Sunday, October 15, 2006

How it's going so far...

Well, here we are, well into our first month of school, and all in all, things are going quite well. I must admit, it's an incredible challenge to teach 4 young children all at once. Of course, my youngest is not quite 4 and is really too young for any kind of formal schoolwork - but just *try* to stop this child from doing everything his brothers do! In fact, besides N4, technically, S3 is only in Kindegarten this year - but he's doing mostly first grade work. So, I seem to have a 4th grader, two 1st graders (though A2 is definitely almost halfway through first grade work, apart from reading), and well, the 4 year old is essentially doing Kindegarten work. It makes for some really, really busy days.

But I love it! I feel so very blessed to be teaching my children, I am so happy to be sharing with them, learning with them, just being with them!

One thing that has worked really well for us this year is all my planning and organization. There is simply no way that I could teach this many young children without being very organized, with a clear plan in place. I spend an hour or two each week putting together my lesson plans, and then for the rest of the week I don't have to think about it. Each morning we just pull out our binders, I check my weekly plans, and we get started. We have a nice daily routine, which I'll post about later, and I really feel like we athatccomplish quite a bit. We're pretty focused in our work, so the time we spend actually sitting at the table working is only about an hour and a half for my youngest 3, while J1 spends about twice that on his work. We try to spend 30-60 minutes outside each day (I love my backyard!), and another hour or two playing with good toys, like play-dough, legos, blocks, art supplies. We also have kitchen work and household chores, though I definitely have to get more organized about , lol!

One thing that I particularly love is the opportunity to see my children as unique individuals. They are so very interesting and diverse in the way that they learn. J1 is a very traditional scholar - he reads voraciously, and is quite happy to read about history and science, and grammar and spelling come easily to him because he reads so much. He loves studying language, both English and Latin, and is really taking to his beginning piano lessons quite well. He is very much a verbal child, though, and has to *talk* about everything. For example, when I give him a spelling quiz, it takes, oh, three times as long as it should, because he has to make up stories using all his spelling words and laugh about it with me. He struggles to do anything silently - but given that he's not quite 10 years old, and *is* capable of focused concentration when he's alone, I believe that it is just his personality. He gets it from his dad (as any of you who know my dh can attest!)

A2 is very deliberate in everything he does, almost methodical. Even if he can tell me what the answer to the math problem is by just looking at the numbers (which he's more and more able to do), if there is a picture to accompany the problem, he simply must count it all out. In addition, A2 is going to dig in his heels and not do a thing until he understands it. If you present a concept to him that he doesn't immediately understand, he just seems to shut down. But if you give him some space, he'll very patiently work it all out on his own, and then when he's mastered it, he will then - and only then - show you what he knows. I believe that's why he is not quite reading yet. Though he is making fabulous progress so far this year!

S3 does everything with a flourish. He presses really hard with his pencils and crayons on everything he does, tells stories about everything he can, physically acts out many of his stories, and generally can concentrate for about 10 minutes (though that's an improvement from his average of 8 just a month ago, so this school thing is really helping him out!) His mind is incredibly quick, and he pays attention to everything, even when you think he's off in la-la land, and surprisingly, he listens to instruction better than any of his brothers.

N4 just eats up the attention involved during schooltime. He always asks to do just one more worksheet, one more story, he could probably work all afternoon if it was just him and me and I was focused on him! He's very loving, very social, with a very long attention span for a child not quite 4 years old. He's also imaginative. He'll often just start giggling as he's working on a math sheet, for instance, and I realize he's quietly amused by the silly pictures in front of him. He doesn't talk about it (unlike J1 and S3), just giggles as he works.

It's just so very interesting to me, an only child, to see my 4 sons as such unique individuals, despite the fact that they are so obviously brothers (someone once asked us if we kept a mold in the basement where we made our kids!) I am so happy to get to know these children, really know them in all their strengths, weaknesses, and quirks. I think that's one of the best parts about homeschooling!

The one thing I need to work on, though, is finding more time in the day for my tasks - like updating this blog! I have many, many things I need to write about, especially given that this blog is mostly for my own record-keeping purposes. So, now that we have our school routines down, for the next few weeks I'm going to work on my household routines, and creating more time for my own writing and record-keeping. I'll let you all know how it goes - hopefully! :-)

No comments: