It seems like just yesterday I wrote this blog post about incorporating my middle daughter Stella into our “school” activities. It’s ironic that I recently stumbled upon it again because- here we go again.
Stella demands school work now. If I sneak Mira into a corner somewhere to try and get some “school” done, inevitably Stella will track us down and every-so-seriously pout, “but Mommy! Where’s my choo-work?” Then she’ll wait
patiently while I gather some sort of activity or worksheets for her to doodle on.
Now I plan ahead and always pull at least three different ‘Stella’ activities with me whenever I attempt starting our school day: a coloring page or two, the dry erase board, a puzzle, a board book on one of her favorite subjects. At three years old I am happy with the 10 or 15 minutes of undivided attention Stella gives to her work. After satiating her school-appetite, Stella runs off to play and I can focus again on Mira’s kindergarten work and be content in the fact that Stella is being fed by choice and not force.
Now that Stella is older and can voice her personal likes and dislikes (versus blindly following her older sister’s trends), I have been able to cater activities around her interests and specific passions. And for Stella- that’s pretty much means anything pink- the latest being pigs.
We’ve been using pigs as the focal point in our learning, much the same way we did dinosaurs for Mira. We count pigs, color pigs, read about pigs, draw and write about pigs. There has been aplenty of piggies here for the past couple of weeks- so this recent find at the library was a major SCORE!
All this to say I finally had a good system down.
Did you notice the “had” in my previous statement?
We used to begin school shortly before Lyra’s morning nap. We would do our “circle” time by singing our alphabet and number songs and would finish up with a short picture book. Then Lyra would go down for her nap and the girls and I would complete our school day by the time she awoke.
Lately, Lyra’s been rethinking her morning naps.
On the plus side, she has a large portion of the alphabet down already. We also sing a phonics song that goes through the sounds of each letter and she can do portions of that, chiming in and out as she likes. By virtue of demanding to sit with her sisters she has devolved quite a decent attention span- at least for a 19 month old.
On the con side- it’s hard to do kindergarten work with Mira when Lyra’s trying to be included. It’s hard for Mira to practice writing when pudgy little hands reach across the table and try to swipe her paper. Math is all but impossible because when Lyra hears numbers being spoken she chimes in with her own version of counting. “One, two, freeeee, seven, TEN!”
Then there are the days where the girls don’t get along at all. It’s like they wake up with the single-minded intention to annoy and pester each other to the point of tears. Sure they’re my tears, but tears nonetheless. On days when the screaming and fighting occurs like clockwork I try to channel my inner Caroline Ingalls. But honestly- either that woman had the patience of a saint or Laura did some mighty fine editing in her books. So yeah, when my kids are making me pull my hair out (because their attempting to pull out one another’s hair) I think of good ole’ Mrs. Ingalls. I can’t always tap into her calm composure; but at the very least it leaves me with impressions of things like hand-stitched quilts, real creamy butter, and thick maple syrup. And how could that not brighten someone’s mood?
So now I find myself juggling once again to try and work out a new groove. I found it with Stella so I’m sure we’ll find it with Lyra soon enough. Then we’ll all get our groove back. 😉
And maybe the most important point for me to remember, especially when I am feeling frazzled and spread too thin, happens to be the single greatest plus of all: my girls are learning together and I get to stand there and witness it every.single.day.