Friday, September 9, 2011

Back to school: The First Week--Successes and Sleep Deprivation

It always takes a little time to find our new groove, so I rather expected some craziness, not to mention that this was the first time I ever began a new school year without a lesson plan and without a schedule.

Here is what was accomplished this week:

All the older kids did their Teaching Textbooks math lessons and enjoyed them.  Gabriel even did two lessons in one day just for the fun of it.  Una worked on her story for an hour nearly every day this week, did the first lesson in her U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons from IEW.  The older boys and I are halfway through lesson 1 in their Student Writing Intensive A from IEW.  Everyone did the preliminary exercises in Drawing With Children, and I think I will have Una and Dominic together on Tuesdays, with them at two different levels, and then on Thursdays the other three will all be learning at the same level.  We are halfway through a book on Leif Erikson for our start in American History, and the boys are all eager to make a model of a viking ship next week to sail out onto the pond for a viking funeral.  Nothing ignites a boy's interest in history like telling him he gets to set something on fire!  Adrian surprised me first by doing eight pages of his phonics workbook all in one sitting, and then telling me he wanted to write a letter to a particular girl we know, and doggedly pursued me around the house whining until I sat down and helped him to write it.  Una has been doing a middle school religion course, but I think she get more out of her own studies in apologetics.  And she is beginning to learn French.  And Tolkien Elvish, so I am told.

I am not insisting on much from the little boys.  Adrian is bright and curious and picks up loads of stuff just by hanging out with his older brothers, and Dominic will benefit most from our art lessons, as he is still really lacking the fine motor skills he needs to do any writing or letter forming.  I really just want to work on the life skills with him, so that he can feel more independent.  He did an amazing job cracking half a dozen eggs for breakfast this mess and not a speck of shell in the batter.

We have framed Una's photos to get them ready for an art exhibition next week, and she and I are trying to sew a medieval type peasant costume.  All the kids have spent a lot of time outside riding their bikes, and practicing swordplay with their wooden swords.

So, without any real plan in mind, other than to try to make use of our pricey math and writing programs, we actually did quite a lot.

I'm glad it worked out that way, because I am nearly brain-dead with exhaustion.  Gemma is pretty much over her cough, but still she is sleeping very poorly and goes through a phase every night when she awakens almost every 20 to 30 minutes for a few hours.  I have gone through this three days this week, and I have slush for brains right now.  I wanted to bake banana bread and do some knitting today, but when Gemma napped, I lay down on Dominic's bottom bunk and dozed.  Una and Sebastian took over making peanut butter and jam sandwiches for lunch, God bless them.

I apologize for the notable lack of photos, which would have made this post so much more interesting, but I couldn't find the energy to go around taking pictures today.  I think I may have managed one shot of a wonderful writing spider outside Sebastian and Gabriel's window, and another shot of Bertram, our very proud and loud rooster.


  1. It sounds like an awesome beginning to your school year! You accomplished a lot, especially with the lack of sleep. We are heading to soccer games in five minutes... the start of a busy weekend. God bless!

  2. I scaled back my expectations this year too. After all these years, I decided to be realistic instead of idealistic, thus cutting back on frustration and failure set-up. What I used to do was formulate my curriculum and very specific lesson plans according to my great ideas (and others) and then squeeze life around it. This year I looked at every thing we had to do in a week (chores, music lessons, co-op classes, athletics, mass, etc) and asked myself how much I could reasonably expect of the kids and myself each day without adding to the stress. I made a very general lesson plan for each child (like here's the subjects you'll be studying, books you'll be using and how many times a week you should use them). I also asked myself what each specific child needed to work on instead of going by someone else's curriculum that said "do X and X this year." There's much less tension in the house and the kids actually seem to be enjoying learning (and my company) without me breathing down their necks.


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