So, I've realized a couple of important things which I hope will make our lives run smoother.
1) I am not the kind of homeschooler I thought I'd be. I thought I would be creating fun games to play, bringing in extra topics, creating unit studies, etc. all the time. I thought I would hate using a boxed curriculum. Ha. I realized the other day that I haven't done a geography study in ages. Geography was really the only subject I was teaching using my own ideas, and I can't even manage that lately. Instead, I open the McRuffy textbooks and follow the lessons. Sometimes I even read their scripted teacher lines. Aack.
I find that I rarely prepare more than five minutes in advance. Life is just too crazy here. (And I'm lazy, I admit it.) As my excuse, (because I'm good at justifying my weaknesses)I'm going to say that we spend very little time doing actual bookwork, and spend most of our time going on field trips or learning while living our regular everyday life. Who has time to create lesson plans? Who wants extra school lessons in the classroom? That's great in theory, but Crumpet made it clear that even that minimal book time was not going to work for him if I didn't start mixing it up a little. He wanted to know when we were going to start doing some fun school stuff again, because school was getting boring. Oops.
So this week, I changed things a little. I start school with a game or a puzzle. This has been a huge help in getting our day moving the right way. We get up early and usually play for a while before starting school around 9am. It can be hard to get Crumpet to focus and change from the land of pretend to the land of math. Playing an educational game slowly redirects his mind. I try to use one of the many games I've collected over time, or pull one from the book Mathematics Activities for Home Schooling with Unifix Cubes. Then, between subjects, we play a short game from Games for Learning by Peggy Kaye. He loves these mini games and asks for them over and over again. It is making a huge difference in our schooling time. Here's hoping it continues to work for us!
2) Crumpet NEEDS a rest period in the afternoon. He's mostly beyond naps, and if he takes one, he's up quite late at night. However, after yet another major temper tantrum and ruined day yesterday, I realized that at 2:30 every day, things start to fall apart. My angry boy starts yelling about anything and everything. Today, when it happened just before we went for a walk with the neighbor, I decided enough was enough. We are going to have a one hour rest break at 2:30 whenever possible. I sent the poor neighbor home (he was very accepting - he's seen Crumpet freak out enough to know when a break is in order) and told Crumpet to go rest in his room. He asked for stories, so we snuggled and read two stories and then he passed out. I'll try waking him after an hour to see if we can avoid a really late bedtime. Could mere rest be the solution to the angries that seem to attack more and more? Oh, that would be lovely. Again, here's hoping...Even if that doesn't solve our entire problem, a break for me should ensure that I'm patient enough to deal with him til bedtime.