Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sort of starting tomorrow! Yikes!

I feel completely unprepared for tomorrow when my nieces and nephew will be back during the day since their parents' summer holiday time is over. I guess it's okay if I have nothing planned since they usually just contentedly play the first couple days back, but I would like to have a kind of plan. And actually make an attempt to implement it.

As I was cleaning up our "school shelf" area yesterday, not the shelves themselves but the stuff below, I was saddened by how they are not really used by my kids. I guess part of it is they are too old and I haven't shown my son enough, so he won't turn to a bunch of it. The other part is that there is stuff in there I could use with my nieces, but I don't. Reminds of the saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Now, sometimes my plans fall apart, but I know I won't move forward with Montessori stuff for my nieces (who are 7 and almost 5) until I at least plan things.

I have been thinking I ought to sit down and brainstorm a bit, so that's what I'm doing here. :) Perfect way to not lose what I've written down. :P

Some thoughts and not just for my nieces, but for my nephew and my kids, not in any particular order necessarily and my apologies at the potential lack of coherence (consider the following stream-of-consciousness writing):

A routine of some sort would be good. Things like morning story time or pre-lunch cleanup or walking the dog together each day at a specific time.

Lessons: a grid to plan for each of the little girls would be good so I can tackle their very different needs. The 4.5yo likes working on language and math but I can't forget that she also needs practical life and sensorial.

That makes me think that it would be good to have a time each week, or every couple of days or something, where the practical life is cooking or baking. I have a great kids cookbook, can't remember the name at the moment, but it has some great ideas. The kids always love baked goods but moving away from sweets would be good.

Sandpaper letters are a must. I think K (7yo) would love to 100 chain.

What did Maria Montessori do for her first schedule? She had care of self and then care of the environment. There are habits that are too ingrained with this bunch for them to think it just great to start doing chores once they arrive. :P I'm going to have to play around a bit with how the day starts out, or maybe just spend a great deal of time observing. At the same time, I have my own personal list of things I'd like to get done, so how observant will I be?

Things to do during a week: library, outside time, baking/cooking, art/craft time, music time--we have the recorders and the piano and guitars... What else? Language--read-alouds and sandpaper letters and I Spy. The older kids have a wealth of books available to them to read. (Should we have a quiet time after lunch for reading or some other individual quiet activity? That was nice when we did that.) Math--I'm not sure where I left of with J (4.5yo) and her math stuff, so I should probably pull out Gettman and have a look at the beginning math stuff. Culture: Maps... I'm not sure what else is appropriate geography-wise. Science--all kinds of stuff in Gettman for the younger girls and there are some kits my son has that he and my nephew would love. I also have the microscope, which I could set up on the little table. I really need to get a book about how to prepare slides and all that so we can start making our own. What else? Phys. ed.? Walks and yoga and outside time for skipping, soccer, playing at the park, catch... Hm... Anything else I can think of? I do wonder about the Great Lessons. I had started them with my son this past year but we didn't get very far. If I did an abbreviated version of the first one (I find it soooo long) and made sure to make it very dramatic and story-like, then found books at the library for follow up ideas... Then move onto the second lesson. Perhaps not do any Key Lessons (especially since I don't really know what they all are). To present all the lessons to them before my nieces and nephew head off to school at the end of August could be really good. Am I missing anything? Probably. ;)

On a typical day, what do I envision? They'll get here, they'll probably all head off to play--things at other people's places are always more interesting, especially when you haven't seen the stuff in a month ;P--but I need to be ready with stuff. Do I want a list to run through? Do I want a list of ideas and to pick one as I see it is needed? For example, if I have the list "read-aloud, lesson time, outdoor time, art time...", can I just randomly pick? Well, of course I *can*, but is that what I want? *mindgoesblank* (5 seconds later) *mindisstillblank* lol

I'm not looking to get into any serious work stuff, although I know K wants to work on cursive and higher math stuff; I will kind of have to move through some of the math sequence to get a feel for where she is. Does she know thousands? I know she can count to 100, but does that mean something to her? Probably lots of Golden Bead work with her, including operations work. That's what she really wants. She's already been shown a bit of multiplication by her brother and cousin (she's only heading into grade 2 in a public school--they don't do multiplication yet). It would be helpful to have a chart for her with the various lessons in it and space for me to note if she's been presented the material and level of mastery. Same goes for her sister!

For M (12yo nephew), he's hit a phase... I'm not looking to provide as much "education", you could say, to him as to the girls, but I do want to offer him a variety of things he can connect with, things he will enjoy that he won't get to do in school. He's been very different here the past few months when he has come after school: less likely to play with the others, more likely to just read or find something to do by himself. I find it a little worrying, only because I really don't know what's going on. That kind of retreating from others can be a sign of bigger problems--or it can just be a sign of him needing some more alone time after a day of dealing with school. He's headed off to junior high in the fall. I want here to be a place that can engage him, plant seeds of interest... I do worry about how jr. high will be for him. Maybe his is, too.

What about my kids? Well, the activities I brainstormed above can work for them, too. They both like read-alouds and reading. I won't do any work-specific stuff probably with them, although MadLibs are always good, Scrabble's good... All kinds of language games that can be played. Math-wise, they accept that we'll ask them a question that is connected with something we're talking about, even if sometimes what we're talking about is something dh has taught to his grade 9 students for math. :D What other math things could potentially engage them? *mindgoesblank* Science was already mentioned; my 14yo might join in on that or not. Oh, and I already talked about the Great Lessons. There's all kinds of stuff we have for geography and history, too. Things to think about more.

What are my days going to look like? What would I like them to look like? I would like to offer at least one thing for the little girls each day, one thing for the boys, have some outdoor time each day where I'm with them outside instead of my usual staying inside. Oh, just had more thoughts: crafty stuff like finger knitting and crochet and knitting and other craft stuff we have. I also have all kinds of grade 2 workbooks (K loves workbooks!) and more. But I've lost my train of thought. Each day would have a preparation for an activity/presentation/lesson for the different kids. My dd is probably fine without something specific each day for her, but time set aside just for art at least once a week, something where it can be adapted to her and to the little girls would be good. The boys are in the middle so they'll be fine if they choose to join in. So what's that leave me? Daily "lesson" time, outdoor time, I'd like daily read-aloud (any specific time? it's been up until now one of those activities great to start when things get a little goofy; gets their attention and they calm down and listen right away, esp. the girls). Do I want the after-lunch quiet time? Even just 10 minutes would be good. Oh, oh, oh, I want a lunch routine. I want us to do something we used to do: Somebody is responsible for putting the "nappe" (English word's not coming to me at the moment) on the table and then we all sit down together to eat. We could say grace before lunch (that's not been a habit around here) and one day, I think it would be great if we did the Angelus; dd learned it at camp in previous years. I've never learned it. It would be something more to show the others. When we had our lunch routine in the past, somebody was responsible for clearing the table so we could have lunch, others were responsible for making sure the kitchen was clean afterward. This might not work quite so well since my nieces and nephew come with school-style lunches most of the time and it's really not their job, I don't think, to be helping clean up my stuff, dh's stuff and my kids' stuff! It could be worked out with dd and ds who will do what for after lunch cleaning (dishes, sink, counters...). At the same time, perhaps we could change things a bit and instead of eating from their lunch kits, my nieces and nephew could put their food on plates, not have their lunch kits on the table while they eat, and then they participate in the clean-up. I could give them the option, too.


Wow. I'm not sure I can say I feel like I know what I'm doing tomorrow, but just getting all of that out of my brain was great! Let me see what I can specifically plan for tomorrow:

*J and K's lesson: sandpaper letters (they both love them); J, especially, loves playing Sandpaper Letter Hide-and-Seek. :)
*Pull out ds's chemistry kit for a lesson/activity with the older kids
*walk the dog (if weather permits; forecast for this week isn't fantastic)
*music time in the afternoon sometime
*maybe go to the library
*for me to do: read up on the first Great Lesson, work on lesson charts, create activities lists according to type (a list for outdoor activities, for example; another list with food prep that can be done)

All right, that is plenty for now. I wonder how many people will actually read to this part? ;D

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