Friday, September 27, 2013

Getting Into the Groove

Or at least something resembling a groove. No it doesn’t yet look like this. It never will look exactly like a perfect world.

Real life isn’t a straight road, with everything visible, everything expected. Who would want it that way?

My family is unexpectedly helping out a friend. It is a blessing to do so—for what would life be worth without relationships?

My Dad goes in for hip surgery this coming week. His last hip surgery went better than could have ever been expected, so we have high hopes for this one.

Russ has been busy, busy with work and coaching. The boys (Russ, Levi, and Luke) started back to swim team practices last week.

This week we added choir to our schedule on Mondays. I am so stinkin’ excited about this opportunity for the boys. The director is fabulous, and choir practice is held right after CC at the same location. (Leif is in a younger choir that meets while Levi and Luke are in their afternoon Essentials class.)

It’s a busy birthday season in my family. Lola turns three on Tuesday, and I still have no idea when exactly we will have her party. It might end up being a Bambi, Lola, Poppy party. Ivy and Ben had to share earlier this month…

This week I needed to figure out a way to keep everyone productive and moving forward, in spite of interruptions or distractions or failures in routine. Everything would come to a grinding halt (and often impossible to reign back into focus) if I had to help one child and turn my back on the others.

So I created this:

getting it done

I always knew that my two older sons were very different from one another, but that truth is more manifest than ever.

One son is a list maniac. Before I had the above list printed, he would beg for one. WHAT do I need to do in order to play on my computer? Tell me what I need to do. Write it down. How many things do I have left? Mom, do lessons with me so I can be DONE. It was like that all. day. long. He’s a visual child. A sequential child. A child motivated by rewards and checkmarks. A child who wants to be able to see the beginning and end of all things. Concrete.

[But he is also the child who thinks the point of lessons is to have them over with. As quickly as possible. With every short cut mastered. He checks the boxes (circles) as he starts each task, just to hurry along the process. He is also writing-phobic. Writing anything is like torture to this child. Art projects? Stick figures. Under duress.]

Now, he immediately digs into the lessons he can do independently (I try to have his list on the kitchen table along with copy work, maps, charts, and whatever else he’ll need). Whenever I’m available, we do the “together” lessons.

The other son, the colorful grammar chart son, is not so sequential. Or motivated by rewards (or consequences) and checkmarks. He’s imaginative, open-ended, verbal, relational, highly distractible, and can spend 3 hours not doing a math lesson—even if I’m sitting next to him. But the checklist is very good for him, as well. It makes expectations clear. It increases accountability. It helps him practice responsibility and independence, which become more and more important as he gets older. It also reduces arguments and excuses. It also means that if he wants to extend his school day by taking work to swim practice or until bedtime and into the weekend, that’s his choice (and his mother doesn’t have to pay the consequences with him).

So, let me tell you how their personalities play out when we do spelling together. [They are on the same level because I didn’t find (and fall in love with) All About Spelling until Levi was in 4th grade.] This is what happens:

I dictate a sentence.

Luke repeats the sentence aloud then writes out each word, one painstaking, slow-motion, heavy-leaded line and curve at a time. Deliberate capital letter. Almost always correct spelling. Punctuation mark at the end. Done. Next sentence.

Levi scrawls out the sentence in two seconds. Often without capital letters or punctuation. He changes names. He adds words. He turns the sentences into a play with different characters saying each sentence. He illustrates. Almost never is the sentence exactly as I’ve dictated.

We get to the “writing station” portion of the lesson. I give them five words to write and then use in original sentences. Levi holds the words in his head and writes one or two quirky sentences off the cuff. Luke writes each word and then looks at me blankly. “What do you want me to write?” “You’re supposed to come up with your own sentences.” “Just tell me what to write.”


And then there is the youngest son. I really need to figure out what to do with him. That’s my main goal for this next week as he’s been a bit aimless lately. His days are very long, with the older boys doing more school work and then going to swim practice. I decided to sign him up for AWANAS with a friend of his, and I’m thinking he needs to be in swim lessons. And he needs his own list. And some one-on-one time. But I think his needs will be hardest to meet this year.

And Lola, of course. What on earth am I going to do with Lola that won’t distract the boys?

Oh, and how am I going to force myself out of bed early every morning?


Are you a morning person?

What are some things that are working well for you school routines this year?


Ms. Tami said...

We are NOT morning people. We live on the other side of the clock, often going to bed at some point after 1, and rising around 9 (the boys will sleep til noon daily, if allowed). :0) I guess that is part of the beauty of homeschooling.

Jenny said...

I am not naturally a morning person. I would much rather stay up late, once the house and children have settled. That being said; I love getting up early in the morning, having some quiet time and starting my day while the rest of the world sleeps.

Hannah said...

Having met your boys, I could now totally see the spelling scenario you described playing out! :D

I was actually planning a miniseries of posts this coming week about the question you left at the end of this post: what's working well this year? Now I'm extra motivated to get to it!

Do you feel like the checklists (which are brilliant) are going to be manageable for YOU to keep up with? How often are you updating and printing them -- daily? Weekly?

Trisha said...

Hey Heidi,
I was wondering what Think like a Christian Student and Think like a Classical Student were? You always find the most amazing resources! Love love love your blog!!

Danielle said...

I have been working on a checklist too, just to automate some of the process! Work can continue despite the toddler meltdown or (ahem) blowout. My plan in process is to make something generic that will work for most days, and then laminate it or put in a page protector so we can use a wipe off marker and reuse it every day. I am sunk if I have to generate regular lists!

As to the morning question, I have been every so slowly transitioning to a morning person, so that now I'm getting up at 5:30 regularly! It's totally a God thing, and I am thankful. I also found that it was easier to get up at 5:30 because I cycle back into deeper sleep after that time, so 6:00am is a groggy, weary mess.

Danielle said...

I am also curious about the "Think as a" resources.

Heidi said...

Danielle~ It is on page 11 of the Foundations/Essentials handbook that Diane sent out. I just printed it out and have it in the memory work notebook so the boys can read it daily.

Trisha~ I've asked our CC director if it is copyrighted info and she is checking into it. I'll share it if I can!

Hannah~ So far, I have a stack of blank checklists printed and then I fill out a few details (such as the grammar chart to copy or what kind of map I want them to draw) either first thing in the morning or the evening before (so daily). It only takes a minute, and the boys can still get started on their list if I don't get a chance to do it first thing. They just do other things first.