It seems as if January can be declared ‘written off’ if I am going by the planned and set out schedule that I drew up. This week’s interruptions have included ear ache for Bob which means no sleep for him, tonsillitis yet again for Zog (finally getting refered to the ENT team at the hospital) and miserable itching eczema from Kanga, two trips to the doctors and plenty of broken sleep for all and exhaustion. After another go slow day on Monday I panicked on Tuesday and tried to push Bob through some lessons but all that was accomplished was a very frustrated Bob and Mummy who both reacted in ways we later were sorry for and a grace filled moment was found on the bedroom floor as we owned up to our wrong doing and asked for forgiveness. We also managed to have a wonderful afternoon out that day with other homeschool friends at the park and enjoyed a milder day than a week ago. Wednesday we discovered on iplayer the joys of Winterwatch and have one more session to get caught up on. That has been the spring-board for all our learning for the rest of this week as Bob has made duplo cameras and role played being a wildlife camera man for the rest of the day, at times also re-enacted the flight or attempting to re-enacting the flight of the golden eagle and European eagle owl or scurrying around as a pine martin. There has also been much lego building and the sight of Bob reading to Zog reassures me that he is learning despite the interruptions.
It has been one of those weeks when I have been reminded that how I react is how they learn to react to situations and so I need to take a deep hard look at my responses, but am thankful I am doing that with God and there is redemption and hope with Him. Also that the children are constantly learning and absorbing and while that sometimes means they are learning unhealthy reactions as mentioned they are also learning lots of great things about a whole variety of topics and interests even if the day has not included one ounce of my scheduled lesson plan, but then again why learn at home if we cannot be flexible and adjust to the season we find ourselves in. Another week when I have had much to learn and give thought to.
It has been a week of the full mix finishing with a new set of colds for the younger members of our family. Moments of love and wonder and joy at the opportunity to home educate to moments (at times prolonged moments) of wondering where to find a boarding school all three could go to at moments notice. The blessing of writing these reflections lets me recall that in the midst of some tough moments there was lots of great learning and creativity going on with maths taking a knock so we may need to have some fun with numbers tomorrow. We are reading The Trumpet Swan this week and are enjoying that, partly helped along by seeing our swan family on our nature walk on Tuesday and seeing the four cygnets almost a year old now with their parents. They still have some grey feathers but they are looking more and more like adult swans now.
History on Wednesday led to a fun day making Phoenician trading ships and war ships which the boys have loved playing with. Am so glad I went with Bob’s spur of the moment creativity inspired by the pictures of the boats as we read about the Phoenicians. Thankfully he opted for making the boats and not trying to boil snails for 10 days as they did, mixed with lemon juice to obtain the purple dye they were known for.
Today was one of those days which was taken over by the need for the plumber come and sort out a radiator but that left us confined to the sitting room with no heat or water and not realising that the job would take 5 hours. Other plans would have been made if I had known in advance. Again Bob’s creativity came up trumps and he and Zog after lunch got out their ‘how to’ drawing books and created some fun art work. One thing I am learning this week is that in moments when I am feeling trapped and frustrated is to trust Bob’s creative ideas and run with them even if they take me out of my neat ordered comfort zone. Because on each occasion the day has been turned around in that moment and we have been able to move forward.
Those fore mentioned colds are interrupting sleep so I need to leave reflecting here for now.
Another week draws to a close, though we do still have another day to go this week as we took time off this week. Having dived into lessons on Monday morning before heading to Praise and Play at church without taking into consideration the busyness of the weekend just gone we hit exhaustion on by lunch time. Well Bob did and in his usual style that meant also being wide awake with a brain on overdrive from 1-5am. We have come along way though in dealing with those long nights and so we moved Zog in with me and Mark went and slept in with Bob while he relaxed with Paddington DVDs on loop. He doesn’t make a fuss or create a battle and we have learnt that trying to get him to sleep is a futile exertion of the little energy we have at that time of night. And it will only cause further disruptions as it will trigger resistance and night terrors when sleep does come. This way Bob relaxes, and we all get sleep and then the next day he chilled at home and by Wednesday was back in fine form but as there was the lightest scattering of snow, the first we have had in a couple of years of any description there was no way anyone was going to be paying any attention and so tomorrow brings with it some more lessons.
Zog and Kanga this week have started French, their class is on a Tuesday morning so while Bob stayed at home with lego and Mark who was grading papers, I took the younger two into town to their French class. Zog was very excited by the idea of his own class and loved it till about half way through when he wanted to go home to Bob again. While they have their moments they are fantastic friends and love doing most things together. My prayer is that this friendship will deepen and strengthen as they grow.
We also decided to purchase our own copy of an animal encyclopedia we have renewed and renewed for the last 6 months from the library. The boys were delighted when it arrived in the post and it has been required bedtime reading every night since. The animal kingdom is incredible and I am loving discovering more and more about the wonderous creation around us and the creativity of our God to come up with the incredible diversity not just of different animals but the diversity within animal groupings. Spiders once dusted away now need to be looked at to work out what type it is. Ok so I would still rather dust them out but I am not allowed to as they are ‘beautiful creatures’ but so are snakes, eagles and many other animals as far as Bob is concerned though his comfort zone for many animals is the pages of his much-loved encyclopedia whereas Zog would love to go to a wildlife park or farm and actually see some of these animals in the flesh.
It has been a week for me where we have progressed through lesson plans and schedules as I am aware of what was let slip with illnesses before Christmas and want to do better on track and am still working out what this all looks like with three at home, two of whom are not yet ‘school age’. Yet Bob and increasingly Zog would be very happy for me to sit and read books with them all day long in their new castle tent, covering picture stories, novels, history and science with occasional breaks to build. Bob this week has discovered the joys of being left alone with selotape, cardboard, scissors and markers and allowed to do as he pleases. I see the way forward being a home filled with cardboard creations of all sorts stored high out of reach of sister’s
destructive curious hands. It has been a week when I have felt the weight of responsibility for the choices we have made for our children and in parenting them and wishing I knew how it was all going to turn out. I do not have a crystal ball and that is a good thing. What I have now is this day that God has given me and for which He has prepared good works for me to do and I believe that within those good works is the raising of our children and for us at this point as a family that includes home learning. He has called us to be Bob, Zog and Kanga’s parents with all our strengths and failings today; and that decisions while they play a role in the future need to be made in relation to today. Jesus calls us not to worry about tomorrow, to not worry about what we will eat or wear. I need to lay down my fears and worries about how it will all turn out and live in the moment with our children and walk through this day with them, teaching them and helping them. Sometimes that living will look like structured lessons, other times curled up reading, other times on the floor playing games, other times baking with 3 extra pairs of hands, other times trying to get the bathroom cleaned from start to finish in one go or laundry put away. I have a feeling Bob is going to grasp the fact 7 = 5+2 or 2+5 and 7-5=2, 7-2=5 and that those answers will not change from the start to end of the maths lesson quicker than I will learn to lay down my fears for the future even if in the moment of teaching him I wonder otherwise and I realise how differently God and I understand the concept of time and patience.
As I write this I can hear Bob reading aloud from our latest collection of books from the library. It is so fun to hear him read and wrestle with new words. His reading is coming on in leaps and bounds through his own motivation and determination. Just as with myself, learning phonetically makes little sense and it is really a case of learning and memorizing each word one at a time. He is also winding down after his first evening at youth group which he loved, but knowing Bob there will need to be a far amount of reading done to relax and switch off. Just not sure Aztec and Maya history would be my choice of bedtime reading but that’s our history boy for you.
It is a week of markers and milestones as Bob has started going to youth group, Kanga and I came to the end of our nursing season and I turn 40 this weekend. Nursing has played a large part of my life over the last 6 years less 2 months and it is a bittersweet point to have reached. Yet with its passing comes a new season and a greater sense of freedom and flexibility. Though we do still need to work on bedtime routine that is not quite so crazy as this week but to be fair Mark has been away and out 4 nights this week over bedtime so working out a new pattern with no nursing to sleep the same week as Mark being gone was never going to be straightforward.
This week also saw us finally get on top of colds and bugs that have plagued us since the end of November and we had a normal full week of lessons which we have all enjoyed getting back into and overall our week has been a happier one for it.That includes the fact that I have doubled up on our maths lessons each day to make up for what we missed before Christmas. Bob is well able though and it takes little extra time once he is paying attention. Zog has wanted to carry on doing lessons using our Christmas themed folder for his numbers and colours and patterns.
We have also moved in science from the animal world to the human body. The boys loved the animal world and we still have to read lots about animals but they are also very excited to learn about the human body so yesterday we worked on our skeleton Ezekiel which Kanga sees as her mission to take apart with great glee and joy. Next week we will start introducing different organs to our studies. It has been a while since I studied biology but the human body is something I feel much more familiar with than the animal world and I don’t feel I have to look up every answer to all the questions that come my way about animals.
We have a great line up of novels for reading over the next few weeks which also provide our basis for writing work; The Trumpet of the Swan, The Railway Children and Winnie the Pooh to mention but a few. French begins next week and hopefully the weather will improve and we will be able to get back out for nature walks again and meet with friends for art and music. All in all with its milestones and markers it has been a great week back in the pattern of home learning and as I reminded myself this evening sorting the boy’s room out, what a great problem to have when all that you are picking up to find a way to their beds and in fact to discover their beds themselves are books, books and more books. And knowing that these are not simply books dumped about the room but books that they have spent time reading in nooks they have made for themselves during their afternoon quiet time and various other points in the day, no doubt when told to be getting dressed, getting ready for bed etc.
All three are growing up in their own ways with their own loves, passions and ways of expression. What is noticeable at the moment is that while Bob and Zog play well together for the most part there is also a stretching as Bob is moving out of those early years and so his play is not always easy for Zog to join in with or there are times he just wants to go and read books and so Zog who finds assurance in contact has increased his need for hugs and contact this week aware that he and his big brother are not the same age and that there are times he feels as though he is being left behind. That said there are also many moments of great interaction and when everyone is in a good place Zog can see the benefit of Bob being older and being more capable as he can help in when Mark or I are not free, or their building projects can be more elaborate. Kanga meanwhile is ensuring her parents continue to suffer heart failure, working out how to get to reach the gas hob, how to open back doors and escape, climbing onto the dining table and discarding all that has been laid out for the meal you have just stepped back into the kitchen to bring out. She hates to miss out on what her brothers are doing and wants to be at the table too during activities and has her own ideas on how she should be participating.
It is good to be back in the way of learning again in this way, and fun to see where this term will take us as we travel through further ancient civilisations, the human body and the wonderful worlds our novels will take us too.