AO Years 5, 3, and 1 | Term 1 Week 2

This week: oh, boy.

I had glorious plans about writing mostly about scheduling three kids, and perhaps I will still do that, possibly next week. This week has been pretty much the opposite of last week in almost every conceivable way.  And repetitive, almost like the movie “Groundhog Day”.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, here’s some of the good things that came out of this whole week:

  • Moose did exceptionally well again with math. Math had always been a trouble subject for him and it’s turning out that it may not be as troublesome as initially thought.
  • Peanut is about 2/3rds through Phonetic Zoo Level A, which is quite a feat. Her spelling all around has improved massively.
  • Wok is still gung-ho as ever to actually do school and tends to gravitate towards the language arts side of things (loves to write, work on phonics, etc).

Also, I became very fed up and an enacted a severe reduction and almost extinction of screen time. This helped with a lot of kid-angst. The rest of it was removed by taking a “first principles look” at homeschooling in general and realizing that if I gave the kids more control of their educations in terms of subjects, environment, etc that they are less likely to be dramatic about it all. It becomes less of “this is just another thing mom wants us to do” and more of “this is something I’ve designed for myself to do”.  I plan on writing more about that later, as well.

Last week I wrote about adjustments that needed to take place, and this week resulted in the following adjustments and what else needs to happen.

  • The schedule. Front-loading the schedule didn’t work, and so we basically decided to start removing subjects from the schedule. I’m figuring out which ones to remove and will maybe stick them into a summer term or something else. I refuse to worry about it, though.
  • I try and get all of my Year 1’s stuff done with her, but sometimes it’s best to push some subjects to the afternoon.

New things to adjust:

  • The kids want family time subjects moved to the afternoon cocoa time, along with the read-aloud.
  • Adjust my ASD kiddo’s schedule and workload. This is kind of iffy right now because we are going to be getting a massive bunch of psychoeducational evaluations done to check for learning disabilities, etc; so I need to figure out what to do in the interim while we wait for referrals and appointments. If this child struggles with reading, for example; is there underlying dyslexia that needs to be dealt with or are the reading books too hard? Is this a vision problem? Bad habits? I don’t know and I’m not sure how to deal with this while we wait for a professional’s support.
  • I need to give the kids some form of vigorous activity in the morning, after breakfast; but again, not sure what. Running around outside is the default but now the air is extremely smokey and we are under health warnings so there goes that.
  • I need to firm up the routine as I found that my ASD kiddo absolutely thrives under strict routines and schedules. With six other people in the family, how on God’s green earth do we DO strict routines and schedules – the unexpected always pops up and it’s just a mess.

So you can see there’s a few things to tweak, and some rather complex problems I need to figure out or at least get a workable solution in the interim. I am slowly uncoupling myself from what I think our reality should look like and am just looking at what our reality actually is. I wonder how much of this past week’s frustration was due to the clash between the reality in my head and actual reality. I sometimes skip the steps in getting from point A to point Z.

Here’s to a hopefully smoother week 3!

AO Years 5, 3, and 1 | Term 1 Week 1

We finished our first week of school! There was minimal drama although re-entry is proving to be harder than expected.

The most dramatic parts of the day are our morning walks, which is probably a good sign. The kids have a variety of reasons why they dislike them, but none of them are actually a good reason for giving up said walks. That being said, I probably will scale it back to 3 times a week versus 5 just to give them a break.  I think the biggest problem with walks (for them) is actually having to get up and be done with breakfast by a set time!

A lot of my attention this week was spent dealing with medical things. My ASD kiddo needs (vastly) more supports and I have had to have referrals called in, talked with various professionals in a variety of fields, and so on. I have a very strict NO PHONES rule when I’m teaching; but if a professional I’ve been playing phone tag with calls me back at 9:30 in the morning; you better believe I’m answering that call. I’m generating a list of Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime documentaries that I can put on for those phone conversations (as some of them can get quite long).

Some things that need some adjusting:

  • The schedule: while all my kids are great students, I need to readjust the schedule and front-load the week. With more therapies coming down the pipes for my ASD kiddo I get a suspicion that our weeks are going to go crazy in terms of appointments and therefore we need to get work done on days that won’t have therapy appointments interrupting them (or dentist, eye doctor, doctor and even vet appointments for the dog). This week we had our dog’s vet appointment which was right after a therapy appointment and TA-DA there went our afternoon.
  • My Year 1 is an excellent little student with reading and writing, but is having a hard time with the whole structured school day thing. I’m going to break up her times so that she does a subject, goes to play for an hour; does another subject, etc.
  • My Year 5 needs an exercise ball to bounce on for listening (her request, I’m so proud of her in that she can see what she needs to be successful and ask for it).
  • I need to decide whether or not to drop or punt subjects in Family Time if we can’t get to them for some reason (Thursday we skipped it to help Grandma do soil tests on her garden).
  • Why are the riches falling to the wayside again? I need to up their priority.
  • Habit that needs to be taught and enforced: cleaning up the school room (which doubles as the toy/TV room so that may be part of the problem)
  • I need to adjust books for my ASD kiddo – either remove some or lengthen the week, move books to a different term, maybe do a summer term with books I eject?

Despite what needs to be adjusted, there are a lot of great things happening already:

  • All the kids love German and are picking it up extremely fast.
  • My 2 year old STILL NAPS 1-2 TIMES A DAY! Thank you sweet baby Jesus! All the other kids gave up napping around 12-15mos. It’s so nice to have those naptimes still to work in.
  • My ASD kiddo hit a giant leap in math and doesn’t have any real hangups about math anymore. I felt like I was doing a disservice by not pushing math because of the hangup but happily some maturation helped with that. We just did it when it could be done without anxiety and meltdowns. There is catching up by leaps and bounds, which is what I was expecting to happen.
  • Moose reads independently now so we are FINISHED with formal phonics lessons. HIGH FIVE!
  • A couple weeks ago, Mystie Winckler had a great workshop about planning your homeschool with your kids’ Myers-Briggs personalities in mind. It dovetailed nicely with a book I read this month titled “Neuroscience of Personality”. If you’re an MB geek, my kids are most likely ESTP (Peanut), INFP (Moose), ENFP (Wok). That’s a whole lot of “P” in contrast to my “J”. And let’s not even THINK about the level of “E” in this house vs us lowly “I”s! But just knowing that alone has really helped grease the skids for a successful school year, because I am aware that they are able to deal with glitches in the schedule than I am (for example). The uptightness I exhibit about schedule glitches is my J speaking, and really they don’t care. I can let it go. I had a lot more great insight from that book and Mystie’s workshop that will really help this year, I think.  (The workshop gave me the aha moment behind Wok’s all-encompassing enthusiasm and her talking all.the.time and now I just take her as she comes vs trying to get her to stop so much.  Now I just need to get her in the habit of politely interrupting as opposed to MOMOMOMOMOMOMOMOM.)
  • Peanut completed her first written narration this week (and did quite well for her first time).

I plan on spending this weekend to implement what I wrote above. Even though homeschooling is a giant, complex thing that is slowly turning into a full-time job for me; it is beyond the right decision for everyone involved and the kids are truly thriving and learning so much. Thank you, Ambleside Online!