Here we are, a full month down the road of 2020 homeschooling! As I expected, there were bumps in the road. I wish I could say I hit all the bumps with full grace, but I will say after a few panicked moments, I did take some deep breaths, prayed, and looked at the big picture from a “superposition” outside our situation to evaluate what truly was the problem. Other than technology issues, my biggest hurdles involved what my granddaughter needed and secondary to that, what I needed to maintain healthy energy for her.
In essence, I learned to listen to her words and to my heart to filter out misguided desires (e.g., wanting to eat cookies and skip school for a day) from essential needs (e.g., breaks and adapting lessons). Listening beyond her words and getting to her heart was the key to our breakthrough. Following through by adapting my plans to her needs brought positive changes for both of us.
I figured out that when whining, complaining, tears, negative comments, etc. rise up, she needs more brain and/or body breaks than I would like. While I want to get everything done by noon and just have a big party with art and fun at the end of the day, this third grader needs frequent breaks. They might be 5 minutes or 15, but she is ready to work and has a positive attitude most every time after one of these moments.
Her favorite breaks are:
- Daily scooter rides around the block with me walking the dogs.
- Go Noodle Channel on YouTube. (I learned the Macarena and Chicken Dance really well for the first time this week)!
- In bad or smokey weather, we walked as fast (raced) as we could inside all around the house fifteen times.
- Balloon volleyball is my favorite game.
- YouTube songs to memorize math facts, parts of speech, Books of the Bible, and Presidents (This is a great one to have the family watch as we approach the election).
- Checking on the garden, finding treasures like acorns.
Looking for Learning Style Clues
During a lesson to write out key thoughts for a personal narrative story, I asked her to fill in her outline worksheet for the topic she had chosen. It was near the end of the day and she was already tired. Each instruction brought tears, so I decided we would ditch it until the next morning.
The next day, I decided to break it down and have her narrate the story while I typed for her. I then planned to have her write out her story from the typed version.
After a couple sentences, reaching for my laptop, she said, “Mimi, let me do this. I want to type!”
Knowing it would take longer, I wisely decided to honor her desire to do it on her own.
She has been learning to type from her dad so she surprised me and typed this paper faster than expected. Very little editing or correcting was needed. Knowing I’m writing a book she said, “Mimi, you and I should write stories about us!”
“We could call them Mimi and Me Stories!”
“Oh, Mimi, we would have about a million chapter books!”
Quite delighted with her excitement in writing her story and desire to keep writing stories, I was glad I listened. Typing was the key to opening her mind to flow and allow her to actually write a clear story with fluidity. Handwriting the story was the stressor for her, so now she practices handwriting in other areas, without complaining, and types her stories.
Giving Each Other Space
During the first couple weeks, I needed to sit by her and make sure I was learning everything along with her to be able to help her. This worked well in the beginning. During her MAP testing week, I realized she did better when I left the room since I wasn’t there for our chatter-bug to ask questions and comments.
This past week was wonderful because I learned when I need to be present and when I can leave the room to let her do things on her own, making mistakes that help her learn. With clear boundaries set before I left the room, she did well and I was able to get a lot more laundry, cooking, and cleaning done!
With this new confidence, she proved today that kids really want to do things on their own. When I was sitting in the same room with her, working on this blog, she piped up, “Now, Mimi, I don’t want you to help me with this, I can do it by myself now.” Okay!
Later, during reading fluency time, she sweetly asked, “Mimi, I want to do my fluency reading without you in here. Can you please leave?” LOL! I did and could still hear what was going on as I remained close by. It’s so delightful to see her taking responsibility and growing.
Multiple Children Juggling
Finally, as I’m writing this, thoughts of all of you with multiple children come to mind. There are many ways to juggle multiple subjects and many needs of multiple children. My favorite strategy with my four children was to ask the older ones to kindly and patiently help a younger one when they finished a project. All involved learned from each other and bonded during those sweet moments. Here are some other things that worked well for our family.
- When working with one student, schedule the others in independent activities like spelling, handwriting, quiet reading, or working on their favorite subjects.
- Save homework for Dad or another adult to help in the evenings. I do this now for our third grader so her parents are involved and learning continues, plus it keeps her from asking for screen time 😊. If she were in traditional school this would be her routine, so it’s a normal expectation for her family.
- Give Dad or another adult their favorite subject to oversee.
I hope and pray your homeschooling routine has evened out over the month. Please share your ideas that have helped your family!