I missed writing about March in our homeschool because our family was so swamped with a big undertaking. We were still homeschooling, but it was definitely put on cruise control for the month and it was nice for me to see that homeschooling doesn’t have to be at the center of our life for it to still continue on and be successful. In April I was able to return my full attention to it!
In March my third grader did a measurements block (we use Lavender’s Blue Homeschool for curriculum) and really enjoyed it. It was very hands-on and project-oriented. I supplemented it with a great STEM measurement kit from our library, and some fun books on measurement. Because we had so much going on in our lives, and we were really enjoying the topic, we ended up spending five or six weeks on the block and it bled into April.
After we wrapped up measurements, we returned to the stories of the Hebrews. Rudolf Steiner called the stories of the Hebrews the ‘soul stories’ for the nine-year-old child and they truly are. It has been an amazing odyssey through these stories this year. There are definitely challenging themes in these stories but they have met my child right where she is in a way that’s hard to really put into words.
In addition to the language arts work in this block, we’ve also used this month to tackle really setting in stone the memorization of the times tables. I made a list of the numbers 1-12 on our chalkboard and each day my nine-year-old chose a table to do (she still skips and says the table out loud and I find pairing the times tables with movement is so helpful). She is getting really close to crossing all the numbers off the list!
This was the month that it felt like my nine-year-old (who will be 10 in three months) has really moved through the nine year change and has arrived on the other side. Holding the space for her to mourn the loss of early childhood and come into her own as a more awake, independent and responsible child has taken a tremendous amount of emotional energy over the past six months. It’s an experience perhaps I’ll write more about as I am able to process it.
But I wanted to mention that I find it to be no coincidence that just as she seems to have fully come through the nine-year-change she is really fluently reading now. Reading is another topic I could write a novel about, but let’s just say it’s been a long journey and I have struggled to know how to best support my first child in this area. In the end, I think it was a combination of very concrete, technical support (we have been doing All About Reading lessons this year after following a Waldorf approach in first and second grades and finding that really lacking) and just giving her time to get there in her own time, without a bunch of pressure.
We also got to a point where I felt she had all the skills to be reading, but she didn’t have the motivation to spend time on it, so I told her that if she read an entire series of books, we would get her her first American Girl doll as a reward. That really lit a fire under her! I really enjoyed the discussion of appropriate use of rewards as a tool to help kids reach their goals in the book The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives“>The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives and in this case offering a reward worked really well. She is now choosing to sit down with a book regularly, even though she has finished the series.
So … an interesting thing happened over the past two months. When I decided to forego the typical Waldorf approach to reading with my second child, and start teaching him to read at age five, it never really occurred to me that he might ACTUALLY LEARN TO READ! LOL. But after spending much of the year learning the letters and their sounds (using The Good and the Beautiful curriculum), we started working with the Dash Into Reading early readers and he has been doing great with them! He is starting to recognize words out in the world and sounding out simple words – like now I can ask him to go push the ‘off’ button on our oven timer and he can do it. It has been a big shock and I’ve had to let go of the guilt that I’m doing it wrong or ruining his early childhood by teaching him to read. Ahhh … motherhood … so many ways to feel guilty over silly things.
We have had incredible weather in Portland this April and I’ve been taking advantage of it by keeping up with my morning walk routine. I am finding this alone time in the morning to be a lifesaver as I’m in an intense stretch of parenting – helping a child move through the nine-year-change AND parenting a two-and-a-half year old who is giving up her nap. It’s a lot.
This month I took my kids up to Seattle for four days, which was another balm to my soul. I spent ages 10-18 living just across the Puget Sound from Seattle. I could see the sun rise over Seattle from my childhood bedroom and as a teenager I sometimes took the ferry over to the city with friends to go to the Pike Place Market or a Mariners game. I really loved that city, but for whatever reason have not managed to spend more than a quick night there in the 20 years since I moved away. So it was really deeply meaningful for me to get to take my kids up there and show them around.
We had all kinds of fun – we visited the aquarium and the Pacific Science Center. We had an amazing breakfast at Honest Biscuits (gluten-free biscuits!) with a view of the Sound. My mom joined us for the second and third nights of our trip and on our last day we took the kids to see the University of Washington, where both my parents went to college and where my grandpa got his law degree thanks to the GI bill.
Traveling and exploring the world is a big part of who I am and what makes me tick, and that has been pretty challenging since having a third child. That is especially true for times when my husband is away for work or has other commitments. We always hunker down at home when he can’t be with us. So it was a big breakthrough for me to be able to take the kids on a trip on my own (granted, I still had my mom’s help – and thank goodness for that!).
In April, I was …
Reading … Before We Were Yours: A Novel“>Before We Were Yours (cannot recommend it enough! If you enjoy historical fiction – this is a winner.)
Taking care of myself with … a massage and a restorative yoga class.
Planning … lots of summer fun. I decided to give myself a break and sign my kids up for some summer camps this year, and I’m excited for what they are going to do. Plus, we have several fun trips planned.
Celebrating … Easter! We had a lovely Easter at home with family. We also celebrated my husband’s 40th birthday with a surprise day for him. We took him out to the Gorge for a gorgeous waterfall hike and then to Hood River, OR for beer tasting and dinner.
All in all, April felt full and rich and like a return to our busier routine of the warmer months. I’m happy to see the slower winter months go, honestly. I am excited for what the rest of our spring and summer will bring, while also trying to stay present for this last stretch of our school year and finishing it with intention.