I pride myself on being a fairly realistic planner, so I knew that our first week of homeschooling this year was going to be difficult and challenging for all of us.
For, Peter, my 8-year-old, it would be a very similar schedule to last year, but new books and new challenges to tackle. Plus he had just had a few months off to forget both some content (like spelling rules) and the way we do things (set up for watercolor painting).
In addition, I had completely retooled our afternoons to create more space for "afternoon occupations," basically all the individual work which needed to happen outside of lesson time, including piano practice, drawing practice, and additional handicraft work.
Also, this was the first year I was officially adding John (6) to the mix of lessons. While Peter was already reading fluently when we began following the Charlotte Mason method, John is still very early on the journey to reading, so besides reading all of his lessons to him, we would be starting consistent reading lessons in earnest this week.
Finally, I'm not only homeschooling a 6-year-old and 8-year-old, but also caring for and parenting an almost 4-year-old and an infant, not yet 3 months old.
My plate was full, but everyone was excited and optimistic to begin.
I expected some whining; I expected barely coherent narrations; I expected some chaos. And the first day, we had all that.
But I didn't expect that in the middle of the night after our first day that excessive rain was going to flood our basement with almost 1 foot of water!!!!
This week has been exhausting. From hauling up bins of clothes from the basement in the middle of the night with flashlights to transporting all our frozen food out of the freezer to drying out and testing appliances (I think we only lost the dehumidifier!) to running dishwasher load after dishwasher load of jars and various containers that came in contact with the water, I have been busy. And my husband has been hard at work hauling out anything to be salvaged or trashed and to powerwash and disinfect everything else.
It wasn't the ideal back to school week. However, in the middle of Monday night, with water still pouring into our basement, I asked my husband, "Should we still do lessons in the morning?" And we both agreed that the show could and should go on.
I was glad that we could keep our momentum going and honestly, it gave us something to focus on while the water went back down. Plus, there wasn't much that the kids could do to help at that point.
I also asked for help and got some. A few area mom-friends carried away the few bins of clothes that did get damp to wash and return. And I had already planned simple crockpot meals for the week to help with the back-to-school transition.
So here is my assessment of what went well this week as well as what changes I'll make after seeing how my plans (1st Grade Plans & 3rd Grade Plans) played out in our real world homeschool this week.
Almost all the important things. Our strict schedule of lessons worked really well for the most part. My idea for a dedicated time in the afternoon with a restricted menu of options for the boys to choose from resulted in so much more creativity AND piano lessons getting done early in the day.
What needs adjustment
My reading lessons are not working as well as I would like. Basically, I didn't follow my own plan. I fully intended on following the procedures in Teach a Child To Read with Children's Books: Combining Story Reading, Phonics, and Writing To Promote Reading Success. by Mark B. Thogmartin, but I didn't.
There has been too much talky-talky (by me) and teaching words out of context, even though I've tried to keep it fun. I need to stick to the plan this week and see it if goes better.
Somehow, I thought I could do reading lessons with John (6) while Peter (8) did math. In this way, I could do one son's most demanding lesson while the other son did his favorite lesson.
This was a terrible idea that did not work for us!
Teaching reading is both intense and important. And my son who loves math does hard math for his young years, so when he gets stuck, he needs support. They both need me! Fortunately, because we start lessons early at 8:15 am, my husband is going to be able to take over my son's math lesson twice a week. Two other times a week, I'll have my youngest son working with Cuisenaire rods at the table during the 8-year-old's math lesson and once a week, they will both use Cuisenaire rods at the same time.
Finally, as I mentioned, I'm loving our new afternoon occupation time block, but I have to tweak it. You see, this summer we reintroduced "rest time" where everyone went to separate rooms and did something quiet for an hour. The 3-year-old starting napping regularly again and everyone had more patience, including me.
My idea for afternoon occupations was that it would replace this rest time and run from 1-3 every day. After seeing how crabby we all were and facing the difficulties of getting an almost four-year-old to have quiet time when everyone else is not resting, I knew it wasn't working despite how much I love it.
This week, we are going to shoot for having a shorter block of time that starts earlier. So 12:30-2pm is for afternoon occupations and 2-3 is for rest time. Then from 3pm until dinner can be for chores and more outside time and free time.
I'll let you know how it goes!