Monday, October 8, 2012

The Week Ahead: Oct. 9-12

I thought I might use my blog more to write down planning thoughts, journal more, etc. It's a good place to keep things where they won't get lost. lol.

Today is Thanksgiving here in Canada, so technically not a school day. But the start of the school year has been so rough and my daughter has gotten so far behind that we did spend some time this afternoon working on math and phys. ed. (Yes, she's behind in phys. ed.! Mind you, there isn't a specific guideline, which doesn't help any.) Her math ought to be completely caught up with by this coming Friday. Her English... Yikes. Weeks behind. A large part of that due to her English teacher not being remotely clear about what he expected and constantly changing things. But the next unit is the novel study and she reads quickly, so she should be caught up by the end of the month. I hope. It is her goal, anyhow, but we need to make sure she gets working on the overdue stuff.

I'm just going to babble a bit about English here: English is not hard for her. She reads well, writes well. But the kinds of questions that are sometimes asked are so out beyond left field that it completely throws her. Panic hits: "I don't know what the heck they are talking about. If I don't know what the heck they are talking about, how am I supposed to answer the question?" A lot of self-imposed pressure to know instantly what the answer is. But she's typically known fairly instantly what the answer is for things, so having the pressure of getting marked and not knowing... It creates stress which just ends up blocking her from thinking about it. It's been interesting to observe; I just need to figure out how to work with it now. In any case, with these emotions popping up, her English is taking her longer than it should with each assignment. Something that should take a couple of days is taking a week because her frustration level hits a point that she can't continue and has to switch to something else.

Back to figure out the week ahead:

*Big Focus: catching up. Math test done by Friday at the latest. English--I'm thinking at least the assignment due a couple of weeks ago PLUS getting started on the one due last week. Some random thoughts on this: Do short blocks and stop before frustration hits; maybe even use a timer. Put up sticky notes of things that come to mind.
*Secondary Focus: I would like her to establish some sort of schedule, make certain things routine. For example, she touches her German course sporadically when it should be daily. English is a huge one to catch up on; math doesn't have a lot, but it's very important that she keep on track with this one.
*Math: She's feeling very rusty with some early algebra stuff she's done in the past and had no problem with then. It would be good to have just a few refresher questions each day on the stuff she's blanking out with.
*Phys. Ed.: get the initial stuff all done. With her catching up in math and English, the plan she's supposed to submit can probably wait.
*Religion: write up and send off plan! And do reading. She's been pretty good at just grabbing the religion text and doing the reading when she's got 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there without me around.

*handwriting: he had to write on some gift tags this weekend and it was a near-disaster. What specifically should I have him do? I could pick a quote and then tackle the individual letters with him and then have him do the copywork. He really needs this practice. Daily.
*math: I'd like to have a look at the grade 7 algebra section and make sure he can do all the things from it.
*geometry: get him started on triangles (I think there's a triangle unit in his grade 7 text)
*science/social studies: we have still not finished the Great Lessons. MAJOR GOAL FOR THE WEEK: Finish the Great Lessons! We have one or two left. I need to have a look at science lessons to start working on or something I can set up a one-off afternoon class with.
*religion: ideally, read a section daily from Faith and Life.
*music: I'd like to suggest that we tune his guitar. We could even try out one of the instructional books.
*French: ah... hm...

As I write all of the above, I feel my homeschooling moving towards a list of things to get done rather than an overall vision and feel to live. I need to be careful!

I've been too distracted. I'll end it here for now!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It Is Hump Day For Sure!

Today has been a huge hump day. Been pretty much impossible to get over the huge hump. Goodness. And you know it's bad when I'm blogging twice in a single day after not blogging for a while--it's my way of procrastinating. :P

I woke up tired. My son woke up tired. My daughter didn't wake up until after 9am, I think. She finally managed to get herself together and do a bit of her religion course reading. I knew I was unfit for anything. My son eventually wrapped himself completely up in a blanket and just lay on the couch. He's a mover: you know things aren't well with him if he's just wrapped up and he's not doing something.

This means that work-wise... Not much got done. Actually, I think dd's religion reading was the only thing that got done. But that's one of the joys of homeschooling: you can take a day off when you just seem to need it. And we all needed it. We did eventually venture out. I can't find an unfinished amigurumi project I had decided I would finish and give to my half-sister who is turning 14 soon. (Actually, coincidentally, her birthday is the same as mine! :D) We stopped at the library for the book with the patterns and then headed to Michaels for the yarn. We came home and I had a nap. The kids have been playing ever since, I believe. Although dd may have worked on some skins she had promised she would do for people. In any case (my mind's mush and I'm lead off-track quickly, sorry), I had my nap, it turned out I didn't have to go pick up my nieces and nephew today so I've been... wasting time playing Farmville 2 in Facebook. Good grief.

Tomorrow is "Crazy Day"--morning advanced homeschool French class, afternoon "beginner" class with 9 boys and 1 girl (boy, do I need to make sure to plan well for that one). Thursdays are the one day I can't really work with my kids, although dd is part of the morning French class. (Her French doesn't count for credit, unfortunately, but will certainly build up her skills.) Where was I going with this? I told you my mind was mush. lol.

All right, I have managed to do a bit of tidying and now I need to get started on the said amigurumi before I get supper going.

September's gone, October's here

September was an interesting month:

  • my 14yo dd started high school (at home) but with an online program rather than me being the "primary educator"
  • confusing teachers whose lack of clarity have led to my 14yo being quite behind in one subject 
  • she and I got sick (and to be honest, it's been over 2 weeks and we're still not completely over it); 
  • the first two weeks couldn't have any sort of routine due to my niece being in the transitional phase to start kindergarten
  • various activities--although very worthwhile activities, like a homeschool picnic, homeschooled teen get-together at a recreation centre, a Friday Mass and potluck followed by playing at the park and my daughter already off to camp one weekend with her Rangers (Girl Guides for high school students) group
  • family get-togethers, including my son's 12th birthday, my mom's birthday (I probably shouldn't share her age :D) and more
  • start of evening activities
  • a Stampin' Up! meeting for me
  • start of the French classes I am running and all the changes that have ended up happening within them
  • start of picking up my nieces and nephew after school each day, something that takes an hour in all to do!
It was a tiring month! Getting used to a different routine is definitely hard. I've been realizing just how much I am a "comfort zone" person. I guess we all are to a certain degree, but I am seeing clearly now how my comfort zone borders are getting in the way at times. But we are still managing to adjust. And I have to say: I am loving it just being me and my kids!! My son has never really known not having others around during the school year: he was a year old when I started looking after full-time kids. My daughter was only 4, so it's pretty much all she's ever known, too. I love not having to be prepared for 8am (or earlier), I love just how relaxed everything feels around here (well, except Thursdays, when I have 2 French classes, and Monday afternoons when the other French class is held). I love that my kids can sleep in. I did, however, have to wake dd up yesterday morning at 9 because she does a few online class meetings each week and she has one at 9am every Tuesday morning. She doesn't usually sleep that late, but she did yesterday! I will add that she is loving being able to do that, too. She had toyed on and off with the idea last year of going to high school--mainly so she could hang out with certain friends--but given she's a natural night owl and likes to sleep later and is hitting that stage in the mid-teens where she needs to sleep more, she is really appreciating the fact she does not have to get up early and scramble off to school.

She's "getting there" with getting on track with her work and getting into a work routine and starting to maximize little pockets of time to catch up. With my son... Well... Let's say he is as resistant to change as I am, if not more. I have noticed a few things, however:

  • If I don't call it work and it's fun and has nothing to do with math or handwriting, it's not "school".
  • He will read comics all day if I don't invite him to do something else. I suppose the good part, at least, is he has moved on from just Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes to The Far Side and Pearls Before Swine (although I do wonder how many things he doesn't understand! That's okay: there are certain things in them he doesn't need to.)
  • "Inviting him" does sometimes mean I simply need to start reading something to him or sit down next to him with something and get him going.
What have he and I accomplished so far this school year?
  • We've made it through some of the Montessori Great Lessons. Yes, that's right, some. One of them took far too long. But he loves them, so it's all good. (Those, btw, are not school in his eyes. Not even going outside and measuring how long an apatosaurus was. The weekend after we had done that and some other things to do with that Great Lesson, his Grand-papa asked him what he had done in school this week. The only thing he mentioned was math. lol)
  • We've worked inconsistently on math, but he does understand the early algebra stuff very well. So well that when I gave him 4 questions to try to do on his own, when I checked to see how he was doing, he had marked as correct the 3 he had already done. I have not begun geometry with him, but since his sister has started a unit on trig, it could be a good time to start some work on triangles. And keep up the algebra.
  • We have worked a couple of times on handwriting. I have decided I am definitely going to push the cursive handwriting--not for when he does his own writing stuff, but for the instructional part of it. I have also decided to step back and have us do letters next to each other so I can see how he is actually doing them.
That's all I can think of!

The weather has finally started changing into more fall-like weather and I always forget how much it drains us. He is sleeping more, which is good because he had months of likely not getting enough sleep, but tired in the morning. I just feel like I can't get a proper night's sleep. But, with it being only us today until I have to leave to pick up my nieces and nephew, we can take things slowly and I might even fit in a nap. :)

On a completely different note, my Montessori heart gets broken every time my kindergarten niece tells me about getting a sticker on her hand for good behaviour. It's even become a part of her after-school games, where she will tell someone they can't get a sticker unless they behave well. :'(