A cranky homeschooling day

Wednesday: Week 3 day 3

Thumper: dry pouring (PL), crochet (PL) , addition strip board (math) & zhuyin assessments (lang), chinese folklore
Astroyboy: addition strip board (math), 10, zhuyin review, number songbook (language, music)

Today was a cranky day where everything is just on the verge of boiling over. It started with Thumper being woken up at 7 by her brother hitting her in his sleep. She couldn’t get back to sleep and neither could I. He managed to wake up at 8:30, which is normal.

All through breakfast the littlest thing would set her off into a crying fit. Nothing went her way. She didn’t want to drink milk (whine whine), she didn’t want to eat the huevosdillas I was going to cook for her (more whining, etc.) I knew she was cranky and I was trying to hold myself in. But whining is one of my pet peeves and really sets me on edge.  I didn’t yell at her too much.  Understanding that whining sets me off helps me to be mindful when I want to really yell.

The good news is that she was ready to go to school at 9:30. Astroboy kind of meandered himself all morning. He didn’t get dressed till 10:15 and I didn’t even bother trying to get him to clear his table. He felt slightly off as well.

In the beginning neither kid could sit still. They flitted from activity to activity. Thumper tried a dry pouring of these little pearl beads and of course very quickly lost patience and started playing with the material. I had to stop her eventually. She started crocheting and though I didn’t want her to I figured it was a good way for her to concentrate and center herself. However she didn’t crochet that long either.

IMG_3638-0Astroboy really wanted to play with the addition strip boards even though he’s not ready for them. But I gave him a lesson anyway. In the lesson you count the blue strip and then the red strip, like “3 and 3 is …3, 4, 5, 5. 3 and 3 is 6“. But he kept wanting to count “3. 1, 2, 3“.  This gave me a glimpse of how his brain thinks. All counting starts with 1 in his mind. So I changed tactics and counting all the numbers instead.  “3 and 3 is …1,2, 3, 4, 5, 5. 3 and 3 is 6”. I don’t think he got the concept at all BUT he learned finally to recognize the number 10 (I’d been trying a few days with no success) and he obviously really enjoyed counting, especially past the number 10.

After a short snack, in which any concentration and desire to school went out the window, I showed Thumper the Addition and Subtraction strip boards. It was so boring for her though she hadn’t used it much before. She kept counting backwards to get her answer, I swear just to annoy me. It’s apparent she doesn’t have the answers memorized from these assessments. But what I’m learning through practice is that the strip board is really there to introduce the idea of addition and subtraction. So since Thumper understands the concepts, I think I need to use the Memorization Charts instead. Though a quick look online shows that you could use the strip boards for teaching other things like communicative property but I’m not sure if she needs this concrete material as she is basically 7.

I finally gave up and just read them books. Why didn’t I think of that before?! We had a really good time reading for half hour. I read Thumper a story about the rabbit on the moon and sang from a songbook about numbers.  I had a flash of insight where I used a stick to get a beat going while reading so that I’m adding music to the curriculum.

We ended the day on a happier note and Astroboy made a really beautiful sushi and Thumper cut them. I was so proud as he’s just turned 4 and he’s kind of detailed if I’m not correcting him. Wish I’d taken pictures.

What I learned:

The insights from teaching are really what people don’t really talk about but what I find most rewarding.  It makes me happy when I’ve figured out one more way of how teaching works.  Today I learned that

1.  It is okay to just let things go when the kids are cranky.  I wiped the table for Astroboy even though it was his job.   I know this goes against the new “must follow through” idea I’m trying to follow.  But I also am realizing that it’s okay to let it go sometimes when you’ve got the kids 24×7.  The habits I’m trying to instill will get absorbed eventually.  And more importantly, it made me happy that I was able to clean up quickly rather than nag him.  This made for a happier me for the kids to deal with the rest of the day.

2.  Sometimes when things are NOT working, I need to take a step back and go with the flow.  When I start showing the children activities, I can get into a mode where I am insistent that they LEARN IT NOW.  This pushy attitude comes across and the children really resist.  I really wanted to hit myself on the head for pushing on the assessment when noone wanted to do it.  They were so much happier being read to and it’s still a very constructive activity.

3.  I need to remember to follow the child.  I’ve been pushing Astroyboy a bit harder in learning numbers and his zhuyin the last two days and I need to ease up. I didn’t go in with expectations for him to learn them, I was really following the child because he asked to learn them. And I had a good brain fart to use the iPad to do it. Each time, it was more play then instruction and I think in general less stressful for him. I didn’t stop him when he wants to draw all over my numbers and zhuyin, to connect them, to color them, etc. I just let him be. But since he’s been making progress and endlessly pleasing me on that front, I’m more apt to get mad when he’s “goofing off” and not listening to me when I’m trying to teach. I have to really stop and remind myself that we’ve arrived at our current love of numbers and zhuyin partly because I have not been pushing him. I need to let him lead and only take the opportunity when it presents itself.

Even with 3-4 hours of straight school I feel quite anxious that we’re not covering everything we need. The hours really go by fast.

What I should have done:
It’s so very hard to stop myself from correcting the kids when they’re trying. It’s one of my homeworks as a teacher. Astroyboy didn’t want to make any more sushi after the first one because I kept telling him how to roll that sushi. It’s something I have to be really mindful of because I catch myself doing this again and again after he refuses to try something despite the initial enthusiasm.



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