Monday, April 17, 2006

Planning

We're ready to revamp. Well, all that really means is that I want to change things. The boys are just along for the ride. They need rhythm, and anything I do to make that rhythm stronger and more natural for them will do them good.

First, we're going to move main lessons back to mornings. It really did seem that afternoons worked best, but what that really meant was they work best for ME. I like lazy mornings, sipping my smoothie while on the computer, soaking in a long hot bath, and maybe being ready to head out around 10 a.m. Boy #1 likes sleeping in and snuggling, Boy#2 likes a few snuggles and then wants his breakfast. Other than the fact that he would rather stay in pajamas all day, he is raring to go after he eats.

I know Donna recommends morning work, but I kept telling myself that it didn't work for our family. I have to be honest and admit that it just doesn't work best for me, but that afternoons aren't working best for any of us.

To make this change I have to think outside the box. I used to bathe at night, but I hate blow-drying (frying) my hair. I'll have to bathe either right after the boys are in bed, or before dinner, so my hair has time to dry. (This may seem trivial and not part of a Waldorf blog, but it is part of my daily rhythm. I have 30" of hair to dry!)

I'll have to get up a little earlier, but I naturally wake earlier and then choose to stay in bed, so I don't think it will be a problem. I also have to give up the morning computer time. Again, I don't think it will be a problem - it is just a habit and habits can be changed. Lately I've been thinking that I should join the boys at the breakfast table anyway, as a way for us to reconnect after a long sleep.

We'll probably have to give up our Wednesday story time, unless we really get going in the morning. I'm not going to count on it. We have to work on the basics of the rhythm first and then see how other things fit in. I'm a bit sad about this, but I do see how the rhythm changes will give us more time for reading out loud in the afternoons.

So, tentatively, Intake on Monday (story), Assimilation on Tuesday or Wednesday (artistic expression, manipulatives, etc.), and Output on Friday (written work, understand and apply). Core story work will be done in the mornings, preceded by some sort of physical activity. Practice work, secondary lessons, crafts, will happen in the afternoons. I'm not sure we'll do a formal circle; as the boys gets older it becomes more forced. I'm looking to create a more organic circle as we transition throughout the day.

Why the change? I've been re-reading the rhythm section of Book III of the Enki Teacher's Guide. I can clearly see where we are missing the wave.

The second thing that needs to change is working within the 3 day rhythm. Donna's 1st grade syllabus has more of a 2 day rhythm (2 cycles in 4 days), but it isn't working for us. My boys, especially the 6YO, aren't ready for assimilation and output on the same day. They find it very hard to draw their pictures AND write the same day. Well, the 7YO can do it, the 6YO can't, and this is real life and I am teaching them together in a Kindy/1st grade year. Plus I think the 7YO could benefit from more time as he rushes through the writing and it can be sloppy, or he rushes through his drawing to get to the writing, again not taking care with his work.

Enki suggests one cycle of 3 days, or two over five days. For the rest of first grade I am going to slow us down to one cycle a week. This will leave more room for the secondary lessons, which we always seem to run out of time for. I think it will also be better for my 6YO. He is doing a combined Kindy/1st year and I think we've been going to fast for him, which is why he opts out so often.

Another thing I have decided is that I am giving up the idea of a 3 month summer break this year. I realize now that we needed the flexibility for weeks off throughout this past year. Also, I am slowing down the Christopherus syllabus to one story a week, so some of the blocks are going to take us longer. For instance, I am going to stretch the final math block from 3 weeks to 4 weeks, and the final language arts block from 2 weeks to 4 weeks.

So we are putting off formal lessons for yet another week, while I plan and rearange our rhythm. Tentatively, this is how I see the next few months unfolding:

4/24-5/5 Finish 3rd Language Arts block
5/8-6/2 3rd Math block
6/2-6/4 Trip to visit great-grandparents
6/5-6/16 Summer Nature block
6/16-6/25 Beach Vacation
6/26-7/7 Form Drawing (reintroducing this now that Boy #2 is 6YO)
7/10-8/4 Final Language Arts block (Word Families)

8/5-9/10 Summer Break

9/11/06 Begin 2nd grade

2nd grade will be interesting. We're going to start with 2 weeks of form drawing, which is currently followed by a planned week at the beach. I didn't want to start the term late, but I also don't want to be in the middle of a language arts or math block during the trip. So it will probably be a nature block, heavy on the unschooling. One week for intake, and one for assimilation and output. The other option is to cancel the beach trip and reschedule it as a desert trip in November. We'll have done a lot of beach study this year, so the desert might be a better choice.

2nd grade needs a lot more planning. I am starting to look at resources and will be buying what I need soon. I want to read through everything over the next few months, then do the bulk of the planning in July, so we can all take August off. Right now I am planning to buy the A Path of Discovery books for 1st and 2nd grade, plus the Christopherus Saints and Heroes book. When Donna finishes the Christopherus Language Arts book I will probably buy that. I'm also looking at the Noble Knights of Knowledge math curriculum.

Of course, in reality it is a 1st/2nd grade year. I can't gauge now in April what my 6YO will be developmentally ready for in September. Beth (Enki) recommends combining the children; using the younger child's stories earlier in the year and the older child's stories later in the year. As far as math goes, they seem to be right in sync, and of course nature and science are easily combined. It may be that next year I separate the boys for language arts; after nearly 2 "school" years of homeschooling I feel confident about doing this, especially if we are using the slowed down 3 day process each week.

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