Sunday, December 12, 2010

Forgot to share!

Last week, I think it was, we did a little science activity with hot water, cold water and food colouring to see how diffusion works. Very, very neat! I will hopefully be able to post some pictures soon!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Children need sleep

All right, EVERYBODY needs sleep, but children especially so.

My 3yo niece arrived this morning and she was not her usual self, even for the recent change in her reverting to more baby-like behaviours. Her mood was almost palpable, the expression on her face blank, yet somehow negative. In between her moments like that, she was fussing at her Dad's helping her get her boots off. She usually likes to do the rest by herself but she wasn't moving, so Dad asked her if she wanted help. She just stood there, dark circles under her eyes. He then said he had to go, at which point she started lightly hitting him, but not in her usual "I'm hitting you because I want to see your reaction", but because she was unhappy. He kept asking her questions, trying to have her verbalize what she wanted, to no avail. She ended up in a mini tantrum, jumping up and down, a kind of scream coming out of her mouth. She was not a happy kid.

Eventually, Dad just picked her up, hugged her, then I said, "Come with me," and she did. I took her coat off and while doing so, quietly and gently asked her if she wanted to sleep on me. She nodded her head. Downstairs we went to the computer where I got her to sleep while I did stuff. At one point, I put her in my bed. She slept about an hour in all, I think. Completely different child upon waking!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Keeping them working WORKS

Okay, I haven't solved the issue of keeping the older kids working, not as long as the 16yo is wanting the provincial high school diploma but really, really doesn't want to be doing these courses, but thinking about yesterday and some of the issues that have been developing with the 3yo, I thought about: What would Maria Montessori say to do? Get her working. Working stabilizes, normalizes, provides something other than one's perceptions or emotions to be the focus. And prevents boredom, which can so often lead to no good. ;)

With the little one not yet sufficiently trained with the stairs, I have to keep baby gates up, which means the 3yo can't freely go downstairs and get things from the shelves. So, I brought up a variety of things for her today and had her come to the kitchen table with all of us. She was the most focused of the bunch. lol. She had her work in front of her and went through every single one of them once. Then she was done. And she had a fabulous day. Oh, we had a little issue with her reverting back to not asking for something--just standing there and wanting you to do whatever it is she wants you to do--but it's getting so much better. I really ought to do some grace and courtesy lessons with her.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Feeling very unsympathetic today

I had a poor sleep last night, I admit it. This definitely affects my mood as much as a lack of sleep affects the kids'!

And let me tell you, there are some kids in my midst with a lack of sleep, too!!! lol

My 5yo niece is with us today because she was very tired this morning and not feeling great. Well, she's actually been fine--most of the day. We had an incident not long ago where she was playing dinosaurs with ds and her little sister--they were the dinosaurs and kind of attacking each other with pillows. Well, ds is 10 and a boy and niece is 5 and a girl and TIRED--ds hit too hard, she says she's not going to play anymore, so the 3yo says she's not playing anymore. He comes upstairs pouting (yes, he had a poor sleep, too), in light tears because his cousins won't play with him. (No, I had no sympathy for him. My mind went: Why is he crying over two little girls no longer playing with him after he's been playing with them for hours?) The 16yo is talking with the 5yo, trying to figure out a bit what happened. 5yo says at one point, "He hit me for fun." Meaning--he hit me because he thought it was fun. The 16yo said, "Well, you were having a dinosaur pillow fight. You're going to get hit." She tried to hide a smile at the dinosaur pillow fight comment, and I said something, can't remember what. She switched to tears in an instant, "But he hit me hard!" (This was about 5 minutes AFTER she had actually been hit, but immediately after me, the authority figure, takes notice.) I was not sympathetic, I admit it. I told her that she didn't cry when it happened, she could stop crying about it now (she has a habit of putting on tears to suit her purposes; I wouldn't say this to any child!) and go to bed like mom wanted her to. She stopped crying instantly and went to bed. For 2 minutes. lol. We have to go out soon, so I'm not going to force the nap issue.

Earlier, 13yo dd was in the kitchen with the 16yo, who had "stolen" a little microbe stuffed toy from her. He is 5'9", she is 4'8" (and finally growing! yes, she's below the 5th percentile for height!). He was holding it out of her reach, waving it around, and she was trying to get it back. It was all in play, nothing serious. But... In our small kitchen. Where there were dishes on the counter and things being cooked on the stove. Had I known, I would have asked them to think about a better place to play their game. All of a sudden I hear, "I'm sorry, are you okay?" Dd had tried really hard to get the toy, she jumped or something, he lost his balance, in her direction, and she fell against the dishes and counter, hitting her shoulder and twisting her arm. I had some sypmathy, but not much, I'm ashamed to say. It was all I could do to keep myself from saying, "What are you doing playing like that in the kitchen??" I hugged her, got her an ice pack, gave her a Motrin, stroked her head here and there.

My 3yo niece all of a sudden started crying very loudly a few minutes ago. Like she'd been pushed over or something physical. "What happened?" Both boys were down there and neither one knew. "What happened right before she started crying?" Ds said she had hit him and he told her no. She then started for the stairs with her huge crying and tears. Oh man. (No, no sympathy this time either. I think rightfully so. lol.)

My 5yo niece was writing on a chalkboard easel that was near a wall--she was on the wall side. Ds was goofing around with a blanket, it hit the chalkboard and it went in her direction minimally. A loud angry "Hey" and his name came out of her mouth. "What happened?" (This has been my phrase for today. *sigh*) Ds explained. A minute later, the 5yo decides to pipe in, with tears, how ds caused her finger to be pinched. I told her she could stop right away or go to bed, like before. She stopped. (Funny how easily controlled those tears are, eh? I tried in the past to just let her cry when she does these kinds of things, but all that ever succeeded in her doing was focusing on the issue more and more until she became thoroughly convinced of the injustice and was crying very loudly, even 10-15 minutes or more later, or had switched her mind to some other reason to cry. It wasn't helping. That's not to say I don't ever let her cry, I just know her well enough to know when the tears are authentic sadness over something or actual pain versus when they are sympathy seeking, especially to blame someone else/get the other in trouble. Or just the result of tiredness and fixating on a supposed injustice. ;) ) Nope, I had no sympathy about the pinched fingers. A 2-minute delay for the pain to cause tears just doesn't work for me. Especially when I'm tired.

Hoping for a really good sleep tonight, not just for me, but for everybody!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Must do something about the 3yo

Truly. Her behaviour is getting worse and worse.

This all started a little bit when her older sister, my 5yo niece, started going to school full-time. But it wasn't too bad. Things regressed more when her Dad went away on a business trip for 5 days. She stopped walking into the house in the morning--has been carried in almost every single day since. Other little things popped up around that time. Combined with her no longer having someone to direct her every move the way her sister does, things really started regressing--like not talking clearly or not talking at all, just little noises we're supposed to interpret.

Then the baby (well, he was 12 months) started. The 3yo is jealous. She is attention-seeking. She is sometimes just willful and angry for no apparent reason. Also blaming others for things they haven't even done, like her falling and missing the last two stairs to downstairs--because she was sort of hopping from one stair to another--then blaming my son for it, even though he wasn't even in arm's length of her. It's not pretty.

Today there was an event that really had it clicking that I must direct her more. Things started off okay--she fell asleep on me (yes, her lack of sleeping well at home has definitely contributed to the issues!) and then napped for about an hour in all (I transferred her to the sofa at one point), after that, she found the Swiffer Duster and dusted, played with the baby (okay, so he's now about 13.5 months) and everything seemed pretty good. But something happened at some point, I'm not sure what--maybe she hit the limit to her self-direction, maybe she was tired of not having my son play with her (he was engrossed in a dinosaur book all morning), I don't know what, but the 16yo saw her picking her nose, said, "Ew, gross!" and within the next minute, she walked over, wiped that finger on his bag, went back to the spot she had been, and put on a face that was a mix of smirking and being put out for being told "Ew."

Oh boy.

This from a child who turned 3 about 2.5 weeks ago. Mind you, she has a 10yo brother who definitely has his style of retaliative ways... ;0

I have no idea how Maria Montessori would have handled it. I was not impressed. Especially since she kept smirking after the 16yo told her to not do that and I can't remember what else. I guided her over to the sink, wet a new dishcloth for her, and yes, I admit it, annoyed and a bit angrily brought her to his bag and guided her hand to wipe off where she'd wiped her finger. She kept the smirk up until I got eye level with her and told her I can't even remember what. I then asked her to go sit down in the big chair by herself for a while (there were some books and toys there, so it wasn't as though it were some horrible isolation). She didn't go. (This has been another issue: outright defiance, dragging of the feet, etc.) I took her hand, brought her over to the chair, lifted her up and let her stay there a while.

I thought about how I'd handled it, but was quickly brought to the point of thinking: what is causing this behaviour? It's not like she's acting up mostly when the baby is getting attention. No. Even later in the afternoon, she found it unfair that my son was letting her older sister have some grapes, but not her (the 3yo). I asked him why she couldn't have any. I don't know what was behind it all, but he quickly said, "Okay, you can have some." Well, man oh man, she took her sweet time going down those stairs. Her sister took another grape from the very few that were left. I said to the 5yo to wait and let her sister get one before they were all gone, but the 3yo continued to do the very s-l-o-w movement down the stairs. I finally said, "Well, maybe your sister should get them all since you're not being very quick about getting to them." That got her moving. ;) But why drag her feet for something that she wanted?

Some good things from today: The 3yo did the dusting on her own, happily played with the baby for a while and did some puzzles next to me at the table. I helped her with a couple of them. Mostly I tried to just let her do them without me commenting much. Oh, she also wiped some windows. Need to keep her busy with practical stuff.

All of this means that what I've not been able to get myself to do in terms of providing her with consistent lessons and activities has turned into a crisis situation where I *need* to! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I must remember that.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Oh shucks, almost a week

And I was doing so well at blogging!

Since the last post, I've still been sick. I just can't shake this. My son has had symptoms even longer, so I guess that's just how it is.

School-wise, we're doing better. Most mornings--the ones I'm feeling well enough for--a minimum amount of work gets done and it's great. Dd has hit a point that she WANTS work now, it's part of her morning routine. (And she likes to boast how she doesn't like routines. ;) ) She finally finished the sheet on multiplying binomials and I've now introduced her to factoring trinomials. She was tired and fussy this morning (sounds funny to describe my 13yo that way), but gave it a shot anyhow.

I'm still having ds work on handwriting and math as his basic work in the morning. I do want to extend what they are working on, so I'll have to figure that out. To be honest, being sick, I'm so exhausted by the end of the day, I just can't even think.

Advent has started and I have not begun anything with them. Except the Advent calendar we have. It's like a mini wooden wardrobe, you open the doors and there are a bunch of drawers. You can mix them around to make the kids look for the number or just put them in order. I like to mix them. ;) Dd came rushing downstairs today--the first time I've seen her rush in the morning in AGES--eager to see what treat I had put in today's drawer. LOL. 13yo's still like their treats. ;)

Friday, November 26, 2010


In terms of illness, I'm worse than yesterday, but I slept better, so that helps me be able think.

So far I've printed off one multiplication practice sheet that I got from Montessori for 10yo ds and created a handwriting practice sheet that I made with StartWrite. I'm trying to focus on just a few useful letters for write now and having him just trace, trace, trace. Today's sheet had e, l and s, to make the word "les" and then the letters of his name and then his name, broken up first into syllables, then once all together.

Need to get myself organized for the 16yo. I think dd is already pretty set--I printed off a blank map of the New England states yesterday, plus she has her French workbook and a math sheet already. Other than that, she has been working on her Christmas cross-stitch, practising playing Christmas carols on the piano and some reading. She's finding it tough to find some good things to read. Most of the stuff aimed at her age has to do with school, romances, vampires or a combination thereof. Doesn't interest her in the least. So I took out the movie "Little Women" yesterday as part of a plot to get her reading the book. After her experience with Pride and Prejudice and trying to read a Jane Austen novel she wasn't familiar with, she's a little leery about trying to read Little Women. If this works, the next one to try will be Anne of Green Gables. :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My turn for a sick day

I am not functioning well today. Only slept 5 hours last night and couldn't fall back asleep at 3am because my throat and nose were driving me crazy. Couldn't figure out work for the morning and then when everybody was finally here, I felt so crummy, we ended up putting on a movie. Had lunch, got the littlest one to sleep and I managed to sleep a few minutes on the sofa while the boys (my nephew is with us again today) played PS3. It wasn't nearly enough sleep. And my throat is still bothering me. :(

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crazy Day

Today was French class day. Started off with me working on substitute cards for Trivial Pursuit, then trying to clean the house a bit while getting ready for the day. I got a call quite early, asking if my nephew could come today since he wasn't feeling great, and I said sure. I made ds do the math he didn't get done yesterday and then let him go and do things with his cousin.

Dd kept going with the binomial multiplications, plus tried to label a blank map of the United States. She got about half of them, which isn't bad because we've never formally looked at them--she's just used a large floor map that we have. She also did a page of French and was very proud of her work. She likes to feel like she's accomplishing something!

She'd already been working for 45 minutes by the time the 16yo arrived--there had been an accident at a nearby intersection and it was holding him up to be able to get to my place. He got about an hour and a half of work done, not shabby for him--although he really needs to do more to get everything done. We are still having issues with the math, but I didn't get a chance to make anything hands-on. Except I did grab the Multiplication Bead Board to demonstrate squared numbers and their roots. When he sees it like that, no hesitation; going more abstract... I almost feel like I just have to have him memorize the individual roots rather than having him do the traditional thinking of "What times itself gives [whatever perfect square number you are looking at]?" It does not click. He is definitely not your typical thinker. I'll have to see about some supplementary math programs known to work well for LD kids.

The house seemed perpetually a mess today, and every time I wanted to work at cleaning it, the littlest one would be clingy and I couldn't get much done. In between those times, the kids would make more mess. Then there was the constant trying to negotiate with me, which is not typical. "Can we...?" "No." "But yadda yadda." "No," slightly firmer. "More yadda yadda," to which I reply again, "I said No." Goodness. And it wasn't just from one of them. Then there was me having to ask the boys *3* times to stop doing what they were doing. They kept restarting. The third time, I was sufficiently annoyed enough that they stopped. I did lay on the 16yo a bit, too--"You are 16 and are supposed to be showing them things. Actually, you are showing them things--you are showing them to keep doing what I've asked them not to do." I hate doing the lecture thing and probably shouldn't have, but things finally calmed down after that.

Time to go sit and properly journal, I think, and figure out some plans for tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Tuesday update

This week is definitely going better in terms of work. Although I gave my kids the day off yesterday to spend with their cousins, the 16yo got more work than done than he had been getting done, and about the same amount again today. He is majorly resisting his math. He likes to say he is tired and can't do it; I think it's more the anxiety of it. I wish we could start back at the beginning. I can't, though, so I think I have to find some more hands-on ways for him to do this stuff. Not as easy when we are dealing with things like SOH CAH TOA, factoring polynomials and such.

For my two, I told them I had a bit of work I expected them to do before they did anything else. I did mean before they read, played piano, whatever, but dd took it very literally this morning: "Am I allowed to eat first?" lol. Ds did some handwriting practice and a map. I don't think he did the French worksheet I had for him (I don't think he knew it was his), and his little math sheet got temporarily lost, so I told him to leave it. Dd did her French, some math, a map and then just before supper tonight, some FOIL operations (x+y)(u+v) for example. She does seem to work better in the evenings--not sure if it's the lack of commotion around here, the particular energy or what. She has commented how she enjoys working in the evenings and wonders why she can't look forward to her work that way during the day.

With my little niece, I can't say I've implemented anything new with her yet. She was kind of floating and I brought up the fourth cylinder block, asking her if she'd like to do it beside me while I work with the 16yo. She said yes. At one point, she tried to engage me in checking if it was right. I asked her if she thought it was right. Then it became a game, so I ended up saying to her twice, "You'll have to try it on your own and see," and went back to focusing on the 16yo. After that, she worked with it on her own. I never did notice if she finally got them all in the correct spots.

Right now, I'm trying to make up some cards for French class tomorrow. We missed this past week because my two were sick, plus I noticed the week before that, they were forgetting some of the stuff. The cards I'm making up will take the place of the Trivial Pursuit cards. :) Instead of all of the questions on each card, though, there will be just one question per card, having to do with something we've covered. Same rules as Trivial Pursuit will otherwise apply. I do know I need to speak with them more in French, even if they don't understand. Better to repeat myself in English and have them at least hear the French, than to just say things in English because I want to make sure they understand. If I can, I'd like to make up some Jeopardy cards, but that's kind of harder to come up.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A new trend?

Hopefully I'm in a new trend to be posting more often. ;) I think it's good for me, like journalling, and especially if I'm not journalling.

I thought a lot yesterday about what it is I want for my kids for their education. And not just my wants, but what respects them while still providing them with an education. I worked out that I have a few minimum things that I feel have to be worked on, although I have to admit that I don't feel comfortable deciding what the level of mastery will be. Here they are:

*able to read
*able to write (and everything that encompasses: spelling, grammar, etc.)
*good math skills

Some specific content that I think is important:
*at least a general knowledge of world geography (continents, major countries, our own country's provinces and capitals, our government system, a bit of our history)

Everything else is extra. Well, not extra, but not as specifically necessary and can be tied in with the first three above.

Some thoughts that have passed through my head are this:

*Remembering how at least some Montessori elementary schools prepare lists of the local standards and make them available to the students. I'm not sure if the students are expected on some level to meet the standards or how it works, so I'll need to find out more about that. But, it definitely helps cover the question of content. I was thinking I would start with math and they could have their own copy and self-evaluate on the different objectives, going as far back as is needed. My son is 10, but does not yet know his addition tables. I feel that's very sad. He will do the most progress if he sees a reason to learn them, and seeing that students in schools have already learned them may do just that. Sure, I can still give him work to practise, but he is definitely the type that once he gets something in his mind to do, bam, he goes with it.

*Requiring a minimum amount of time in French reading each day, or per week. Not sure which. But my kids' first language is French and they almost never read in French. And pretty much never write in French. Which leads me to another thought.

*Weekly French writing assignment. Not necessarily an assignment, but an expectation that they will show that they have written/composed something in French. I'm still working with ds on his handwriting and he has written so little, I don't know that he would even be prepared to attempt to write something in French. He could dictate something to me and if it's short enough, he could then copy it.

*I've been looking at the Montessori High School at University Circle . Dd will be "grade 9" next year, which is the equivalent of their first year of high school. I'm looking at what I might be able to start incorporating into her work for after Christmas. Yes, I'm getting ahead of myself when I'm supposed to just be focusing on the next 4 weeks. I guess the thing is that I need to have some long range goal to know what would even be reasonable to do for the next 4 weeks. Because this school also incorporates IB, I've been trying to learn a bit more about the IB programmes. Of course, it's very "exclusive" and hard to find specifics.

For right now, I really have to get things ready for the 16yo today. My niece and nephew have a PD day (professional development day for their teachers, so they have the day off school), which means that I will let my kids play with them rather than insist on work this morning--so I'll leave finalizing their work for tomorrow. But the 16yo has 4 weeks left to get a whole ton of work done! I need to get to that now.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas Crafts

I decided a few weeks ago to reclaim my Sundays as a day off. For hundreds of years, people took Sunday off. It's good for us. It really is!

So, for my day off today, I was trying to think about what I could do AWAY from the computer. I decided to work on my St. Nicholas cross stitch. That I've had for about 15 years. LOL.

I had barely pulled it out when dd saw it and asked if we could buy a Christmas cross-stitch for her. I decided that heading to Michaels for that did not break my "no work Sunday" because it was for recreation and not grocery shopping, work, etc.

Getting back, she needed to find her cross stitch hoop. That led us to the basement where I found other packages of Christmas crafts, including the materials for Temari balls. Here is a picture:

You can read more about them and find some free patterns here . We made some a few years back because somebody know had started up with them, made our first attempts--the oldest became so discouraged at it not being perfect, she decided to not make anymore :(--and haven't tried them again. I find myself torn: I would like to try one again, but I'm much more attached to the idea of making some significant progress on my cross stitch! But, maybe I'll make at least one, simply because one can be started and finished before Christmas, but the likelihood of me finishing the cross stitch before Christmas is pretty much nil.

Winter is here... and Christmas is coming!

Winter came very suddenly here. One day, we're enjoying a high of around 8-10C; a week later, it was -20C upon getting up. Brrr.

With the snow's arrival, however, it has reminded us all that Christmas is fast approaching. This leaves a panicky feeling in me, I have to admit.

The 16yo is very, very behind in his work. For some of it, we will skimp and that'll be that. For other parts, it's important that he learn it, but can he really learn it well in the time we have left? Maybe. I've worked out a breakdown of his work for social studies, science and math and he knows he will be working his butt off for the next 4 weeks.

Of course, allowing him to get this far behind means we have to cut out some fun things I was hoping to be able to do, unless he somehow manages to really get on top and beyond everything. An activity with one homeschooling group this Friday--we'll have to pass on that. We are getting together with a friend and her daughter the week after that, but that has been planned for a month now. We will have our Christmas party the last week of school. But I think we'll have to say no to the usual yearly Christmas festival, which doesn't actually bother me because it's gotten worse and worse each year. Dd just wants to go for the cookie decorating section. ;) And then there was the desire to attend a park day sometime... Hm...

With 4 weeks left before Christmas, it also has me thinking about my kids, what they've accomplished and how I feel about that. I have really unschooled them for the most part this year, and I have to say I'm not comfortable with that.  And yet, I have to admit that I fall back on it not only because I let myself get disorganized or overworked in other areas, but because I don't want to deal with their negative reactions to my changing things. I had had plans to get going more this week--and they ended up being sick all week. They're still not better, but I think "better enough" to get to work this week.

Where I struggle is: What do I have them do? Do I focus on the content? Do I focus on them filling their time with activities? Do I focus on figuring out lessons to give them? I can't spend all of my time giving them lessons, esp. since the 16yo needs so much help. Although, there's another area I've allowed to get bad--he is capable of doing more on his own than I have him do. I focus on the time factor and trying to get more done, so I take over some parts of it. This has to change for all of our sakes!

Then, of course, there's my little niece. She's gone through a lot of changes this fall: her big sister is now in school during the day, so her constant companion and activity director is gone; we have the new little guy now, which has created a lot of jealousy and just general perturbation; she's switched out of Pull Ups, just recently, and is now in underwear... Big changes.

I guess I'm struggling again with how to fit everything together. I have not been journalling, which I know helps me tremendously. I have not been reading educational things that would guide and inspire me. I don't even have a sense anymore of where I am trying to guide my kids, specifically. I'll work on writing out that vision later on today.

I am realizing that part of my struggle is that the early Montessori work I did with dd was all very clear and laid out. As she's gotten older, there has been less clarity. I don't want to equip my home with the many materials in an elementary classroom. Then there's the aspect of group lessons and group work--they are each in their own age grouping. This does make things tough.

With Christmas coming, that means Advent is about to start. This actually can possibly help me with my kids' work in terms of things to show them or have them do. I've never really done much for Advent, but would love to start!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Some planning for the week

I didn't get a chance to write more, obviously, but I thought I'd write now to help sort out my thoughts for the week.

One of the realizations this past week from a few of us is how ADD we've become. And I'm serious--we let ourselves go off on all kinds of things, allow ourselves to be distracted in ways we didn't used to do. We have a lack of focus. When I think of the question, "What is the one thing you could do right now that would make the biggest change in the right direction in [your choice of area in your life], what is it?" focus is the thing that comes up. That and consistency. But I think consistency follows focus, but does it take consistency to develop focus? Which comes first? lol.

Other than that, I've talked with my kids a bit about schooling. Dd says that the 16yo is too distracting and he takes up too much of my time--she feels like she can't get the help she needs sometimes. I agree, although on the aspect of not getting the help she needs, she doesn't always ask. So a goal for the week is to work on the distractions and to take another step towards him working independently. If things are sufficiently explained to him ahead of time, sufficiently modelled, he can do an entire worksheet on his own. I think that's the approach I need to work towards with him.

Other than that, she has reiterated that she wants me to give her work to do. Now, I've gone back and forth with this because so often, I'll pick something and she'll moan and grumble. I think I just need to say, "Do this, or do something similar based on your choice of topic. But you need to know the topic right away, not sit around for half an hour trying to figure out something." I've already decided for Social Studies to just have her read about historical figures. It can be her choice of historical figure, but I'll give her a little list to start. She had wanted to do a lapbook, but I think I will have to do one as a model, first, before she has a sense of what to do for it. She very much needs to know what the end product will be for this type of work or she just can't get going with it.

For Science, I'm going to come up with some work for her to do on the first 10 elements of the periodic table. I think it'll end up becoming a lapbook (she really does like making them), and she said she wanted tests, so I think I'll give her a test on the first 10 for when she's done. Of course, this means I have to work out the specifics.

For French, I've decided that she and her brother will keep a blog for their grandparents who are "snowbirds"--they've gone south for the winter. :) It will be a way for them to get used to writing regularly in French, work on spelling and grammar, plus keep in touch with their grandparents AND learn how to blog. It will be a completely private blog that only her grandparents can read.

I've decided to have her work on phys. ed., too--she now has soccer games once a week, soccer practice once most weeks, and then an hour of ballet a week. She has never been really physically active, has flat feet and tight muscles, which is already causing problems with some minor injuries. I keep thinking of Pete Egoscue's work and how he says that most of these injuries could be prevented if our bodies were in balance. It's my job to entice her to get her body in balance. Of course, I could use some of that, too. ;) She's very, very thin, so weight is not an issue, but more strength and flexibility would be a huge help to preventing injuries.

My 10yo has said he wants to work on science--a kit he got for his birthday. "Okay, that's good, what about the rest?" He just wants me to give him work, too. Ideally, I will reimmerse myself in elementary Montessori lessons in math and maybe grammar or some such, and present him some things that he'll like. He does like the multiplication bead board--he says he wants me to purchase the nicer ones from Cabdev. I'm thinking about it. That and the division material. For science, I don't think I want to take a Montessori approach, other than trying to keep it hands-on with him. I do think it would be beneficial to combine Charlotte Mason science topics in this area.

Well, that's plenty of thinking for now! Time to relax a bit this Sunday evening to prepare for the week. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Trying to Catch Up or Catch My Breath

Not sure which. ;)

I have about 45 minutes to do whatever I wish outside of the house. So here I am at the library, on the computer instead of reading or something. I thought it would be an opportune moment to just do something I enjoy doing--and blogging is something I do enjoy.

Now to start addressing things I mentioned earlier:

My younger niece, who will be 3 in a few weeks, is, naturally, a little put out by the newest little one in our midst. He has just recently turned 1, so he's the same age she was when she started. But she's 3 and the youngest in her family and has been the youngest at our place for 2 years now, so it's a little disconcerting for her. At first, she thought she would have a playmate, but, of course, a little one not yet walking and talking can't be the same kind of playmate as an older sibling. And then there were the first few days of the little guy being all out of sorts and wanting to only be in my arms all the time. Jealousy naturally built up a bit and she would ask to be in my arms at every chance she got. All very normal behaviours!

I've been inviting her to tag along or help me out and those opportunities always help her. She talks about how she's a big girl when she can help like that. Today, it was so cute, she keeps wanting to feed him directly, even if it's finger food that he can do himself. So I, on purpose, pulled out some baby food for him that had to be given with a spoon and asked her if she wanted to do it. It was so cute and funny! He was actually a little put off by it at first, because it's supposed to be me, not her, in his mind, but he accepted it and kept allowing her to feed him.

I think things are improving for both of them with this. With the 2yo, she's already kind of out of sorts because her sister is at school now and although for a while, she was happy to do all kinds of different activities, she seems to have hit a point of simply wanting to be entertained--of wanting someone else to get a game going that she can join into. I have my hands full right now, but I need to try to hold just a little more and get some more presentations ready for her. Although, now with baby gates up, that is another issue: she can't easily get to where most of the materials are kept. I just have to figure something out.


The keyboard here is kind of getting on my nerves and the keys feel very hard to press. I'm going to stop for now and maybe find a magazine to read or something until I have to pick up dd. I'll try to continue tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Misc. to write about later

I've been wanting to write, but haven't had the time, so I thought I'd at least make a list of things I want to write about! :)

  • My niece's reaction to my friend's little one starting with us.
  • My niece's obvious dependence on her sister for directing her activities during the day. 
  • The newest little one.
  • Some realizations about why things aren't going as smoothly as I would like. These are not new realizations, but they've hit me again.
  • The sheer busyness of my life and how I have to admit that maybe I've taken on too much, or maybe I just need time to adjust.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Amazed... and sad! :(

My niece is not quite 3. I find her utterly brilliant. I was eating a kind of fruit snack the other day and she actually asked if there were peanuts in it (she can't eat peanuts). I said no. Then she asked if she could have one! She's not even 3! Her speech is just utterly amazing.

This brilliance, however, means she picks up on all kinds of things and she said something yesterday that at first left me kind of shocked, then sad. I was dropping my two off at a science workshop, leaving the newest little one asleep in his car seat, my niece in her car seat, and the 16yo to watch over them. I got back in the van and the 16yo shows me a broken Ken doll--my niece had been doing something with it and snapped the head off. She said, and I'm pretty sure I'm quoting correctly: "I'm not a good kid, huh?" (insert wide-eyed shocked face here)

It just points to a certain reality about our society: we have a way of making feel kids bad about themselves when they make mistakes. We talk to them more harshly about their mistakes than we would to a fellow adult (well, assuming we're not in a bad relationship with them), even though kids are less capable than adults and need more patience and care. We make big deals out of little things, affecting their sense of self. I catch myself especially with my son. How am I affecting him by forgetting that he's just a kid? By treating him as though he ought to be more on the ball than a friend or my husband?

I hope this 2yo's words stick with me forever.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kids are so impressive!

Dd turned 13 yesterday. As part of a combined birthday celebration with other family members, we were at  little one's house yesterday. Her 5yo sister got scared playing in the dark with the big kids. At one point, she decided to try again and dd said to her that she was brave, and that she wasn't brave because she wasn't scared, but because she was scared and still came and played anyhow.

Dd said that the 5yo puffed herself up with confidence and played happily the rest of the time.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Loving the freedom of homeschooling :)

I'm feeling the love today, the love of the freedom that homeschooling brings. And I don't mean it in the sense of the freedom of choice in curriculum, schedule, lifestyle, etc. I mean in the freedom it allows our children to grow according to their inner desires and interests, instead of being shaped by the interests and desires of their same-age peers in most schools today.

I had left out a game I introduced to my niece yesterday: a simple Winnie the Pooh Game designed for 3-5-year olds, I think. Ds saw it on the table this morning and started setting it up to play it, probably for old times' sake. When the Little One arrived, she went downstairs and the two of them played this Winnie the Pooh game together.

He is 10, keep in mind. A 10yo boy who had no qualms, no embarrassment with playing a "little kid"'s game. It would have been a very different scene if he'd pulled that game out at school in a regular grade 5 classroom here. ;)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Work Contracts Babbling

I'm not sure what Maria Montessori would think about the work contracts. She seemed to like so much the idea of flow (without actually having that concept named that during her time), that I'm not sure the idea of the contract fits well. Maybe at the high school level. I'm thinking of bringing them in to help create a work focus around here. Here's some stuff I've found online on this topic. I'd also love to hear people's thoughts on work contracts!

"From age six on, students design contracts with the teacher to guide their required work, to balance their general work, and to teach them to become responsible for their own time management and education."

Of course, I don't know that just because it's common enough to show up here that it means it fits with the Montessori philosophy.

" And every child has a form to help him track his daily progress as he fulfills his work contract, covering subject by subject step by step according to the individualized path that he and his teacher have agreed to."

There's mention on this page of work contracts, but the very fact that they use Saxon math for the upper elementary has me raising an eyebrow. Yes, it's great that the students can go their own pace, but...

I have read other stuff in the past but can't find it. In any case, part of me is feeling that a contract at this point is rather coercive. My goal is to just get more work happening. So, more of an agreement between us, or an understanding, that work is expected to go on. A chart or checklist or something similar could be used to help track work and to provide ideas of things to do. I guess me insisting on a particular subject each week, or getting them to agree to something ;), would fit within the realm of a contract. I don't like that I have to insist on those things, although I suppose if I could manage to focus on the idea of having them see the need for certain items, or simply me taking the time to say, "Hey, come pick a lesson," I can cover with them all the things I'd like for them to cover.

Link of the day

Not that I share a link every day :), but here's one I'm sharing today:

If we lived close, I think I would actually strongly consider sending my dd to the adolescent program rather than homeschooling.

Friday, October 15, 2010

2nd Post Today--wooo


So, the ice cream-making didn't happen because I forgot that my new ice cream maker isn't your typical electric maker and I have to freeze the drum first. That'll take at least overnight. So, my niece and I made brownies. And she actually talked a bit. Well, well. I scooped her up and mostly kept her with me unless she deliberately left to go be with others. I think already it's helping. I remember her sister going through phases where she was demanding in a very different way for attention and me initiating the attention went a long way toward easing the demands.

On a completely different note, I decided to pull out my copy of Children Who Are Not Yet Peaceful, because I know there are some great insights into the functioning of a Montessori elementary classroom, but also perhaps some insights on how to get the 16yo's education connecting with him more. Some things so far that have stuck out at me:

"Help me to help myself." That's so key. Especially when dealing with a student who has labelled LD issues. My task now, more important than getting him through the provincial program of studies, is to figure out how to help him help himself. Reading and writing are the big problem areas. Part of that is due to what I believe are underlying sensory processing issues. This just brings me back to Maria Montessori's initial work with Séguin's sensory-based work with her students. Then, of course, there are the years of psychological resistance that have built up and the fear of failure. But the less he reads himself, writes or types things up himself, or even just uses his computer software (MacSpeech), the less connected he is with the work, and the less he learns it, not to mention the less he's motivated. What I wouldn't give to have been able to have directed him to a Montessori school back when he was in elementary and jr. high! The group interaction with peers working on exciting, hands-on projects... It's just not the same at my place. (And no, there is no Montessori elementary anywhere near here, so that wasn't even an option I could suggest to his parents.)

"Every child has an inherent drive to learn and learns best when he can rely upon that inner drive rather than outside compulsion to master the lessons of life and the world." p. 2-3 This touches on what I wrote earlier: talking regularly with the 16yo (and even my two would be a good idea) about aspirations and goals, help them connect with what's inside. That's one thing I have to say that the 16yo has never been good at. So much time is spent avoiding what's going on inside, with a focus on having fun (makes us all feel good) and where applicable, doing what will please or avoid conflict with others. (Although, admittedly, his fun seeking often causes problems!) He has confused anxiety that can come up as something bad, but we all can experience a certain level of anxiety when there's an important goal we want to accomplish.

In any case, reading that line really had me realize that as much as I may be able to incorporate some of the Charlotte Mason content into our lives, I won't succeed in incorporating the structure, nor do I want to. I would definitely like more structure to our days--I still fondly reminisce of the "days of old" ;) when things went very smoothly around here. It'll just take rekindling that desire and insisting on it, like I did in the past, and be prepared for the adjustment period.

Some other thoughts that popped up were the Shelton School and the Dalton School's idea of contracts (I think it's them who does that). Shelton's approach would be most applicable to the 16yo; Dalton is something I could consider incorporating into my kids' lives. Some Montessori elementaries or older do use the same principle of a commitment to a learning goal; my mind at the moment is seeing the idea of providing some ideas of areas to work on, then having the child in question commit to working on it. I think the learning contracts at Dalton are actually much more complicated than just that.

All kinds of stuff :D

Various and random things to share about this past while:

1) I have no idea what has happened, but my children have suddenly started turning towards making up their own math questions. I can't think of anything specific I have done, other than pull out the multiplication bead board and the simple division board and beads. Maybe it's the kids connected with math in a different way and so now they want to do more? I have no idea. Ds (10) was trying to figure out how much money he had a couple of days ago, so I wrote down the different amounts he had received recently as part of gift cards and money. We worked out the addition, so he asked for more questions like that. "Do you want to come up with your own questions?" "No." Not only did he not want to come up with his own questions, but he wanted me to make sure there were at least 3 addends in each question and that there should be 10-20 questions. He finally did them today and I think I will show him some addition problems with the bead frame. He's forgotten about carrying over numbers.

I pulled out the division board to demonstrate something to dd, to show her division didn't have to be complicated. Somehow, that led to her tying it into work she did today. We bought a funny die yesterday--it's not a normal shape, but does have 6 sides--and she decided to roll the die a bunch of times and tally which number it landed on each time. Then she decided to manually work out what percentage each of the results was of the total. This meant having to do LONG division, which I only just showed her briefly the other day; she may have seen some examples in the past, but there was also such resistance to long division that I just never really showed her. There were some melt downs today with it, but she persisted--with breaks here and there. Which is something because she's not physically well today, which already means a day of being sensitive and emotional. She discovered at one point that she's pretty sure she did at least one of the divisions wrong (okay, well, she's convinced they are ALL wrong--she did it on a whiteboard and erased her work; it might be a good idea if I suggest she write it on paper if she wants to be able to go back and check her work), and that led to it being pretty much done. I'm still impressed.

2) Social studies, the dreaded subject. Except, it's actually turning out to be the most interesting of the subjects and the only one the 16yo feels like doing. lol. If we could have interactive discussions for math and chem, he would do so much more, but alas, I'm not sure how to go about that. The Socratic method comes to mind for his math; the chem is a ton of learning terms at the moment. I think daily conversations about the work and his goals--even if it's to avoid having to do an extra year of high school--would help have him connect more with a desire to at least get the work done, even if he doesn't really like the work.

3) My almost 3yo niece is going through some sort of phase. She gets here in the morning and just clings to her dad--although you can tell it's half for effect. She used to come in, insist on taking off her shoes and coat herself, then off she went to play or look at a book or something. Her mom has said that at home, she has stopped talking to ask for things and regressed to baby-like behaviour. I've noticed it here. She has also stopped doing the various activities she used to do: practical life things, mosaic pegs, even puzzles. She follows somebody around most of the time or plays with my son, but even then, she's not talkative like she used to be. The morning clinginess started when her dad was away for a week, but the day-long behaviours seem to have regressed more and more. I'm thinking that when I can, I need to just give her more attention, invite her to cuddle with me, things like that. She's also been more tired than usual, which may be part of what's contributing to this behaviour. She's napping right now, but once she's up, I think I'll invite her to help me make some ice cream. :D

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The marvel of Montessori

I've known for sometime that I haven't really been "doing" Montessori with my son. So I decided to make a change.

He was resistant about a multiplication worksheet I gave him the other day. It really hit me that he, of both my kids, really would connect with the hands-on aspect even more. So, although I did have him do a French worksheet with me today and had him practise his cursive, I decided to pull out the multiplication bead board and do some with him that way. I have a homemade board that works reasonably well and although he wasn't ready enough to actually put the marbles on himself (he was too busy collecting a marble for each correct question he got, lol--his idea, not mine!), he actually said, "I like doing math more than practising handwriting." He was happy the entire time we did math. How I love Montessori! If I'm going to insist on work, I really ought to make it something he can connect with if I believe so much in Montessori, oughtn't I?

As an aside, here's my homemade multiplication bead board:

Not beautiful, but it works! I actually had a strong inclination today to look into how much it would cost to buy some nice materials, rather than just the homemade versions. Once I have a look at some prices, that idea may just go away. ;)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Response to comment!

I'm getting grief in trying to post my response to the My Boys' Teacher's comment in the comment box. I'll try here, cross my fingers and hope it works!


My mind is going in all kinds of directions on this one.

First thought: Games are games and sports are sports. You need to know how to play if you want to be able to play it. I would expect showing kids how to hold a bat to be a part of the game. But I'm not sure I've ever heard of a Montessori-style sport. ;) I don't really see it any different from playing board games--you need to know what to do. Holding the bat is a basic. If the child is just wanting to hit balls, then maybe a Montessori-style presentation here and there to show the proper hold would work. When you are looking at a game situation... We're not talking general educational principles. We're talking about being part of a team and competition. It's a whole different... um... ball game. (Excuse the pun.)

Second thought: With kids just learning baseball, a lot of Montessori-style presentations would be good for learning how to hold the bat, put yourself in proper stance, etc. Doing it OUTSIDE of the game time as part of preparation rather than correcting them during the game would probably also be better--and definitely in line with Montessori.

Third thought: The child ought to have the choice to play baseball or not and ought to understand what it means to play baseball. If the child is choosing to play baseball, then he is choosing to learn how to play in a specific way, which involves not only rules of the game, but how to hold the bat. Baseball is not Montessori and I don't think one could run a team truly Montessori-style.

Fourth: Playing around on your piano at home is playing around on your piano at home; wanting to be a concert pianist is entirely different. ;)

I think the main thing is the particular aim of the situation. For example, my daughter has started ballet lessons. Talk about corrections! She's (mostly) fine with them, as she knows they will help her do ballet better and she's there to learn ballet. This was her choice. She knew what she was getting into. Same thing with piano: it's her choice to explore music in this way. If she ever decides she loves it so much she wants to excel at it, then she will seek out those who will be able to refine what she's doing even more.

I do completely agree: There are some things that need to be corrected asap. How she was playing was one of those things. She used to actually have proper curvature, but did not stay long enough at playing piano for it to become a life-long habit, apparently. She was about a week into daily playing this summer when I actually looked at her playing. Eek. My initial dealing of the situation was NOT Montessori-style. When I saw her reaction to my interjection, I realized immediately I had done wrong. I changed how I went about it, stopped correcting her in the middle of what she was doing and instead presented things just before she was about to start or just as she was finishing, etc. Basically, I thought about the best way to meet *her* in all her being. :) What I have done with her may not work with anybody else, I have to admit! lol.

Btw, here's an interesting blog post somewhat on this very topic!

Freedom in learning--even in piano

I have never insisted upon music practice, lessons, etc. for my kids. I've shown them things here and there, provided them with instruments and helpful books and that's it. I know some Montessori elementary schools have a set music time each week (I don't know if the children have the option of going or not) and have structured lessons. I have no clue what sort of expectations there are in terms of what the children do between lessons.

Let me say, though, that the Montessori approach works well even for music learning and a separate set-aside time is not necessary.

My daughter is nearly 13. Years ago, she was working through various kids' piano books, but let it go and as time went on, kind of felt like, "I've forgotten everything," and "I'm never going to be any good at it." She, for some reason, got hit by the piano bug again this past summer and started playing things at our old electronic keyboard (I've had it since I was 10 or 11!) I purchased a few new books and she made her way rapidly through the book for older beginners, feeling great as she went along. Every now and then, I did present little lessons that I hoped wouldn't come across as absolute corrections, even though they kind of were--like holding her hands and fingers properly. I didn't make a huge deal, just answered her questions as to why and took off the pressure by saying, "Don't really focus on it while you're trying to learn a song. If you try to do some little practice things with your hands curved, it'll go better." Taking the pressure off is always so important! Especially with this child! :)

In any case, her hand curvature is better and better and she is playing daily. Not because she has to, but because she wants to. Her progress since we purchased a new keyboard last month--which meant actually playing again because she had grown frustrated in August with the old crackly, inconsistent sound of the old keyboard--has been phenomenal. I offered to find piano lessons for her, but she replied with: "I don't want to have to practise and work on things that I don't really want to do. I just want to play and have fun with it." Piano lessons from outside source = pressure. She doesn't want the pressure. She places enough pressure on herself!

Will she ever be some virtuoso? I have no clue. Maybe one day she'll hit a point where she would like to improve beyond what she's been able to do on her own and then seek out someone to guide her further. But until then, the freedom to progress at her pace with the pieces she wants to learn... Well, I can't think of anything more Montessori than that, can you? :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pretty Good Monday!

I had things so planned out and I was so determined, that while maybe not quite as much work was done by Joe as might have been "ideal", my determination must have been felt by him because there was no resistance and he had one of his best work days yet! It does help, in a sense, that he knows he's leaving on a trip, which means he'll be missing a lot of work. But he has been very cooperative, despite being tired. And I have been very determined, despite having the flu!

The two who have yet to finish their work are my two. And I'm going to insist that they do the minimum I laid out for them. We'll be getting to that in just a few moments.

There was something I wanted to share about toddlers... Oh yes, the simple joys. To be like children would give us so many more daily joys, wouldn't it? :) Today, the simple joy for her was that I gave her *2* dog biscuits to give to the dog instead of just one. It was a simple joy that put a certain smile on her face.

All right, dd is ready to work. Off I go!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October is here

September is done, October is here.

I thought I'd take a minute to go over the good and the bad of the past month. Reflecting on what's happened can be very, very useful in figuring out what steps to take next.

The good:
*had some focused days here and there
*dd has learned a song on the piano
*ds has developed a passion for dinosaurs and has been spending countless hours focused on them
*Joe has been showing more maturity

The bad:
*lots of interrupting others
*lots of letting random thoughts that pop in be our focus; lack of focus in general
*lack of commitment to work, schedules, routines
*Joe is VERY behind in his work
*lack of planning on my part
*lack of previewing work dd does on her own
*for Joe: too much time spent on his computer
*tiredness and illness
*have done nothing new for 2yo niece

What to do with this knowledge? Well, I've already gotten myself going with this. I have worked out a work chart for dd, with days of the week on top and subject areas down the side (French grammar, French composition, math, science, social studies, music/art, German, English, religion, PE/health, other (cooking, sewing, typing, etc.)). I will create a list of things I want her to do for the week and each day, we'll talk about what I'd like for her to do and she will pick some additional things to do. I do have to make sure and look at her math and French work FIRST so that I can give her a little preview lesson or "cheat sheet" as needed.

I have also started working on her Confirmation preparation and have her lesson for the week done up as part of her religion time.

Just had a thought that perhaps having a work folder with the chart, worksheets, checklists and the like can go into and she can just refer to that for the week.

I have also looked a bit at how much time I have with Joe this week and how much we can aim to accomplish. He is leaving at lunch time on Wed. with his Dad; they'll be gone until next Monday or Tuesday. So, he has all day Monday (which really only works out to about 4 hours), all day Tuesday (4 hours) and then 2 hours Wednesday morning. Trying to decide if it would work better to do CM-style quick lessons or just go all out for a large block and get through a lot of stuff at once, especially since he's behind. Some of his work involves conversation--hard to get through the readings and conversations in 20-minute blocks! My instinct is telling me to go for the large blocks this week--with a set list of things to cover during the large blocks and his goal is to get through that list in the time given. That's what I'll do then.

I still have to work out some plans for ds. I think I need to sit down and work out goals, first. He has done a tiny bit of handwriting, French work and math, but tiny. I mean a couple of days' worth. I want this stuff to be daily. I know that's not very Montessori, but hey, I don't have a Montessori classroom where he's seeing everybody writing and doing math and can do it with them! I can, at least, give him the option of when he will do the different work, plus have subject areas for him to work in, but he decides what he'll do. Exactly as I'm doing for his sister.

For almost 3yo: I have been neglecting her educationally, I admit it. Goal for this week: One new Practical Life activity and one new Sensorial activity. I'll figure that out later. AND I should have story time with her every day.

More thoughts to come later!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Woops, it's been over a week!

Life has been barrelling along and I'm just trying to hang on. ;)

*Finally had a goodish morning yesterday, at least for the 16yo. Not so much for dd, and I don't think ds did any work, other than reading.
*I have not sat down to figure out lessons I can show the little one. It is starting to show that she has been very dependent on her sister to direct the way. She doesn't know what to do with herself a lot of the time. Although, part of that is sleep-dependent: if she did not sleep enough the night before, she is very dependent and not self-directed the next day--until she naps. ;)
*I need to remember to preview work before giving it to dd and to show her things or to tell her what new things are there. We're having the same issue as in the past where she thinks she ought to *know* all kinds of stuff already and beats herself up for "being behind".  :'( I don't know how to help her past this. Of course, it doesn't help that she did not manage to fight off whatever we were fighting off and has a full-fledged cold now. Makes her sensitive.

Other-wise ;) :
*ds is now 10!
*the 16yo is really showing some increased maturity. It's fascinating to see this development and change in him. He's not the same kid he was 2 years ago. Even his anxiety--he spent nearly 10 years of his life with anxiety, at a level that made normal functioning harder. I'm not sure what happened, but last year was a major growth year for him in that respect, and it's still continuing this year.
*I feel like I just have to hang on and can't really stop to plan for something different, read, etc. My poor inbox this week... Part of feeling like I can do nothing more than hang on is that I'm not using my time wisely and I am becoming more aware of it, which is good, because then I can do something about it. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How's the week going so far?

Well, it's Wednesday, I think. Yes. My inability to remember the day may indicate something. ;)

Dd and ds are fighting off something, so is the 16yo, and me, too. This makes for minds that aren't attaching well to any work, minds that aren't processing well. I need to make sure we eat better to help our immune systems!

Except for the 16yo, we went to a session held by our school board yesterday. Dd got to see a bit what it would be like if she did the online/virtual version offered. I asked her what she thought about it, if it's something she'd like to try. Kind of. "So, not really, then?" What appeals to her is HAVING to get work done. She recognizes that some of her skills are spotty because she hasn't worked consistently in some areas, but she also recognizes that she avoids those things because of how she feels about her spotty skills. She wants to *have to* do certain work--but she'd prefer I be the one to make her. :) So, with our health being so-so at the moment, I will start requiring certain work from her, not too much, and we'll gradually add to it. I think part of the requirements will be to get at least 3 fruit/high vitamin C servings each day! ;)

On the inner preparation note, I am admitting to myself once again that I am *too* flexible when it comes to changing things and I need to learn to set some limits. I used to have limits; they were very clear. And while the 16yo's work habits have always been not very good, dd's were. If I stuck to limits more, I think the 16yo's would be better, as would ds's.

Speaking of ds... Wow, the things a kid can learn in a few days on dinosaurs, more than I have learned in a lifetime on them! He's been pretty much playing and reading dinosaur books for days now and not much else. He has all kinds of information that he just randomly pours out. He saw yesterday about a project fair and some pictures on projects and he has said he'd like to do a project on dinosaurs. He's definitely got enough interest! I think I'll buy him a display board and he can do a display project--and if he decides to participate in the project fair, great, but if not, at least he'll have this wonderful piece of work to show off. :)

Today is get work done in the morning and then French class in the afternoon. I had some thoughts about things to do for the French class, so I'd better go get them down in writing so I know what I'm doing later on.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

5 Years

Dd and I were talking about dorm rooms for some reason, which led to her asking about the college she wants to go to and what their rooms are like, which then led to her exclaiming, "I'm going to college in *5* years." 5 years. She'll be there 5 years from now. OMG.

That means in the next 5 years, we need to make sure she continues with her art studies, possibly finding professional lessons somewhere at some point. In addition to a portfolio, the college wants the provincial high school diploma "or equivalent" with a 60% average on 4 of the grade 12 subjects.

I'll have to do some chatting with them within the next couple of years. She is grade 8 now, our high school starts in grade 10. Does equivalent to them mean a homeschool parent-provided diploma? I don't know. If there is something we need to do, or a way I can encourage them to see "or equivalent" in something other than a provincial diploma, or find out what sort of courses from an accredited distance learning university in the province would have her count as a transfer student.

Of course, this also has me thinking again about her high school plans. And even just this year's plans. We've kind of slacked the past couple of years. While we're having a hard time getting going this year, I still am determined to have her work in all the typical academic areas REGULARLY. It'll happen. 'Cuz I'm going to make it happen. ;D

Inner Preparation

I picked up a book at the library the other day which is fitting well with my need for inner preparation: No Matter What by Lisa Nichols. I think I'll go read a bit now and get myself off this computer. :D

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Difficult week

After Monday, things went downhill for various reasons, a bunch out of my control that had a huge impact on us. I was feeling very disheartened yesterday, and even somewhat this morning, but I'm starting to find the determination again. Hopefully next week will not bring with it too much craziness and unexpected bad news!

Let me think about next week while I'm here:

*Monday: Ds has a dentist appointment. I mustn't forget like I did this past Thursday. Fortunately, it's close by and they call if you don't show up--they kind of worry something happened to you! lol--so we were able to still get in on Thursday. I would hate to be late AGAIN. Other than that, we have to drop off school plans for Bob (ugh, these plans are driving me crazy but they're due Monday) and pick up some resources for him. And do as much work as we can before ds's dentist appointment and insist on at least an hour after lunch (which will be after the appointment). Although, if the appointment runs late, we have to get those errands done, so the afternoon work session might not take place.

*Tuesday: Morning--work time. There is an open house thingy for the school board my kids are registered with and to which we will go--that starts after lunch. We'll also have to go to the library. I hope to find the DVD I took out last week, and due today, which I have looked for repeatedly today and can not find! With the open house, the afternoon work session will not happen.

*Wednesday: Morning--work time. Afternoon--French class. Again, no work session. Argh.

*Thursday: Morning--work time. Afternoon--I was hoping to make it to a park day, but after having 3 afternoons of no work, maybe I should have work time instead. Especially since we'll have Friday afternoon off for a mini-birthday party for ds. Although, part of me thinks that if we've got every other afternoon this week off, maybe Thursday should be off, too! I think I'll see how the morning work goes for the first part of the week. I don't want to make it a coercive thing of "If enough work gets done, then we can go to park day." But, maybe it can be a discussion topic on Thursday, if they want to go--"This is our only opportunity to work in the afternoon. What do you all think about the work getting done so far this week? Would going to park day be reasonable?" Or some such. I should look through my mini Choice Theory Language book and see what would be good.

*Friday: I might insist on work, just because work has been difficult to fit in. Ds will have the day off because birthdays are days off of school work here. :D We'll do some sort of fun thing in the afternoon. Although, I might have to cancel morning work or make it really short--I have to be home by 3:30. Hm. I'll have to think about this. Maybe work Thursday afternoon with the knowledge that Friday will be a fun day out of the house. Ds has been asking to go to the local amusement park in the mall--I think I might just surprise him with it. I really don't like going, so it'll be an extra special surprise. I'll even take an unusual route to get there. hehehe.

Bob's school plans:
Argh, argh, argh. I thought they would be simple enough to do. No, no, you have to go through chunks of the provincial government's program of studies and say what you will use and how you will meet them. Plus you need to provide a rough plan of the year AND have a list of assignments the student will do for marks. SAY WHAT? This is proving to be more challenging than I thought! I've been making his ELA very detailed, but I'm going to try to skimp a bit on the social studies and science, and his phys. ed. plan has another week before getting in, so I can talk to him more about it next week and we can work it out together. I'll share more later maybe about what he'll do specifically in each subject.

Other than those specifics, part of my goals tomorrow is to work out goals and routines/schedules for the week for all of the kids. I have been neglecting pulling out things for the littlest one--and it's been showing. I either need to get things well enough together to show her something new or make sure to pull out different things each day for her to do. A refresher of beginning practical life and sensorial activities would be good for me.

Really, what I need to do most now is get *myself* organized: goals, priorities, vision, action steps and follow through. The lack of these is, I feel, my biggest block for the kids right now. That ever important inner preparation that Maria Montessori stressed in her teachers. I'm taking up the challenge. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Determined focus a little thwarted...

...yet good still came of it!

My determined focus yesterday went head-to-head with child tiredness (3 out of 3 students), crabbiness and more. Work was slow, but did manage to get through some stuff with Joe. Dd had a meltdown over math; but it was like it was needed to be able to move forward. We now have a higher level of Life of Fred ordered so that she can do something newer that doesn't leave her feeling like she's way behind. Ds had a meltdown, too, after I got testy with him (yes, admittedly, the crabbiness wasn't restricted to the kids!), but that ended up being good, too, because he has been more cooperative and interested in doing work activities.

Today was a bit of a right off. Too many tired children and kind of waiting around for Joe to go to his dentist appointment. He did finally decide that yes, he will do his diploma. I need to structure things and figure out what we'll do. I also think I need to make some deadlines for his math, ELA and science.

I have definitely decided to cover more than one unit at a time for him in math. I brought it up today and he nodded his head in assent. Not sure if I will try to get a CM-thing going--15-20 minutes of the algebra, then a different subject, then 15-20 minutes of the trig or maybe statistics, something like that. Cover 2, 3 or even 4 units per day. I just read an article on study habits which *ding ding ding* said that the students who retained the most changed things up more frequently. Which really has me thinking...

One of the things I have struggled with for CM and Montessori is how Montessori is all about letting the child have as much time as s/he wants and CM is about changing it up frequently. It's really sinking in about why there is this discrepancy: CM is about deciding what the student will do. If it's not self-chosen work, something that they're doing because they really connect with, then short blocks of time are probably better than longer blocks of time. With Montessori, the aim is "the flow"--which requires long blocks of time. CM doesn't ever get to "the flow", except maybe in the afternoon freedom.

This also has me exploring my own wants for my kids. I am leaning more and more towards a more CM morning with a Montessori afternoon. My kids are nearly 10 and nearly 13--we're not in the basic Montessori exploration anymore. And my son is woefully incapable of writing and "behind" in math because of my tendency to just let him be. (On the flip side, he can tell you about all kinds of dinosaurs and sharks!)

Having a basic routine first thing in the morning HELPS, I find. CM sought to vary it every day, which might be good for the schedule for the entire morning, but for the very first thing, at least for now, the knowledge that xyz will happen gets them going. At least for Joe and ds. Still have to tackle dd a bit. ;) She's on a huge piano kick. I can't remember the name of the song she's learning right now. I'm trying to stay hands off as much as possible--I learned what I learned on my own, by gradually paying more attention to what I was doing, etc. I know what I know now not because someone interfered with what I was doing, but because I adjusted and learned more as needed. When she asks for stuff, I'm there for her. I guess it goes back to a basic Montessori principle: don't correct. It doesn't matter that she's almost 13. Corrections make us feel wrong, incapable. A separate lesson at a different time is just a lesson. She can be 13 or 3, it's really not any different, is it?

So, for the rest of the week:

*Focused morning tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be bright and awake in the morning because I'm way too tired at the moment to plan out anything focused.
*Afternoon: I'm running a class from 1:30-3:30.
*Thursday: We have the whole day available to us, except I really ought to stop in at the school Joe is registered with to drop off forms and to pick up other ones. With him doing his diploma, I need to fill out some stuff about how we are going to meet the objectives. Oh, need to stop at the resource library while we're there, too.
*Friday: My niece and all nephews have a PD day (professional development day for the teachers at their school--teachers have to work, students have the day off); it'll be a day off for Joe and a fun day for my kids.

All right, must get to bed!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Determined focus on its way

I've been working on my determined focus for the school week. Because ds tends to just try to get through work really quickly to go have fun, I decided to have him do a schedule tomorrow. Yes, horribly un-Montessori of me; however, it does kind of fit with my feeling to incorporate a bit of Charlotte Mason into the mix.

Here's his schedule for tomorrow (Monday):

8:45 - French
-spelling/grammar workbook
-reading or writing, his choice

9:15 - Math
-place value lesson, then do worksheet and/or create his own numbers

9:45 - break time for everybody

10:00 - Science
-look through library books, make a poster of things learned, find an experiment, his choice

10:30 - Social Studies
-work on learning the name and location of 5-10 states--colouring and labelling the states on a map and practising mentally to name them or locate them on a blank map

11:00 - Free choice
-art, Garage Band, guitar in his room, piano (with headphones), German, or other educational, OR spend time with nearly 3yo

11:45 - lunch time for us all, followed by at least 15 minutes of silent reading

~12:30 - free choice of activities, as long as it doesn't bother those who are working (meaning, Joe and most likely dd)

So, it's nothing super heavy, but provides a structure to give a sense of, "Hey, this is work time." If I had the luxury of simply presenting lessons throughout the morning, I would, but I don't! Joe is likely to go completely off track. That's an area to definitely work on this year: developing focus and independence in work. It's not that he can't--he does it now and then when he has an idea of something he wants to be able to do that day but I say work comes first. It's developing the habit of doing it. (Oooooh, there's Charlotte Mason again.)

For Joe, here's what I've come up with:

8:45 - ELA part 1 (handwriting, spelling, phonics/oral reading)--so, really, three different activities during that time
9:10 - Math part 1 (continue with the trig, or pick a different unit; if trig, do at least half of the questions)
9:45 - collective break
10:00 - science -- first assignment for environment unit
11:00 - mini-break followed by Math part 2
11:45 - lunch and silent reading
~12:30 - ELA part 2 (work on chapter 1 analysis--I have a sheet for him to fill out; and listen to up to 30 minutes of the novel)
1:30+ - discuss diploma; if going ahead, start social studies! Discussion topic--could last 30-45 minutes

Done for Monday.

If he is going to go for the diploma, we'll have to have at least a few days each week where he works until at least 2:30. I am busy with a class Wednesday afternoons, and Friday afternoons are usually off, so I guess that means the other days will be work afternoons for him.

On other thoughts: I thought about how his education is more than just the academic subjects he's covering. I've requested "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens"--the only copies available right now from the library were on CD, so we can put it on during lunch hour or something; at the same time, it saves me from having to sit down and read! I also know I need to start building in learning strategies with him. He was doing some copywork last Friday and he complained about something. I asked a few questions and basically, it turned out he had no strategy whatsoever for copying the words. "Are you reading the words before copying?" "No." Ach. He's been trying to copy letters at a time. That's not at all helpful! And it's very hard. No wonder he hates copying!!! I'd like to find various resources on learning strategies to mix with our work during the school year. We do have access to an online course, but it seems to assume basic strategies are already in place--it gets right into taking notes and time management. I need something more basic than that for now.

I'd also really like to do the Socratic Logic this year, or get started on it--I think it'll be interesting and I think Joe could benefit from some logic training! :)

I did plan for dd, too, but just a list of things for her to do, requiring that she work on French, math, science and social studies tomorrow. She is good at picking something and just getting to work, so no need of a schedule for her. She would love and fit in well with a Montessori Erdkinder!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Not sure what to report about the last two days. There was something I had wanted to write about after Thursday, and I can't remember what. Maybe if I just babble a bit, it'll come back to me. ;)

My 5yo niece was at school, so that left 2yo niece. I pulled out some things for her, but I can't remember how well that went. What was I doing with the olders? Not sure. Hm. I know one thing I placed on the little table for her was water pouring and I showed her how to do it. She loved it. Unfortunately, I put a cloth placemat under, which meant she couldn't see if she'd spilled water and then wipe it up. Ah well.

I do remember by the end of the day, she had gotten very antsy. I need to remember to direct her to more practical life activities and such. She very much wanted to play with her sister--who was going to be coming after school, along with her brother.

Her sister, btw, is loving school so far, but why not? It's a small group at the moment and it's all centre time, outside time, snack time, story time and rest time. I did find out something yesterday that kind of concerned me: these kindergarteners are allowed to leave the classroom by themselves during story time to go to the bathroom. They simply take a pass and go. Now, the bathroom is not near the classroom. They have to go down the hall--almost to the exit doors on the playground side. Am I too influenced by society's fears on this one? I don't think so. Growing up, kindergarten classrooms either had bathrooms or you never, ever went to the bathroom by yourself. Any thoughts? I'd love to have people's feedback on this!

Other than that, yesterday ended up being a day off. We had a meeting in the morning, then we were going to go on a field trip to a science centre, but we got there and it was closed due to a water main break. Bah. We went to the movie store to rent a movie. Nothing we all wanted to watch. Not much as individuals we wanted to watch. Went to the convenience store to get a treat--the olders got slurpees, which were apparently not properly connected between the syrup and the ice. Two of the flavours were too watered down and had no flavour. They got dumped. Joe decided to just have grape because a quick taste test showed it did have flavour. Turned out it had too much syrup in the mix and he couldn't finish it. Bah.

But, the morning meeting: We found out that Joe would have to do all 3 levels of social studies. I don't know if it's going to be possible for him to do all the work he needs to for the provincial diploma AND be done by the end of next school year. I worked out some stuff last night and will have to talk to him on Monday.

Next week is going to be a difficult week in terms of establishing routines. Joe has a dentist appointment at 11:20 Tuesday morning for BRACES. He might not be fully functioning Wednesday. Wed. afternoon, I'm running a class in my home. Friday, Joe gets off as my niece and nephew have the day off school and we made arrangements to spend the day with the other cousins, who go to the same school and have the day off, and the grandparents, who are babysitting the other cousins for the day. I must, must, must have a determined focus and vision for the time we do have next week!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another day, another bit of progress

Well, kind of.

I think we did take a good step towards establishing some good routines. It's slow going, but that's the best way to make sure the routines will take. It was complicated by the fact that I have come down with some sort of virus, which had me awake at 3:30 this morning, going through about 20 Kleenexes, a headache and slight fever (which thoroughly messed up my brain--twice I went upstairs to get some Advil and later, once back downstairs, I couldn't for the life of me remember if I'd actually taken any, which means I didn't take any after because I didn't want to overdose; I think in the end, I did take some Tylenol, but didn't actually take any Advil the whole day), both my kids were on the grumpy side, dd slept until 9am, both had pink faces later on and a slight fever. *sigh* Joe was a little stuffy and his brain was having a hard time processing even stuff that had nothing to do with school.

So, what did we accomplish given all that?

Joe started off the day with handwriting. After a tiny bit, I was going to move onto something else. He said, "That's it? What's the point if that's all?" lol. So, I had him do more. Then we did Sequential Spelling (I started him off on Level 1, but I'm skipping over various words). At that point, he and dd were chatty and I decided to not continue with ELA, but switch subjects. We then covered the intro part to his unit on the environment in science. After that, it was break time, even though we were only an hour into work. That's still pretty good for around here. ;)

Break time led to being on Facebook. Not sure that I like that idea. Too hard to get them off the computer--maybe using a timer would be helpful. But given I had a headache, couldn't think straight, Joe and dd were sluggish (ds was playing with his cousins--my one niece doesn't have school today, but will be back there full-time as of tomorrow), I let it go while I ate and proceeded upstairs to get Advil that I don't think I ever took.

After that, we reviewed some of the trig. I don't know how much Joe actually processed. I ended up using his Blackberry to text with his sister, which he encouraged because, I'm sure, it meant no more math for the time being, then we tackled a sample learner's license test. He just about passed. He would have passed had he paid attention to some of the questions better, but he was trying to just go faster and be done with it.

We were slow to get to lunch finally, but we did, then I continued reading a bit from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." What a great novel for Joe to have as a novel study! Totally has his interest.

By the time that was done, we were done for and I decided to put on a movie I had recorded, "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium." It's one of those movies where the first time through, I wasn't really sure what I thought about it. Since then, I've seen at least most of it more than once and it is now one of those movies that I just love watching!

So, that was the essence of our school day. The progress was more in the kind of work feeling first thing AND actually doing some work after lunch. I think I have to put the novel study after lunch most days--it's just a kind of relaxing thing and fits best as a final thing to do for the day.

I did tell Joe that he has to get the first trig lesson actually completed tomorrow. I may take a Charlotte Mason approach with it, having him do some of it, then do a different subject, then come back to do another bit of it. I'll at least suggest it to him if he's not getting into the flow, give him the option of gracefully moving onto something else, with the knowledge we will be coming back to it shortly.

I also had an idea that I'll have to mull over a bit. He has a tendency to crumple up loose leaf paper, even if it has work on it. :/ There is also the issue of switching papers or notebooks when switching subjects. I had the thought of him just having a single notebook. Each morning, he writes in the date, then proceeds with his work there. His handwriting could be there, spelling, math, etc. Everything would be all together, no loose papers to lose, and he would progressively get sensorial feedback as to how much he's actually working. Getting through a single notebook could help create a sense of, "I have worked, and I've done all of this." Just a thought at the moment.

As for my kids' work... Um... With both feverish and ds getting his last day in with both girls, I'm not sure what they really accomplished. Ds looked at some science experiment books tonight to start thinking about what sort of project or experiments he'd like to do. Dd decided earlier in the day that she wanted to work on the nervous system for biology. I'm thinking it might be best to start off with books on the topic, let her notebook what she finds, photocopy and paste in the notebook certain diagrams, etc. I'm not sure if we have anything in the house at the moment that would work. I have a copy of the grade 12 text, but it's the grade 12 text and, well, I do prefer more living-type books. I think a medical text could be better done and more interesting than the high school text. Of course, the big challenge is finding a living book that covers the nervous system. Hm...

Fantastic math worksheet generator link!


I saw a link about how British Columbia has initiated the full-day kindergarten. Curious, since more and more schools here are doing it, I decided to read the article. My mouth literally dropped open when I read this:

Angela Pellicia said her daughter will become more independent with better social and language skills.
“Two and a half hours isn’t long enough for kids to be away from their parents,” she said.
The girl is, what, 5? I don't know what appalls me more: that the mother has believed that her daughter can't develop social skills with her family and less intense activities, that the mother doesn't think well enough of herself that she can help her daughter develop good language skills, or that she actually thinks her 5yo ought to be away from her mother for more than 2.5 hours a day. How does a 5yo need to be away from their parents on a daily basis???? That's going to develop independence? My 2yo niece is highly independent, and it's not because she is away from her parents all day. It'd be interesting to see this mother's reaction if we were speaking face-to-face and I told her that my almost 10yo and 13yo are rarely away from their parents that long. ;) Honestly, other than a few sleepovers at their cousins' place and maybe a birthday party, I'm not sure my son has otherwise been away from both parents that long.

Better numeracy and literacy because of full-day kindergarten? This is sad. It just goes to show how many parents rely on the school system to teach their kids. My husband sees it all the time--parents who seem to expect the school to take care of more than they really ought to. And honestly, how much numeracy is covered in kindergarten? I mean, really? (Not in a Montessori, just a regular kindergarten.) I just looked up my provincial program of study for kindergarten math, which is almost identical to BC's, if not identical. "Say the number sequence from 1 to 10 by 1s, and from 10 to 1." "Recognize at a glance and name familiar arrangements of 1-5 objects or dots." Etc. for numbers up to 10. Stuff on patterns (no numbers), comparing size and weight of objects (no numbers)... Full day kindergarten makes that much of a difference? And then they are trying to say that full-day kindergarten has an effect on graduation rates. EXCUSE ME????? Correlation is not causation and I doubt very much that kindergarten has anything whatsoever to do with graduation rates. It'll be the quality of relationships and learning in later years.

The really ironic thing in all this is that kindergarten is still optional. Governments are paying more, touting all kinds of benefits from the full-day kindergarten but it is optional. Parents enjoy paying less childcare, so they don't seem to notice or care that the switch to full-day kindergarten actually means more taxpayer money being used for it.

Of course, don't get me started on the whole "school builds better social skills" topic... ;D

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First day of *work* done

So, we got a bit of work done today. I think we actually did pretty well given we have such bad habits built up. ;) Joe did some handwriting, Sequential Spelling, we talked about novels (setting, character types, point of view...) and then I read aloud a bit from "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." He is loving it. :) Naturally, that set the desire to watch the movie again, which they are doing right now as the day wraps up. Other than that, I got him to verbally work through part of his first trigonometry lesson; I already have some things put together for him to review the stuff tomorrow and finish up the lesson.

Dd got to work on art this morning. It's not her course work, but that's okay. She had printed off a picture of a rose from the internet, traced around parts of it, then put a white sheet of paper over top, placed it on a window and traced the lines she had made. She then pulled out the tubes of watercolours (which haven't been taken out in months and months), complained to me that they weren't doing what she wanted them to do, added water to thin them out, then was happy.  After that, she worked in one of her new French workbooks. She was going to do some math, but I don't think it happened.

Ds did some cursive and read in a book on animal facts. He also did Garage Band, which he is counting as music time. lol. He is right, of course, but he needs to get some work done on writing and math, too!

The little one was content to do a puzzle with dd first thing, then followed ds into the den to listen to his music creations. After that, she did some of the activities I had put on the little table for her (pouring beans, a cylinder block and a Discovery Toys Mosaic Pegs activity) and kept herself busy with all 3. After that, she got kind of goofy and noisy and wandering aimlessly, so I brought up the preschool kitchen and she very contentedly played with that until ds decided he'd done enough work, made a fort in the family room and played with her.

That was all just this morning! :) We decided to go out for lunch since I had errands to run anyhow, had lunch, hung out at the Apple Store for a bit (always fun), finished the errands, including a brief stop at the library where I discovered that a mechanical engineering book I requested for Joe, thinking it might interest him since he wants to go into mechanical engineering, was actually at least a 2nd-year university textbook. lol. I'll keep it around a bit; maybe he'll decide to have a look at it. It did give me the idea of changing how I refer to his subject work. All the math he's doing for the next few years, and the physics, is all used in engineering. He might quite enjoy thinking of it all as his pre-engineering program. Which, really, is a good way to look at it to make sure we are focused on him learning what he needs to be able to do what he wants to do.

In any case, we stopped at his place on the way back home to grab the movie, got home, little one was asleep in the van, the others went to watch the movie, and I kind of flitted around between school prep, cleaning, checking in on the hermit crabs...

All in all, a good day. To make tomorrow better, I think we'll need to have a little talk in the morning about the level of talk and what they will do about it, and the need to get a minimal amount of work done each day. I know in the past, we did a thing where they decided the consequences of "breaking the rules" and it worked rather well. We have slipped so far away from that kind of thing, it might not go over so well. I just know that I can't be the police officer keeping them on task!