This week started out horrible.
Not just cutesy “oh we got off on the wrong foot, but muddled through!” horrible. I’m talking “mind-blowing, gut puking, insomnia inducing, we’re never going to recover, all our attitudes need major readjustment” horrible.
My kids have their own unique sets of issues. One has anxiety. One has ADHD and a problem with impulse control. And when one acts up with her personal trouble, the other follows suit. For my sweet anxiety girl, she’s been lately throwing up all night after she goes anywhere or does anything exciting. Not things that make her nervous, mind you. The positive experiences seem to turn her stomach just as much as the negative ones. For my hyper, unfocused baby, being slightly off her sleep schedule sends her into a fit of moodiness which is quickly followed by uncontrolled giggles and an inability to stand up.
Sunday night vomits turned into Sunday night sleeplessness and midnight laundry cleaning.
So on Monday, I was basically working in an insane asylum. But there were no nurses or doctors or therapists to mitigate between us. It was just crazy me and the other crazies. Their attitudes were bad, my attitude was worse. By the time the three of us climbed out of the one bed where we had all huddled in a grumpy pile and sat down to breakfast, I knew that the school day was not going to go as planned.
My priority for the day became two subjects that are actually many subjects rolled into two spaces. I call them “Calendar Time” and “Morning Meeting.”
“Calendar Time” starts at our desk in the school room. Once everyone is seated and comfortable, we start with prayer. The girls bring their prayer requests, I bring mine, and we all have a turn praying for each other. Then comes the Pledge of Allegiance. After this, we talk about the date, singing the days of the week song and the months of the year song and remembering what year it is. Then comes my favourite part: memory verses. We sing through the Bible verses we are memorising, enjoying some music time and singing and saying verses.
After Calendar Time comes “Morning Meeting.” Oh Morning Meeting… My favourite time of day as a homeschool student and still my favourite time as a homeschool teacher. This is our Bible time. Our history time. Our read-aloud. And most importantly, our time to think and talk about what we’re reading. You’d be amazed at some of the things kindergartens talk about when confronted with the Bible and history. I get the opportunity to learn what’s on their hearts. I learn about things that have happened in their lives that have troubled them—they’ve both had some rocky beginnings AND were both speech delayed, so pent up emotions spill out sometimes in a rush of sudden vocabulary— and I learn about the things they hold dear. They learn about each other and bond together. We’re not just drilling historical facts (although I love that they can both answer the study questions well); we’re learning how to build and enrich our small community.
When days are rough, these are the two school activities I prioritise over anything else. Math and reading and handwriting can all wait until the next day. But these precious moments cannot be missed. The goal of my homeschool is cultivating a love of truth, goodness, and beauty in the hearts and minds of these girls.
The rest of this week was all about teaching from this place of rest, rather than frantically shoving information down their throats in an attempt to “catch them up.” I challenged them, but I haven’t been pushing them beyond what they can do. One kid needed to be held and talked through her reading lesson, only doing half of it and repeating the full lesson the next day. That’s okay. One needed to do less math work and know that she’s still smart if she’s only doing a page a day. That’s okay too. And our week went so well! They did an excellent job and they learned so much. It was such a blessing!
Despite the fact that they’re both in Kindergarten, they’re at two different levels of Kindergarten. I’m not afraid to work with them one on one, go back and review things, and just let them learn at their own pace. My oldest is on Lesson 14 of “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.” She’s been here before, she had to go back to the beginning, but now it clicks. The other one is only on lesson 4. She reached lesson 10 before we realised it wasn’t sticking yet and we went back. Now she’s understanding it a little better. Oldest is in chapter 5 of her math book, barreling through each worksheet with gusto. Youngest cries when given more than one sheet and thinks she can’t do it, so is still slowly working through chapter 3. I’m sure there’s work that I’ll end up doing with both of them through the summer. But what matters most is the foundation they’re building.
They both love Morning Meeting, eagerly crowding so close to me that sometimes it’s impossible to turn the pages. They have so many questions and sometimes I don’t even have all the answers. But they’re learning. They’re learning to love learning, learning to love discussion, learning to ask questions and answer questions, learning to make connections.
Despite the rotten start, I’m really proud of the week we had. I’m prayerful that I can continue to teach from a place of rest and peace, giving them what they need most on the days where don’t feel our best.
Three weeks down, many more to go!