A Lesson for Mama

We had our first minor setback today. The morning had been full with gymnastics class, and between lunch and speech, the girls were happily playing together in the playroom. They had been looking forward to starting a wetlands experiment today (asking about it all morning), so I hesitantly interrupted their play to ask if they wanted me to set that up. They said yes, so I got the materials ready. Then, I interrupted them again to tell them that when they were ready, to come in the kitchen. Well, they were engrossed in their play, so they didn’t stop in the 5 minutes time I had expected. We only had about 20 minutes before we needed to get ready for speech, and I really wanted to do the experiment then, so we wouldn’t need to worry about it when we got back home. I interrupted the girls a third time, and they enthusiastically stopped playing to do the experiment. They both helped with setting up the experiment, and then it was time for us to journal what we did.

M resisted. This was the first time she has ever resisted an activity! I just wanted to get it done. Yes, we could have done the journaling later that day, but…well….I pushed. This was the first time I ever pushed, breaking my own homeschooling creed, if I have one.

Ah, hindsight is everything!

I should have trusted my gut, and kept them playing that whole time. But I have been feeling some pressure (put only on me by myself) to achieve certain tasks each day.

So I am definitely taking today’s experience as a learning lesson for myself.

I want this year to be full of homeschooling experimentation, so I will have a better feel for what works for our family next year, when homeschooling becomes legally official. I imagine that I will always be evaluating how we are doing, it just comes with the territory. And that’s good. Nothing needs to be ever set in stone, and with kids especially, what works one day may not work the next. Now isn’t that a lesson my children have been teaching me over and over!

Anyway, here are a few minor changes I’m going to implement to our routine:

  • M loves the daily routine chart, so I will keep displaying that. But I won’t feel that I need to honor it; if the children are engrossed in something else, I will let them explore that to their fullest.
  • On speech days (which are 4/5 days) I will strive to have the between-lunch-and-speech time just for free play. Even though this is also when the toddler naps, I think it is an important mid-day break for the girls. I’ve said before how important I believe free play is for this age group.
  • It might be that if we only do free play or outings in the mornings, the girls will always want a structured activity after their afternoon snack, and I might try that middle ground first. But I think I will wait until they ask for something from me, or at least keep them aware that it’s their choice.
  • My main daily goals will only include read-alouds, free play, and one structured activity, whether it be something I planned or something that comes up in our living. With speech taking up so much of our time, these are simply just the priorities right now. I will strive to do field trips once a week, and strive to have two mornings a week at home (leaving only 1 extra morning for hiking, second field trip, playdate etc). Lazy mornings can be the best learning!
  • I will structure the “curriculum” probably into unit studies again. This has served us well in the past; we can study a topic in-depth over a week or so, doing a little bit each day, encompassing different subject areas. Exceptions include: the one-on-one language arts work on Monday mornings; weekly reading of short biographies for history; and ensuring we play some math games at least once weekly.

What do you think? Anything I’m missing? Any suggestions, or do you have an experience to share? Homeschooling is just another extension of parenting, and I will need to be trusting my gut and rechecking to see if I am helping my children to where they want to be.

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  • "Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don't always know what it is. " - John Holt
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