We officially started "school" this week.
We didn't actually plan on taking a break at all from our version of schooling over the summer, since we learn through play for the most part. We do so many educational activities all year long. We did a ton of crafts, field trips, and tons of reading together, well, I read stories to both kids, and novels to Monkey at bedtime. So we were still learning a lot.
We read Peter Pan, it's was hard to read (sometimes a tongue twister for me) as it's written in older, proper, English, but we all loved it! And Monkey and I are now on the 5th book in the Chronicles of Narnia. He, at 6 1/2 years old, can't get enough!
However, we didn't do much in the way of academics; math, reading, or writing. I envisioned Monkey being much further along in all of these areas by the end of summer. But,
suddenly summer is over and I'm scrambling to figure out what classes we'd like to partake in this fall and what kind of homeschool schedule we will have!
A friend had given me a book, The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, and I had been looking through it the past few days. It had simple, easy to follow lessons, with nothing fancy to make or buy (which I liked). My friend loved it and her daughter is an avid reader now. Monkey loves reading Bob Books and other beginner readers, but I felt I needed a plan of how to progress.
I felt pressure Monday (only from myself) to get started on some reading and math, at least some review. I thought maybe this year we'd get a little more structured for a short while each morning and then do our fun field trips, projects, what have you, later on in the day, as we did last year for kindergarten.
Right after breakfast, while we were still at the table, I asked Monkey if he would do some reading. He didn't want to, so I told him we were going to work on some reading or math and then he could go play. Okay, this doesn't even sound like me in the first place! I shouldn't have separated work and play before we'd even begun! He chose reading.
He did reluctantly cooperate. I figured he was just not used to having to do sit down work, but he'd get used to it. I tried to make it fun, but it was flash cards, so how fun can you really make them at the table? (You can totally make them fun if you remember how to play rescue mission and put your blocks and toys up on the table, but I forgot about that game until now and this wasn't that sort of lesson.)
Monkey stared at the ceiling more often than the cards, rolled his head around, and groaned. He acted like I was torturing him!
I finally gave up and offered the computer. He could play an online reading game such as Reading Eggs or Star Fall, which he used to love, but hadn't played for months. It took me a while to find his password and get him all logged in again.
I walked away and in less than two minutes he logged himself out! I just saw him get up and when I looked at him in shock, he just said, "I'm done." I was so frustrated,
I wanted to ship him off to school right then!
I have to admit, I had a meltdown. I threw a tantrum like a two year old, said things I regret, and felt like the most horrible mom there ever was! I'm a total failure. I don't know how to teach my kids and they don't want to learn from me. Maybe they would be better in school...
I put a LeapFrog: Talking Words Factory movie on Netflix and then let the kids watch some short phonics videos on YouTube while I had myself a time out.
Yes, this mommy definitely needed a time out!
Once I calmed down, and felt absolutely horrible, I apologized to both kids, but especially Monkey, for losing my temper. I shouldn't have forced him to sit there when I know that's not how he learns best. And I should have realized we were all too tired that morning after being out of town all weekend.
I remembered how passionately I believe in unschooling! I need to trust that my kids will learn in their own time and it really doesn't matter to me if that time is in line with the school system's calendar or our friends, family, or anyone else.
I am here to encourage them, introduce new things, guide them, and love them.
Not force things down their throats. I threw all my sitting-at-the-table plans out the window (actually on the floor), and played with my wonderful kids! We jumped and danced on those cards (see, I really did throw them on the floor!) taking turns shouting out the letter for the others to find. Then we did the same with our number flash cards.
When the sun came out and the flowers opened up in the backyard, I drew some numbers on our bricks and we tossed bottle-caps, balls, toys, and other things to see who would get the highest score. When they tired of that, I drew the alphabet with my little one, Boo. Then just drew pictures all over the place.
The kids had practiced their numbers and letters, learned properties of different items they were throwing, predicting whether they would bounce, slide, or roll, practiced addition, created art, exercised, enjoyed the outdoors, bonded, laughed and we all had a great time!
I still feel terrible for my outburst and unreasonable demands of the morning. But we did have a fun, educational, rest of the day.
Tuesday, I didn't require any specific learning and Monkey spontaneously wrote a love note to surprise his dad and spent most of the day inventing with cardboard and his new rolls of duct tape; including the invention of a foot rest for disabled people who have a hurt foot and two small pirate ships, one for himself and one for his sister. Yes, that's my child and I'm beaming with pride!
Wednesday was our first class of this school year, our farm class we'll go to once a month. We'll also be taking a history class, where we follow The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child books and do crafts and activities to go along with the chapters, among other things. I'm just realizing I put "we" for our classes, well, we learn together as a family. It's our lifestyle. And it's now starting out to be a very good homeschooling year!