Wednesday, October 12, 2011

a sustaining rhythm

It's a wonder to me how easy it has become to fall into a supportive, sustaining rhythm with our days and our schoolwork now that we've been working with the concept of daily/weekly/seasonal rhythms for a few (OK, 5) years. I thought I would spend a minute talking about our fall rhythms now while it is on my mind (and before the seasons, and our rhythms, shift!)

This autumn, the boys have taken on more responsibility on the farm. At this point they are doing all (ALL!) of the morning chores here, without supervision. This is coming in handy for The Map Man (who doesn't need to get up quite as early for work), and will come in very handy for me once the baby arrives as I won't have to bundle baby and myself up to go outside in the bitter winter weather. This is what starts our day -- the boys feeding and caring for the livestock, while I take care of breakfast preparation and get the dogs situated for the morning.

Then we eat breakfast, brush teeth, and prepare to go out for our morning walk.

Our daily walk starts our morning movement time -- we've been taking Joy the Collie (now 9 1/2 yrs old) with us for a little exercise too. When I say little, I mean little. I'm only capable of about half a mile now, so much to the kids' chagrin, our walks are pretty brief these days. We round out their morning movement
with a spin-and-fold cycle set to a Hebrew song. On rainy days, instead of the walk, we do a Hebrew folk dance, or some other sort of vigorous exercise set to music.

We transition into our morning lesson time by finishing up our movement with walking a form. I'm going to have to post separately about form drawing, as this is the first year we've incorporated it into our schoolwork. Briefly, you walk a "form" (pattern) for a few days, then draw what you walked. It has bunches of developmental benefits. Since we've never done this before, we're starting at the very beginning with very basic forms that most Enki or Waldorf kids worked with back in 1st grade. We walk the same form every day for a week. Then one day a week, we draw the form in sand or shaving cream or some other sensory-rich, easily-erasable medium. The next day we draw it in their form books. And on the final day of the week, we paint it.

Then we move into our main lesson time. This usually consists of recalling the previous day's story, then writing a summary (together) of the story which we then post for the kids' to copy later. Then the kids are left to draw a scene from the story on their own (while I sneak in here and deal with email, paying bills, blogging, etc). When they are done with the drawing, they copy the summary into their good books opposite from the drawing. On the first day of the week, they work on entries in their journals during this time slot instead of the story work, since we have not read a new story the day before.

Then we have snack.

After snack, the kids do some independent practice work (although if I'm giving them verbal word problems or a spelling test, I am right there with them). This consists of a few word problems and several worksheets -- one on either addition or subtraction (20 practice equations for J, 10 for Zoo Boy), one on geometry/measurement, and one on spelling. This photo shows a few of the workbooks I draw from when assigning practice work -- you'll note that these are geared at Grade 2, while my kids are actually working on new material at a higher grade level. That's because they are just practicing skills they already know -- I do not introduce new material via workbooks. (New material is introduced in a more living manner, in case you've not been reading along with this blog for years....)

After all the practice work is finished and corrected as needed, I read them a new story to work with the following day. On Fridays, this is a science story (unrelated to the rest of our curriculum work) in the topic we'll be working with in our afternoon chemistry lab Science Co-op.

Then the kids are allowed some free time to play (indoors or out, their choice) until lunch. Depending on the day and how quickly we got through everything, this ranges anywhere from a few minutes up to an hour. (Lunch happens at 1:00 each day -- our morning begins with chores at 7:30, so that gives you some idea about the length of our "school day".)

The afternoons are all different, but always consist of some sort of group activity during the first half, then something exercise-intensive (dancing or karate) during the 2nd half. Between the two we have snack. (This photo is of the kids flying kites in the park.)

On most Mondays we spend the entire day at our Monday Homeschool Classes Co-op, so those classes just continue into the afternoon. Tuesdays we have playdates or outings. Wednesdays we have a cultural projects co-op. Thursdays we have J's piano lesson and a playdate. And Fridays we have our Science Fridays co-op. J dances 5 times a week (including Saturdays), and Zoo Boy goes to the Karate dojo 2 or 3 times a week.

Then it's home, supper, bed prep, the boys watch a short video (TV program on DVD), then J practices piano. When he goes to bed, Zoo Boy reads independently for a bit before he goes to bed, too.

Does it sound exhausting? Many folks have said as much to me. Honestly, it's not. (Well, I mean, I AM exhausted at the end of the day, but that's because of the pregnancy, not our daily life!) Our rhythms just flow so smoothly from one part of the day to the next, I find it very easy to maintain the pace of our days and fit in what seems like a lot in what is actually a very relaxed manner.

Thank goodness, because what I didn't include above is my having to excuse myself at regular intervals to puke.... I know that the baby coming is going to throw a great big curve ball into the easy flow of our days, but it will be SUCH a relief to feel good again!

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