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.

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Planning for our 3 months sojourn

temple

Temple in Taichung

The short story is, we’re considering staying in Taiwan for 3 months like we did 2 years ago and I’m starting the planning process.

The Long Story 

A few moths ago, Thumper started speaking English, even when she’s in Chinese play dates.  By this I mean she clearly knows the words in Chinese but she didn’t want to speak it.  She seemed to want to flaunt her English for some reason.

After yelling at her a few times, I went into Project Speak Chinese mode and I started contemplating a stay in Taiwan again.  I guess I should be glad that out last stay lasted us 2 years of Chinese speaking.

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A milestone reached, normalization and working independently

Oh the pain, the pain.  I’m currently working on modifying the beautiful 2015-2016 work plan I had set up last semester for Thumper.   How great and beautiful was it?  The week we were to leave for winter vacation, she had two wonderful days where she just followed her work plan and finished everything on her plan in about 3 hours.

She was so proud of herself.

Then, the day before our trip, I told her that we had to run some errands and pack.  She actually asked me how she could then squeeze in her work.   She was worried she couldn’t get her work done for the day in time.   Sadly, I had to tell her that it was okay to not work that day.

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Book Review: 我家就是國際學校 My Home is an International School

internationalschoolI finally got my hands on the book 我家就是國際學校 My Home is an International School this afternoon.  I devoured it in an hour.  It will require a reread probably.

This is a book written by a Polish homeschooling mom and her Taiwanese husband, about their trilingual (Mandarin, English, and Polish) homeschooling journey in Taiwan.  The mom, Dorota, has a Masters in Chinese. And obviously she learned English (starting from middle school?) in Poland. She has two kids, a girl and boy and is Montessori trained.  The old one is 18 this year.  That was one reason I  had been eyeing the book for 2+ years, since I’m trying to do bilingual Montessori homeschooling.   I had also heard in an interview how she had to figure out how to work with her son’s learning style, which was different from her daughter’s.

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Installing Chinese and Zhuyin Fonts for Mac

Today, I install my Chinese fonts for the 3rd time on a third computer, and figure it it time to document the Chinese fonts on my Mac.

Mac comes preinstalled with Chinese fonts.  So there is no reason to install more fonts unless you

  • Need zhuyin + traditional character fonts
  • Need pinyin + simplified character fonts
  • Need pinyin + zhuyin + simplified character fonts
  • Need hand writing (鋼筆體)fonts

If you want to find your own fonts, google 字體.

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Workplan 2015-2016

Last year, I had a work plan that I probably followed for about a few weeks.  I felt bad that I posted about it and didn’t actually use it.  This year’s work plan has been test driven for a few months and so far it’s sticking.

The biggest mistake I made last year was not having a tight work plan.  I gave Thumper way too many choices.  Without a classroom routine set up, she did not know how to use her freedom of choice.   It’s akin to teaching Thumper how to cook by showing her each step slowly, making sure she has mastered certain skills, before giving her more responsibilities.  For example, to teach her to make hot chocolate, first she learned to just mix the cocoa and sugar, then I taught her how to pour milk into a pot and use the stove to warm it up.  Only after she’s shown me she’s very careful with heated food did I allow her to pour her own milk into the hot chocolate mix.  This took at least 6 months.  I realized I needed to really show the kids the steps before giving them free rein.  It’s inherently different in a homeschool because the child isn’t coming into a very well established classroom with kids showing them how to do these things.  So it’s all up to me to implement them.

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Nov/Dec ’15 Curriculum

Well, at least this month’s curriculum planning only took 3-4 hours.  I decided to group them together because Dec will be a short month and Nov we will have about 1/2 week off.

I think I covered about half of what I wanted to last month, not too bad.

I can feel the laze starting to set in.  Which means that my presentation calendar isn’t as detailed as it used to be.  I hope it doesn’t really come back to bite me.  On the days when I’m good, it is still very nice to just check the calendar and see what presentation I’m supposed to give.

The kids actually did sing a Halloween song last month and I hope to cover one this month.  We even managed to make some ceramic pumpkins.

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