The first week of our 2013-2014 school year is now in the books. It was not a perfect week by any means, thought it did have some high points. For the first time, I decided to add scheduled music and art appreciation to our lessons. I was pretty sure this would go over like a lead balloon, but was I wrong! My kids really liked these. In fact, I think they were the best lessons of the week. They also liked their new math books. Just in time I ended up finding some Math-U-See books that the kids are really liking. The manipulatives keep their hands busy, and the way the questions are asked and explained speaks their language it seems. My son even told me he could teach me math with this method because this was how he had been seeing it all along in his head.
Not everything was so nice though. Sitting at the table for 5 minutes of active listening proved to be a difficult skill. The house turned into a disaster as the kids became TV zombies as soon as school was over. We didn’t get to any of our science or reading lessons. And we just could not get into our history book.
It’s okay that the first week wasn’t perfect. I expected to need to make adjustments once I saw where we were this year. So what shall I do about the things that need change?
For starters, We need to do some habit training. They need to be able to sit for a short time and stay focused on the lesson. I can also bend and make them a bit more engaging. We all need to develop better habits in picking up after ourselves quickly and properly so that we can have some down time without avoiding our responsibilities or feeling guilty for taking that break.
As for history (and every other area), I need to remember this:
When education is rigorous but sucks the love of learning out of us, it is time to step back and reevaluate my educational goals. No amount of rigor or knowledge is worth ruining the curiosity and love of learning that I desire my kids to have.
My oldest girl loves the Middle Ages that we are studying. She didn’t learn about this time from a book though. She learned about it from the stories of Robin Hood and King Arthur and the like. And she has reminded me that it’s okay to skip some of the early chapters of our text, Story of the World, and get into the good stuff. We read SOTW Volume 1 straight through and enjoyed it, but I suspect this year we will use the text as more of a reference and read more living books and watch some movies. Maybe we should act out some of the stories in person or make puppet shows or the like. Regardless, I will need to remember that the book is my guide, not my master, and it is up to me to find ways to make history come alive for them.
So that is my first week impressions. Now I’m off to plan for next week!