Monday, September 25, 2006

First day back

After dipping a toe in the water before our holiday, today was our first serious attempt at a full day of our new schedule. The acid test of whether that schedule is realistic. The verdict? Yes. I think so. Today was a bit of a scramble, but it should get easier once we are fully immersed in the new routine. For those of you who enjoy day-in-a-homeschooling-life accounts, this is how our day went ...

We started late, at 9.30, thanks to a late night yesterday after visiting Tevye's sister and her family. We said morning prayers and read a story from the Golden Bible - we are plugging on through the Old Testament, and started back in with Joshua. We mused on why some Old Testament names are still popular (Joshua) and others are not (Rahab, Zipporah). We recited the 5 times table from our noticeboard (our version of fridgeschooling), but I forgot sign language, which we are starting to learn for Little Cherub's benefit (baby sign sounds a great idea to me). Star did a page in her English book, conveniently forgetting she was supposed to write it in her notebook and writing in the text instead. In ink. I sent her off to read on her own for twenty minutes while I read to Angel from Mother Teresa and Homeless Bird, with interruptions to deal with the gas engineer who came to service the boiler and heating system. (Mercifully our ancient boiler was given a clean bill of health, for the time being at least.) Little Cherub napped. Star finished her reading and asked if she could do some music practice. I agreed and she took her baritone upstairs. Angel opted to play her trumpet before tackling English. Star then decided she was lonely and brought her instrument downstairs. Both girls played different pieces in the same room. Simultaneously. By this time Little Cherub was, unsurprisingly, no longer asleep. After the musical interlude Angel did the next section of her English book - comprehension questions on a passage on childhood obesity taken from a government website. Not that easy to follow for Angel, whose reading comprehension is erratic, and I was pleased she did it independently and without fuss. Meanwhile I read to Star from St.Patrick's Summer. Little Cherub nursed and batted at toys. By this time it was 11.15.

We took a short snack break, then started back in with maths for Star and history for Angel, who was not impressed with the introductory section of Usborne's World War I: True Stories. I told her I thought the stories would be better. "Humph. Why can't we read them then?" I meant to start reading Witness to History: World War I with her, but forgot to pick it up at the library. Little Cherub fell asleep again, and Angel moved on to the computer to work on a page about school lunch boxes for her current affairs notebook (government recommendations on what parents should and should not put in children's lunch boxes have been in the news here this week) and to finish a maths exercise. Meanwhile I read to Star from Story of the World. She complained she was tired so we went upstairs and lay on my bed to read books on India. Her concentration was shot, though looking at a world map revived interest for a while. She then drew a Celtic-style pattern while I read to her from Premlata and the Festival of Lights by Rumer Godden. Phew! Everything planned for the morning completed and it was only 1.15. By the time we got as far as lunch it was 1.40. Oops!

Back to work again soon after two. Angel did her independent reading while Star got into a sulk over Latin - it was simple enough, and we both knew she had no real problem with it, but she went into full procrastination mode over her very short exercise. Half way through she wanted to draw a pig and was most aggrieved that I insisted she finished the Latin first. I decided to turn a blind eye to her urge to write in overlarge capitals. (I have learned to pick my battles. In this case pigs - yes, dodgy but legible writing - no.). Little Cherub grizzled in sympathy, and then fell asleep again. Finally we looked at a painting in Artistic Pursuits and Star made a collage of an outdoor scene. Angel and I listened to a simple conversation in French (along the lines of "Hello, what is your name?", "My name is M.Duclerc", "What is his name?" "His name is Nicolas" ... and so on ad nauseam). We translated it, read it aloud in French, and listened again. We skipped her chemistry experiments as I had forgotten, yet again, to buy fuel for the spirit burner in her chemistry set.

Despite our slow start, we finished in time to have something to eat before taking Star to her ballet class. More maternal incompetence there - we had run out of nets for Star's hair, and I had to rush back to sew elastic onto Angel's new ballet shoes (one of my pet hates is sewing ballet shoe elastics and ribbons, and I have a bad habit of leaving it to the last minute). Monday's schedule is a full one, and I'm pleased we managed to get through it on our first full day back without feeling too frazzled, despite a late start. If I can get a good morning routine going (including bed making!) and start our days promptly, then I'm hopeful this will be a good year - busy and productive, but not frantic and stressful.

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