We only have two weeks to go, and then I plan to take a long Advent break, with just singing time and some no-narration read alouds. Given the existing level of stress, sometimes I think I should just have dropped school altogether already, but it’s an organizing principle in our day and the children do not handle sudden changes well. They have been looking forward to Advent, so we shall press through, finish the term, and take our break then.
I was inspired by Cindy’s posts on Morning Time to reevaluate what we are doing and see what I could do to improve it. One change has been to start with the responsive saying, “The Lord be with you,” “And also with you,” which they know from church, followed by a morning grace from the Book of Common Prayer and special requests. Another has been to make everybody sit down around the table (Yes, this probably seems obvious, but I tend to miss obvious things). If we do a youtube video for one of the songs, I bring the laptop to the table instead of everyone getting up and crowding around my desk. It’s a small change, but it has made things much calmer.
A third change has been to add a read-aloud to our time together. I did a picture biography of Martin Luther for the last week of October, and now I have started one of Michelangelo. This has been a big hit, and has me pondering how I might blend the children’s work next year when the twins officially start Year 1. Reading about how Cindy incorporated a history spine into Morning Time has made me wonder if that might not be an appropriate way to organize it. The twins have eavesdropped on most of the big kids’ history, anyway. So if I read aloud from the spine (This Country of Ours, mostly) each week and supplemented with appropriate biographies, I think it would be enjoyable for everyone. They will still have their other readings to do separately. I’d also like to do Shakespeare together–start with a children’s version for everyone, then read through the play together with the older kids (twins eavesdropping, no doubt). (I’m also thinking about trying to incorporate grammar and Latin, very briefly. We’ll see how things are next year.)
With the twins’ reading I have been taking a more low-key approach. We read some stories together (usually we each choose one). They often want to read beginner books, which, of course, are not great literature, but I think they choose them because they can begin to spot words in them. Then we will choose a word from the reading and write it with magnet letters and maybe do some word building with it. Sometimes they are not that interested, but at times when they are I can tell their ability to blend and analyze words is gradually increasing. Dash “read” most of Green Eggs and Ham this past week; obviously he was reciting most of it but I could tell he was beginning to catch differences between memory and what he saw.
I still don’t really do math with the twins, but one day things were going smoothly enough that I pulled out the gems, counted out nine for each of them, and we played with some different combinations. Dot started pairing hers off. When she came to the odd one out she said, “This one doesn’t have anyone to talk to!” I guess I know how to explain even and odd numbers to her.
Deux is still not eager to read by himself and I’m not sure how to nudge him in that direction, but I want to after the first of the year. I think it is a matter of settling himself to a new subject–transitions are hard for him. He did pick up better interest in his Bible reading when he came to the Ten Plagues.