Starting Our New Routine

Sorry about the endless postings about our ocean unit… just a couple more and that’s that!  Blogs are funny because they sure don’t show the whole picture. From looking at our blog our days are consumed by oceans!!  Heh heh! Well, that’s not at all accurate.  I read and read, planned and planned and finally the older kids started back to school last week. As you’ve seen, ED has been “in school” for a couple of weeks now.  That was brilliant because she has a pretty good understanding of her ‘work’ and has chosen her own work to do while I’m busy with the others. Today, for example… she utterly shocked me by spending AN HOUR doing the push pin drawings I set out two weeks ago (which she said then were too hard!). I had a pile of 25 or so since DD often likes to do them as well.  She did them ALL!!!

Okay — so back for a moment to DD and LD’s new school routine.  I decided that we’d have a three hour work session in the mornings. I start with “collection” … which many people refer to as circle time. Since I have so many things to introduce them to as we start the school year, it’s been longer than it will be normally. Here’s how collection is going for us at the moment:

  • Join together
  • German – greetings, hello, how are you, review of the numbers and saying the numbers without counting (seeing the symbol 8, saying “acht”).  German Reader (short, cute, easy stories with cute graphics).
  • Calendar time — change out the “yesterday, today, tomorrow cards.” Check the sky and add the appropriate cloud card.  Write their name, day and date in their collection notebooks.  Check the outside thermometer and record the temperature in C and F.
  • Song — We started with Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes in order to include ED (and to be silly together!)
  • Rules for our Homeschool Session (each of us shared one rule to write down, adding to the list each day)
  • Presentation
  • Write their daily plans in their collection notebooks (I have a list of ideas of things they can work on… some are ‘must dos’ like math and language arts, but they have a half-dozen things they can do in each of the various categories.)

Now ideally, I’ll do just one presentation, but the first week I had to introduced our various units so the kids know where things were kept and what they could start working on independently. If you’ve read through my planning stuff the past month or so, you know that our main units this semester or so include…

  • The Montessori Great Lessons (the first two)
  • This is the USA (an introduction to the symbols and landmarks of the US, basic US geography)
  • The Human Body (using this and these kits as our core)
  • Animal Discovery Notebook (Science Sorts)
  • Landforms
  • and will also include material to go along with ED’s preschool themes (oceans, deserts, rainforests, etc.)
  • My husband and I also want to include a presentation each week on Health and Safety. We brainstormed together on our long drive from Missouri and decided that we should cover topics like our phone number, address, emergencies, fire/fire safety/using a fire extinguisher/fire do’s/don’ts/stop-drop-roll, being lost in the woods, germs, teeth-care, strangers, general first-aid how-to/whys of cuts, broken bones, etc.

 

So the presentations last week included:
*Let’s Learn About the World (basic facts about the largest continent, country, mountain, etc.)
*A discussion of ocean invertebrates (Mollusks-Crustaceans, Echinoderms, Cnidaria) See pic below.
*A few of the landmarks in the US (looking at the cards) and discussion of the southwest

But the presentations led to their own work… drawings, notebook work, read aloud time, etc.

You can find classification charts on the kingdoms, vertebrates and invertebrates, etc. here and on invertebrates herearthropods here. We used all those and then drew one together as we talked about it.

Here are some invertebrate cards I made to go along with our discussion. Remember, crustaceans, arachnids and insects are all part of the arthropod group (look at this chart to see what I mean).  This is not a complete list of invertebrate groups, just some of the ones we have been discussing.

What will the kids do after collection during our school session?  Well, this is the hardest part for me.  I’ve been reading a lot (I mean a dozen books!!!!) On the Montessori method and a fabulous book about motivation Drive, The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. I really am solidly convinced that the kids need to have the autonomy and independence to direct their own learning.  So, I’m trying to create an environment that sets forth lots of learning materials, but I’m trying to step back just a bit to be more of a facilitator than a teacher. I’ll obviously be in the room with them at all times (no phone, no Internet), but I’d like to give them more freedom to choose how and what to work on.  Stepping back a bit is quite difficult for me since I am a very hands on type person.  I hope that by presenting things and then leaving them with lots of choices and options. As I see it that choice may be… “Mom, let’s do xyz” or “Mom, let’s read together” etc. so very likely at this age I will be involved, but hopefully they will initiate things and they’ll embrace the things that interest and intrigue them and learn lots this next year. I am needed for many things –for example, DD is learning the piano for the first time this year so I need to be right there with her for that. Or, LD needs me to sit/read through his math text with him before doing the problem sets on his own. But I am at least cognizant of the fact that my role is to suggest, but never to nag or over-direct/demand.  No nagging. There, I’ve laid it out!!!

One thing I have to say about this past week is that I had to end the school day because *I* had other things on!! So far so good! We went well over three hours each day since we leapt back into things straight after lunch as well.

Well, I’ll bring this post to a close for now.  We sure have had a fantastic week though (plus it included our first field ‘official’ field trip… the first of quite a few this semester, we hope!).

Happy Homeschooling! More soon!

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5 Responses

  1. Zonnah says:

    Loved this post! My son never wants to do his work alone. I have to be right there next to him while he does it. I am working on having him be more independent of me but it might just be his age; four. I really enjoy reading about what you all are doing, thanks for sharing :)

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