We’re halfway through our first quarter, with art camp coming up in a couple of weeks, which will comprise the two-week project/travel/sick time window. Seamus is still transitioning to his new routine. I still get a lot of push-back, but it’s less about control and more about anxiety. Writing is a challenge for him, and it triggers almost all of his blow-ups these days. I think it’s a combination of issues (lack of fine motor skills and some executive skills combined with anxiety over not doing something well when he is so capable elsewhere) rather than a learning disability like dysgraphia, so I had him take a break from most of his writing work for about a week, then began sneaking it back in. He’s not doing blocks of text right now, but he writes a little each day, spanning all of his subjects each week, like this:
Math: Twice a week he solves word problems in Life of Fred.
Language Arts: Once each week he works in Handwriting Without Tears, Twice each week he has vocabulary or sentence work in his spelling book, and once a week he does a short piece of copywork from the stack of reading books, or a supplementary item I may have left out for him to peruse.*
Reading: This week we’ll begin moving from narration (which he disengages from alarmingly fast) to answering questions about the books in writing. He’ll do this twice a week, alternating with narration, or some sort of graphic organizer. I’ve made a big attributes chart so we can compare several creation myths we will read over the course of the year, and I’m looking for others that will support deeper reading. I’m loving ReadWriteThink these days, and can’t wait to try their comic strip lesson plan.
History/Geography: I’ve made a giant timeline out of a roll of easel paper (we’re covering 40,000 BCE - 500 CE this year, and trying to not Dead White Men our way through it), and Seamus is encouraged to read with an eye to finding pertinent items to post on the timeline. He writes them up on a large Avery label and sticks them in the right millenium. This helps keep him reading the body of the text and not just the image captions as well. I used a Venn diagram last week to help him identify important architectural aspects of Jericho and Catal Höyük, and I thought the results were encouraging.
Science: We’re just getting started, but I found a stack of different organizers, including one for writing up experiments. So we’re going for it. I think after a while we could phase that one out and move to his science journal to document his work.
It feels a little worksheety here right now, but I don’t care, because he’s engaging more and that’s crucial to this whole Operation Writing and Learning Are Not Scary thing. I’ve added more projects. This week he designed a city, and had to think about who would live there, what resources were at hand, and how it would be built. We’ve foraged, tried our hands at cave art, and caught wild yeast for bread-making. Next week we build a ziggurat.
Tristan has just finished two weeks of rice/lentil play in the sensory bin (because I went through a box of vacuum cleaner bags, between that and the pet hair), and has moved on to playdough, which the boys watched me make and color. His easel is out every day, so he often paints or makes a chalk drawing, and he has more interest in fine motor activities than Seamus did at this age. Like Seamus could, he can sit through a good hour-plus of storytime, and since I rearranged the shelves he has gotten more interested in our picture book collection. We do a lot of puzzles and I’m laying a lot of wooden train track.
They love the library, our local playground, and swim lessons. Tristan starts a music class in August, and Seamus will start playing soccer with the local club in September. Shay would like to add music and art to his schedule this fall, as well as lacrosse in the winter, but we’ll see what money and time allow. Mostly time. They still need to run wild.
Pics when I can pull ‘em off of my cranky phone.
*This practice of putting things out so your kids discover them and possibly trigger some self-directed learning is referred to as “strewing” in unschooling circles. You can read about it here.