January 6, 2017

First Week Back in 2017

Current read-aloud
It’s a new year, and after a great school break in December we are back to it.

I am excited to get everyone back into their routines mostly because our day seems to flow better when everyone has their assigned activities they must do. And, despite how well my kids seem entertain themselves and play together in general, it helps everyone appreciate free-time that much more.

While we were off in December, I tried not to do too much school planning. I wanted to have a school break, so that means I should take a break too, right? But it was difficult to turn off the school-brain completely. The month-off gave me some great time to reflect on the first term of the school year, rev-up for the coming weeks of the new year, and to re-think some of our school choices.

The major change I made was in our Language Arts department.

Main history text this week
I was really excited to get on board with Brave Writer this past year. It seemed like a great choice for us—a way to teach some things across all the grade levels I’m dealing with at the moment, and I also like the curriculum’s lifestyle approach to writing. But for our family, I felt we needed a bit more structure, and often times I find my mind gets overwhelmed when I’m left to “fit things in," or let things happen. So for this term I have reverted back to my beloved Sonlight language arts for each student. Because some of the kids are at more advanced reading levels, I’ve adjusted some of their assigned reading, but I really like how Sonlight plans out writing assignments and gives guidance in teaching grammar. Even though I’m leaving Brave Writer for now, I don’t regret buying the Writer’s Jungle at all. The concepts in the book are wonderful, and I will definitely use it as a reference guide. I feel more confident to adjust Sonlight’s LA material appropriately for each child’s strengths and weaknesses now.

Three of the children are practising piano
Our first week back to school started out a bit rocky… in that one of my kids was constantly asking to have a break or when they could go and play. The month off was already a distant memory in their mind I suppose. Lol.

My boys' (ages 5 and 8) Lego creations this week
Spent time playing checkers with my kindergartener
School books piled up to be put away for the WEEKEND!
Our "school room" for now
We are reinforcing some difficult concepts in math for one of my boys. I'm searching the internet for good resources on the topic, but it's not really helping at all. We are practising, and trying not to get too frustrated. Unfortunately, we can't move on past this and revisit it later, as long-division is appearing in all of his upcoming lessons. So we kind of need to master this now. As well, 2-part word problems are quite challenging at this stage. I think the combination of reading the question, trying to figure out what information is there and what is missing, choosing an operation, and then finally doing the problem is quite overwhelming for my 3rd grader at this point. But we'll get there.

I try to have meal planning and most of my shopping finished over the weekend so I don't have to go to the store during the week. This week however, we were finished school early one day and everyone seemed ready for an outing. We took a drive to some shops and the kids had a chance to spend some of their allowance. As well, being post New Years weekend, I hadn't done any meal planning, and had avoided the grocery store as much as possible, so this week's meals have been under the concoct-something-from-ingredients-we-have-on-hand category. Usually this doesn't work well for me, but it was okay this week.

Our french tutor resumed lessons with the children this week. It is a fantastic opportunity we have here. The children's exposure to french is limited (being homeschooled) but what they're getting is perfect for us. Having a tutor come to our house is an added bonus. Three mornings per week, the kids each take turns with her while I work on other schoolwork.

We have been doing the majority of our schoolwork outside on our back terrace. It's summertime in Madagascar now, and our upstairs school room is pretty hot and stuffy. I love being outdoors in the sunshine. Our yard welcomes many birds swooping in and out of where we're working, and the breeze is heavenly.

One thing I've kept up very regularly over the past 3 months is exercise. I love getting up before the kids, having my coffee during quiet time, and then doing an aerobics or strength training video on the deck. I normally loathe physical fitness, and I am not athletic in the least, but when I stay regular at it, I feel energised for the day, and just better in general.

The children discovered stitching cards! We were reminded of this great craft in our read aloud (The Long Winter). My grandma has made many of these over the years, and even hand-stitched each of my wedding invitations. But this was the first time that I made some with the kids. It was so much fun.

The kids went through a major Perler bead stint this week as well. The boys love Star Wars, so the only disappointment for them was realizing that we're out of black and dark blue beads. Unless I source Perler beads in Madagascar, we'll have to wait until July to purchase more. No Walmart or Michael's here...

We also pulled out some unfinished lapbooks the kids were working on last year. They got excited looking at their work and it inspired them to add on a bit.By Wednesday afternoon, my youngest had a fever and a headache, so he laid low the remainder of the week. I wasn't completely surprised, since somebody in our family always gets sick the week following Christmas and New Years. It's like a tradition.  :)

Our week ends with pizza night and a movie!

Until I get around to posting again...


  1. What happened to old fashion learning... this sounds more like having a lot of fun and getting smarter at the same time ;)