We did bare minimal homeschooling while in Taiwan and getting over jet lag took me all of January. Early February, my ceiling leaked, which resulted in the removal of a bookcase. As a result, I needed to reshuffle all my books, which lead to a general purging and organization of the living room/homeschool area.
Finally. I had a homeschooling area again. Who knows how long it would have taken me if the ceiling hadn’t leaked. February was the first month we’ve tried to stick to a 3 hour work period in a long time.
Here’s what the children did this month.
English – Read Magic Treehouse, Encyclopedia Brown, Junie B Jones, starting on Percy Jackson, finished Book 7 Explode the Code, suffix study, handwriting, reviewing All About Spelling Book 2
Chinese – 13 號月台的秘密， 國語日報， 淘金英雄妙管家. Writing first 30 characters in Sagebooks, 漢聲中國童話, reading club
Math – multiples, common multiples, least common multiples, reviewed multiplication table, word problems in geometry, fractions, and decimals
Geography, art, history – Children Can Listen Encyclopedia, D’Aulaires Greek Mythology in Chinese audiobook
Others – Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories play, violin, knitting, cooking class, perler bead art, Orff music class, visited local congressman office
English – Nothing other than being read to
Chinese – Astronomy books, reviewed set 1 & 2 of Sagebooks
Math – multiplication table, multiples, learning to read numbers up to 1 million in chinese and English, skip counting
Geography, art, history – same as Thumper
Practical Life – swimming lessons, finger knitting, cooking, rest same as Thumper.
What I Learned
- I need to make my mornings free at least 3 days a week for our 3 hour work periods. We will have 4.
- Our play dates need to be after 2pm, preferably 3pm or we get nothing accomplished. Thumper needs to go to school till 1 or 2 pm daily or else we can’t do Chinese, English, Math plus all the other subjects.
- I’m constantly looking at other peoples schedule and trying to figure out if we’re doing enough or too much. I had a super big epiphany the other day:
I struggle because I personally find all the knowledge they could be learning fun (esp the cultural subjects like science, history, art, geography).
So I get anxious when we only cover math, English, and Chinese. We have all these cool materials and books we could be using and reading! It sucks that we only get to cover 3 subjects using worksheets!
- Having the children follow a strong routine and not going out in the morning works better for me. I need time in the morning to wash dishes, do laundry, sweep the floor etc. They’re semi-meditative activities since they’re so brainless. It allows me to mentally prepare for the day and not come home to a messy house, which makes me feel like I can’t think. Going out in the morning disrupts that routine and I get too stressed.
- I should not use my laptop during school hours. The children constantly interrupt me (as they should) but the constant interruption puts me in a very bad mood. Kind of like trying to go to sleep and having someone wake me just as I’m falling asleep. Constantly. I have generally been happier when I’m just doing physical activities that can be disrupted while the kids school.
Life has been much better now that Thumper is mostly reading. So many things she can just do by herself without me sitting there. That’s the secret to Montessori that people don’t tell you about. Many of them learn to read in preschool, so of course they can do all these interesting elementary work once they start elementary.
We continue working on getting her level up in English reading. It’s all very strange because if she has heard the story, she can read very hard books just fine. But if she hasn’t and I ask her to read aloud, then she struggles with reading.
I think we’re almost there, with her reading around 3rd-4th grade books. But this why I say we’re still working on it; because she needs more practice reading words till she can decode them easier.
What I am also becoming aware of is, if we’re going to delay English for a few years, we better make sure the listening comprehension is there. At this stage, Thumper’s been floating by her knowledge of the spoken English language. But as her reading level heads to higher elementary, the words are less and less spoken vocabulary but more academic vocabulary. I need to continue to do audiobooks and read to her, just like teachers do in school, to expose her to those words.
Math wise we’ve just been reviewing what we covered last semester, namely addition/subtraction fraction, beginning geometry, and beginning decimal. I want to start on division and fraction, but have realized that we need to first go back and cover multiples. By this I mean common multiples and factors.
I’m ecstatic that I finally figured out how to practice math. In addition to the little problems she does when I give her a presentation, I follow up with the free Chinese math workbooks I downloaded online to supplement. The workbooks provide the depth and breadth in practice I was looking for. Using it as a followup means the children don’t have to sequentially go through a workbook, which eventually results in the children resisting their work.
We’ve been a bit remiss in the History and Science department. Hopefully next month. In the meantime, the children have been busy with more Practical Life items. Thumper learned to knit and started taking Suzuki style violin lessons. I’m hoping she will have an actual stuff sometime by the end of the semester. With knitting and crocheting, she will do it for a few days and then just drop it. But I’ve learned to be patient and put it where she can pick it up when she’s bored.
Other than language and math, the other thing we’re really concentrating on is Practical Life, with tons of cooking and random Practical Life stuff.
So sad, Astroboy. Doing nothing in the English front nor really the Chinese front. I decided to have him review Sagebooks again. The hardest thing with learning either language is just being consistent. That’s something I will work on next month.
In the meantime, he’s still obsessed with multiplication. So back to skip counting we go. I also started back on the Numeration section of my Montessori math album. We used the large bead frame to learn to read our numbers in the millions in both Chinese and English.
Astroboy has always been a much different child to Thumper when it comes to math. I remember my lesson with Thumper 3 years ago. As I told her how to read each number, she nodded her head like she understood, so that was that. No followup. Of course, much later I realize that she didn’t really understand. Ultimately we learned it somehow. But not the Montessori way. She wasn’t interested in the repetition.
Astroboy on the other hand, asked to read the numbers with me every day for a week. Each day, he’d bring out the Large Bead Frame and we’ll play a “game”. I shuffle the beads on the frame frame and composed 2 numbers, one on the Chinese side and one on the English side. That’s it! Such a simple game. He has to read one side and I have to read the other. Yet he finds this very fun indeed.
This month Astroboy also started swimming lessons. I’m hoping he will learn all his strokes so I can put both kids on swim team next year.
He also learned how to finger knit! Two years ago when we tried it was very difficult for him. Now his fingers are more dexterous. For 2 days he finger knitted and finger knitted several scarves for his Auntie and Grandma and himself.
Since we started our cooking class, Astroboy has also been doing way more cooking at home. I’ve taught him how to make his own hot chocolate and make oatmeal. For a few mornings I would wake up and find him eating his breakfast. I think he’s finally mentally and developmentally ready to help me around the kitchen. We can finally focus on Practical Life and I hope lead him to want to write.
I feel so happy about the way our semester is starting. There is a deep satisfaction when life aligns with your internal vision.