Good-bye YouTube Kids – Hello Free Play

It’s been a long time since I’ve written.  After-schooling turned out more to be me killing myself to keep my house at an acceptable level of clean + making dinner + trying to keep the kids clean, and maybe doing homework … Continue reading

Lessons With Technology. Reflections, Week 14

There’s something about this time of the year that calls me to the couch in front of the tv. I find myself also putting on extra shows for Elizabeth in the morning, a movie to watch together in the evening, and iPad time in the afternoon so that I can have a moment of relative peace. This week was no different, and that iPad showed it’s face for or after every school lesson I think.  Yet, the lessons learned with it were numerous, and at this age, life-long, as weighted as that sounds.


My pumpkin picture with the iPhone. Sorry again, this iPad takes TERRIBLE pictures!

First off, and most importantly, the iPad lessons began with trust. A few months ago, I had downloaded a few apps in Spanish and English, mostly about the ABC’s, as that is the center of our learning right now. My intention was to use them sparingly, in place of tv time, as rewards, or occasionally for school when I was unprepared or low on energy. My intention was met with anxious interest by Elizabeth, who could not wait to play them, and at first I let her have time on the iPad in addition to the tv thinking that after about a week the novelty would wear off a little, and tried to convey that next week, iPad and tv time are the same thing, she could have less shows and more game time or the other way around, but not have both. I think my words went in one ear and out the other, and what ended up happening was that she started to get up earlier and earlier, think 5:30am early, to play on the iPad before it was revoked when I got up at 7:30. If I caught her, I then reduced tv time, but it didn’t make a difference for the following day, and the same happened again. I started to lose sleep, waking up early wondering if she was up and on the iPad, and she started to become sneaky about it, taking it into her bedroom, closing the door and leaving the fan on so that we couldn’t hear the music.

When I did catch her using the iPad in the morning, I tried to convey that I didn’t think she should use it unsupervised and acted like it was a no-no, but didn’t get mad. What I wanted to convey was that I felt like she shouldn’t use it unsupervised, that it needed to be regulated. I wanted to know if I could trust her to leave it down and have her not play on it. But we were both off the point, and I was instead acting like I couldn’t trust her and so she acted the way I was expecting and playing it sneakily. Finally, I realized that I needed to be very specific and to speak to her in a validating way. Upon figuring this out, I said something like this to her, “I know that you are capable of waiting for me to get up, and I prefer that the iPad be used while Daddy or I are around, so if I leave it out where you can reach it, will you not use it?” She said yes, and has been an angel – and has pointed this out a few times.

Sometimes we parents, everybody really, get in a slump and just don’t know how to get back out of it, or we do, but it is a lot of work and takes some time. I feel like I go through cycles of being a good communicator and times in which I suck. Or maybe, I just don’t get something for a while and then I have an ah-ha moment. After having a conversation with a friend about parenting the other day, I wrote myself a message on my little dry erase board in the kitchen that says, “How can I show her I trust her?” Sometimes the roots of problems stem not from the actual behavioral problem, but something quite different. I think that the iPad games are very tempting, and Elizabeth had figured out how to get away with being allowed to play them and have her tv time without getting into much trouble. I think too that I was encouraging her to be sneaky by saying things that sounded more complainy than reinforcing or guiding. By asking her to improve her behavior in relation to the iPad in a way that indicated that I trusted her and believed that she was capable of doing it, I took the risk of having her play it while we were asleep again, but also to prove to me and herself that she was mature enough to do as I had asked, and as she had promised.

The simple lesson in this is not simple at all! Trust is a lesson that reaches deep – way down into the depths of who we are and who we will become. Trusting her in this simple promise teaches her to uphold her promise, self-confidence when she does and when I recognize when she does, helps ensure good behavior throughout the rest of her day as well as good relations with her brother for some reason. Showing Elizabeth that I trust her in just this one simple way runs a vein of tranquility through the whole house, as absurd and magnanimous as that sounds, but it is true. Showing trust to my 4-year-old now also instills self-respect, self-confidence, and a self-knowing that she will carry with her throughout her life. As a homeschooled friend of mine often says, these are the “formative years.”


In the exhaustion of raking a forest’s worth of leaves from our front lawn, darkness at 6pm, and two very energetic kids, I let Elizabeth have lots of iPad time this week, including for school. We finished up the Halloween unit on Wednesday, and I wanted to continue to nurture her enthusiasm for Halloween, so we painted Halloween themed pictures, and one day, I just let her watch short Halloween videos on YouTube and play the app games. One of the apps I had downloaded was Learning With Homer, which is full of games, songs, and poems about the ABC’s, among a few other things. The free version is chock full of stuff to unlock, but if purchased, includes lots, lots more, including the ability to send and receive emails. I have seriously considered purchasing it, but can’t commit to the price, which is kind of steep, especially after all ready paying for other homeschooling materials. We may purchase it as a Christmas gift, but I ask myself, “Do I want to increase the iPad temptation again?”

I purchased our curriculum in hard copy this year. I prefer books with pages. But I definitely think that technology has a place in school learning. I am daunted by the idea of teaching typing, because it was so boring when I was in school, but there’s no way around the importance of learning technology for my daughter’s generation. It is said that it is the way of the future, right? The public school in our small town has embraced learning with technology, for better or for worse, as I saw with my own eyes as a substitute teacher. 4 Mothers blog (I’ll get you a link on that when I get a computer again…) posted a while back about how kids non-passively watch tv, and I think the same is true for all technology. Their little brains don’t just tune out while they are playing a game on the iPad or watching a tv show, they are learning at the same time, and thinking about what they see, taking it in and making it part of them. I know that I dislike some of the way the tv shows that Elizabeth prefers make a non-emergency seem like the end of the world, and I dislike how that attitude translates into her real-life behavior, but the benefits of learning math and reading seem to outweigh the cons, so I continue to let her watch them. I have seen in my cousin’s little girl amazing hand-eye coordination in using the iPad, and Elizabeth more or less taught herself the ABC’s and their sounds with a little Leap Frog radio. Active learning with technological, educational toys have given our kids a whole new way of learning that my generation never had. Is it better? Is it worse? It doesn’t matter, it just is.


Real books with real pages.

That said, I still stand by books with pages, and puzzles with wooden boards. I think that real life is not on a computer screen, even if you are in the movie making business, and that learning also must be done in real life. is tempting, but real writing is not with a computer mouse nor a finger tracing on a touchscreen, it is holding a pen in a real hand. I strongly believe too that life must be experienced. There is much difference between seeing a lion in a book or on a screen, and seeing one in real life in a zoo; as well as a big difference between seeing one in a zoo and one in the wild. Doing all of a child’s learning on a computer has drawbacks that leave the child slightly outside of real life and real learning, in my opinion, but some learning on the computer or iPad is imperative to a child’s survival in the “real world” as an adult, and we will continue to use it as a tool and supplement in our own homeschool.

Chime in: What are your thoughts on technology and learning? Do you know of a fun program for learning the basics of typing and computer use for children?


The Learning Experience. Reflections, Week 4

You know what?! I’m finding it surprisingly hard to write honest, interesting, developed posts for this blog.  It has a defined theme, so it should be easy, right? But I found myself just dryly reporting what we did this week, basically a play-by-play.  I’ve come across some other homeschooling blogs like that, I usually pass them by.  The ones that catch my interest really delve into a passionate topic with openness and clear reflection, not just regurgitating their stats with no analysis.  I want analysis, I want reflection, I don’t want a play-by-play.  So, forward I go with an attempt.  It’s an attempt to be honest with myself and open even when things aren’t perfectly perfect.  Generally, I’m not a perfectionist, that’s why it’s a little perplexing to me.  At any rate, I make no promises at this point, but I at least get the idea now.  It is a learning experience for all of us.

Ah-ha! That’s it! It is a learning experience, for all of us!  I’m not just a teacher pulling facts out of my brain with my magic want and transferring them into the empty basket which is my child’s head.  Actually, I don’t even really have any formal training in teaching (which is actually probably for the best, right?). I do have 32 years of life experience, most of which was spent in a formal learning institution. Above that, I have my own intense desire to never stop learning and my gentle parenting intuition. It also happens that interpersonal relations are one of my strong points.  I think these will come in useful as a homeschooling mom. So, I’m ready, I guess.  Ready to learn anyway.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on all the stuff I learned about life when I rode horses in high school and college. It’s pretty amazing how much really!  When people would ask me what my favorite sport to play was, I’d say, “Horseback riding.” Then, usually, they’d say it out loud or look like they wanted to say out loud that horseback riding is not a sport.  But it so is!  I was not into organized team sports, I didn’t have team sport mentality.  Not because I’m a bad sport, but because I didn’t desire to beat/dominate whom ever I was against, I was more interested in connecting with them on an interpersonal level.  I am most comfortable in one-on-one situations, I was more so in high school than today (thanks to Peace Corps).  What I loved about horseback riding was the silent connection I made with my horse.  I would read her body language and she would read mine.  It was beautiful.  Part of horseback riding is also reading your own body and moving it intentionally.  Heels down!  Thumbs up!  Look where you are going!  I desire to have the same kind of connection with my daughter as I felt I had with my horse.  I desire to have it again, rather.

I truely felt I knew Elizabeth, and knew precisely how to deal with her, when she was a toddler.  I could almost know what she was going to do before she did it.  But when I got pregnant for my son, I was so tired just growing a baby, that we lost track of each other a little.  Perhaps too, it was a natural pulling away, necessary for her maturity.  Once my son was born, I was tired and distracted raising an infant, now I still am, but have been trying to make more of an effort to just be more available to Elizabeth again.  Yet, availability also means that I see more.  I think I nag too much. I think nagging is negative, it’s a negative message.  It shows a lack of trust, a lack of confidence in whoever you are nagging.  It is a lot of “No.” “Yes” is validating, “Yes” allows kids to grow.  “Yes” encourages learning.

Unsure of where I was going to go with things pertaining to school at the end of last week, I let myself hang in that limbo state.  I researched unschooling and put some thought into passion-driven learning. (Check out this awesome post and blog on passion-driven learning by Chavva.) I looked over my Moving Beyond The Page curriculum. I fell in love with it all over again.  It’s wonderful.  It’s great.  The wonderful thing about a boxed curriculum is that it’s all planned out for you.  I’m learning that the bad thing about a boxed curriculum is that it’s all planned out for you… The activities are all so enticing and well organized and seem like they should be so much fun.  But, if Elizabeth isn’t interested, which do I choose to leave out, which do I include?  They all seem necessary to me.  They all seem like she ought to find them fun.  Sigh.


Still, I came to no conclusion about the boxed curriculum.  But I did conclude that “No” is way over spoken, and “Yes” is not said enough.  So, on Sunday, we skipped church and went to visit my grandmother in the nursing home.  Two little kids always brighten everyone (who is awake) up.  Afterward, we got pizza on a whim and waked around town while we waited, just like we always used to when we lived in town.  We checked out a dirt bike for sale, and an antique race car on our short walk.  That buys into the passion-driven learning right there!  When we got our pizza, we drove down to one of the waterfalls to eat lunch.  Elizabeth spied a trail, and I decided to begin my new task of saying “Yes.” So we followed the trail to a wash.  I suggested going back, but that girl found more trail, so I said “Yes” again.  Oi!  We found a stream – the stream of the waterfall.  Que bonita! Can they get their feet wet? “Yes,” you can even get your shorts wet too, we have dry clothes in the car.  Yeah, go ahead and sit in the water, we’ll use the white rags that are for washing Paul’s sticky fingers as towels.  Can I ride home in my undies?  Yeah, go ahead!

You know what?! It felt good to say “Yes.” It does feel good to say “Yes.”  Why do I say “No?” Do I feel it some how guides her learning and behavior, her manners?  I don’t know.  But her face sure lit up when I said “Yes” on Sunday.  That’s what parenting and homeschooling is all about, that I all ready know.

So, that was Sunday, what has happened between then and today? Well, I talked to some people, got some neutral advice, and decided that maybe I’ll just put the boxed curriculum away for a bit.  Maybe 4 1/2 is too young for Elizabeth personally.  I sincerely believe she’s ready developmentally for the subject matter, but perhaps not for the discipline aspect of doing school a few days of the week.  Hopefully, she’ll forget the negative emotions she felt towards it when I get it back out again in a few months.


The word caterpillar

For some reason that I’m not even entirely sure of now, I decided to put the Mis Primeros Poemas book from All Bilingual Press out for her to color on Monday evening.  I think I was thinking that since the book is basically just a coloring book with poems that are read on CD, it might be something we could use now that isn’t too pushy and at her level.  So, I just put it on the table in the evening with her crayons and put the CD in the CD player and left it.  I mentioned it to Elizabeth in passing, with little response, and when the book lay untouched about a half an hour before bedtime, I put it away.  But she asked me, “What are you doing with that book, Mommy?” When I replied that I was putting it away, she responded that she wanted to color it.  So, we did together for a bit.  On the hope built up from the night before, I decided the following day to try out the last lesson in Unit 2, which was were we had left off in the Moving Beyond The Page curriculum.  I think I did this mostly for closure for myself because I just felt like I needed to get that last lesson done before I could put it all away.  Or, I needed to try at least. And she was game!  She knew she was doing the school work, but she was into it.  This has given me more hope. Wednesday and Thursday were so busy that there wasn’t any time to even try for school, which is ok, it’s August, but Friday I tried again, and we made a word caterpillar out of the vocabulary cards, as well as read the Unit 3 book and play-acted.

Why can’t I just let the boxed curriculum go?  It’s just so pretty, so nice, so organized.  Beyond that, it’s also sparked imagination in Elizabeth.  Everyday some aspect of the unit activities comes through in her play.  Everyday she has either painted, played with the play doh that came with the manipulatives – and she usually forms letters with it now, she also role-plays like the school activities do, or I hear aspects of what we have covered come out in her speech.  One of the best ways that it has shown it’s self was when she was at Vacation Bible School recently with my grandmother, and insisted on writing her own name on her project.  She’s never done that before that I know of.  That’s great!

So, at the end of Week 4, I’m left on an island (our newest book is The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown), but one in a river.  I feel like the one side of the loop is Elizabeth’s attitude that resists the school work.  On the other side, is her requesting to re-read The Little Island for her bed-time story, writing on her own initiative, and the creative expression our school has sparked. I have decided to throw out the new tv time routine that I was enjoying, for better or worse for me, because Monday and Tuesday when Elizabeth was willing to do the work, she had all ready had her normal tv programs, and it made me think that she has just seen too many changes lately, and that that change was just too much for her.  Besides, I would be resentful towards the school if my block of, say, relaxing coffee time was pushed to the afternoon.  And it was pushed back, and it was kind of hard for me too, so maybe it was too much for the both of us.

What I hope to get from all of this myself is really getting to know my daughter on a more intimate level again, and having her know me, and know that I love her and that I am on her side.  I want to say ‘Yes’ again.  I want to be able to read her as I was able to read my horse years ago when I rode regularly.  I want us both to be aware that it is a learning experience, and that we are both learning.

It is a challenge.  But I’m not afraid.

Reflections, Week 2

Week #2 wrapped up. For me, it went pretty well, though we didn’t do any ‘school’ for two days because we went to Niagra Falls, Canada, on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, I still felt tired because we hadn’t arrived home until nearly 12am from our trip. Bless her heart though, Elizabeth asked to watch tv when we got back! All I can think is ‘addiction.’ Lol. I can plainly see that I undermined myself by using it (or lack there of) as a punishment. Doing so has left her desperate to have her tv time and get it done and over with early so that it can’t be revoked, or that’s how it seems to me. She also seems to feel like she’s suffering if she doesn’t watch the tv every day. But overall, I can see that she is getting used to our new tv time routine, in which she watches one half-hour program after our work, or part-way through occasionally. She is obligated to at least try each activity to have her privilege. The new routine is that after her first show, she has to turn off the tv and wait until her brother is asleep to watch the other two shows, which gives me about 40-60 minutes to do what I want, like write this post. It’s a good compromise, I think, as waiting until 1:30pm seemed overwhelming to her, so she gets to relax with a little bit at 10:30, but then practice patience until the afternoon. I like it!

Which brings me to my next thought, about who is in control. She, of course, is ultimately in control of whether she does or does not do something, and I respect that and try to convey that respect to her. But, as far as our schooling goes, by wanting to ease into the work so that she didn’t put the brakes on after the first lesson, I let her have the bulk of the control. I asked her if she wanted to start the Spanish program, she did. Then, when she didn’t want to continue a few days later, I offered the English curriculum, which she accepted. In doing this she held some of the control over what we did. I tried to encourage her to try all of the activities, usually she did. Now, I feel like the scale is tipping, so that I am in control and determine whether we do the lesson or not. Although…she could always go on strike from the work and tv, but I don’t really see that happening.

Actually, what I am seeing is not resistance to what we are actually doing – except a little toward the handwriting sheets and sitting at the table so that Brother can not get us or our stuff – but the opposite. I see Elizabeth slowly gaining interest in what we are doing, just taking some time getting used to the different routine. Actually, I really think she is doing great given that there have been so many changes lately for her.

So, what have we been doing?! Lots! All ready, I feel grateful for beginning our first homeschooling year with such an organized curriculum as Moving Beyond The Page. Here are just some of the things we have done with it:

  • image

    Photo via photopin

    Pretending to be musk oxen

  • Looking at pictures of musk oxen in the tundra on the iPad
  • Learning to read the word ‘you’
  • Practicing counting to 20
  • Drawing silly faces
  • Memorizing the book of the week: A is for Musk Ox, by Erin Cabatingan. Memorizing books is one of Elizabeth’s favorite past-times
  • Dictating an amazing story about a musk ox who goes to Bremmen
  • Typing on the iPad, here’s a sample:

Jertqtpiohnmbfijbpozq umnblpytreedsswqqazcffytpjjhjuu cdfdfgfffffdjdjdndjnd nsndjejhdrndjwdmdjjdmdndrkrjdmdmmnnnjjmm,,,,, juju hn Dsfdhejdjsjsjcmdmsmdmdmsmdmdmfdcd 🙂

Today, we started unit two and:

  • Read and acted out our new book, Hondo and Fabian, by Peter McCarty
  • Practiced counting and recognizing numbers up to twenty

We also returned to the All Bilingual Press Spanish program. The page we were on instructed us to draw the vocabulary words, but I don’t think Elizabeth is yet up to drawing the vocabulary, so I told her the vocab word and she searched for a picture of it in an old magazine, and cut it out. This we didn’t do for very long because she became frustrated and I decided that the amount that we had done was fine. Later, I was talking on the phone with my sister who has years of experience with kids as a teacher and children’s librarian, and she told me that learning to use scissors properly is a unit in and of its self in schools. She urged me to feel proud of what we did accomplish today. (Thanks dude, I do!)


Photo via photopin

Overall, I’m pleased. I can see the lessons emerging in Elizabeth’s daily play, and that is the whole point. I was especially pleased at how engrossed Elizabeth became while searching for the word ‘you’ in the text of A is for Musk Ox. I had previously considered trying to teach her to read, but had never put much effort into it. I guess I just thought, “Well, she is only four…she is going to nursery school…a teacher will teach her at school…” Well, now it’s me. Yay!

Busy Beginning

What a week – what a past couple of weeks – what a summer! Good, very good. Busy, yet not too busy, so that I can savor the weather, the green, the garden, the kids. It’s only August, so we still have two months left of nice, out-doorsy weather. (The voice in the back of my mind also says, “It’s all ready August?! The year is more than half over! Only two months left until the cold autumn weather…then…winter.” But I try to push that one away as it doesn’t have anything good to say.)

I decided to start school this past week, prepared, yet on a whim. Elizabeth and I have been doing workbooks each morning, as a prep, and I started the Spanish curriculum on Monday, but by Wednesday, she seemed a little disinterested, so to keep the ball going, I suggested we do the English curriculum and she was game. Though I think the parent guide and my big planner unguarded her a little, she was able to get into it each day. I know that teaching takes practice, I know that I’ve got to find my groove too.

So, we started on Monday and by Friday, I was contemplating skipping a day, but we didn’t. Afterward, I had a number of deep thoughts on our homeschool.

Setting the scene, I didn’t have any caffeine on Friday, so felt sluggish to begin with. I also had the pressure of preparing for the ‘Bring Your Own Squirt Gun Party’ that we were going to host on Saturday. After doing Elizabeth’s work, I noted that I had kind of gone into it just trudging forth – and it’s only our first week. It occurred to me that though the units are set in five days/lessons, I don’t need to do five consecutive days (as I all ready messed up the perfect week by beginning on a Wednesday anyhow). Also, this past year Elizabeth went to nursery school only one day a week, is it necessary to go from one to five? No. We are starting a 30-week curriculum during the summer, which means that we have LOTS of time to get it done. Additionally, we are homeschooling pre-k, which isn’t obligatory for (most of) New York State, so we are ahead of the game, in my book. Lastly, we could start out at three days and work up to more. Isn’t that the joy of homeschooling – working at your child’s pace?

So, I was having good thoughts, looking at things from different perspectives, of which I am the queen. I also like patterns, so my next deep thought appeared at 3pm, as it had appeared before on previous days. My son was asleep, and I had done our normal nap time routine with Elizabeth because I thought she might be tired enough for a nap. She wasn’t, yet I needed some quiet time to write and think. On my other blog, Seedling, I recently wrote on Forcing Dropping The Nap, and though it was my idea,  am finding it exhausting to become accustomed to not having my daughter sleep in the afternoon. (As my computer is very sick and I am writing this on the iPad which doesn’t let me highlight to put in links, I will correct the link at my first opportunity. Until then, please look under the ‘Recent Posts From My Other Blog: Seedling’ at the right of the screen to be directed.) Tied in with dropping the nap, you see, is also the issue of pushing tv time back for school time. By Friday, I was feeling like school, then tv, then lunch, then Paul’s nap didn’t leave any time for play, especially out doors. And at 3pm Friday afternoon, when Elizabeth and all of her energy interrupted my quiet time, I felt that THAT was the chunk of the day that should be reserved for tv time so that I can do my own thing if she doesn’t sleep. Having at least made the decision that’s been brewing in the back if my mind, I’ve got to implement the rule and encourage her to be patient enough to wait until that hour to watch it.

On a different note, today, we hosted a successful ‘Bring Your Own Squirt Gun Party’. 🙂 It was a small party, purposefully. We actually had more adults than children, because I had asked my mom and sister to help chaperone so that parents could choose to leave their child (and take a break), but only one did (out of three.) (Maybe it had something to do with the fact that auto spelling now tells me that I spelled chaperone wrong, so they may not have understood…). It was nice and low-key, and I tried to not stress about the state of the house (which rarely seems to get beyond ‘disaster’ no matter how much house work I do), especially as we were all outside. I also kept the treats and activities simple. We let the kids just free-played, then we all had snacks, after which, they went off on the bikes. Just when they were getting tired of that, my cousin showed up with her little girl and BUBBLES! Overall, I was pleased with the outcome of our little party. My mind even contemplates more get-togethers… A potluck in the park?… Hmmmm….


Beginning With Hola

Previously, I blogged about wanting to practice a school-like routine before beginning our actual school work. My motivation was based on wanting to ease my sometimes-strong-willed child gently into the schooling to avoid complete resistance; Elizabeth does love learning, but needs to be pushed in a way that is gently encouraging yet firm at the same time in order to move ahead. So we’ve been workbooking, and she seems to like it.

In addition to the work time we are doing, there are other routine changes that directly and indirectly effect her that I am allowing her time to get accustomed to. First off, we are adjusting her napping routine by dropping napping some days of the week so that she sleeps well during the night. The workbook time coincides with pushing the regularly routined television time back by one hour, soon to be two by or when our homeschooling starts.

So, for a little more than a week now we have been dedicated each weekday morning to the workbooks and it seems to be going well. I have contemplated over and over just starting the regular curriculum because she seems interested and I’m pretty excited myself, but for a number of reasons which seems too lengthy to list here, I am wanting to wait just a little bit longer. But it really comes down to not wanting to have to stop once we start – which is a bad habit to start right at the beginning.


But then yesterday, Elizabeth and Paul were playing phones in the afternoon, making pretend long-distance calls to their grandmother in Honduras, and beyond saying, “Hola, Abuela,” she spoke only gibberish, and as badly as I feel it reflects on me, it made me realize that she must not know how to speak at all. So I made the decision then to begin the Spanish lessons.

Elizabeth was up for it, so we got out her doggies, as the ‘you all’ form will need a bigger audience than one child to learn, and we started with very basic, “Hola, mamá,” and some flash cards.


Today, after a coloring activity, we did it again, but in reviewing, she got bored and decided that it would be more interesting to play cars. I did encourage her back, but as it touched on the same content again, she wasn’t very into it. Note to self: follow her lead on speed, especially as she is not starting from scratch.

One interesting thing that happened throughout yesterday and today was that she was very clingy and quite obedient. Her nature is to be sweet but not very touchy-feely, and though she is generally very well behaved, since April when we had a stressful event happen that indirectly effected her, she has been quite difficult for me and with her brother. So this was a surprise. It has made me wonder, since I bought the curriculum at the same time, if her problem actually was that she thought that I was keeping it from her (because technically I was as I didn’t want to read all the books before hand, nor get everything disorganized), and didn’t know how to express her frustration at that, rather than it being lingering angst about what had happened.


Share your thoughts: How do you prepare for starting school up again? Do you begin piecemeal by only introducing a few subjects at a time?

Practice For The Both Of Us

For the past couple of weeks, every day, Elizabeth has asked me if we are going to begin our school that day. I have finally finished reading through all of the curriculum, and have made a 4-week plan. I even, on a whim, found a Spanish/English book that I need for the first unit and borrowed it from the library yesterday. I guess we are ready to start.

But, I think we need a little practice first.

One issue hangs over me before we begin: the tv time issue. For the past 2 years, 9am has been the earliest that Elizabeth has been allowed to watch tv, and has kind of been slotted as the ‘tv time.’ But for the toddler brother, 9am is also the time in which he is well rested and freshly breakfasted and least likely to bother us while we are doing our school work together. I am wanting to push the hour in which she watches tv back and do our school work then, but I expect resistance to the idea, or more so, to the actual application.

Opposite the fear of Elizabeth resisting me pushing the tv time back, I firmly believe in choosing life over passively watching television, and find it hard to accept working school in around tv, rather than the other way around.  But I also know that my attitude toward television is a learned behavior, and one that took years of self-discipline, one that a 4-year old would not have honed yet. I want, though, to make the transition as smooth as possible into a daily routine of working together on the school books and activities. I want to make it not seem like a punishment that her tv time is pushed back but a positive thing instead.

So this week I’ve been experimenting, we’ve been practicing.

Prior to our first day of practice, I explained to Elizabeth how I wanted to do our school in the mornings and how I felt it would be easiest in the 9am time slot for all three of us. Then, I asked her if she agreed to push tv time back for one hour for now and work on workbooks together during that time. This of course is taking a risk, because there’s always the possibility that she would say no to that idea, but with my daughter, I know that having her forewarned and agreeing works much better than just popping it on her, which usually ends with a tantrum, or a seriously long and drawn out resistance to whatever I am trying to do.

She agreed to my plan. Now, for the past few days, at about 9, or whenever we all finish our breakfasts, she and I have been working on a workbook of her choice (a vehicle sticker book, though I had envisioned a letter workbook).

And I’m glad I did! Sitting for even a half an hour is going to take some getting used to! For the both of us!

I myself am used to using that time block for a myriad of things – slowly drinking my coffee and reading WordPress updates, washing dishes, showering, etc. Now I’ve got to stop and put on the patience brake . 🙂 And turn on the concentration headlights. Oh boy! In no way do I want to discount any one who really has ADD/ADHD, but the mommy/nursing induced lapse in concentration makes making myself sit still in a usually busy hour a bit of a challenge. Not to mention the distracting toddler who insists on having his own chair, then paper and crayons, then stickers, then getting up and down and up and down (and he is very clumsy and falls down a lot). It’s at least giving the guy some experience with using those little writing muscles!

So, we’ve hit half an hour so far – only one more to go to reach what I estimate a typical school day will take… Oh my!  But Elizabeth loves books and is very interested in learning, and Moving Beyond The Page makes it seem like the kids are doing games rather than work, so I’m not too concerned that it will be too bad. As well, the flow of their program is a lot like our natural flow, except with project tools, so I think it will be really great. At this time, I am planning to start our school on either August 4, or August 11, after the ‘Bring Your Own Squirt Gun Party’ we are hosting for some of Elizabeth’s friends. I figure that there’s no reason to stress myself out with double the extra work between cleaning and prep for the party, and school. And I’m really glad I’m taking the time to establish a routine now so that the transition can be a little smoother.

Do you do any prep activities to get yourself or your kids out of the summer routine and back into school? Do you have any thoughts for me on the tv time issue?