I didn’t know how being intentional with preschool would progress this year, but I’m so glad I’ve given it my all. Hosannah and Noah are much more patient and obedient when they’ve been given some one-on-one time with me at the start of the day. Our school room is so small that we’ve had to expand out to the dining room table again, which actually works nicely with the older girls doing their independent work in the relative quiet of the schoolroom. At the table, I can go back and forth between Chavah and the twins while teaching.
It’s been a lot of fun using several educational items from Learning Resources to supplement the twins’ preschool. I continually underestimate the fun of manipulatives and the hands-on learning they encourage. They beg me to do the “fruit pie” and the “soups” to reinforce the letters and numbers they are learning. My goal as we move through the year is to simply get them as familiar with the concepts of counting, colors, shapes, and letter-recognition as possible so we start off kindy on a really solid foundation. They are learning letter sounds when we learn each letter, but that isn’t my primary focus yet. So far, I’m impressed at how they are able to focus a bit longer each week. To supplement their understanding of numbers, Pete is taking them through Critical Thinking Company’s Mathematical Reasoning books for 3 and 4 year olds. I can’t tell which they love more – time with Dad “doing school” or the fun math pages. It doesn’t really matter because they are learning!
As much fun as I’m having with preschool, I am consistently reminded of how difficult it is to homeschool any number of children (let alone 5) with a small, nursing baby in the house. I knew it would be challenging, but it is taking all my grit, tenacity, and perseverance (pun intended) to get through each week having met all of our goals. While the kids have seen me get stressed out on multiple occasions, I think it’s a very healthy part of life for them to see how adults handle difficult seasons. The kids are learning that it’s not all about them. If we are right in the middle of a complicated math problem and the baby has a blowout, we’ve got to stop and address that. When they are reading aloud their history notes and she’s screaming to be fed, we have to interrupt and get her settled before moving along. I’m learning an awful lot about how to be calm in the storm. While we have our frustrating times, it’s also a blast to have a sweet little baby cooing in the background. One day we were diagramming sentences and Jaelah was getting frustrated to the point of tears as we slogged through, and just at the right moment Kezzi blew a huge, loud raspberry. We all started laughing and it completely diffused the irritation. I’ve found that if the girls are needing a break from their school work, I can hand the baby to them for a few minutes and it works wonders in their attitudes. Playing with her for a brief recess helps them tackle their next assignments with gusto. It’s important to learn life lessons right alongside educational ones. As a family, we are developing the patience required to deal with interruptions and also how to value those times that are quiet and useful for when we really need to focus. It’s all about prioritizing. Ketziah has just gotten to the point where she is able to work in her “office” while we do some preschool. The most difficult juggling part of this season is slowly moving behind us, thank the Lord.