Friday, April 02, 2010

Observations from a week off from school

We have just finished our final holiday week of the school year. The end of the school year is approaching fast. Typically in these final few weeks of school the actual work tapers off as we end some subjects before others. We have two more weeks of math, three more of grammar, and so on. As some topics drop out, I can lengthen the lessons for the remaining subjects and speed up their completion. So sometime in the next six weeks, formal lessons will be replaced with a more relaxed schedule that is more typical in our holiday weeks.

During the school year we take a week long holiday about every six weeks with a two week break at Christmas. This helps us keep our sanity knowing that a break is not too far distant. For mommy these breaks give me a chance to catch up on long term chores (like clutter management, or toy retirement) or schedule otherwise difficult to fit in shopping trips. For the kids it is a chance to play an extra video game, work on that craft project, read a book for fun, do some coloring book time, and play outside more (weather permitting). Mommy gets to just enjoy some down time, too. After a week break, a return to the usual schedule is refreshing. Much more than a week and the kids start to show signs that they need more schedule "boundaries" to feel comfortable again. I think the week off helps clear my brain too. It helps me have time to reflect on our progress, plans for the future, what works, what needs to improve and just who are these kids of mine.

So here are a few random observations from a week off from school.

  • The Pillowfight Fairy likes piano enough to play it for fun when she doesn't have to.
  • The Fairy and the Adrenaline Junkie like to play games together.
  • The Adrenaline Junkie and the Happy Boy have the same energy levels and a similar interest in running all over the place.
  • The Fairy has made substantial progress in her needlework craft to the point that it is now entirely her own. She can usually thread the needle, she can start her thread and end it properly and she can follow the pattern of stitches to completion. Mommy is only needed if some unforseen disaster occurs.
  • The Junkie reads and spells better than she realizes. She assumes that she can't read things or spell them, but when prompted is pleasantly surprised that she can after all. She just doesn't like going to all that work when there is an easier way (such as ask someone else to do it).
  • The Junkie has no perspective. Specifically she doesn't understand why Mommy can't teach her how to make a video game during her brother's naptime or drop her off at her grandparents' house (2 hour drive) whenever she feels like it. She has grand plans of inviting everyone we've ever met to our house for a party. She suggested we make a child sized wooden train and railroad in our backyard. Then this has to compete for space with the life-size castle she is planning to make out of cardboard. She is very eager to wash dishes and clean house except that she can't reach the sink properly and she doesn't have the patience to do the job as instructed. (I remember my own attempts at dishwashing at her age and do not wish to recreate the mess and the work needed to straighten it out again.)
  • The Fairy and the Happy Boy can actually play together sometimes and enjoy themselves. I've noticed how the two younger kids play well together. But, the oldest kid tended to want to do her own things when not doing school work, or to play with her sister. But this week I actually saw her initiating a game of catch with the Happy Boy that gave them both some fun. It was good to see them get along so well.
  • All three kids are actors. They will all re-enact any favorite scene at a moments notice. They will "quote" videos with each other during lunch (each taking turns saying a particular character's lines). Even the three year old does this.
  • When the Junkie gets an idea into her head it is hard to get her to let go of it. She is tremendously stubborn. She doesn't take no for an answer and she gets in trouble for being overly persistent.
  • The Junkie is normally very unfocused in her manner of living. She flits from one thing to the next on average every five minutes. She forgets what she is doing and makes mistakes because she is distracted or overly playful.
  • The two previous observations seem to be contradictory, but I suspect that they are simply two facets of her personality. As she gets older, I suspect the stubborn persistence will give her drive and focus to do the things that are important to her. The unfocused, distactableness in her personality is a combination of her love of fun and an untrained mind. Fun and humor are often a result of the spontaneous action or word. This can be nutured and encouraged to result is a well-developed sense of humor. However, some of the lack of focus is purely, lack of training or discipline (not discipline defined as punishment, but discipline defined as planned growth toward a goal). I see a great deal of potential in this little bundle of energy and contradictions that are my daughter. She will be a challenge to train. May God give me the wisdom I need for this little girl.
  • The Happy Boy is firmly in his routine is good phase. If the day goes along his normal routine (even if everybody else's routines are off), he is content and cooperative. If his routine is off, he is argumentative, grumpy and quick on the tantrums.
  • The Happy Boy likes to snack. I don't generally allow my kids to have snacks, because it usually ruins their appetites for the regular meals. But if a kid has eaten his/her last meal well and is hungry early, I might allow a snack (growth spurts usually do it). But the Happy Boy seems to be like this all the time. He likes a big breakfast, snacks, and smaller meals the rest of the day. It makes me wonder what the teen years will be like.
Those are pretty random thoughts. But I like to mull them over in stray moments. Eventually, I may come up with educational goals, house rules, or wise precepts based on these disjointed ideas. Like a cook does with a recipe, I like to let my thoughts simmer on the back burner, so to speak, for a long time. From time to time I stir or add a little seasoning. Then I taste to see if it is ready serve yet. Eventually these little morsels add up to something useful and perhaps helpful to someone else.

No comments: