Our first day of school was pretty successful. The kids work up at their usual time and I decided on the spot school was going to start at 10am based on how long I thought I could get the kids “ready”. I’d been prepping he kids the last two weeks by telling them we would start school this week. They, especially Thumper, were apparently more excited than I realized. I guess that’s what happens when you play for 9 months.
Thumper actually rushed to brush her teeth and get dressed in 30 minutes. Amazing considering we typically take 1.5 hours to get out of the house in the morning. She was so early I told her to grab her little chair and line up outside the school “door”.
Our homeroom is half of our old master bedroom. I love this set up because now there is a dedicated room for the adults’ computers and the children’s school. It’s separate from the play area upstairs so we can keep playmates out of the homeschool area. Transition is also easier because there is a school the children can go to now that’s clearly delineated. I pretended to be the teacher and kept saying “Oh no, the teacher is going to be late!” I think it made the whole thing interesting and also familiar as both kids had gone to preschool before and are familiar with the routine.
The kids came into the classroom, I shook their hands, and gave them the rules and procedures of the classroom. Something I learned just this summer that is important to establish before school starts. I only have one right now though, only one item out at a time. I showed the kids the Nienhuis catalogue and said we were going to make Grammer Symbols, first with playdough, as model, then air dry clay.
The kids played with play dough for about 1.5 hour. I was really amazed that Thumper could concentrate on a task for so long without getting distracted. We didn’t end up making the grammar symbols as I planned because I was busy researching as they worked and realized the symbols have to be proportional to each other. But the kids had fun making different geometric shapes anyway.
Astroboy started to get bored after an hour and I directed him to do snack upstairs. I can’t remember what they did the rest of the time. I think just playing with play dough and also Thumper wanted to write while Astroboy wanted to play with the Number Rods, which resulted in an impromptu lesson in counting. One thing neat to observe is how he is so into his sensitive period for counting and numbers. Any chance he gets, that’s what he wants to do, count, through no prompting on my part.
I ran back upstairs at 12:30 to put together a ramen lunch while they worked. It was really a blissful morning where the kids got along and had things to occupy them. We then cleaned up and closed our door at 1pm.
The rest of the day we had quiet time, then went grocery shopping at Ranch 99. All in all a pretty successful first day of school. I really enjoyed focusing my attention on the children for 3 hours. I like being mindful and not thinking of 5000 things while talking to them, saying filler words like “uh huh”, “yes”, when half the time I don’t know what it is they are saying. It did take a lot out of me though since I’m introverted. I really needed that quiet time.
I learned today:
Though I had been beating myself up for not doing anything for 6 months other than cleaning and organizing the house, in hindsight I did actually do a lot. Since we were all staying home the first time, it was important to have HOME routines established. We had routines for cleaning up, prepping for school, quiet time, meals, chores, etc.
One big epiphany I learned from our elementary teacher last year was that the first 1-3 months of school is all about doing things to ensure normalization, meaning to help train the kids in concentration. It’s when rules and guidelines are established, when community is being built. We had a parent who was unhappy that the kids weren’t really “learning” yet. The teachers were doing a lot of “getting to know you activities” instead of math or reading/writing. But the teacher said there was a reason for this. The kids started with lots of art because all children love doing art and it’s not stressful. It’s a way to pull them into the classroom. She then moved on to math activities as that is one area that especially leads to concentration. Montessori Math work invites repetition. The kids were also learning how to get along, what the teachers’ expectations were, etc. Without a good established learning environment, you can’t learn. If the environment isn’t conducive to learning, whatever you’re teaching won’t stick anyway.
This is why we are doing art and prep now for the first two weeks.
I will try:
Our school time is going to be 10-1 for now. I was thinking an hour for lunch, an hour for quiet time, some time to do errands. but Astroboy ran wild when we were doing errands. He kept misbehaving and not listening. We then need to go to swim practice, where he sat again waiting for 45 minutes. I realized I had not built in some exercise time. So we are going to try half hour of walking after lunch tomorrow.