Sunday, January 17, 2010

Update

Sorry I haven't posted in so long! We haven't been doing actual "school time" for quite a while now. We started out very structured in the fall, and the kids were resistant. Nobody was coming over to "do school" and it was a little too forced. While I had new things out on the shelves frequently, the kids wanted to do them on their own time, and not be told when it was "school time". So, I revamped the schedule. And here is an overview of how we're doing things now.

In the morning, the two big kids have a "morning chart" which includes the usual morning toileting activities, along with a "morning job" like dust-busting under the kitchen table or dusting or other small chores. Morning jobs switch every few weeks, depending on the interest level. Also included are some school activities, writing practice for both kids and fine motor skill practice (dubbed "finger work" on the chart) because he doesn't generally choose those activities on his own. I change around the chart requirements based on how I think the kids are doing, and this works fairly well. It takes a while for them to get "ready for the day" and be able to play, but then they have the rest of the morning as free time.

This free time, though, generally includes some schoolish activities. Gene will run, dive and jump around our house for while playing the sport of the season, and then choose to read or play a game. Lucy does lots of art projects (cutting, drawing, gluing), and both girls like to build block structures. Lucy also chooses to do the ABC game (i.e. starfall.com) and is allowed to do it twice a day for 15 minutes at a time. This has greatly improved her phonics and reading skills!

A few days a week in the morning we have planned activities- gymnastics for Lucy, Atrium (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd) for Gene and Lucy, and we get together twice a month with cousins for a "kid-swap" so one of the moms can do errands.

In the afternoons, we still have an enforced nap/rest time for all the kids, but before each of them gets settled in I read with them. I read two short books to Jane (her favorites now are Caps for Sale and The Little Fur Family...moving on to the level above basic board books:)) and she is now starting to memorize some of the words-in the stage where I can pause at the end of a line and she fills in the word. So fun! Lucy is really starting to read, and I read two books with her- one that is a few levels above her reading level, so she just listens, and the other that is right where she is...we take turns reading pages or lines. She's on all the beginner reading books- today we read Green Eggs and Ham, and she knew 99 percent of the words! Then I move over to Gene's room and read a chapter of the latest book. We just finished as far as we're going in the Little House series, and now we're starting Mrs Piggle Wiggle. He can read these books by himself, but he tends to comprehend a little better if I read to him, since I'm pretty sure he skips over hard words and hence misses some of the story.

During rest time, Gene plays various games or reads, and Lucy has Montessori school work in her room. I could give some to Gene, but he REALLY wants to play and read, and since that isn't exactly harming his intellect, I can't say no. I do want to put some shelves in his room and at least give him the option of doing Montessori, but it would clutter up his floor too much right now.

After rest time, we don't have any scheduled activities. The kids have snack, and I've started requiring Gene to pay for his snack. I give him a certain amount of money every week, and then he can choose what he'd like for snack and pay for it. I did this for two reasons- he was old enough to have more choice about his food (usually I lay out all the snack before rest time is over, and that's the only option), and I wanted him to learn about budgeting money. And money in general. He's been interested for a while, but didn't know even the names of coins. So we're doing lots with money now. On Mondays I give Gene an allowance, and we count out the money and change pennies for quarters and the like. I got a few ideas last weekend at my class for more money activities, and I'm excited to try them out!

What else is educational in our house? We check out lots of library books, and I think we'll start checking out topical books now- this weeks topic was volcanoes and earthquakes (after talking about Haiti a bit).

When the kids are interested in something, I try to put things out that will meet that interest. We teach them new skills as they seem ready.

I know this is really an "unschooling" house right now, and I was sure that I would never do it. But...it's working. We don't have to keep it this way forever, and we'll adapt and re-adapt as the kids and I need to. Right now, though, I like things the way they are:)

1 comment:

Leptir said...

I'm glad you're back! I'm looking forward to your new posts :-)