Friday, October 24, 2008

Update on my Engineer

Since we stopped and took stock at where my engineer was at we have has some ups and downs and done a lot of learning - or at least I have.

We've had 2 weeks of so of unschooling, where he had the day to himself to choose what he learned and then had to report back to Dad. Admittedly it was semi-unschooling, he had to show narrations of what he had learned and do corrections to his spelling etc if it wasn't up to Dad's standards. He didn't necessarily like it but his level of schoolwork increased heaps.

We then had two weeks off as a family for the school holidays. It was a good break as far as our school holidays go, no planning for mum, a few fun house projects for the Engineer and a lot of rest time. We didn't get out as much as we wanted to but we did re-connect and my engineer caught his breath as bit and started to be polite

During our first week back he was doing his normal subjects, working for me, being checked and marked by Dad. Lots of ups and downs this week. Days when he didn't want to show Dad what he had done because he has spent the morning finding excuses not to work. He also had a one or two better days. Strangely his good days don't always start until after lunch. Maybe it was the motivation of being able to help out on the renovations? It was a good start to the term.

Since I wrote the first part of the post we have had another week of learning and working together. The distractions of redecorating has taken our energy levels and our tension down which has been a good thing. My engineer is happy to do his work, but still easily sidetracked and still dislikes getting reminded to do his school. However - he does accept that he is at his desk until he is finished for the day - so even though he only starts working at 11or 12 am he is at least still doing his days work. I'm starting to accept that this simply may be the way life is.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Planning thoughts

I don't have any legal requirements to keep records so I have a lot of freedom in how I plan. Over the years I have tried various methods of planning out my kids learning time. I've kept overviews, we've used tick-lists, I've created and recreated schedules of our year in detail and in summary, as weekly overviews and daily to do lists. Mostly we seem to get more stress from my planning than benefits.

Recently I have been using very little planning. We are simply doing the next thing and in many ways this is far more productive and less stressful.

But juggling maths, Latin, Greek, writing, dictation, copy work, music, drill sheets, and the weekly round of history, bible, literature, science, art, nature study, composer and artist studies across three children and my head starts to spin.

I realize that any structure I choose needs to be flexible that we can stop and master the work without putting pressure on ourselves that we are getting behind. But, since my children will avoid what they are struggling with I want to be able to see where they are slowing down, or what is being missed so that we don't loose the plot.

My latest review of my planning forms has come down to

  • An overview of our term goals - where I would like us to get to at the end of each 10 week block.

  • A form that allows me to record what each child actually does each day - with room to pencil in my plans for the week in advance for subjects that I want to be organized for.

  • I may add in amore detailed form that lets me mark how we are going with our goals in case its a simple matter of prioritising a slubject to reach the goals. I haven't decided yet if this is healthy or not.

So now in the quiet between re-decorating jobs I'm going to finalize my plans and try and catch up on some marking.

The first of my Iris' are flowering - I haven't had time to take a photo but this is one from last year, they make a beautiful border to the main rose garden.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Brulee adventure

It has been an exciting week or so.

For the last 2 years I have been avoiding the issue of replacing the carpet in our home, the expense, the upheaval and facing carpet stores has put me off doing anything about it. Until a surprise find on our local "trade-me" auction site. I was looking for a brulee touch as a Christmas present for my husband - kinda musing at the options when I stumbled on a house-lot of nearly new, soft brown or dark fawn carpet.

Hubby ignored the item on the watch-list until the morning before when we had a look and worked out that it was both a good deal and a solution to the ever growing bald patches on our floor. Next thing we had carpet, renovating ideas and a 4 hr trip north to collect it. (Did I mention that our family van doesn't have a tow bar.)

We had some fun getting it home, courtesy to my Husband's Uncle and his flat-bed truck. Enjoyed catching up with Great Grandma on the family farm, and seriously prayed that the carpet would arrive dry as it had rained almost continually since we purchased it. It did its dry, and ready to go.

So in the next 4 weeks the aim is to:

  • Tile the area by the french doors in the boys' room - the condensation off the frames runs down the edges onto the carpet.
  • Take the wallpaper off our bedroom, sand, plaster and paint it.
  • Paint the Artists bedroom,
  • Remove the bookshelves in the lounge (I've been promised new ones),
  • Remove an internal window between the lounge and the conservatory,
  • Gib the lounge and dining room over the artificial wood panelling,
  • Paint the lounge, dining and hall,
  • and then carpet...
All while homeschooling, teaching high school science and trying to maintain our sanity...

But once its finished we can relax and avoid any further mid school year disruptions - at least foreseeable ones. (We will finish painting the boys room and touching up the rest of the house in the school holidays..

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Spring Break

During this last week we have had a chance to catch our breath and relax, apart from praying for the Staffer family, and recovering from a sore throat...

  • I've replaced my trees with fruit trees , an apple, a fig, a cherry, a quince, and two pears. I've also planted a red current bush, a gooseberry, and put in seeds for this years vegetable garden. We don't have much space for veges at the moment, but the more I read about the modern varieties compared to the older ones the more I want to grow our own healthy crops. We went through the same thoughts with the fruit trees, the heritage varieties seem to have it over the modern equivalents both for nutrition and for disease resistance.
  • We have caught up with friends from out of town. My artist enjoyed that heaps.
  • The children have been making puppets which has been fun - I'm hoping that they also put on a puppet show this week.
  • We have done our spring/summer clothing shop (if I hit the sale I can do this in one hit and then we don't have to go clothes shopping again)
  • The boys have done electronics kits with Dad, with mixed but positive results - me engineers project beautifully put together didn't work, but both boys managed to enjoy their time.
  • I've partly caught up on my Latin and Greek work so that my beloved artist is only one lesson ahead of me.
  • And we have started to enjoy each others company again. I am hoping that chilling out this week, putting life in perspective, and the changes that Dad has implemented by reviewing the Engineer's work will set us up for a much better term.
I've often worked the kids through the holidays or played with putting them through the term, and variations thereof. It is nice to relax as a family and enjoy time to chill out, rest up and get other important things done. I need to remember this next time I'm tempted to work through.