I’m sitting in LAX waiting for the check-in counter to open, while Nat is doing yet another circuit of the airport with the kids. There is going to be a long wait, but I’m ok with that.
Because we made it! Holy crap we made it.
It was a proud moment putting the ‘To Do’ list in the recycling bin yesterday. It felt so good to say “Well, we’ve done all we can do, it’s time to ride the river.” Up until now it’s felt like we’ve been using a machete to cut our way through a very thick jungle, heading to a wild river. We’ve been cutting a path while carrying a waka. We still have the waka and the river ahead, but now we don’t have to forge a path. Yeah I know, a little flowery, but you’ll get over it.
So yes, it’s been a little while since we’ve last written, but it’s been hard to keep up with writing. We’re hoping now it won’t be as hard. Yes it will be hard to get it all in, but we don’t have to chip away at the ‘urgent’ tasks, and now we can start working on the ‘important’ tasks instead.
Can I just say how good it feels to be in the airport? Yeah I’m pretty sure I did.
So what have we done since we’ve been in Santa Barbara? Well not as much as we hoped. No trip on the bus or to the library. No trips to Cold Stone Tavern, no trip to San Diego, nothing out of the ordinary. We did get to the zoo, the Sea Centre, the Natural History museum and the Farmer’s Market. There was bowling and cousin adventures, building robots out of boxes, and creations out of magnetic tiles. We went out for Mexican food and Sushi. We watched Game of Thrones and hung out with family, we went on a ‘purple pants’ hunt for Nathaniel (he really wanted purple pants, even if there was much discussion over what he meant by the colour purple.). We also worked a ton and schooled the kids. I was also violently ill one day (must’ve been ‘glutened’ but not sure how). Yet it still didn’t feel enough. It’s SO hard to be pulled in different directions. We wanted to spend a ton of time with family but we had to divide and conquer. Whoever was teaching in the morning had to work in the afternoon because there was only so much time to go around. Those are the hard days because it’ve VERY likely you’ve been fighting with kids in the morning. Speaking of which we’ve learned a lot about how to deal with the kids, and every day is different which is kinda annoying.
Here’s what we’ve learned about teaching so far:
— Set a number of tasks to do, rather than working for an amount of time. So the kids can decide how fast or slow they go.
— Set the timer for 25 minutes. Work for 25 mins and then break for 3 minutes. More often than not they work for about 30 min before a break. (Which usually involves food).
— A morning walk before school. It’s good way to set the tone for the day.
— Get dressed. No school work in PJ’s, everyone is too relaxed and can’t focus.
— Have seating arrangements sorted out and stick with them. We worked outside in Santa Barbara and they each used a table and that worked well. When we tried to change things up that’s when we struck problems.
— Ignore outbursts. If you engage, it makes things worse. Do not yell back, do not say ‘get on with it’, do not say things like ‘it’s over to them when they decide to get the work done’. Do not say ‘how lucky they are’. Do not follow them when they run off and slam doors. Do not buy into the “I’m so bad at……” let them just work through it.
—Incentives help. The good old sticker helps. It’s better if the stickers are interesting.
—Be ORGANISED. This is critical. You have to know at least the night before what they are going to do, what resources are needed, and what issues you anticipate happening. You can’t wing it over breakfast in the morning. You’ll never have enough time to get it altogether before school starts. (Which usually starts between 8a-8:30a).
— Flexibility is key. Having a few extra tasks up your sleeve for each kid is important, because if one kid races through their tasks in an hour and the other kid has just started, it’s not going to work. So giving them a few extra things to do seems to work pretty well. (I’m pretty sure this won’t work forever, but I think we’ll get better at figuring out how much work to assign each of them pretty soon.)
— One subject a day is working really well, it means it’s easier to focus on things.
— We need a physical planner. We’ve been trying token notes in a Google doc, but it’s not working so well. Would be much easier to keep written notes while the kids are working. (As soon as we hop on a computer to write notes, then they break their concentration to see what we’re doing.) Good old pen and paper would work. We did consider buying a teacher’s planner thing, but didn’t want to add to the pile. I think my work/life planner will be added to.
That was satisfying to write, we have learned a lot about how to work with the kids. It still feels like we have a long way to go to make things smoother, but I guess we are getting there after all. That’s usually the way, you don’t realise you’ve made progress until you’ve been doing it awhile.
So the wait at the airport continues. But since I’ve burned though my free 45 minutes wth work it means I will need to wait to upload this.
So Norway soon….