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Lessons Learned in the First Week

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Someone is starting to get in on all the action.
We barely have one week of school behind us.  If you read about our first day then you know it has certainly been an interesting week.  As an aside, the little guy is continue to do well.  After numerous infusions, the swelling in his hand is decreasing.

Despite the unpleasant surprise, we managed to make the most of the week and spend a great deal of time in the classroom.  If this week is any indication then I think the year is going to be as good as I anticipated.  It has taken so long to feel like I have a handle on all the necessities concerning our home school.  The kids are more eager to learn than ever.  It is certainly culminating to something wonderful.

The Good

The concept of normalization is essentially the students ability to assimilate well into the Montessori classroom community.  Generally, certain classroom concepts have to be reintroduced when we take a long break.  Rugs and materials don't get returned, focus is off and a high amount of direction is required.  This time we managed to hit the ground running and never looked back.  As I stood back and watched them work I never would have guessed it was the first week.  While I do think the summer Montessori program helps in this area tremendously, it's been nearly a month since they attended.

Toddler Management
I was very nervous about how Lockelan would manage in the classroom.  The situation has been far better than I imagined.  Yes, the colored pencils have been dumped several times and Elora barely intercepted an about-to-be-tossed sand tray but it's still vastly more manageable than my fears.  For the most part, he hasn't disturbed the work of the other two.  He does occasionally focus on one of the toddler works.  It seems like the more we're in the room, the less exciting ripping things off the shelves becomes.  It also helps that the older two are focused on longer works now.  I have more free time to address him when necessary.

Work Plan Concept
I wasn't sure how the work plans would be received.  It turned out to be a huge hit, especially given the  scented dot marker to check off what has been completed.  Elora is intent on completing each task every day.  So far it has provided a good amount of structure bound to the proper scope and sequence.  It also keeps me from losing track of where everyone is without constantly putting my nose in my binder.

Work Period Plan
The plan for the work period seems to be a great fit.  Circle time in particular is a perfect mix.  Granted, we have not added our Classical Conversations memory work to it yet.  Instead we have been working on personal information memory work such as address and phone numbers.  I also like the lower number of new presentations I give each day.  So far they have been simple to squeeze in and both Elora and William have been fully engaged.

Type-A planners like myself don't do well when pesky things like hand bleeds enter the picture.  I'm the type that falls apart when the schedule changes too much.  I was thrilled that I was able to hold things together and still attend to school each day, even though it was nothing like I imagined.

Needs Improvement

Work Plan Content
While the concept was great, three math works per day is a lot, especially with a child who insists on completing everything.  I want to ensure that the kids still have free time in the classroom.  I also found that Elora wanted to direct her plan each day.  I need to think more on that one.  My guess is that I'll let her pick from 2-3 options.  While William has a plan, I don't expect him to complete it.  I will scale his back as well.

Room Layout
Now that we have multiple children with larger works on the floor and a sizable writing table, floor space is awkward.  I'm not sure what I could move around but it's another thing to think about.  It also shows me that I will most likely have to built out my school space in the basement before the youngest reaches this point.  I don't have the desk or floor space for three larger children.

Skill Estimation
While the kids were at a Montessori summer program for two months, I never dreamed that both would advanced so much.  I had to swap out activities left and right.  This is something I will adjust to as I get to observe them more.  The only place I overestimated was with William's writing ability.  Thankfully, he's thrilled to work with the sand tray so we're simply sliding back to that.

Daily Schedule
The circumstances of the week drastically shifted the schedule.  School tended to happen in the afternoons rather than the mornings.  We made it work but I didn't love it.  It also meant that we weren't able to approach our special afternoon activities.  Hopefully we can get back on track soon.  I wouldn't consider any of us morning people but focused work seems to be better in that time frame.

My Patience
For as well as things went, I still find my patience to be an issue.  It has improved significantly over the years but this was an incredibly exhausting week and I had so little left.  I rolled with a lot of punches but there were points when reordering all 100 tiles to the hundred board AGAIN was enough to make my lovely Montessori voice disappear.
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