Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Good School Week

Since having Thomas almost four months ago, having a Good School Week is newsworthy. Envision old fashioned news boys shouting from the streets, "It was actually a good school week in the Lauer household!"

This week, I moved the school room back to the Bonus Room! Yes, I did it, despite the handsome nature of our downstairs school room and the generosity of Chris giving up his downstairs office for me. I had tried out the system for a couple of months and there were pros and cons (which I won't write out due to great length), but I decided there were enough cons that I wanted to try being upstairs again. Such a short summary for all the agonizing details to which I subjected Chris' ears as I tried to make this decision!

Below is a short tour of our new-old school room. You can see that I divided the room in half, with the "play room" and the "school room" separate. For now it is separated simply by little bookshelves and a long baby gate, but my Vision and Dream is to have bookshelves built as a dividing wall with a (locking!) door in the middle. This will both provide separation-with-supervision and give me much-needed bookshelf space for school supplies. In the meanwhile, before we get estimates, set aside money, and commission such a project, I thought it prudent to try out my new plan for a couple of months to see how it feels.

This vision is following the advice of quite a few mothers who have said that many of my morning troubles will disappear if I keep all my children under my supervision: we are still in the 'young years,' as they say. I felt it was not possible to have all these little (BIG) voices in one room during school time, but I think I may just have to 'pick my poison.' It has been very problematic to try to school the two olders while the 4- and 2-year-olds run wild through the house, causing havoc and having tiffs because they're unsupervised. That may seem obvious, but it also seems obvious that it is very problematic to have 4- and 2-year-olds being their noisy selves in a classroom with older children--so what is a Mama to do?

I spent this first week trying to teach that we're all going to be together during the school morning and we're going to use Quiet Voices. I have to model this with the quiet, modulated voice of a librarian. I have been surprised at how well this has gone, considering that I thought it would be disastrous. For the first couple of hours, the children all do really well at this. The third hour is a bit difficult, but we're working on it and it's been only a week.

I re-introduced a tiny snack break in the morning to get us a chance of scenery (down to the kitchen, where I have resumed reading aloud History) and stretch our legs. The 4- and 2-year-olds seem to be thriving and happy under my much closer attention.

One day we paused mid-morning to take a family "bike walk," which served as my exercise for the day (such as it was) and got the children's wiggles out, and then we did more schoolwork till lunch, instead of our typical recess from 11:30-12:00. That was a good day!

Thomas' first time in a regular stroller (not an infant bucket seat),
which he actually fits into already because of his mongo size.

The day we took a rain walk for morning break was also great fun!

Glimpses of school life . . .

Homeschooling at its best: Joseph on my lap playing with school money, while I teach a math lesson on counting change to John and Mary is in the background reading her literature assignment (Andrew Lang fairy tale).

Teaching Margaret her reading lesson, both of us on the floor, with Joseph sitting by me cutting up paper with scissors (fine motor skills!), and in the background John and Mary doing independent lessons

Even a little girl with a cold and a low fever can cozy up on the couch
with her independent reading subjects.

Snack time is a lot better now that I have enough older kids that they make their own snacks while I hold the baby and oversee.

Breaking for snack time: Mary peeling apples for us while perched precariously

The 4-year-old is all about doing it herself.
When someone isn't being mean, someone is being sweet! Mary wrote Joseph a Certificate of Excellence for Being Cute.

He is cute!
Joseph (close to 3) is the boy who asked me this week when we were walking the Greenway, "Mama, what does 'ominous' mean?"

Mama, who heard his perfect pronunciation, but did a double-take: "What does what mean?"


"Well, ominous means foreboding, that something really bad is going to happen."

"Like what bad thing?"

And then we talked about bad things that could happen that would seem ominous to a preschooler. I love homeschooling.

We got so many of our daily goals accomplished, probably our best week since having the baby!
One reason homeschooling seems to be getting better is that the baby's sleep is starting to fall into a nice morning pattern. He wakes between 6:00 and 7:00, which means he's ready for first nap between 8:00 and 9:00. I am trying to push him toward 9:00 because on those days I can get through serving breakfast and get the baby asleep right in time to start school. Then he naps for about two glorious hours, waking up (or I wake him up) just in time for us to take a walk outdoors. He stays awake while we finish school and eat lunch and lately I've even been able to time his going back down for second nap close to Joseph's afternoon nap. Get the older kids in Quiet Time and the two littles sound asleep, and I might actually find an overlap of a few minutes 'when not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse'! And that, my friends, is balm to this Mama's soul.

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