I try really hard not to use worksheet with my boys unless I feel I have to. There are those days where just a quick lesson is all we have time for and I find worksheets are much quicker than a hands on lesson. I also think because worksheets are typically faster and less meaningful for children the quality and quantity of their learning just isn't the same either. However, some days I needed quick and easy for school and today was one of those days. I hoped I had at least found "fun" worksheets for the boys to do. By the time I finally got them to get dressed and sit down at the table I wasn't even sure I cared if they were having fun. It was one of those morning where no one wanted to listen to anyone. They bickered and fought and I felt like I had yelled so much by 9 a.m. that I was ready to walk out the front door. I, obviously, didn't. But I did send them to their rooms. If school takes longer than usual, fine. If we scrap what little I had planned for today and take an unscheduled day off that's fine too. I try not to let stressful days like this get to me too much. Even when my kids were in school full time our mornings were fraught with bickering, yelling, and not listening. They're kids and that's what kids do. Some days I'm better equipped to handle it and other days I just can't deal as well. Today was one of those days where I wasn't dealing with it. At all. Anytime they acted up I stopped what we were doing and sent them to their rooms. I threatened to take away all screens until vacation. I threatened early bedtime too. My kids know these aren't empty threats. I don't mind being a "mean mommy" now and then if that's what it takes to get through to them. But I don't like being "mean mommy" and love the days where we just have fun exploring and learning and I'm saddened when our days don't turn out that way.
The upside of our awful morning was that they read a lot today. Each time they went to their rooms I handed them one of the library books. I want to return them all by Friday, so I told them to take one last opportunity to read them. We finished reading Dragon in the Sock Drawer together at lunch and requested book #2 for when we come home. Evan attempted to "read" his Batman books today and did pretty well. He is by no means looking at the words and reading them but he is trying to retell each page of the story and uses some of the right words to do so. I know memorization of favorite books is one of the steps in learning to read so I'm very excited.
They somehow managed to all complete another math lesson; Evan finished a dot to dot (up to #25) in record time and the older two boys did another Shel Silverstein math/ poem that was all about money. Ian did really well but Alec needed quite a bit of help. He's just starting to learn about money so I sat with him and we went through question by question after he had given them all a try on his own. He was able to add some larger numbers like .80 + .11 in his head though so I'm sure it's only a matter of time before he's mastered this skill too. He's getting downright speedy with the money when we play monopoly now.
We scrapped the rest of our lessons for the day and went for a walk. I thought we could all use a little fresh air and sunshine to improve our mood so we went and walked a trail or two at a local park. We'd been there many times for parties or to use the field but never to walk the trails. I knew it might be muddy and I figured it would be a bit wet all around us but I didn't care and knew the boys wouldn't either. We walked for over an hour and then came home for lunch. We saw a lot of neat things on our walk and the boys made up many games as we trekked through the woods. First we had to tag all of the trail markers and Evan kept tally of our points (it was a difficult system depending on who touched it and when-- that he made up as he went along). Once they lost interest in that game they played sled dogs-- Evan was Balto, Alec was next in line and Ian headed up the rear yelling "mush." We found many parts of the trail where a new tree had fallen (probably during last night's storms) and we had to find our way around. We saw lots of fungi, caterpillars, and seed pods. It was a great break turned nature lesson! And I don't know about you or your family but I always find walking in the woods calms us all down and re-sets us for the day.