Easing back into a new semester

640px-Darjeeling-tea-first-flush-in-cupMonday morning, I woke up at 8am to a just made cup of oolong tea and the children having already eaten their breakfast of heated milk and scrambled eggs, cooked by Thumper.   Right now, both kids have been quietly working by themselves for at least an hour, the first in many, many weeks.

It’s so good to have our routine and normalized classroom back.

Ever since we got back from Christmas Break we’ve been having a hard time getting back into the routine of things.  The children often woke up at 8:30 and didn’t start work till 10am.  It culminated with Astroboy getting sick and for two to three days, both kids were waking up at 9:00, 9:30am.  He didn’t go to school those days.

A late wake up time means a late start time of 10am, this means that our work period for the day is short and I get anxious and frustrated.

So terrible, working every day of the week

Working every day of the week

Finally I used Astroboy’s cold as an excuse to take last week off from social activities.  We spent the week working every day, just to see if we could check off every item on our newly revised work plan.  (I’m trying to figure out what’s a reasonable work plan.)   We had no other agenda except work and play at home.

The children and I spent some time with each other that was not rushing from one place to another.  We dashed out 3 days straight to Semifreddie for some pastry breakfast or snack.  We went back to swimming again and had fun Thursday afternoon spending 2 hours at the pottery studio.

The only unhappy thing was me nagging the Thumper day in and day out to do her work. We ended the week with a discussion of exactly how many hours she actually spent doing work vs dragging her feet. Because she had been logging her work habitually the last few months, it was easy to show her that on a good day, her work period lasts 5 hours, and on the days when she starts work late, 3 hours took us to swimming time.

My talk must have worked because the kids apparently woke up at 7am.  Thumper was ready to go to school by 8:30.  She was really diligent and finished every single planned work on Monday, most of the work on Tuesday, and wanted to do some of her catch up work on Thursday, which is our weekend.

In fact, on Tuesday, because she started so early and was pretty focused, she was mostly done by 10:30.  We managed to finish most everything by 12:30 and actually ran off to the OCAC library an hour away.


So what’s most everything?  I’m in the midst of adjusting our workplan, for the first time with Thumper’s input since I tightened it up this school year.  So right now it’s got everything in it, no alternating days like last semester.  My aim right now is keeping it to about 7 “pieces of work” per day.

I don’t particularly like check lists because it’s easy to get into a mindset of “Let’s do 4 problems and count that as 2 days of work!” as Thumper tried to do on Monday (see how she blacked out Tuesday for math because she did “double” work on Monday).  I had to re-explain to her that we work because we want to learn, to feed our brain, not to check off a list.  There’s no maximum if we enjoy learning something.

I also told her my ideal is that she can eventually do the things she wants to study, within limits of course.  And if that means that she spends a whole day working on one project, I would be okay with it.  What I would like is to teach her to think, “I’m interested in learning this, what can I do to learn about this?  How do I learn effectively?”

This is the goal I’m working towards and it feels like we’re just one step closer!

Not sure how I ended up talking about our workplan.  I really just wanted to share my happiness at work days when things just “flow”, for both me and Thumper.   At the end of Monday, she told me, “Mama, I’m really happy today!”  I asked her why and she said it was because she did all that work.   I knew what she meant.  It’s not necessarily the “I check off everything and completed my whole work plan for once” happiness.  More the child who is content when they have concentrated on work they planned to do, was in that flow zone when they did it, and was able to work and live her school day on her own terms, from the moment she chose to wake up at 7.



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