Tuesday, February 8
I Will Not Let February Get to Me: Taking the Pressure Off
Pressure Point Number One: As I sat down with my lesson plan yesterday morning I felt instantly behind. This two week unit on water and famine was supposed to wrap up this week, but a fun field trip last week made me behind a day. Getting behind a day when you only have 8, hurts a little.
Pressure Point Number Two: Looking ahead I saw that our next unit is supposed to be plants. Obviously, my curriculum hasn't looked outside my house where at least a foot of snow is covering all my plants. How was I supposed to make that work?
Pressure Point Number Three: My 4 year old was supposed to start a new unit at the start of February, but with two snow days and a field trip day, I kept putting him off. He wanted to begin, but I hadn't prepped at all.
Pressure Point Number Four: We were getting a late start. This always happens as winter settles in. Getting out of bed is harder, pancakes sound better than cold cereal, bathrobes are more cozy than clothing and before we know it, it's later than I wanted it to be.
#1: Program a new script in my head -- "Field trips are not superfluous goof-off days." I never consider field trips to be part of our curriculum unless they directly address what we're studying. But this cool opportunity arose and so we took advantage of it: B was at the Microsoft store making a commercial with a team of two other boys. They were learning about technology, working together and thinking in terms of creative possibility. I reminded myself that everything in my curriculum can't be so matchy-matchy. That break from the usual is often the place where our learning clouds open and we get something we didn't get before.
#2: Remember that I am not teaching a curriculum, I'm teaching a child. Because we just extensively covered plants several months ago and because we're in the dead of winter and don't have an outdoor lab we're telling the curriculum, "no." Pushing plants to a time of year when they're actually growing makes more sense. Instead, we're going to extend our water unit because we can and because B is really into the book of water experiments that we're going through.
#3: Give my preschooler just a little bit and he'll be happy. I don't have to have a full-fledged lesson plan for the day with all the parts and pieces cut out and laminated for him him to effectively learn. His time is more about getting my attention than it is about learning something new. I read him a cute book and then took some previously used pieces from the last time I did this unit (with B when he was 4) and ran with them. I showed S the idea of fractions: 1/2, 1/3 and 1/4. He discovered two things all on his own: 1. that 2/4 = 1/2 by stacking the pieces on top of one another and 2. If we cut two halves in half, we get 4 pieces. High fives all around and he was filled up for the day.
#4: S can review his letters and other skills on the computer and it's perfectly valid. While he's doing this, B and I can move much more quickly through his lessons and projects and memory verses. Without little brother asking for another copy of a color page, a chance to play with me, a snack, etc. we were done by lunchtime, S was happy, B was interested and yesterday was a good day.