We continue our slog.
I’m being dramatic, it’s not actually a slog. I feel like we’ve finally begun to find a good balance around homeschooling priorities and what and how much we do.
Caleb is 5 and Naomi is 2. Caleb is in SK, and his teacher provides very little in terms of structured work, so it’s mostly just me riding again. There’s something nice about it, being in the presence of belligerent students again, remember what it was like to negotiate bathroom breaks and lost pencils, ranting about finding glue stick caps on the floor Kids Where Is The Actual Gluestick Who Was The Last Person To Use This Who WHO Put Up Your Hand There’s Only Two Of You.
We finally got a set-up to keep everything together, rather than taking over the kitchen table and then losing everything into a jumble when dinner time came around. We have a low table, and bins for worksheets and workbooks, and an organizer that we got from Value Village a while ago that sorts out our pencils and supplies. It’s turned out to be very helpful to have pencils and pens and glue and scissors and colouring things all in one place.
I have a zip up folder of random worksheets (math, reading, phonics, step-by-step drawing) that is a mix of easy and hard, as well as different kinds of activities (addition/subtraction facts, cutting and gluing, writing, matching), that we usually get started with. Every once in a while I spend half an hour or an hour photocopying and printing things out to fill it up, and this way, it’s a bit of self-directed work while I’m doing my blog or answering emails beside him. He does still need occasional help, but because most of our exercises he’s done a few times, he now knows how to do them. He can take breaks whenever he likes, going downstairs to get a snack, or reading on the bed, but I think he enjoys when all of us are sitting together to do things. The real key for this has been trying to pay attention to where he is, and finding worksheets that are at just the right level—not too hard, and not too easy. Luckily he’s a pretty easy going kid, although there’s a lot of course correcting on my end, or on the fly adjustments (do all of the addition problems using this strategy, etc.).
Once I’m done my work, we work together on more challenging things or things we do together, like telling time on analogue clocks, French, reading aloud together, writing in our nature journals, music.
This sort of makes it seems like we’re doing a lot, which is definitely not truE. Every day looks a bit different, depending on what’s going on, and sometimes all that’s been done the whole day is some reading together or running around in the backyard with the hose or building a fort on his bunk bed. We’re lucky enough that Caleb is only five, and so there are low (i.e. no) expectations from his teacher at school. Caleb found a caterpillar on one of the plants outside and he’s been taking care of it in a jar. I’ve been discussing why the very hungry caterpillar’s butterfly’s cocoon is scientifically inaccurate while answering the hard questions of life (“Well, then how come you read this book to us? and told us it was a cocoon? Does that count as a lie?”), and also trying to gear up an enthusiastic young mind for the possibility of insect death.
For Naomi, I’ve been mostly letting her do things at random, drawing, cutting, doodling, and Caleb does this thing where he gives her his homework once he’s done and she has to also “do it” which keeps her busy for a bit (I’m not really sure, I’m certainly not looking a gift horse in the mouth). But I’ve recently cottoned on to the fact that she is indeed also a sentient being. She’s almost 3, and she’s begun to recognize letters. She likes to point out N is for Naomi, and so I’ve begun to give her tracing letters and colouring sheets. Somewhere in the last six months when no one was looking, her fine motor skills have started taking on shape, and she enjoys cutting paper into millions of awful little shards that are too big to be vacuumed and too small to be picked up easily, and using the washi tape dispenser to cut dozens of small strips that accumulate into little colourful mounds on a piece of paper.