Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Your best laid plans will go awry...

Your best laid plans will go awry

You know the saying—“the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” (from the poem “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns)—and it feels like the more you plan, the more awry things will go, right?

Now, add kids to the mix! I’d say 99% percent of your plans fail when you add in kids (and spouses and pets).

If you read about our saga enrolling our son in kindergarten, you’ll know that plans have not been going as expected for us this summer.

But, of course, that didn’t stop me from looking up skills children need to have before entering kindergarten, did it?

I found several suggested skills, but I can’t help feeling competitive and wanting to make sure my son can do all of them. I had grand plans for this summer and decided to put together a little “school” area where we can work on a daily basis to get ready for kindergarten this coming fall.  I gathered supplies, decorated, and made it look like our very own tiny school corner. I’ve been feeling motivated lately and working hard at getting us organized and on a schedule—after all, my son will need to stick to a schedule for kindergarten. We started a new chore chart. I had visions of happy kids and pets and parents floating through a carefree, educational but fun filled summer!

We started yesterday.

My kids (my three year old daughter joined us) both sat still for approximately 5 seconds.

My son decided he won’t or can’t perform when prompted. Four letters into the alphabet and he’s tired, hungry, and needs a break.

Come on, kid! Are you serious?

Somehow my daughter, two years younger than her brother, is able to get further through the alphabet before she joins her brother in refusing to continue.

My son decides he will only do things related to science because everything else makes him tired.

I guess he wasn’t picking up on the caffeine oozing from pores due to all the coffee I drink.

I know yesterday was only our first day, and I am not going to give up, but I was hoping—or at least expecting—an easier crowd. Instead, I have to remind myself that my kids have a lot of other experiences to draw from that will help them in their educations (and lives). That has to count for something, right?

Of course, at the same time I’m just proving that it’s never easier to do anything for or with your own kids. Of course, they’ll push the limits and they know how to work me over. Of course they do.

And, then at some point yesterday I remembered the core skills assessment my on underwent at preschool this past year. Every child was assessed for kindergarten readiness. They had to fill out worksheets, write their names, and demonstrate various skills.

My son’s assessment?

Yep, only a quarter of each worksheet or task was filled out and each one had little notes from his teacher stating, “He said he was tired” or “He said this was too boring” or “He needed a break.”

Of course he did! 

But, here’s what I know about my son: He’s smart. Very smart. I know he can do all of the tasks he was given in preschool and everything we tried yesterday. But, I also know that the absolute worst way to have him demonstrate his skills is by handing him a pencil and asking him to perform on command.

It’s not his style. It’s not how he learns best.

And, that is why I am so sure he should attend a Montessori school where he will have opportunities to learn and demonstrate competency in ways other than worksheets, drill, and memorization. Yet, he will also need to learn to sit, to write, to read, and at some point to demonstrate these skills.

So, once again, at home this summer I am challenged as a parent to find ways to teach my children that will keep them engaged.

Today was our second day of working on academic skills at home, and thanks to my reflections on my son’s style and needs, we all had a better day today. I only heard “I’m tired” once from my son.

I tried some different method and materials, and overall we all seemed to do better today. I need to remind myself to remain flexible.

{{Once we are in our groove, I’ll share some of the ideas, methods, and materials that are working for us.}} 

Even though we’re only on day two, I can already see an improvement in our schedule and all of our attitudes. We have been using our chore chart as well, and that has helped.

I’ll be honest though—I’m great at getting things started. It’s the following through that is my real challenge (maybe that’s where my son gets it from!).

This is where I need YOU to keep me accountable! I’ll give periodic updates on our summer routine and hopefully that will help! We can’t go all summer as a free for all with no routine or I will surely go crazy!

What methods do you use to keep yourself accountable? Are you the type of person who easily follows through or do you struggle once the newness wears off?  Share your tips to help me stay on track! Just leave a comment below or visit us on Facebook and drop us a note there. 
Be sure to join us on Facebook and here on the blog in July as we read The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents & Educators Must Do by Peg Tyre. Maybe I'll gain some insights to help my own succeed academically!

Pick up a copy of Tyre's book at your local library or from Amazon HERE. We'll get started on July 5th!
The Trouble with Boys by Peg Tyre
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