Friday, April 9, 2010

rhythms and ramblings

As we wrap up our first block of 2nd grade, and start into full-blown Spring, I wanted to just jot down some notes on our daily and weekly rhythms as they now stand. We're in our last session of our Monday Homeschool Classes now, so our current "school week" is Tuesday through Saturday.

We start our "school day" with a morning walk, these days at the State Forest, regardless of the weather because the puppy needs to run. (If that puppy is not tired, we do NOT get much accomplished!)

As I've mentioned, we are so fortunate to have a wonderful hiking spot just a couple of minutes from the house, so the actual walk in theory shouldn't take longer than our walk up the street. The reality however is that there is SO many great thing going on in the woods, up the mountain, and in the frog pond, that we sometimes find this portion of our "morning" being the entire morning. Oh, well, when that happens we just eat snack when we get back, then start the rest of our day a little late. In any case, snack happens at some point during what follows:

Once at home, we do a "spin and fold" exercise. I sing a repeating verse "Oh the cuckoo, she's a silly bird, and she spins as she flies, but she never gets lonely til the first day of July." As I sing that, the boys spin down the hall. The first time I go on and sing "Oh the cuckoo hops along the ground down by the crystal stream, and she sings as she hops along of the coming of the spring" as the boys hop back up the hall. I sing the repeating verse and they spin back down the hall, then roll back up it as I sing "Oh the cuckoo rolls in the sand down by the crystal stream, and she sings as she rolls along of the coming of the spring." The last time, after the repeated verse and more spinning, the boys crawl back up the hall on hands and knees while I sing "Oh the fox stalks the cuckoo down by the crystal stream, but he never quite catches her, except maybe in his dreams."

Then we move on to our seated work (I've always sung "Look to the Rainbow" as our transition song). We recite our poem of the week, and then a math verse (we use the same verse for two or three weeks, depending on how long I feel it takes the kids to really absorb it). The math verse always includes clapping or some other body movement to help the kids "map" the concepts on their body. Then we move on to handwriting practice. J is learning cursive (at his request), and this is his most recent work, from today -- my writing is in green, his is in brown. He learned "T/t" and "Uu" today. Once he's through the entire alphabet, his practice will change to writing out the entire alphabet plus writing out a line or two from a poem each day (for a completed poem by the end of the week). While he is working on learning cursive, I am not having him work on printing except for during story work.

Here's Zoo Boy's current handwriting practice work, from the past 3 days. He writes out the entire alphabet in lower case letters twice, and I am working on slowly weaning him off of the alphabet-8s. Each day, he needs to write one additional letter free-hand on his second pass of the alphabet. (You'll see at the top, the first line he had alphabet-8s for every letter, but on the next line, he had to free-hand write a-f.) Once I get him to the point where he's writing all 26 letters free-hand, we'll switch to writing out the alphabet once each day, and some simple words. In his story work, he's currently still using all capital letters -- I'll continue to let him do as he will there until he's able to copy poems in lower case letters during handwriting practice. It'll take awhile -- the key to the Boy is to push for progress with a VERY light touch.

After handwriting practice, we have our "story work" for the day:

-- Tuesdays we write in our journals and hear a new story.

-- Wednesdays we recall the story and compose a summary of it (which I write on a large pad of newsprint and post on our easel) and draw a picture from the story (or we do some other sort of artistic digestion of the story, like painting or sculpting or making a wool picture).

-- Thursdays we copy down the summary and read a new story (or, in the case of working with math, we play a related math game).

-- Fridays we do recall, summary, and artistic digestion again (and/or play another math game).

-- Saturdays we write summaries (and/or play another math game).

Then the kids have an hour or so worth of free-play. Math worksheets come out before lunch (in theory at least, I go chunks of days without remembering to do it and/or being too pressed for time to bother). Then we have lunch, followed by rest.

Ideally we have enough time to read a chapter of whatever chapter book we are currently working on as a read-aloud before rest, and then the kids rest in their own beds for 1/2 - 1 hour, depending on the day and need, while I catch a very blessed nap. However, that doesn't happen often in reality, because almost all of our afternoon adventures take place outside of our home, and we're usually out the door after lunch and 'rest' in the car by listening to a CD as we drive. Which is fairly restful for the kids. Not so much for me. Ah well, we do love our afternoon adventures!!

Our adventures vary by the day:

--Tuesdays we usually meet up with friends at parks, museums or their house. Starting this coming week, J will be taking an instructional baseball class right after lunch/rest (and I'm trying to talk Zoo Boy into a t-ball class -- keep your fingers crossed!), so we'll be meeting our friends after that. Sometimes we have museum classes late on Tuesday afternoon for one or both kids.

--Wednesdays we have sensory integration therapy for Zoo Boy, followed by nature center classes for J. While the Boy is in therapy, J reads a new chapter book from their current series(The Secrets of Droon) which Zoo Boy then reads while J is in class later in the week. While J is in his nature center class, the Boy and I walk at the nature center with my friend T (whose daughter D is in the class also).

--Thursdays we have been attending an Enki-inspired co-op at T's house. T leads us in movement circle, and I've been leading a little unit on wool processing. Above is a photo from this week of the gorgeous carded wool and yarn that we dyed. We've been working with this wool from a raw fleece on, taking one more step in the processing each week. It's been a lot of fun! There's five kids in the co-op and several younger siblings who often get themselves involved. Nice group, the boys and I both really enjoy it. We've also been staying to do crafts with T and D, because we've overlapped our Western European cultural block, but we're done with that as of this week. I'll miss that extra craft support!

--Fridays J has a sports program after lunch/rest, and dance class (Jazz/Hip Hop) in the late afternoon, and in between we've been hooking up with some new friends that we recently met and enjoy spending time with.

--Saturdays J has a Musical Theater class after lunch, but the rest of the afternoon is for family adventures, and those are as variable as it can get -- festivals, family celebrations, visits with friends, museums or zoos, hiking and letterboxing, bike riding, just hanging out here at home, or even a rare trip to the movies. (We went to see "How to Train Your Dragon" a couple of weeks ago -- I have to say, it was a thoroughly enjoyable, adorable movie! Although, did anyone else think that dragon bore a striking resemblance to a black lab??? Hmmmmm....) Movies are always an iffy venture for Zoo Boy, he's often overwhelmed and/or scared by them. But he loved this last one and keeps asking if we can go back to see it again. (The answer is no -- not at those prices! Eeek!)

--Sundays are "off", and we usually spend it at home, working around the farm, hanging out in the yard, playing games, etc. J does have chorus rehearsals on Sunday evenings, so it's not all relaxation, but the bulk of it is and is quite welcome after a busy week!

--Mondays, as I mentioned, we have our Monday Homeschool Classes, and J has Ballet class in the late afternoon. We do get a chunk of "downtime" between the two, however, because J feels like he needs that before having to focus on ballet. I don't blame him! Next year we'll make sure there are no "extra" classes on Mondays -- there's more than enough socialization and contraction on Mondays as it is!

If that all sounds fairly busy and, um, insane -- it feels that way sometimes too!! But mostly we're just hanging outdoors as much as possible, getting J as much contraction (via classes) as he wants and needs to not feel bored with the slower pace of our curriculum (to keep it pertinent for Zoo Boy), and finding enough social opportunities for both boys to develop friendships and feel like a part of a community.

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