Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You Can't Water a Garden with a Can of Paint

I have taken advantage of this rainy, dreary, day allowing my children rot their brains watching tv, while I concentrated on getting some things done. Mostly I have been thinking of what I have to do. Regarding their learning I have to:

  • place my orders for their material
  • have Grace take the Singapore Placement Test so I can purchase the appropriate level for her.
  • complete the learning lounge by removing the rest of Lilah’s things and putting up some educational material like large graph paper, quotes to think about and organize the bookshelf by adding labels.
  • finalize their schedule.

The dreaded schedule. I have been making myself a little nuts over the schedule. To help keep things in balance I made a web for each girl with everything they are doing or want to do. There is no way to keep our sanity and do all they want to do. I never want to become a family that sacrifices our family for activities. This was the reason Grace quit skating. Her schedule for training was keeping her away from her father. That is not good for us. Because we get so little time as a complete family unit, we take that into consideration when we plan. Rarely do things happen on the weekend. So I had to think hard about what activities are wants and which are needs. In order to do that, I thought about their goals.

Since Grace was four she has wanted to be two things: a vet and a meteorologist. As her world opens up she is seeing the many many opportunities that are available to her. Her visit to ESPN prompted a new interest in journalism and her recent blogging supports this desire. While I want to expose her to as many new opportunities as possible, I need to keep our learning connected. I do not believe we should just throw material at children thinking maybe they will like it, or maybe it will spark an interest. There is a place for this through family trips, day trips, reading and television. I believe our daily lessons should be about making connections, forming foundations and constantly building on that foundation. For example, I am purchasing my art curriculum at a recommended age level lower than my children because it focuses on ancient art. Lilah’s field trip to the Peabody Museum was so that she could experience Egyptian art first hand. But while visiting the museum she fed her passion of nature by viewing the insect exhibit and the rocks and minerals. My teaching is very planned and my philosophy has always been Constructivist, children construct their own meaning through experiences, but they need to be given the proper tools. You cannot fix a car with a fork and you cannot water a garden with a can of paint. To do a job properly you need the proper tools. To build on learning, you need the proper experiences.

For Grace this may mean we do not participate in Destination Imagination. While I would LOVE to give her this experience, it does not tie in to her goals and it is very time consuming. But she will be able to join an ensemble to play her music with a group of other children with similar interests.

Lilah has goals of pursuing art and baking. About six months ago she desired to open an internet based etsy site where she could sell her baked goods to order. So as I plan for her, I keep this in mind. I am searching for cooking programs to give her options. For now she will alternate a cooking class with an art class so that we can stay balanced.

Today I made a schedule placing in activities where I think they will be. I have every morning blocked off from 8:30-1:00 for lessons. Then come the outside activities and I also need to plan free time for play with friends. In order to complete this, I need to get more information on flute lessons and finalize where and when Lilah will take cooking class. I plan on creating a beautiful calendar similar to the one at Childhood Magic.

I am amazed at how much thinking goes into the planning of a homeschool schedule. It is a fluid thing, constantly being tweaked and shifted to keep balance. That is my keyword this year -- BALANCE. If we remain balanced, we have a happy home.


Theresa said...

Very interesting. I am learning a lot. I always feel like the bad guy when I say we can't do something. A few years ago, when I pared down the girls to three activities each, I was told by another mom that my problem was that I liked to cook dinner and what I needed to realize was these were the years for Wendy's & pizza. It's nice to know like-minded people. The girls need to be able to pursue their interests while still having time to relax and time for family :)

Jessica said...

Ugh! I cannot imagine being told that! Kids need activities but they also need roots and stability. Greg may not be home Mon-Friday for dinner, but the three of us eat at the table almost every night. If we have a week like this,where we are running around at friends houses, making quick dinners of egg sandwiches or pancakes, I miss dinner. I miss making the table look pretty and sitting together talking. My favorite memories of last weekend were the two amazing dinners we cooked and all ate (the 4 of us) around our table. To me, that is just as important as dance, music, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, etc.


beautiful post. Family connection seems to be the missing link in our culture right now and it is so sad to me! Deep love and connection should be the foundation of from which we grow forth into the world, and unfortunately, so many people are without that foundation. You seem a wonderful and thoughtful mama, keep it up!

Fatcat said...

Hi! Thanks for commenting on my blog.

I agree with you about the scheduleing. I tweak mine at least 4 times a year and try to balance it all.

You asked about gluten free resources for your daughter. I highly recommend this book

Remember, she can eat plain meat, vegetables, fruits, dairy - the main things you have to watch out for are breads, cereals, crackers, gravys and sauces, meats that might have other fillings like meatloaf, hot dogs and sausage.

I find I do a lot of google searches for things like "gluten free brownies". :-) I also go to or and search for recipes. I found that Bobs Red Mill pancake mix makes great biscuits and that Thai rice noodles are a very good pasta/spaghetti. The main thing is read the labels!

Let me know if you need any more assistance, I'll be glad to tell you what I've found out.

Theresa said...

I agree completely. We love to cook and now Allie is getting in on it too! Picking recipes she wants to try and cooking with supervision! It may be different for hs kids (bc one would suspect parents are spending a lot of quality time with them) but for kids who go to school dinner imo is such an important time to sit and TALK and learn about their family. I work 2 nights a week now and Jason and Allie cook together. I miss those dinners. I look forward to cooking on the nights I am home and sitting around together- long after our meal is done -talking about our day, our dreams, life, current events.

This post made me talk with the girls today about what they want to do/be, what their interests are. They both said fashion designer (which is what they have said since they were tiny). So we may invest in some more drawing supplies and they will continue weekly sewing with my mom when she gets back from the lake in the fall. We may try to find time for the art classes, too. Thanks for putting those thoughts in my head! :)

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