Now I understand why some folks do a 6 weeks on/1 week off schedule. I hit the 6-week mark last Friday and instead of stopping for a break, we tried to power through this week and it did not go well. It wasn’t disastrous, but the 2nd grader and I were both dragging, and bored with the same-old, same-old. We slowed down the pace, but even so, it became clear that some time off was in order. So Thursday and Friday have been “Fall Break” for us.
Best decision Ever.
Even though we have out of town guests arriving next week, even though most of November we will be on the road and not keeping to a regular school schedule: it just doesn’t matter. Because we are tired now–not later—and a cranky teacher is no fun to be around. I am so very happy that I listened to my instincts on this one and I feel confident that we will not regret it, but instead make a note to listen to our inner clocks for future pacing decisions.
We have accomplished quite a lot in our first six weeks. I have worked hard to keep us all on track and taking advantage of as many of the resources we have on hand. We have been to First Fridays at American Memorial Park, to Beach Clean-ups on First Saturdays; we visited the CNMI Museum and make regular visits to check on our favorite tidal zones. We finished our “Kickoff Expedition” on how to research questions and where to go for answers; we completed our Tidal Pool posters and the Hermit Crab lifecycle cartoon strip that was to be a our first culminating project for our Case Study on a Coastal Creature. We have read a LOT of ocean-themed books and fit in a poetry unit that I whipped up last-minute to enrich our literature and writing unit that was running the risk of becoming too non-fiction-dry-scientific-textbook-ish. On top of all of that, the girls have improved tremendously in their handwriting and math skills which I consider nothing short of a gigantic accomplishment given that those were areas of particular weakness in their public-school education so far.
It has been an excellent start to the year. So I want to be careful not to wear us all out because it is only the beginning and we have months and months to go.
A friend emailed recently and asked, jokingly I think, whether we had been incorporating enough snorkeling into our curriculum. The answer, sadly, is no–but I intend to change that.
My contentment level on Saipan seems to be directly proportional to the time I spend outdoors. Outdoors hiking to a remote beach to go snorkeling, outside in the sun and under the flame trees, outdoors on a paddleboard or on an extra long morning run. Otherwise, I get into a rut of negativity. Because there is always plenty that is not-so-fun in life anywhere, even on Saipan. The car drama won’t end, the mold is invading our dressers/closets/furniture, that very important piece of mail that we needed two weeks ago is still mysteriously stalled in Guam/Hawaii/Chicago for some unknown reason.
“I’m stuck on this island,” “Nothing ever happens on this boring island,” “I am so bored on this boring island where nothing ever happens.”
None of which are true, but they quickly become the whiny mantra in my head. If it is easy to lapse into interior complaining, it is also a pretty easy fix: a perfectly easy remedy is just to grab the snorkel and go look at some fish. And, as long as everyone is healthy, there’s not much in the way of doing that usually except my All Holy Schedule.
Drop the schedule. Forget the deskwork. Get out and play.
Usually it’s what I need, and it is almost always what the kids need when they get into a rut.