Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ancient Greece I Day 4

Last night I had a kind of ugh moment.  As in, ugh, why did I plan for us to do a lesson from Live Education that involves painting ceramic bowls?  I don't have the supplies, don't want to go out to get them, and if I had been thinking about it would have realized that the project more properly belongs in the afternoon lessons will be having during our second Ancient Greece block, where we'll be studying the arts and crafts of Ancient Greece.

Moving the lesson made the most sense, so I was left trying to figure out what to teach this morning. Should I start Friday's lesson early, giving us more time for the planned drawing?  Could I find a program on Ancient Greece to stream?  I puzzled over it for awhile.

My boys already have a pretty deep knowledge of the myths and history/culture of Ancient Greece.  I knew this going into the block and still chose to go with it because most of what they know is head knowledge.  This week they've drawn an olive tree, created a labyrinth on paper, and jumped over an ottoman bull; these are the things I want them to do to bring the knowledge into understanding.  It can be very hard to create a sense of us (versus other), but that is the goal. The ancient Greeks aren't just a people who lived a long time ago; they are humans, they are US. Their stories and history are ours.

Thinking about this I ditched the idea of streaming a program on Ancient Greece for the boys; it isn't Waldorf and more head knowledge isn't what they need. I decided that we would move forward with the next lesson in Live Education.  After grammar and math we did some writing and we learned about Minoan sailing vessels.
T-Guy doesn't particularly like to draw, but he made a good effort.  Neither boy is fully back into drawing Waldorf-style, hence the hanging suns vs. diffuse light.
J-Baby does like to draw, but he was not in the mood to give me good work today.  He clearly enjoyed drawing the rigging, however, and tried to be very accurate.

Because I like to keep it real I'll point out that we had some resistance, once again, to the idea of doing one's best work.  J-Baby's letters float, they change size, and he has a hard time remembering to space the words.  It isn't a case of not being able to; he just wants to rush through and be done. He can write very neatly, in straight lines with nice spaces, when he wants to.

Sometimes I feel like he is doing this to spite me, to show me how unimportant he thinks it is. It is writing that I assign, not writing that he chooses. I don't really know what to do other than to persevere, to keep the expectations high, and to help him understand why. I'm also going to bring in form drawing again on a weekly basis during practice time. I love that forms need to be done a certain way and look wrong if we don't do our best work. They teach discipline.

Some might advise shifting more toward unschooling, but it isn't right for these children. While they do well with filling the abundant free time that they do have they need lessons to anchor their day. When we don't honor the rhythm and their need for structure things tend to fall apart. Summer break can be rough for us and I need to make sure that we don't fall into unstructured days.  It has always been this was for J-Baby; I have written about it before and even tried creating structure without it involving lesson work.  But T-Guy loves lesson work; he has a lot of his mama in him.

I split the lesson; tomorrow we'll talk about why the Minoans might have wanted to sail, but it will still leave the morning a little light since they did their drawing today. We can use the time; I'll give a longer writing assignment (they will help me with the summary) and we need to finish up a little earlier on Fridays anyway since J-Baby has piano lessons and I do tutoring with a friend's daughter.

Thursday afternoons are scheduled as "make-up" time to give the boys a chance to finish any drawings or writing that they didn't have time for during the week. We were mostly caught up, however, so we ended a little early in the morning and used the afternoon hour for spelling and other learning games. J-Baby also decorated his writing pages which he often attempts to skip (simple borders and coloring the background).

It was a lower key day overall; Papa had asked me last night how I was going to top jumping over furniture in the front yard. The truth is that not every day can be as exciting as that, but it's okay.  Lower key, meat-and-potatoes learning days are just fine.

Speaking of meat and potatoes, we had a semi-Greek meal for dinner.  Braised leg of lamb, potatoes, Kalamata olives, and Greek feta.  We should have had a vegetable but what I encountered in the produce bin wasn't lovely.  The potatoes are New World and not something that would have been eaten in Ancient Greece, but in this house lamb and potatoes go together, lol.

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