Thursday, September 8, 2016

What Worked and Why (and What Didn’t)

What's Working and Why (and What Isn't) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

A friend asked me why I thought our first week of scholé went so well. Was it something we did or just a serendipitous gift?

I thought about it for quite a while, and I’ve continued to think about it through some to-be-expected bumps this week.

In the end, I think there were so many contributing factors that it’s difficult to pick one or two.

Instead, I’ll list a bunch of reasons, in a general order of importance.

  • We had a schedule, which I had shared with the kids ahead of time so they knew what to expect.
  • I made everyone get to bed early (or earlier than we’re used to)
  • I got up early (on time) and followed the schedule.
  • I stayed focused and attentive all day long, even when the kids were “working independently.”
  • I made the kids follow the schedule.
  • We mostly ate good breakfasts, which gave us energy for our day.
  • We started our scholé time with a small amount of fresh air and exercise. This got air into our lungs, and oxygen to our brains. And it was fun.
  • After a very short walk outside, we began with enjoyable together time (“symposium”). This warmed up our brains and our attention before heading off to individual work areas to do some heavier focusing and diligent work. By the time symposium hour was up, the kids were ready to get away and do their own work.
  • When our time was up for each “subject,” we moved on, even if we weren’t “finished.” The kids had an easier time focusing for shorter periods, they kept a good pace because they knew they only had about 45-60 minutes to work on each subject, the day went quickly and felt fresh because they didn’t labor too long over any one thing. (Also, if they finished early, I didn’t pile more work on them to fill the time.)
  • I scaled back on Luke’s Challenge A work so that he would feel confident and successful. I worked with him for most of his subjects instead of leaving him alone to figure it out on his own. When he felt confident and told me he could work independently, I let him.
  • Levi has shown a bit of increased maturity and asked to work independently on most of his subjects. I honored this change, and it was harder to argue with him when we weren’t working together. [wry grin] The first few weeks of Challenge I are fairly light in terms of work.
  • Lola was able to play with Legos or draw or paint. Something she was not able to do in the past. Thank you, God.
  • Inertia. This is a big one. Since I was up and moving, it was easier to stay up and moving and get little things done like thaw meat for dinner or switch the laundry. It was easier to pay attention to what I needed to be doing and what was coming up on our daily schedule.
  • Because the kids were busy with school work at their own independent stations, they didn’t have time or opportunity to fight or destroy the house. Keeping them busy is good for them and good for my sanity.
  • I’m part of an online exercise accountability group, so this helped me stay on track there.
  • Formal dinners were such a success that I wanted to continue the trend.
  • All those little things (paying attention to meal “planning,” taking my vitamins, eating regular meals, having quiet time in the morning) are difficult to make happen, but they make things go more smoothly, or make me feel better physically, mentally, and spiritually, so they pay off in results.
  • Everything is new and exciting, so attitudes were mostly good (mine included).
  • We had a light schedule (no swim practice, piano lessons, extra activities, etc.), so we had some breathing room.


What I’ve learned this week (particularly on Sunday when I relaxed and wasn’t vigilant):

  • It takes a long time for a child to recover from an overnight party.
  • If the kids aren’t busy, the house falls into disarray.
  • When the house is in disarray, it’s difficult to recover.
  • Bad attitudes snowball.
  • Being off schedule snowballs.
  • It’s hard to maintain vigilance over long periods of time.
  • Things aren’t quite as fun the second week.
  • Moving specimens for nature journaling are very distracting.
  • Lectures take up a lot of learning time.
  • Outside activities are distracting.
  • Students can’t control themselves when they are using a computer for school work.

[All that said, we have still had a decent week so far.]


What I need to work on:

  • Not eating all day long.
  • Going to bed earlier.
  • Staying vigilant with our schedule.
  • Lesson planning/organizing ahead of time.
  • Organizing and cleaning around the house (particularly in my office/school room).
  • Making a chore chart of some sort for the kids.
  • Adding things to our schedule (piano, swim, activities, tutoring…) without coming undone.
  • Working more with Lola.
  • Not getting burnt out.


Stacy said...

Thanks for sharing. So happy for you that Lola was playing independently. Still working on getting my 5yr old doing that while his older challenge siblings are working. I really like morning symposium, but I have a 15yr old who struggles with getting out of bed before 9am & moves slow when he does get up (who am I kidding- he's a sloth all. Day. Long) my 13yr girl is up early & doing math before breakfast. We're working on a functional schedule! Working more w/the 5yr old is also on my improve list - but hey the oldest taught the youngest the difference between sounds of /j/ and /g/ while searching for Jake&the never land pirates on netflix, phonics lesson, right?! Wishing you peace on your journey. From Arkansas

Jennifer Allen said...

Second weeks are why I think we need to take the third weeks off. :) Our second week went well, until the end when sewage problems threw a wrench in all plans and now the third week is when we are playing catch up. I feel a little silly, needing a break week so soon in the year, but I am glad our community has built it in already!

Jill Foley said...

This is so helpful to see.

We start next Monday with CC and then will jump in on our own at home on Tuesday. But week following we are already taking a break as grandparents from NY are coming for a week (and hubby and I are leaving!)

Unknown said...

These observations remind me that things going well are usually not coincidences, they are well planned. I love how your first week sounded, and why. ("Those who plan what is good find love and righteousness...") Cheers to good starts!