calendarI put Leila in charge of the calendar. When Zahra was nearly three years old, I went on a trip to France with my mom and sister, baby Noah in tow. Just a day or two before returning home, I found this beautiful calendar in a fancy children’s shop in Paris and bought it to take home to Zahra. Over the years, Zahra and Noah have had brief periods of interest in it, but truth be told, it’s mostly me keeping the date, weather and season up to date. It reminds me of that family trip to France, of Zahra and her corkscrew curls at age three, of Noah bonding with my dear friend Bernard. And while I can’t bother to make my bed every morning or wash the kitchen floor on a regular basis, I somehow manage to keep that calendar going.

Leila’s practising numbers and letters this year, and every morning, she dates the page at the top of her math notebook. I figured the calendar would reinforce those numbers and the spelling of the months of the year.

cuisenaireLeila also worked on shapes again this morning. This time, I asked her to draw something using only shapes: a dog, a house, whatever. Shapes only, and she had to be able to name the shapes she was using. She tried to pull the wool over my eyes more than once, but she eventually produced a robot made only of circles, squares, rectangles, ovals and triangles. Afterwards, both Noah and Leila spent some time challenging each other with Cuisenaire-rod-style creations.

While this was going on, Zahra was deep in thought writing a theorem for multiplication of a two-digit number by another two-digit number. With Fifi along for inspiration, of course. Zahra’s’s known how to do this operation since last year, but our new math program demandes more than that. She must be able to do it, explain it to someone else, write a hypothesis, test that hypothesis and make sure it works every time—and, finally, write a theorem. We’re often giggling at our inability to put math into words. We both love to read and write; we should have a facility with language. And yet, it’s hard!

Noah was in disbelief over how easy his work was today. A review of comparing large numbers for math, and for French, we looked at a piece of art together and interpreted it. He gets so excited when there’s no right or wrong answer and attacks these problems with gusto. I think we’re going to have fun in high school, if he continues homeschooling, when I’m learning right alongside him. That self discovery is what he thrives on.

And this shorter work period meant he had lots of time to add chords to his piano version of the Imperial March from Star Wars.

I think we’re learning to balance our simultaneous needs a teensy bit better…

Later, it was time for Zahra’s second violin lesson. I’m bristling a bit at the Suzuki teacher’s insistance that I sit in every lesson to watch what’s being done, and then sit with Zahra every time she practises at home to give constructive feedback. I understand that it can be encouraging for many students, and shows importance in what they’re doing—but honestly, I find it to be micro-managing. The teacher made a comment about how I wasn’t taking notes. I laughed and said that Zahra is not only perfectly capable of remembering what he tells her and working on it on her own—but also, she’ll remember it better than I will. This is the kid who reminds me when it’s time to adjust her headgear. This is the kid whose homework I never checked when she was in school because I could safely assume she knew what it was and did it on time.

Anyway…great teacher and otherwise an interesting, holistic method, and so we will embrace it. With some minor, clandestine modifications.

pianoBack home again and it was my turn to be the music teacher. Leila’s friend Zoë had her first piano lesson at our house this afternoon. Leila is just a few lessons ahead of her and was eager to show her friend what she knows. The best way to integrate your knowledge is to teach it, so I was thrilled that Leila wanted to help out. Zoë is a fast learner with a positive attitude, so I’m sure they’ll motivate each other and be playing the most adorable duets soon.

Dinner with the chickens, baths (during which Leila’s animals were saying to each other, Time for your piano lesson!), read-aloud book (we will finish this Egypt book soon) and bed. Back to the Nook tomorrow!