Mixed Messages. Reflections, Week 5

I’ve been repeatedly pleased this past week with how things have turned around for us here at Seed To Seedling Homeschool. Week 3 ended with me not sure if I was going to put the boxed curriculum away for a while or not, and during week 4, I gingerly tested the waters with Elizabeth to see if it was possible to move ahead. She was definitely sending me mixed messages, and the positive ones were encouraging me so that I wanted to encourage them!

The majority of Saturday and Sunday my daughter spent at family member’s houses, me too. But Sunday night, I decided to give the school work a try again the following day, as gently as possible. This time, I was going to do as much or as little as Elizabeth wanted (well, if as much as she wanted lasted hours, then she could continue on her own…). I set my goals at two, maybe three, activities. I chose the type of activity that she had shown the most interest in: play-acting. In addition to the play-acting, I also chose a measuring activity because I know she likes to play with the measuring tape.  The first activity involved dressing up in seasonal clothing and playing that it was changing seasons on the Little Island.  I waited to invite her to do it until after her brother had gone down for his nap, and then I merely asked her if she wanted to do a play-acting activity.  When she agreed, I admitted that it was out of the school stuff.  She still agreed, and was particularly interested when I pulled a big bag I had pre-packed full of snow-pants, boots, sweaters and swimsuits out of the closet in the kitchen. I led her outside on the lawn and we laid the borders of the island, then played seasons.

She loved the activity!  We did it twice, and she would have kept going if Paul had not woken up.

After the first round of season play-acting, I did try to entice her to the measuring activity, but she was only vaguely interested, and wanted to go again with the clothes.  Later, though, I caught her interest with it in the garden when we went to get some veggies for dinner.  I had taken the measuring tape down with me, under the pretense that I wanted to measure stuff, and when I started to, she suddenly decided that she was actually interested in measuring as well.  It was fun.  We measured posts, 8-foot sunflowers, 12-inch sunflower leaves, bean plants, Paul… So, Monday was a success. I did not get out the parent’s guide – I crammed the night before to try to remember all the parts I thought were most important to me.  I did get out the unit book, The Little Island, and referred to that though.

After we had finished Unit 2, I decided to make a list of all the activities in Unit 3 and a few parts of Unit 2 that I had modified following Elizabeth’s lead but wanted to return to at some point in the way they had described I made this list out of order and vaguely grouped into subjects. I referred to it all week and tried to merge activities that were too redundant and/or would best compliment each other. Then, each night, I listed goals for the following day with the activities I hoped to get through in my planner.  Sometimes, life took us towards a different activity and we didn’t do any of what I had planned, yet still did an activity out of the curriculum.

Elizabeth has seemed to give up resisting the work as I’ve thrown the decision back into her court on whether we do something or not.  I’ve also gone back to our old tv time routine, and we’ve mostly been doing school while the toddler is asleep, which still makes it a quiet-ish time for me and not super overwhelming somehow.  Also, rather than push her through the three activities in 45-minutes as the guides says is possible, I let Elizabeth explore whatever she likes for as long as she likes.  In this manner, play doh went from number and letter forming to microphones to play restaurant in the course of 1 1/2 hours.  My concentration broke that day ahead of her’s, and I eventually wandered away to do some housework.

Thursday night, I wondered if I should push it Friday (as in try for Friday too), as we had all ready done 4 days straight with lessons, or go for a long weekend.  But I only had 2 projects left for the end of the unit, and I figured that we both seemed to be enjoying it.  I decided to just play it by ear. But, it turns out that I didn’t have to, because the first thing she said to me Friday morning as I was changing the baby’s diaper was, “Mommy, can we do school?” Yay!

Over the course of the week, I was very encouraged.  It’s amazing what a little bit of flexibility can produce.  I’ve realized that four-year-olds are not ready for a structured school, they need play and room to be creative.  They need to move!  I can’t imagine how it will be for the public school pre-kindergarteners who are forced to go to all day pre-k this year in New York State.  That was, ultimately, the reason that I chose to homeschool.  Why would I send my kid when I’m home all day anyway, and she can do a lesson in 45 minutes as opposed to 6 hours?

Lastly, and just because it’s fun to me to look back at what we’ve done, here’s a little sampling of the other stuff we’ve been doing:

  • Dictating an awesome story about a pig whose silly putty gets stolen
  • Making waves with by blowing on water, and with a fan
  • Imaginary kitchen, with most of menu in Spanish
  • Making words out of foam letters in the tub, and adapting letters creatively when we are short of what we need
  • Nature walks

Chime in: I know it’s very common to adapt boxed curriculums, what’s an interesting way you’ve made one more flexible to fit your needs?

 

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