New Year, New Plans

We finished Term 1. We took our advent break. It still felt awfully busy; I had quite a bit of work I needed to do, then there was Christmas. And things are just going to continue to be really, really tough until we can move to an accessible home. Right now I have to be consistently available to help DOB with everything for him to get out of the house in the morning and again in the evening. After he’s finally off in the morning it’s late and I’m worn out. Getting the kids started on school while I do that doesn’t work, either with the way the house is laid out or with the way my brain works.

Somehow we need to streamline school so that it doesn’t run us well into the afternoon–when I need to work–but I don’t want to compromise on education either. It could be a long, long time before things get easier and kids are growing up in the meanwhile. And I really value the many different elements of the CM education and don’t want to settle for something thinner. And of course I think things like writing need to happen every day while they want to see more science experiments and handicrafts.

So I’ve been giving it some thought and come up with a plan. We’ve actually done very well at doing school every single day. It’s the time we start that makes it drag out. Duchess takes to independent work like a mountain goat to cliffs, but Deux needs a smooth path. Really, really smooth. So I’ve revamped their assignment  sheet to show exactly what work they need to do each day of the  week. I’ve preprinted copywork pages for Deux again (I’m using the Alice in Wonderland sheets from briem.net). I’m  going to try going back to the MEP worksheets, but marking out sections that seem too tedious. We’re doing geometry, fractions and decimals now and I think it will work better than when it was mostly very long basic operation problems. I prepared dictation passages each week for Duchess (she can choose her own copywork.)

The only flexibility is in which book they choose to read each day, and there I have the preselected books in a basket with the passage for each week marked with sticky notes, green for Deux and purple for Duchess. The independent read books will be the biographies of Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare, The Heroes (which I’ve broken into shorter weekly readings), Pagoo, Marco Polo, and American Tall Tales. When they read the passage, they pull off the sticky note and stick it to their assignment page. That will make it easy to keep track of where the reading starts and stops.

Then I’ve carefully laid out everything else as part of our morning group time: the usual memory work, plus two readings each day: the history readings, Children of the New Forest, Pilgrim’s Progress, a biography of Galileo, and the CM geography book.

So, the theory is this: Each evening I lay out a clipboard with that day’s work for each of them, plus a basket of the available books and a few several pencils. In the living room, out of the way of the morning rush. In the morning, instead of getting engrossed in play, motivated by the prospect of being done early and whatever other bribery I need to introduce, they get started on their independent work pile. I get DOB gone, start the laundry and the dishwasher and the crockpot, and if I have time do a little something with the twins. Then, at ten o’clock or whenever I’m ready for group time, they’re already mostly done with their independent work. They can report on what they read already. We do the memory work, the readings, go over math and finish up any independent work. Then we do a group activity, assigned by days: science experiment, art appreciation, music appreciation, knitting or sewing, and drawing. Spanish seems to work well at lunch time and we do poetry and read aloud with afternoon snack (which I am now following with a general chore time to get the house tidy and settled down before DOB comes home).

What I hope this will do: eliminate me being pulled in twenty different directions at once. Keep school done before lunchtime and lunchtime done before two. Smooth out the days and make me feel less frazzled. Persuade Deux that he can do something on his own.

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