The three C’s (and a little corner of our house)

For the past year or so, there has been a messy little corner in my kitchen.  This spot used to house a big metal shelving unit that served as our pantry.  Since Jonny added a real pantry to our kitchen last year though, this place has become a collector of various things.  We have long planned to add additional countertop space and cabinetry here, but as that is low on the priority list, I decided to transform the corner into a special place for my girls to play and work.  This little redecorating project fit well with Larkspur’s kindergarten plans.  I first bought a table and with two chairs that I have been saving for.  I wanted something solid wood and beautiful, something that will last forever, and I was not disappointed with this set.
Jonny built a shelf from found wood (found in one of our outbuildings) to hang on the wall for art supply storage, and I sewed a simple bunting for color, (and to detract from an ugly phone jack in the wall.)
This little corner is rather dark, so we went shopping for a mirror to reflect light from the window across the room.  Larkspur chose the oval mirror.  I would also like to do something to brighten up the black side of the refrigerator.  For now I am planning to rotate posters featuring bits of nature, starting with butterflies.
And this brings me to how we are using this space, and what exactly Larkspur’s kindergarten year is going to look like.  I waited to see how our first week of schooling went before talking about it here because I wanted to be able to tell you what’s working and what isn’t.   The conclusion I reached is that I need a few more weeks to really get a feel for our new school routine as it unfolds.  I have never been one for schedules, and am hoping more for a sort of organic routine, while at the same time realizing that routine and structure don’t happen for me very naturally.  I absolutely must have some sort of structure in place though because homeschooling with six children would otherwise be in my family, total chaos (not some beautiful spontaneous sort of experience, sorry.)
First I will tell you that my intention is to devote my mornings to my girls.  Kind of like half day kindergarten,  family style…We’ll see how that ends up working out.  The boys are supposed to work independently until lunchtime.  I hope to then be able to work one on one with each of them for a portion of the afternoon.  The big lesson I learned last week is that while I definitely need a routine, I definitely have to be prepared to deviate from that routine at any given moment (I’ve said that before, haven’t I?  I need frequent reminders.)  I have to accept that this is a messy business and nothing is every going to flow as beautifully as I would hope.  My baby is going to wake earlier than I expect, my two year old is going to tantrum because I am daring to nurse the baby, and my boys are going to have days where they can’t seem to work in the same room together without constantly bickering.  But of course that’s not what I really want to talk about.
After thinking long and hard about Larkspur’s kindergarten year, I decided that there will be little to no focus on “academics.”  I have lots of reasons for this, but the big one is that quite simply, I believe that we can wait another year for reading and math. Larkspur, I believe, will benefit most from a year with more play, more handwork, and a bit more routine in her days.  I am taking her list seriously and she is taking great joy in that.
As far as a school day breakdown:  Each morning all of my children play (well, the boys do their chores too) before breakfast.  Larkspur is often involved in breakfast preparation, for instance she can crack eggs and scramble them with very little help.  I would like to get her more involved in after meal clean up, something that is largely covered currently by the rest of us.  After breakfast I read poetry to Larkspur and Beatrix (sitting in my bed while I nurse Silas), and Gabe joins us as well.  (He’s making up for the fact that no one read to him for the first seven or so years of his life, and I do believe he enjoys Mother Goose and Robert Louis Stevenson even more than the girls.)
So, after poetry, we head back downstairs for an activity inspired by Larkspur’s kindergarten list, or just whatever she is interested in that day.  After lunch, the rest of the day is spent trying to work with my boys on their work, while encouraging Larkspur and Beatrix to play more independently.  One week in and I can tell you that so far it isn’t working out perfectly of course.  I was still finishing up some lessons with the boys over the weekend.  Beatrix doesn’t really care for my plans unless they totally revolve around her.
I have become more intentional about involving Larkspur and Beatrix in my own work around the house, both  cleaning and cooking.  Learning to take care of the house and to cook were both on Larkspur’s kindergarten list.  I think those are both fine things for a five year old to learn and I am making both priorities.
Involving Beatrix is both necessary and tricky.  She tends to want to do everything herself and not give Larkspur a turn!  That reminds me a little of myself, although over the years I have gotten so much better at involving my children in all of my work (and play) that it is becoming second nature.  I do prefer to do things myself, so that everything is done my way, and much more quickly as well.  But it is so important to involve my young children in my everyday work, even if it means slowing down and possibly cleaning up bigger messes.
So goodness, all this, and I didn’t really have much to share.  Larkspur will be cooking, cleaning, and creating this year.   Hmm… I guess that means that instead of focusing on the three R’s, our kindergarten focuses on the three C’s!

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