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We are just over a month into this school year. If you were to follow my instagram, you would see sunshine filled pictures of my darlings working away at the kitchen table, Farmer Boy being read under a bright Maple tree, and colorful, pet filled lane way walks. It really has been beautiful and everything I want for our children’s education.

The less photo worthy moments are harder to explain. It’s been a great month but also a very difficult one. I have high expectations of both myself and my girls but I’ve realized in some areas I haven’t laid solid ground work to give them confidence and structure. And we’ve stepped back, started over and I’m treading more softly and sensitively where I need to and more firm in my expectations where I need to. It’s a challenging balance for me, knowing when to back off and when to hold my ground.

One of our challenges has been in narration of the books that we are reading. Both girls have balked at retelling the story in their own words, they have always much preferred free drawing to drawing about something, and I was trying to go about it in too formal of a manner to work with where they are currently at. So I’ve been brainstorming ideas to make and keep reading and narration fun and worth their time. Our first real success was using the Frog and Toad story of The Lost Button which is an excellent early reader series by the way. As often happens with good literature, this story lent itself to naturally encourage learning in other subjects.

In the story, as Frog and Toad are walking, Toad loses a button from his coat which results in a search and the finding of many buttons that don’t belong to him. Both Aneliese and Cecily loved searching for a similar button as in the story that progressed until they found the very last button, Toad’s own button. They compared sizes and estimated what button would work before choosing just the right one; first a square button, then a thin one, then one with two holes and so on.

At the end of the story, Toad sews all of the buttons that he collected onto his coat and it seemed only natural that the girls would begin work on an extremely practical life skill; everyone needs to know how to sew on a button.

As they work, threading the needle, arranging the buttons, placing careful stitches, the littlest plays her own game. Sorting the wool felted balls that I made and now am glad that I never managed to finish the project that they were intended for.

Cecily, with her competitive spirit, finishes her buttons first with careful Aneliese not far behind. Cecily sewed hers into what she saw as a beautiful pattern, but Aneliese lined hers up and sewed them in the sequence of the story which she then used to retell Cecily the story and then later to tell her Daddy.

Not every day can or will be such a simple, natural flow but I love that we can learn together in unique and spontaneous ways that fit how the girls are currently learning and progressing.