him to work on. He would be expected to add to that. We have a gazillion books on science, history and geography, and he has a few science kits, so there's plenty to fill up his time by his own choosing.

As I write that just now, I really think that establishing the limit of "morning is school time" will go a long way.

(To be continued!)