I am NOT the Suzie Homemaker type, though I do enjoy the occasional large meal or homemade dessert. These muffins are special. Not because I ground the flour myself, not because I used fresh blueberries or goats milk that I got this morning. Nope, these muffins are special because I made them at all. In all actuality, Martha White made them but I added milk and stuck them in the oven. So what prompted these special muffins?
Yep, we started our first official day of school since we decided to make a change. It turned out to be a GREAT change and today has been a wonderful day. After dealing with a very sick dog last week, my house needed a good hard cleaning. The dog was admitted at the Veterinary Clinic on Saturday so I had until yesterday to get the house back in order. My Hoover FloorMate (I have the old model but this is the greatest cleaning tool ever) needs a new filter so I had to mop my floors the old fashioned way with a real mop. I finished all of this last night so when we got up this morning, we were able to eat breakfast and go straight to school work. Levi has been sick the past few days as well so he slept in but Elijah worked really hard and finished all of his work in just an hour and a half.
I did away with a work plan when making our changes and decided to instead require him to write his Bible verse once, read one book (or chapter if reading a chapter book), work in his Explode the Code book or do work from our Montessori Language kits, and do one Math lesson each day. The rest of his lessons are completely up to him. Now I know that this sounds a little counterproductive but Maria Montessori insists that children actually do WANT to learn. Murielle Lefebvre, author of Success with Montessori at Home, says that "It's about allowing the child the opportunity to enjoy what he lives, since he is the active party. In any case, the child needs food to survive and grow. He will not be idle for long. We have taken the test with our youngest, aged 11. It took 2 days! Around the third day, he was so bored with not working that he came back and asked to study Spanish" (Pages 52-53, Lefebvre). So Elijah worked great this morning, finishing all of his required subjects in a great amount of time. I was pleased with his reading choice, the next book in the Bob Books series rather than an easy one he had already mastered, but not so pleased with his math choice. He choose a lesson that was his favorite at age 3, one that requires you to put pegs into the foam number cards. As I watched him, I decided that I would introduce a few multiplication problems using that lesson. He was interested for a few minutes and then completed the basic lesson and moved onto Legos on the screen porch.
I was a bit disappointed at first because I have prepared some great reading materials and activities for bird watching as well as studying the knights of the Middle Ages. I really wanted him to choose to dig into those subjects once he completed his work, he's the one that picked those subjects to begin with. Well, 10:30 came and Levi ventured downstairs just in time to help clean up and get ready to go out to play. We came in, had lunch and I laid down with the baby to get him to sleep. When I went back down to do school with Levi, he just wasn't into it today. He did write his Bible verse but he didn't complete his math lesson and never attempted any other lessons. He was instead more interested in the Legos that Elijah was playing with. As Elijah and I were finishing the last of Robinson Crusoe, Levi kept trying to interrupt us.
I finally decided that rather than fight for him to do his work, I would back off and put Murielle Lefebvre's experiment into place for my boys. Remembering that Montessori is about following the child, I left them to the Legos on the screen porch and I walked into the kitchen in search of a granola bar, only to find that they were all gone. With no other snacks in the house, I walked into the pantry to decide what to bake. I have this whole shelf full of things to bake that I have gotten either free or nearly free with coupons. The muffins were the easiest and quickest so they won! I made the muffins as I listened to a podcast I had been wanting to hear and when I pulled them from the oven, I went onto the porch and declared that school was over and that it was now cleanup time. The boys quickly cleaned up and then came to the table where I served them a special snack of homemade muffins (they don't know that a mix isn't considered homemade, I did make them in my home at least) and 2% milk, not even organic!
You're right, it wasn't the greatest school day ever. They didn't accomplish great things in education. Nothing new was learned today. We just settled back into doing school the way we are most comfortable. There was no stress. There were no tears. I'm going to give it a few days and I'm sure they will finally decide to actually learn about something rather than just play. We've all got to learn this way all over again. We've got to learn to structure ourselves in an environment that seems to have no structure. We've got to learn to learn on our own because we want to and not just because a textbook tells us to. Today was a good day, we got a good start in this learning process and for that we all deserved the muffins!