Getting back into things after a break

It’s been ages since my last post – we have been overseas getting a new visa and visiting family and friends. We got back early last week, and I have spent the week getting over jet lag and trying to get myself organised. The rest of this year seems like a massive hurdle. We have a baby due in 8 weeks, then Christmas and all the accompanying craziness.

Although we took work with us, we didn’t do nearly as much as I had planned. I spent the time away re-evaluating what we are doing with our learning. I thought about what is working, what is not, what the future will look like, and how things are going to work with a baby in the house. I am going to make some changes, starting tomorrow – our re-launch. We are following a Southern Hemisphere school year, but here in the Northern Hemisphere school has just started back, so it seems appropriate to make changes now.

We are going to start doing a Morning Basket. It has been quite difficult this year getting everyone to gather and focus for bookwork. I am hoping that having a deliberate gathering time will make our days start with more purpose. In our Morning Basket time we will do things like devotion, singing, reading picture books, doing science/history read alouds, music study, maths facts, bedtime maths, word games, and things like origami just for fun.

Another big change will be a big increase in the amount of writing and bookwork in general that Bookworm is doing. I have realised that I have let her get away with writing very little, and I haven’t been increasing the amount of work she does at the pace that I should have. So as well as the language arts program that I’ve been using with her, she is going to be given other writing assignments to do over the course of each week – a thing called “The Big Write”, where she writes on a topic I give her, book reports/reviews, history reports, science reports, and instructional pieces. The Big Write is an idea that I stole from something my niece does in school, where they write for half an hour on a topic, then highlight the different words in the sentences – nouns, verbs, etc. I have tweaked the idea so that Bookworm will plan it one day, write a draft the next, and over the next three days will edit it then write out and illustrate a neat copy. We’ll see how we go. She is very enthusiastic about the idea, but we’ll see if that translates to actual writing!

With Snugglepot, my main focus is going to be on improving her handwriting. She is struggling with poor letter formation, and lots of letter reversals. This makes writing a big chore for her as she is not fluent enough at writing. I also need to help her become more consistent with using capitals and lower case letters appropriately. So I have armed myself with chalk markers to write on the windows, shaving cream for writing either on trays or in bags on the days I can’t handle mess, chalk for outside, and playdough. We are going to do sensory writing activities every day, until we nail this thing. Bookworm could do with the handwriting practice too, and Buttercup is desperate to learn to read and write, so this is going to be a family activity.

Buttercup has just turned four and I have no intention of making her do schoolwork yet, but she needs to be kept busy and is oh so keen to do what her big sisters are doing, so we will be working on her reading, at a pace led by her, and I am going to give her some practice with scissors and things so that she can use them independently. I also realised the other day that I need to give her more access to art supplies and the chance to create freely. The house we are in is just not suitable for me to have art supplies out all the time and freely accessible to the girls, so I have to be more mindful of getting them out, and letting them do free art and craft, as well as our art projects for school.

Things will probably change again next year, as I am hoping to be able to get a boxed curriculum that I can just pick up and run with, to make life easier. But I am hoping that we can get a good routine going before the baby comes, to stand us in good stead for the months after that.