All the kdorama websites are doing year end reviews, I thought I’d do one too. But I better hurry it up otherwise this one will be posted at the end of 2015 instead! Montessori says that there are 3 pillars in a schooling environment, teacher, child, and environment. I thought I would divide up my thoughts along these three lines.
This year, we spent 3 months travel living in Taiwan. It was such a good gap year/sabbatical trip. The kids “leveled up” on their Chinese quickly. We spent the next 3 months unpacking after 5 years of moving into our house. I’m still not done.
In September we started homeschooling. I love homeschooling a lot. People always say they don’t know how I can spend a whole day with the kids day after day. Many teachers I know are introverts. I am as well. I don’t have a problem spending time at home all day or not talking to too many adults. In general, I feel much more sane now that I don’t have to juggle work on top of childcare and the variety of Martha Stuart activities I want I do.
2013 was a year of personal drama and several losses. I would sum up 2014 as a year of growth and a year of rediscovering who I am, who I want to be, what I want to do, and where I want to go. I’d been running nonstop since Thumper was born and the months off have given me prospective. The biggest thing I learned about myself is how much downtime I need for myself and therefore I will never have that perfect homeschool environment or perfect house in my vision. I will never be the super mom that can hold a full time job, still cook for the kids, have an immaculate home, have time to spend with the partner, etc. The other thing I have decided is to be more forgiving to myself for not having the ideal Montessori environment I envision. To that end the kids enrolled in a Chinese music class because I don’t have time to do music on top of other prep I need to do.
Being at home as allowed me to work with the children on the “soft skills” that I never had time to instill in the children. The children help around the house more often, putting away dishes, set the table, help clean, etc. Thumper has progressed to making some food all by herself from beginning to end. (I can sleep while the kids cook and feed themselves!) Astroboy got potty trained and even takes his own shower now by himself. Even more importantly, they have learned to share by habit, to think of the other person, to say “Let’s do it together!” This is partly due to Astroboy’s inherited gentle temperament, rather than of my doing.
School-wise, it appears we ended up focusing on math mostly last semester. Thumper is doing addition/multiplication memorization and is half way through. Astroboy is counting non-stop. Language-wise Thumper mostly reviewed what she knew, while practicing her English handwriting and writing zhuyin. We will focus more on language and Culture subjects this semester. Thumper is enjoying her swim team practice and looks forward to seeing her swimming friends there. We still need to figure out the playdate situation. Astroboy is really enjoying his music class but needs more exercise. I would say in general the kids are not doing enough “school”. Yet at the same time I can’t say they’re not learning. Because we spend a lot of our free time watching Magic School Bus, listening to NPR and just talking to each other. I get a tickle every time Thumper says, “I want to listen to NPR” when we’re in the car. Radio Lab is super cool.
In summary, I like my children in the homeschool environment and really want to continue for at least another year.
We still have a long way to go on the “environment” front. I never really unpacked after we moved into our house 5 years ago and I spent 6 months semi-organizing while figuring out the SAHM routine. We still have so many things that need to be unpacked from boxes or unused items to be sold or packed away. The homeschool setup was pretty, if I can say so myself, but so lacking in materials. My plan is to use my 2-4 semester prep times (Dec, Mar, June, September) to continue to organize the house and the homeschool room. The living room has space to walk through and clear surface for the first time in several years. Cleanup takes 5-10 minutes instead of 30-60 minutes. And I realized how much happier I am not having to think, “I need to clean/tidy the house,” every day. Related to not stressing myself out over how I don’t have my ideal homeroom, I’m planning to just focus on one subject a semester in making materials. I’ll still make other materials, but the theme will be in one subject. This will also allow me to dive into the curriculum of that subject in depth.
With a tidier space comes with children putting their toys away, resulting in more happiness in Mama. That was the one thing I realized when I learned more about Montessori. Without a clean and tidy space with designed spots for items, the kids will not magically help me keep the house clean and tidy, or be self-sufficient. Cleaning is not how I like to relax during my free time, nor something that comes intuitively. So I’ve been so proud of myself for finally understanding that I need containers. Though Thumper’s inherited (yes from me) bad habit of leaving things where she last used them is still a work in progress.
One day I shall do a post on our homeroom and our Practical Life area. All in all, I’m a much happier and content person than a year ago and I’m thankful my partner is letting me pursue my desire to stay at home.