We launched our Leaping into Literature plan this week and it was a resounding success! With its focus on literature and the 4Rs we had a structure which still allowed for a relaxed atmosphere. No 'completing work with a tick box mentality', it was so lovely, the atmosphere was what we used to have years back and I have missed for so long:):):)
We didn't achieve all I'd planned, but that was fine, I implemented a rolling plan (thanks Ruth) and it worked beautifully. The rolling plan meant if everything I wanted to achieve each day wasn't, we simply started with what hadn't been accomplished the previous day. ie if one day we hadn't made it as far as our reading time, the next day we would begin there.
One of the major factors contributing to our relaxed atmosphere was our resurrection of our 'gathering time', inspired by Cindy's enthusiastic sharing of her Morning Time. Years ago we loved our 'gathering time' each morning, it was a lovely way to begin each day, but for a variety of reasons we discontinued this practice about seven years ago. We still continued doing many of the activities but not all together at the beginning of the day. This week we have been delighting in this rhythm again. We endeavour to begin each morning with prayer time this includes; prayers, bible reading (often from the Mass of the day), saint of the day discussion and a hymn. Followed by a selection of poetry reading (children's choices) which either I or they read aloud, great for elocution practice. We then enjoy a chapter or two from our current family read aloud. We finish up with discussing several catechism questions and reading a chapter from our Saint read aloud, chosen with the liturgical year in mind. This is tending to take about an hour and a half.
This term our primary aged children have begun MEP for maths, inspired by Jeanne'srecommendation. The first day was rather, ahem stressful, I quickly concluded that teaching maths lessons to 4 children at three different grade levels simultaneously was not going to work. Admittedly it has only been a week but already I'm most impressed with the mental computation skills fostered by this program and the scripted teacher's lessons are designed to really cement new concepts in the student's mind. Jelly Bean (9) and Jack Jack(7) are working on the grade 3 program together, and I'm finding the synergy of two students working on the same course material rather delightful and I believe they are enjoying working together too.
Our spring seems to have morphed into summer already and by 10.30am the children are ready for a break in the pool. A half hour or a little more is enough to bring them back refreshed and happy to continue with our next focus. This is a happy part of our spring term, contributing to the relaxed rhythm.
We then spend about an hour reading our 'theme' books, this week we concentrated on Australian literature. (see books read below). Picture books for the three youngest and Princess (12) and Michelangelo(14) read chapter books. Einstein was away this week visiting his older siblings. I'm aware that Michelangelo's book was not Australian, but the latest Percy Jackson book was released this week and it was hard to deny him. The truth is, when you have a child who was alatereader it is often hard to tell them to "put your book down", you are so thrilled to see them reading even if it isn't what they were assigned to read.
This is also the time I listen to Jelly Bean and Jack Jack practice their reading to me, both are working towards being independent readers, they are so close they just need consistent practice. This is not the ideal time really for their reading practice and I need to find another time. Also somehow I have to find a perfect time slot to begin teaching Jem, newly 5, his sounds and math skills.
We conclude our formal part of each day by lunch, with writing. The introduction of the narration jar was a huge hit!! Actually it was a re-introduction as our oldest children used to enjoy this approach from time to time too. The children enjoyed such prompts as; write a list of facts you learnt from your book, create a poster for your book, design a costume for one of your characters, create a clay model inspired by your book, describe your character's home. Such a pleasant change for the children to be enjoying the writing component of their day:)
A few tweaks needed, mostly the logistical issues of Jem and reading practice for JB and JJ, and we never quite managed to fit 'everything' in each day, but as it was the first week back, that's normal. I'm sure next week will be even more successful:)