Monday, July 16, 2007

A Taste of School

There were some interesting things about having Josiah and Tessa attend a four day drama course last week. For them and for me it was a taste of what it would be like if they went to school. The class ran from 9am-3pm - normal school hours in New Zealand primary schools. Josiah and Tessa's commute turned out to be long - they left home at 7.45am and didn't get home till nearly 4pm; we know a few school children who have long commutes like that - one family who sends its children across the city each day to get to a Montessori school and another family who lives out of town and drives in every day to work and school.

I knew Josiah and Tessa would arrive home tired so we decided that they wouldn't have to unpack their bags immediately but could have till 5.30pm to relax and recover. Then at 5.30, they unpacked and repacked their bags, put away any clean washing and did their usual chores (their chores aren't time consuming - only ten minutes worth for Josiah and five minutes for Tessa). Then dinner. They made their lunches after dinner. By that time it was about 7.30pm; they had free time again until 9pm which was the time we agreed on for getting ready for bed. The first two days they spent maybe half of their free time doing "homework" - memorising their lines for the play.

Those first two days felt surprisingly relaxed. I began to think that maybe schooling families do have time for most of the activities I worry we'd miss out on if Josiah and Tessa went to school.

On the second two days of the drama programme, Josiah and Tessa had climbing in the evening. I told them they didn't have to go to climbing if they didn't want to and they laughed at me. It made for much busier days. To get to climbing on time, we had to have dinner earlier - 5pm - which meant the kids had to start chores earlier, which meant they didn't get long to relax and recover when they first got home. It was all a bit much: they managed to unpack their bags and make lunch for the next day but Josiah got upset when asked to do his usual chores as well. I reluctantly agreed they could have two days off chores. The only time they had for practising their lines those days was on the train; luckily that was enough. There was no time for anything else; Tessa didn't practise guitar all week. I wonder how school children fit in homework on days they have after school activities on.

Tessa was very tired at the end of the week - her eyes were red when she said goodnight to me on Thursday night. She had no regrets though! She and Josiah both had a fabulous time at the drama programme.

I've heard homeschoolers say they think sending their kids to school would be harder work than homeschooling. After this week I kind of agree.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Things to Do

Things to Do

The kids are at a drama holiday programme four days this week. I am off duty between 8.00am and 3.30pm :) Lots of things I want to do with my child-free time but at the top of the list is rest - read novels, nap, read, eat nice food. So I don't know how much else I'll get done. Here's the rest of the list:

  • Latin: flick through the book (Latina Christiana), read the first section more thoroughly and plan how we will start.

  • Tessa's maths: go over her next presentation, which I have a feeling is nearly the last in a section so may need to read through the next section in the Montessori album.

  • Write to my sister and maybe send something nice - she had an operation a week ago.

  • Write to my aunt - haven't been in touch for ages, would be nice to catch up.

  • Decluttering: this is ongoing and always needs doing. I decluttered the bedrooms and living room a month or so ago. The kitchen and our two storage areas - garage and ceiling space - need doing. We have friends coming to stay next week; I'd love to have most of the decluttering done before that.

  • Gardening - the place is getting weed ridden. I'd also like to work out a way to fit gardening back into my weekly routine.

  • Geoff and I decided last week on some changes to our donations due to a change in our income - I need to arrange those changes.

And a few items hanging over from my last "To Do" list:

  • Josiah's maths: read the next section in the Montessori album and prepare the next few presentations.

  • Josiah's geometry: ditto.

  • Tessa's drawing: read the next chapter in the book (Mona Brooke's Drawing with Children) and sort it into presentations.

The new term starts next week but it will be a disruptive start for us. The first week of term, friends come to stay for a few days. The final Harry Potter book is due out in a couple of weeks; the kids and I decided long ago that when that happened we would have a "Harry Potter holiday", reading the book over a few days. Then the kids have a climbing competition. I'll try to continue with our usual routine on days when we aren't reading Harry Potter or entertaining guests - maybe getting through our "weekly schedule" in three weeks rather than one.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Josiah woke up in the middle of the night a couple of nights ago. This happens from time to time. He usually has a snack and reads a book or plays on the computer for a while. This time, he decided to try to find the square root of 73! You have to laugh, don't you? We haven't done any Montessori activities on square roots yet but have discussed the term when working with squares, and I think Geoff may have shown Josiah a bit about square roots.

In the morning, Josiah brought two sheets of grid paper in to me covered in working and led me through what he had done. (He had to lead me as the order of the calculations on the page wasn't the order he'd done them in). He had written down:
82 = 64
92 = 81

Next he had calculated 8.5 x 8.5, found that was less than 73, so calculated 8.6 x 8.6. Continuing like that, he calculated:
8.55 x 8.55
8.545 x 8.545
8.546 x 8.546

coming to the conclusion that the square root of 73 is approximately equal to 8.545. (In fact it is closer to 8.544; there were four small errors in Josiah's myriad calculations - all in the carrying. He does the carrying in his head. Hmm, will have to work out how to point out to him that this isn't working for him, without diminishing his pride in his late night achievement.)

After that, he went a bit off the rails, calculating the difference between 8.5462 and 8.5452 and calling that the "remainder". Oh well, I think he did amazingly well doing all that on his own.

Next he created a few vector addition problems for himself on grid paper, each time working out the sum of several vectors. Once again, this isn't something we've come to in the Montessori sequence but something Geoff has shown Josiah.