Friday, December 17, 2010

The Week in Review

It's been a pretty good week! Let's see, what did we do? Oh, yes!

•The switch to Saxon math from Singapore was such a good idea! Amirah is all fired up to memorize her math facts and is doing so mostly all by herself. About 75% of the math is review, but about 25% is new to her. She has enjoyed how quickly she can do the math, and the variety of different activities (5-6) has been good. It's been much better than facing 10 pages of Singapore devoted entirely to adding three-digit numbers. Each section did have subtle changes in challenge, but nonetheless she did find it rather daunting. One reason I didn't like Saxon before was that part of what you pay for is a rather thick scripted teacher text. I don't like following a script, and I really don't like paying for it. So, I do skim through it to see if there are any pointers for the coming week, then just ad lib it. The teacher manual does include many "off the book" activities and I do appreciate that. We love taking our lessons off the book.

•We went to a Snakes class at Skidaway Island, but were very disappointed to discover that the class consisted of going into the room with all the reptiles and amphibians and waving hello to the snakes. Really, that was it. It was ten minutes. We hung out in the bird observation room and sketched pictures of the various stuffed birds they have in the room. Raizel did a pretty good merganser! Despite the disappointment we did have a nice (chilly) picnic and played at the playground.

•I've gotten better at more efficient learning time! I do more with all of them doing different subjects at the table at the same time (Amirah and Eli doing math, Raizel doing alef beis). It's a little crazy switching kids every 60 seconds, but it seems to work for certain subjects. We spent about 75 minutes per day on davening/parsha stories/chumash, then Amirah's learning took another two hours total. During some of her time I was also working with the other two. Then I did maybe thirty minutes with just Eli. We didn't do any science or history, but I don't really worry about that. We get to it as we get to it. Science is purely bonus, since Amirah already has plenty of science knowledge in her head, and history is really bonus for this age group too.

•Our halacha of the week is "Do not take revenge upon your people." Practically speaking, in our house it means that if Raizel takes apart Eli's K'nex structure (hypothetically speaking, of course!), Eli can't retaliate by throwing a block at her. Every time they do the mitzvah and refrain from taking revenge, they get to go write their name on the halacha poster. They get to do the same thing every time they do something like a chesed that falls under last week's halacha of "Love your neighbor as yourself." It's been pretty popular. This week's song was a big hit too. I've got to figure out how to post these things. If anyone wants a plain old pdf, I can e-mail it to you. :) We also call out "mitzvah point" whenever we catch someone doing a mitzvah, especially the ones we're focusing on. Where does the point get written down? In hashamayim, of course!

•Amirah's narrations (I read her a story and right afterwards she summarizes what she heard) have gotten more detailed while still remaining very tight. Writing is one of her favorite subjects.

•We started giving each of our kids "pocket money." It's a token amount, ranging from $1-2 for each kid. What do they do with their pocket money? Ten percent is set aside for tzedakah and how to spend the rest is completely up to them. If they choose to purchase something that we deem educational, we will pitch in 50% of the cost. And if they don't want to do a particular chore, they can pay a sibling or a parent $0.25 from their pocket money to do it for them. I didn't want to tie chores to allowance per se, because I think you should do your chores just because you're part of a family. So far a couple of them have given a chore to a sibling, who happily earned an extra $0.25, but for the most part they are doing all the chores without any complaint. We cleaned up the house tonight in about half the time it usually takes! I was happy. For now, we just made a list of their chores based pretty much on what they were already expected to be doing. Once our system is in place for a few weeks, we'll add a few more chores.

One thing I really miss - we used to do LOTS of art projects each week. There are pens, pencils, crayons, and drawing notebooks at their disposal and these are in constant use, but we haven't really done all that many special projects. I really want to find a way to work that back into the routine, at least once a week.

We've started the floor installation project in the learning room and music room. We actually bought the floors this week! We'll start ripping out carpets on Sunday. Learning room first, then the music room. Hoping to finally start that music class in January. I'm looking forward to having a place to set up all the glockenspiels, xylophones, drums, and all the other classroom instruments that are now living in boxes. (We're installing a lock on the door from the kitchen to the music room too so things don't get fiddled with in there!). It will also double as our exercise room. I'm going to hang my punching bag smack in the middle of the room, then take it down for the weekly music class. Fun stuff. I still can't believe we're in this house that so perfectly suits our needs. Baruch hashem!

So those are some of the highlights! Everyone is happy and humming and shabbos is coming. B"H!

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