Thursday, April 3, 2008

Trying out a new schedule

We've been limping along for awhile and I've been thinking and praying and reading lots of info, trying to figure out how I want our days to look and what I want to get accomplished.  We have a 2 year old who throws tantrums and is getting out of control, sporadic school stuff getting done with the 7 and 5 yo and they need to improve their concentration and attention span, and I've got to find more ways of doing some subjects with the 7 yo.

Before, we did math right after breakfast.  But that wasn't working b/c the 2 yo was wanting to play and color at the same time, but was making messes while I was trying to stand over the kids and teach them their workbook pages and read the directions to them, and all of us were getting terribly frustrated.  7 yo dd is already hating math, and that has to stop.

So I've come up with a loose schedule that I think will work better.   We already had the first part of the morning worked out.  We just got a clock for the boy's room, and they are not allowed to come out until 8:30.  I usually try to get up at 7/7:30 when dh gets up or leaves.  The boys wake up at 8, so for a half hour I'm usually training the 2 yo to stay in his room.   Eventually he'll get it.  So the kids get up at 8:30, come out and watch PBS and eat at 9, and get dressed, then watch a little more PBS afterwards.

Then today we started Circle Time at 10.   A much much more pleasant way to start the day than with frustrations over math and the 2 yo getting in the way.  Of course, it's only been one day - math started out fine, at the beginning

If you do a google site search of HSB a lot of posts come up talking about Circle Time.  Most of them come from the wonderfully helpful and encouraging blog Preschoolers and Peace

Circle Time is for all 3 kids - this will help teach both boys they need to sit still for something.  And, I want the 2 yo included when it's possible.  The baby sat and ate while we did this.  We sang Jesus Loves Me - the 2yo just says Jesus over and over - so cute!  Then we sang a song from one of their Seeds cd.  We just have a demo cd with 5 songs on it but I love it.  It's just verses set to music, but it's a good beat, and not cheesy or annoying at all.  It seems like a good way to memorize verses.

Then we prayed, and did some obedience training.  That sounds so awful, like I'm training dogs, LOL.   They got out some train pieces and I had them all practice saying 'yes, mommy' when I told them to put them away.  They each did that a couple of times.  Then I read a few poems out of the Child's Book of Verses by Stevenson, and then we learned about another state for their lapbooks that they've been working on.  We started it a couple of months ago and we're only on state 3
Hopefully this will help us get through them a little quicker.  Eventually I'd like to have them start memorizing different things from the Bible as part of it, as well.   Circle Time today took 15 minutes, and everyone pretty much sat and obeyed and participated in it all.   Tremendous victory here!!

Then the older two went into the other room to do various independent schoolwork that really doesn't seem like work to them.  I'm trying to stay out of the 'sit at the table and do workbooks for 3 hours' mentality......b/c I don't like that, that's not really in line with my educational style or goals - but it's amazing how that's instantly the first thing I think of when I picture us doing school, b/c that's what 'school' is.  I need to think of it more as educating and learning instead of 'schooling'.

So they sat and played Boggle Jr, did a couple of phonics worksheets on sight words, did their mini-books on New Jersey for the lapbook, did some money flashcards, and did a couple rounds of 'name the states' on an electronic globe we have.  While they were doing that, I was doing 'Mat Time' with Baelin, the 2 yo.

This is going to be a ton of fun to train him in   I laid out a blanket that they don't use anymore, so it will be the special time blanket, and the goal is for him to be able to stay on the blanket, doing various activities, playing quietly by himself.   And then I will move to adding some non-blankety activities that he can play by himself with.  I would like to get him to at least 30 min, if not an hour.  There are a few different sites I ran across talking about ways to get toddlers to sit still and keep them occupied.   The main things kept saying have different activities that you only pull out during school time, so they are special, and then rotate them every 10-15 minutes, before they lose interest.  HA!   Well for our first day it didn't go too badly.  He was able to last on the blanket for about 20 minutes, with me right there with him the whole time.   He played with the plastic set of 3 bears for about 3 minutes.   Then we played with some cards for another 5 minutes.   Then we colored for 10 minutes, and then he was done.  I have some preschool toys in the basement that I need to bring up and let him play with.

So that got us to about 11:00.....only one hour in and we had accomplished a lot more than we normally do, and the kids weren't fighting and I wasn't yelling or crying

Baelin went and played in his room for a while by himself, and the kids worked on sorting out their nutrition flashcards between foods containing carbs and protein.   Then all 3 of them went outside for a nice long energy break.  I am SO GLAD spring is finally here. 

The afternoon plan is lunch, and then a nap for Baelin, and then more intensive schoolwork with Alysa and Aiden, so I can give them the 1 on 1 they need - we'll do their math workbooks, a couple lessons out of 100 easy lessons, and then some nutrition stuff.   Then they will lay down and rest and we'll listen to a book or story read aloud off the computer.  That should get us to about 2 or 3:00, about the time Baelin will get up .  I'm so excited that we might actually have found a way to educate in a calmer way.......and right about the time the schedule really gets flowing and Baelin starts learning to stop throwing tantrums and obeying, I'll have the baby and it will all go to pieces

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