Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Evaluating...

So here we are, trying to find our routine with so many recent life changes.

Taisia, at 3 months old is seemingly settling a little but always finding her own little way to ensure we do things very much to her timetable and liking.  Lee (husband for any new readers) has now got a job after months of unemployment, and then there is me, trying to make a go of Scatty Dolly - my needle felting business venture.

What do all of these changes mean?

It means time for reflection and contemplation.  Time to evaluate our daily doings and see if there is anything that can be changed and improved upon.  As always, home-ed and my children are number one priorities, but with different ages, learning styles, and personalities, it's a juggling act - a rather challenging one at times.

At the request of the children, I'm introducing a little structure into our days.  Still child-led autonomous learning, but I'm listening to what my children are saying and actually doing something about it.

Chelsea for example feels that, at the grand old age of 15, she should be doing "more work".  Working towards some sort of examinations is in the back of her mind, and entry to college has been discussed.  She doesn't deem it necessary to study for exams she has no use for.  She doesn't want to do some just so she has a bit of paper to wave and show she has the ability to answer some questions correctly, but she is willing to put the effort it to achieve what she needs to progress where she wants to get to in life.   Rather than getting thrown in at the deep end so to speak, we are going to do more study and topic work - at her request.

Joseph (13) would like to practice handwriting.  He uses the computer a lot in his daily life, to research project work and chat with online friends, so his typing skills are improving rapidly. The same cannot be said for his handwriting.  As he has dyspraxia (mainly affecting his speech, but it does cause co-ordination issues also), handwriting is a struggle and not something that is either enjoyed nor easily demonstrated.  Joe has expressed a wish for daily practice sessions, be it project work (which is currently typed), or copy work.  I love the fact that Joseph has identified his own weakness and wants to do something about it.

Tiegan has long-wished that we did more "formal school-work".  It sometimes seems as if not a day goes by without her requesting we do "something" sat at the table in workbook like fashion. Although I do like to plan a little topic outline and direction for possible projects, I am very bad at actually saying "Today we are going to do this, this and this..." and never seem to manage to have all the resources ready printed and at hand.  It's time for that to change, and I know that will make my not so little now 9 year old girl very happy.

Callum is a complete law unto himself.  At 5 years old he is determined not to do any form of "schoolwork" but that's ok.  He is communicating well with an ever growing vocabularly, has a good grasp of letters and numbers, and can read some simple words - all without any recognisable tuition.  He comes out with little gems that really make me smile, such as whilst sharing a box of 10 chinese fortune cookies the other day.  He gave one to each of his siblings, and ate one himself as he casually said - "There are 6 left now as we have eaten 4..."  Not that remarkable for a 5 year old I know, but this is a 5 year old that has never ever been shown addition or subtraction in any recognisable school-like form.  He counts the houses as we walk along, counting in twos and telling me how many houses there will be until we reach number x y or z.  He'll work out how many more coins he needs to buy something on one of his computer games, or how many levels he has remaining until a game is completed, he will spend his time waiting in shopping queues working out how much change I will have when he sees me standing with a £10 or £20 note.  He will happily (and easily) add and subtract throughout the day, and read various words at random moments, often out of context.   He spends his days drawing pictures, playing lego, baking with the girls, or playing on one of the game consoles or laptops.  Callum really is proof that you don't need school nor a rigid learning structure in place to learn what you need or want to know.

So where do we go from here?

We are going to start with Daily Cards.  An index style card for each of the children (and one for me when I feel the need) with what they can aim to complete throughout the day.  This isn't a must do, but rather a guide.  If they are interested in something else and don't want to do what's written on the card - fine.  But I hope the cards will be used as a little reminder service, or a prod when lack of enthusiasm ensues.

I've printed out some lapbooks and projects from Hands of a Child, so I can be guided by their planning sheets as to what the children may do each day/week.  I don't usually go for the ready made projects, preferring to put together projects of my own, but I admit defeat.  At this time of great adjustment, I'm going for the easy option.  I need to admit that I'm not superwoman - no really, I'm not! *grin*.   Looking after a young baby whilst getting up at 5 or 6am to drop husband off at work (so I get to have the car each day) is going to take it's toll - let alone times like the past two days and nights when Lee has been working away.  I still have a house to care for (although I'm anything but houseproud!), and 4 other children to care for and ensure their needs are fulfilled.  Anything that can ease my load and save me some time is very welcome at this time, so this time I have cheated.

So, what projects are we going to be doing?  Chelsea started one on Japan today, and loves it!  She went through the first 3 lessons all in one sitting, so is on to lesson 4 tomorrow.  That project download came from here.  Joseph, Tiegan and Callum (if I can gain his interest), will all be doing Hands of a Child downloads.  Joe's is their World War 2 one (which is 122 pages long!), Tiegan is doing 2 - one about Princesses and the other about Spiders (yes, still a great interest in our 8 legged friends), and I thought Callum might like the Dinosaur one.  The printer sure got put to good use today.

We are still going to be doing our wall displays, but slightly differently.  Our seasons wall will remain in the same format - we are not going to finish the Winter display, choosing instead to work on the Spring display which will hopefully keep us thinking of warmer climates and new beginnings.  We are going to have another display on a different wall showing our "weekly choices".  Each Sunday I will change the display ready for the week ahead.  Themes will be a famous person, an insect, an artist, a poet, a dinosaur, a country, and an animal.  Those themes cover my children's interests at this time, so each child has something to ponder upon.  I will print and display a photograph and a little write up of each.  They may spark an interest that develops into further research, or they may not - but I hope that some little nugget of new information will be retained.

I want to get back into our reading routine, which I sadly confess has fallen by the wayside.  I used to read daily chapters to children, and the children would often read to me a book of their choosing.  When little lady came along, it kinda threw that right out of the window and down the lane.  If I sat down to read, my eyelids became heavy, the yawns would start, and I'd find myself incapable of focusing on the page and end up snuggling baby and sleeping.  So, starting from tomorrow, the reading will resume.  It will.  It's written on my Daily Card so it has to!

Also starting tomorrow will be my daily blogging resolution.  Hmm, let's see how long that lasts this time....

5 comments:

  1. Hi Jules!

    I was really interested in the Japan project but the link doesn't seem to work for me? I've tried a google search but couldn't find it. Would you be able to point me in the right direction??

    Sounds like we're in a similar place at the moment but just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to fit everyone's requirements in!!

    Amanda xx

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  2. Hi Amanda, sorry about that, seems the website has disappeared! Currclick have the same Japan study available, so I've changed the link to the one on there.
    Thanks for commenting and apologies again xx

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  3. Julia, downloading unit studies or worksheets or whatever ISN'T cheating!! You're doing a fab job! I remember vividly the adjustment from 4 children to 5, and it was HUGE! Much harder than from 3 to 4, event he the gap was larger. Keep on keeping on, you're an inspiration :)

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  4. Thanks Jules, that's great! I'll take a look later when I get a spare 10 seconds ;o)

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  5. Brilliant thank you so much for sharing the Japan project. My daughter has been wanting to do something on Japan. This fits the bill and is quite reasonably priced too.

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