So, it's been more than 2 weeks since the start of the new year and my blog about wanting to get my life in order. How am I doing? Well, I had some pretty tall orders to fill, and contrary to what you might imagine, my silence (lack of blogging) is not an indication that I haven't accomplished anything. No, I'm not 100% on top of all of my semi-resolutions. But, I have made some huge strides that I'm really proud of. I wanted to write more, and although they haven't made it to the publishing point, I have been writing more. I just haven't had time to get the posts up. I'll be working on that in the coming weeks, and I hope to be posting something for you to read at least twice a week. I know that's a lot less than my previous high output blogging, but I'm not getting paid right now, and I've barely got time for this, so you get what you get.
So, exactly what kinds of strides have I made? I'm so glad you asked! I wanted to improve the way we do school around here. One of the reasons I love homeschooling so much is because I get to make learning fun for my kids. I get to challenge them at a pace that suits their abilities and in a style which suits their natural learning tendencies. But, sometimes, when everything is a crazy mess, it's hard to find the energy to do a full day of school. As I explained in my previous post, it isn't that the kids were doing nothing at all, but more that we weren't doing the things that I really wanted to do. They were doing more online lessons, and book work, less hands on fun stuff. I don't really want to do school at home. If that were my goal, then I might as well sign them up for an education at the nearest public school. It isn't about that for me. I want to engage their brains and develop a love of learning and a desire for discovery. That's what has been lacking. Of course it's important that they learn the fundamentals. It's important that they be able to read and write and communicate intelligently. But, it's more critical for me, that they want to know how things work and why things happen and that they learn to seek that knowledge for themselves. One of the things that has been so hard for me lately is doing science experiments and history projects with them. These are things that I want them to be excited about. Yet, I've not been in my groove and able to take an active role in that part of their education. Well, 2012 is the year of the get over it, remember? So, I sat down and I wrote out 6 weeks of lesson plans, and I included science experiments almost every day and little fun additions to our history curriculum. It's just the push I need. I needed that extra impetus of, “It's on the calendar. Let's get this done.” Now, school is happening every day. Not just the fundamentals, but the FUN stuff, too. Just like the kids enjoy. They love it, and I do, too. The other day, we made supersaturated solutions out of both borax and epsom salts, then made crystal shapes on pipe cleaners to compare the different crystalline shapes. The same day, we built a Lego volcano and then erupted it with baking soda and vinegar to simulate the volcanic eruption on the island of Thera, near Crete, which is speculated might have caused the decline of the Minoan civilization. I think it's safe to say that, we're back on track with our school plans.
Along with a better organized school day, we've brought back my favorite discipline system, ever. It's a gentle discipline system, which I call the behavior ladder. We have a printed copy of the house rules posted. Each child has a chart with 6 levels, and a picture of themselves with a magnet that moves up and down the ladder based on behavior. Breaking a house rule moves the child one rung down the ladder, completing a chore moves the child one rung up the ladder. Each rung of the ladder has a different set of privileges, with thinking time and chores only on level 1, and full privileges on level 6. If the child completes 5 days out of the 7 day week on the top 3 rungs of the behavior ladder, s/he earns a weekend reward. If the child completes all of his/her chores for at least 5 days out of the week, s/he earns a commission at the end of the week. (In our house that's $1 for each year of age. My 3 yo earns $3, the 6yo earns $6, etc...) It sounds complicated, but it really isn't the hardest part of the whole system is deciding what the privileges, rewards, and chores were for each kid. They love this system, and I love it, too. There is no complaining about completing chores, no one wonders where they are behavior-wise, and the whole house just runs a lot more smoothly. If you are struggling with discipline and tired of it, I cannot recommend enough that you check out the behavior ladder to see if it is a fit for your family. So, I'm totally on track with that goal for the year of the get over it. Go me.
Along with a 6 week supply of lesson plans and the reintroduction of the behavior ladder have come some bits and pieces of organization. I am still struggling with getting back to the gym. I want to do it, but life hasn't cooperated. Instead of simplifying I seem determined to take on new projects. I took a position as an administrator for one of the homeschool co-ops that I'm involved with, in addition to offereing 2 classes there for the spring semester. By far, however, the biggest impediment to further organization has been the addition of our newest family member, Mr. Harrelson. He is only the sweetest, most adorable, smartest dog, ever. Not that I'm biased. Mr. Harrelson is an 8 month old yellow lab/golden retriever mix. We are continually amazed by his intelligence. He's also still a puppy. A puppy that weighs as much as my 6 year old. It makes for some exciting moments. Plus, we're still adjusting to being dog people. We haven't been dog people in a very long time, and never so completely, unabashedly, head-over-heels in love with a mutt that we'd call ourselves that, even if we were. Also, although my genius puppy has made huge strides since he came to live here, he's still learning the ropes, and training a new dog is a project that takes a lot of time and consistency. He's amazing, but it still takes time. It's kind of like adding a toddler to the house. Except he's housebroken.
Anyway, there you have it. That's where I'm at so far. I'm nowhere near where I intend to be, but I'm making strides in the right direction, and I don't think you can ask me for too much more. What about you? Where are you on your journey in the year of the get over it? Are you making strides? We all just have to be where we are, but baby steps are better than no steps. So, how about it?