I am attempting to to write this while Kanga sits on my lap. Be it a developmental leap, a sense of detachment needing strengthening she has been my velcro girl the last couple of days and is never further from me than holding hands. She like Bob does not like to welcome sleep with open arms and so is fighting it with all she has got and for a 2 year old she has a lot of fight in her. I am hoping that she will become more open to it as Bob is when his world is totally calm and known which thankfully it has been for the past week since his osteopath appointment last week.
Lessons this week in the formal sense have been around maths, grammar and handwriting. The past two days have been really encouraging with Bob and numbers which has boosted his confidence no end and mine to be honest. He even wrote a page of maths equations for his uncle who is a maths teacher but he decided not to send it as he decided Uncle Kevin would still be busy with term time and would not have time for it. Zog also requested some christmas maths pages to do and so I got our some jolly postman based addition pages. Bob gave him some direction for the fist page which was a joy to listen to and yes I deliberately stayed outside the room when I heard him teaching Zog how to do addition. Zog then got on and did the rest of the sheets all by himself with no errors. Zog has always been the more confident one with numbers but I think for a large part for Bob it is not that he does not know what he is doing but that numbers do not stay put or the face the right way so confusion easily sets in. This week taking the time to watch him I could see his frustration as I knew he knew what he should be doing but it is as though he himself is caught by surprise by a number where he is not expecting it to be.
We have also entered the wonderful season of Advent, and so while many friends write about carving out times of silence, reflection and waiting I have found myself laying that aside and coming alongside 3 little ones who are over flowing with excitement and joy at all things both Christmas and wintery. Our christmas box of books was brought out today as their activity for the day and so its been a day of pjs and reading and what I love is that Bob and I can share the reading so for a time today we were all upstairs with him reading aloud to us all and I was able to potter around doing some tidying and sorting that was long overdue. Art work has also filled many hours this week which has been fun as we have listened to carols.
Our nature walks are still happening and a highlight of the week on a Thursday but the wind and rain or threat of rain means they are not as long or quite as enjoyable as they are at other points of the year. The older boys still paddle in the stream but there is more water at this point and so younger ones are not paddling. Everyone comes home wet and muddy and the washing machine is put to good use. It was lovely yesterday as an older couple commented to me as we all got off the bus on the way home that it was clear we had all had fun and that the boys were really well behaved, (Kanga was asleep, naturally just at a point in the day when I rather she just push through to a sensible time for bed). They were interested to hear about home education and thought that the freedom to play in the park and paddle and get muddy was wonderful and that we were clearly doing a good job. With being at home 24/7 introspection sets in and you sometimes cannot see the fruit of what you are trying to teach or the ways you are training your children and so conversations like that are a gift. They could easily have said nothing but they went out of their way and it made a difference to my day and no doubt encouraged the children too.
I hope over the holidays to be able to take some time when Mark is also off to reconsider and regather my thoughts for the term ahead of what works and what needs changing. I am leaning more and more toward Charlotte Mason style learning with note booking which is an easily adaptable style continuing to use the material we are already working through. For the time being that will require more diligence from myself to do the note booking while Bob grows in his writing confidence but I now feel like I am in a better place to let that rest for his and my sakes. My hope is that the note booking can also be done in a way that is more inclusive for everyone so that they can all have more of my attention rather than jumping from one to the next and not really doing anyone justice unless one gets lots of time and the other two none which leads to ruffled feathers, and disgruntled feelings expressed or quiet mischief being carried out.
We have been joined this week by Flat Stanley from Boston who is making his way around the world and will be heading off on his travels again next week. They are loving his company and taking him places. Next week we will write up a picture postcard and let his friends back in Boston know how he is getting on.
All in all this week is ending on a high affirming that this is the right path. My use of time and how we learn still need tweeking but that is no surprise and my early christmas present of a slow cooker is already proving its space in the kitchen providing some great meals and reducing the 5pm melt downs from all of us.