First Semester Thoughts

I had planned on stopping school in October. Now I think I'll keep going until the baby comes. Too much waiting around for the baby won't be good for me and I think the kids will do better on our regular schedule as much as possible. So we aren't really finished with the semester technically speaking, but we've accomplished all I had hoped and our now just reviewing the songs and poems and keeping up with math, piano and reading practice. This is probably really boring to anyone other than me but I wanted to jot down my thoughts on our semester before baby brain completely takes over (oh, who am I kidding. My brain is mush already at this point).

Overall, I'm really happy with how things have been going. We started with a great week or two then hit a bit of resistance from Lucy on certain things. At that point I got panicked...was I doing too much? Was I pushing her? But after praying about it and talking to Craig, we realized it was exactly what I had predicted. She didn't want to let me be the boss. And the next day we had the same type of incident that we had been having in school time while trying to make banana bread together and it confirmed that this was a habit/character issue, not a school one. Just the sign I needed to see we were on the right track not the wrong one. And yep, another week or two of sticking to my plan, and maybe one or two mornings of "since you don't have a heart that is willing to listen and learn right now, you can go play in your room and Jonah and I will continue without you" and we had no more problems on that front. Now my eager learner is back!

Subject wise, things are going great as well:
  • We all loved the "riches" selections and the kids are often singing/saying them during their play - or nap times. Or reciting them to anyone who will listen. I'm having to hold myself off from starting the new ones because I'm pretty sure they will love those too but I don't want to introduce them and then take a big break right away. Tea time and picture study is still one of our favorite times of the week - although as the weeks go on, my special snacks are getting lamer and lamer. Last week it was yogurt - but yogurt in little cups! That's special, right?
  • With reading, Lucy just took off after a bit. She read through the Treadwell Primer in about a month and we are now working our way through the First Reader a bit more slowly but still steadily. Because of that, I've dropped the Memoria Press Phonics book for the most part. She still does a page when we do school on a blanket outside because she wants "something for my pencil to write" and that's not a good place for handwriting/copywork but its basically filler and that's okay with me.
  • Math was going well and then we hit a hard spot for her. It was one specific concept she was stuck at. Since I was diligent at stopping us at 15-20 minutes, it was taking us three days (or a whole week of school) to get through one lesson. Again, I panicked. But she was still enjoying it so we pressed on, going slowly and alternating MEP and a game I invented that dealt with the topic (inequalities when one part was unknown) and suddenly it clicked and since she's been finishing a whole lesson in less than a 20 minute period and asking for more (but accepting when I say no :-) 
  • Piano is her new love. She always ends practice by asking me if she is as good as Mozart yet. I tell her she's doing great but she needs a bit more time to get to be that good. And we are finally at the point where she can practice a bit more independently! I still need to be in the room in case she has questions but I can now sit with Jonah nearby and play quietly instead of being right next to her which helps make practicing a lot more fun for all involved. 
  • Art lessons. We haven't done one every week because we've had a lot of birthdays and things that needed cards so we subbed in card making art time instead and because letting them draw pictures on cards is a lot less work for me right now. But she has really enjoyed what we did. The one lesson about artists drawing what they see in nature was such a hit she spent over two hours going around our house and yard drawing things all on her own.
  • Field Trips, adventure days and nature time - My biggest concern about starting more formal studies was making sure we still got outside a lot and had time to go to the many great playgrounds and nature centers in our area. We did a pretty good job with this, especially earlier on. We spent morning hiking and exploring new nature centers, playing at the creek in our old favorite spots and even made it to an apple orchard. We are about 60 hours to my goal of 500 hours outside for the year and right now the limiting factor is our many appointments - weekly chiro and midwife - and not really school related at all. In fact, just today we spent three hours at the park. I brought along some school since Lucy is my "I'm bored, there is nothing to do" child. Instead of talking at her too much about the fact that she had a bike and a scooter and three separate playgrounds to choose from and being bored there is ridiculous, a lecture I've given before that never really seems to sink it, everytime she came over, we'd do a different thing, then I'd send her off again. It worked really well. 
  • Jonah - He takes his "preschool" more seriously than I thought he would but his favorite part is table time with poems and songs so I don't mind him join in at all. He also loves picture study, playing with Lucy's math manipulatives and the weekly printable I try and have ready for him (put the apples in order from smallest to largest or match the pictures of the animals with the houses they live in). He really only wants to feel like he has some real school too and is happy to do the same thing all week. 
To sum up, I don't think things could really have gone any better. The hardest part was trusting myself and my plan. Even though I came into this knowing I based my decisions off of what I thought Lucy needed right now, I was still breaking the CM rules of starting formal education (slightly) before age 6, so every time we hit any little glitch, I would worry I was doing something wrong. But what I'm learning is that this is all normal and we're doing great. Now I just have to keep doing it for the next 18 years!

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