Friday, May 26, 2017

{SQT} Boys' Week and Girls' Trip

This was the big week of the Girls' Road Trip to Pennsylvania (with Daddy) and Boys' Week at Home (with Mama)! See below if you missed those blog posts.

1. IHM Conference

This year, it appeared I would be too busy to attend the local homeschooling conference, but with a few hours' notice, Chris and I decided we could make it work for me to jaunt over there for enough time to listen to two wonderful speakers and to shop at the vendors' hall.

I took along Margaret (6) because doing so made it work better for Chris managing musical rehearsal and cooking dinner in my absence. She was a cutie, drew a lot of pictures, and generally enjoyed being my pal.

I had been throwing a bit of a pity party about not being able to go, but then I remembered last year when I ran into a homeschooling veteran friend of mine who had just graduated her first of ten from high-school. She hadn't been to a homeschooling conference since her children were little because her duties had become so many that it was a luxury she couldn't afford. I'm seeing that as the case in my life too, and I'm grateful that I started going to these conferences when my firstborn was an infant in arms. There may come a very many years when I can't be spared from the family and will have to rely on buying the CD of 30 or so talks from the national IHM conference to refresh and educate me. We all have our seasons.

2. Reward Family Day

Saturday was the long-awaited day to take the children for go-karting and miniature golf as a reward for three weeks of hard work.

Piano practice has been a topic of conversation on this blog: it has taken years and various tactics to get my oldest two (8 and 10) to be able to practice piano (and Mary violin as well) 45 minutes per day, following a list. The process has been a long combination of carrots and sticks. I think continual carrots (rewards) is undermining because the child learns only to do the work if he is rewarded. I think continual sticks (consequences) is sad because the child learns to resent and hate practicing.

Every so often, in order to instill a habit of virtue or in order to achieve a new level of hard work, I institute a time-limited reward system, and this I did to prepare for the Guild competition.

  • The two older children were asked to do their increased list of practice work daily without complaint, without long silences, and with true diligence, and they could be scored A, B, or C. 
  • Margaret (6), who has really been struggling to learn to practice piano, was asked to practice using a timer for 20 minutes and without complaining, and could score those same grades. 
  • Little Joseph (4) is not yet in lessons, so he worked on the virtue of getting dressed each morning, putting his pajamas in the drawer, and getting dressed in pajamas each night, and putting his daytime clothing in the dirty hamper, for which he could earn up to four check marks per day.

The various grades and check marks earned varying levels of money in order for the kids to earn their own money to visit the go-kart and mini golf park. All of this required charts and my paying attention, so you can see why I would keep up this system for only three weeks!

In the end, the plan worked. The two oldest children performed well at Guild, the next child has achieved the habit of practicing piano for 20 minutes and dropped the habit of the four-hour behavioral standoffs we were suffering through, and the littlest child has achieved the habit of dressing himself with confidence. Win-win-win!

3. Water Play

Thomas (21 months) has discovered water play in the kitchen sink. He will play there silently for an hour . . . and still throw a tantrum when I tell him he's all done because it's time for such-and-such.

This child loves to do water play. I'm using it to my advantage for now.

4. Reducing TV Again

Television consumption waxes and wanes in a large, homeschooling family, as we navigate through seasons of pregnancy, illness, and good times. For the last two weeks, I've reduced TV again by disallowing the kids six and older to watch TV in the mornings. The two littlest guys still watch TV while I exercise from 6:00 to 7:00, but the olders are left to their own devices: they may do their holy reading and prayer time, exercise, eat cold cereal, read a book, or generally hang out.

This is good and important because that one-hour block, in reality, turns into 90 minutes of TV to start every day . . . and then they watch more while I'm cooking dinner, and that ads up to a lot of detrimental screen time. The very first day without TV in the morning, it bore fruit with siblings I don't normally see playing together getting out a board game on their own initiative and playing together. Another day, a child woke up and prayed a decade of the Rosary . . . just because.

It's not all roses, and we are still adjusting. Pray for us!

5. Girls' Road Trip (with Daddy)

Click here to read about the Girls' Road Trip!

6. Boys' Week at Home (with Mama)

Click here to read about Boys' Week!

7. Bonus Reading

I appreciated this article, "Why Our Family Carries Forth the Homeschool Tradition" by the Seuffert Family, even though I don't use many Seton products. The article could have been titled, "The Benefits of Homeschooling."

  • Homeschooling allows parents to pass down their family's values, which could not otherwise be passed down with children in school all day. This is true of just about everybody, but in this case is from a Catholic perspective (and, yes, that means virtually all Catholic parochial schools do not pass on Catholic values very well).
  • Homeschooling allows a family to be more open to life than if parents were slave to the school system. I can only imagine how astonishingly hard it would be to remain at the beck and call of the school administration through repeated pregnancies, sickness (of pregnant mama or of various children), postpartum periods, just getting a large brood out the door and at school by 8:00. Starting our days at home is so much more peaceful and calm.
  • Homeschooling allows personalized education for all who need it, whether a child has dyslexia, is gifted (in one subject or many), or is bouncing off the walls with energy.
  • Having a schedule is very valuable for homeschool success. Especially for elementary aged students, it is hard for me to imagine success in homeschool without a schedule.
  • Grandparents can be an invaluable help to a homeschool. My personal friends can atest how often I lose heart and say, "Homeschooling is impossible!"

For more 7 Quick Takes Friday, check out This Ain't the Lyceum (with good ideas for how to celebrate Memorial Day in a more meaningful way than just a barbeque).

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