Monday, December 17, 2007

The end of the school year

We've been crazy-busy lately with lots on and preparations for Christmas. "School" has petered out, giving way to other things, without any sense of completion. I'm going to try to fit a few finishing-off-the-year activities into this last week before Christmas:

  • History We borrowed a stack of books on the Middle Ages from the library a fortnight ago after beginning the section on the Middle Ages in The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, and haven't even opened them. Will try to spend some time reading those books with the children this week.

  • Latin Maybe we'll just go over our vocab lists. We could do one more lesson.

  • Language Nothing formal. We have some great books to read together and for reading alone over the summer. The kids and I are enjoying Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol though Geoff complains it sends him to sleep. (This is a worry as the complaint was made after I read aloud in the car on a recent trip to Palmerston North while Geoff was driving!) The kids have been busy writing Christmas cards (and Christmas wish lists!) as well as writing a contribution each for the family Christmas letter.

  • Maths/Geometry I don't want to start anything new, so just times tables practice in the car.

  • Science Josiah and I are nearly at the end of the last chapter we want to read (for now) in Colin Tudge's The Variety of Life. I'll try to finish that with Josiah. Tessa is at the end of a section in her science book; we won't start anything new. Summer being an ideal time for nature study, I'll have a discussion with the children on what we could engage in over the holiday period: bird watching and identification, insect watching and identification, plant drawing, nature journal, plant identification.

  • A "course survey" for the children to fill out - asking how they found the year's work in each subject and if they have any suggestions for next year. I need to ask myself those questions too but that might be a longer process funny videos

The next month is shaping up to be just as full as the last; I don't expect to have time to post often. I hope to be back on board here by the end of January.

Wishing everyone a happy Christmas funny videos

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Narrow Escape

This is Josiah's Star Wars lego stop motion movie, A Narrow Escape. Enjoy funny videos

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Day plan

I've started a new practice which is helping me to identify what the children and I want to get done in a day, and to make sure that there is time set aside during the day for getting those things done, including time for me to go for a jog every two or three days. Somehow things had got to a state where I felt that I should be constantly available to the children in case they wanted to do an activity that required my help. I was feeling guilty when I went out for a jog, which is ridiculous.

So, my new practice is to write a loose schedule for the day at breakfast time. First I write in any appointments: "6pm Depart for climbing," "1.30pm Visitor," etc. Second, I set a time for chores and, if we are going out in the afternoon or evening, the time for a snack or meal shortly before departure. The children don't like to do their chores early in the day but we have afternoon and evening appointments at different times on different days, so our evening meal time varies and there is no one time that is always suitable for chores. Chores were tending not to get done on days when we were out around tea time. So now I set chore time either shortly before dinner or shortly before we depart for an afternoon or evening outing. Once that is down on paper, it is easy to see where best in the day to incorporate a work session or two and a decent break.

On the schedule, I leave a large space under "Work session" so that when I go over the schedule with the children, a note can be made of which work they would like to do.

Today's schedule was atypical because we had a friend visiting in the early afternoon and the house was a mess so we did chores and a tidy up in the morning. This shrunk our work session; Josiah wrote his climbing diary, Tessa practised guitar and they both worked on their contributions for the family Christmas letter. Then it was time to grab a quick lunch before our visitor arrived. Here's a more typical example:

9.30am Work session
Josiah: climbing diary
Tessa: guitar practice
?? Science / maths / history / Christmas cards ??

12.45pm Break

3.40pm Afternoon work session
?? Family read aloud ??

4.55pm Chores
5.10pm Dinner
6.10pm Depart for climbing lesson

Times are all approximate! We use them as guides.

By the way, this weekend is Tessa's last guitar lesson for the year and we've only just thought of including her guitar practice in the work session rather than Tessa practising later in the day. I don't know why we didn't think of this sooner; it makes guitar practice much easier to fit in. Tessa's enthusiasm for practising has fluctuated but mostly been reasonably high. Some weeks, she has happily commenced without me reminding her; other weeks, she has not felt like it. She is very keen at the moment since she came up with the idea of composing a song.