Recently, we made some changes to the way we do things with our ACE curriculum! (Click here to read up on the changes. Then, click here to sign up for my RSS feed or email updates so that you don’t miss any more cool news!)
I wanted to let everyone know what a great time we’ve been having! The changes really worked!
I definitely was excited about the changes, but I was nervous at the same time. I worried that maybe he would save all his work for the last day or do a little work here and a little work there with lots of long one-hour breaks in the middle. Boy, was I in for a very pleasant surprise!
The first week didn’t start out the way I had planned. We went to fellowship with another family after church Sunday night and ended up staying a little long – everyone was having such a great time! So, instead of taking Friday off, we decided to take Monday off. I think my ACE child was way too tired all day Monday and was having somewhat of an *issue* with his attitude. He napped – we all felt better!
Then, Tuesday greeted us with several unplanned, yet absolutely necessary errands to run. We started the school day much much later than expected. He still got quite a bit of work done. He set goals for himself!! That was honestly a big surprise for me. I wonder sometimes if the stuff I make my kids do will really stick later on in life. I’ve had my first glimpse at the rewards of making them do things that are good for them.
The goals he set for himself were identical to the goals he would have had to set if we were doing things the old way and he met them in short order. I was very pleased.
Wednesday and Thursday, I was so proud of my son as I watched him set his timer for 45 minutes of work and then a 10 minute break all throughout each day. Once again, it was pretty much the same schedule I already had him on up to that point.
I think he started getting a little stressed on Friday. He really didn’t have all that much work left to do – certainly not an overwhelming amount. But, I had forgotten that Youth Night was this Friday. (Youth Night is an evening at our church when the Youth Pastor gathers all the kids together and plays a ton of really fun games with them. They also get to have pizza together.) Without saying one word, he knew very well that if he didn’t get his work done, he would not be going to that event. He really really did not want to miss it and I think he was feeling the pressure of owning his work a bit.
When I lay everything out for him and just get him to follow a rolling ball, I own all of the work and the stress of getting it done. He did such a great job of managing his own time, that I only had to struggle a few times with wanting to nag him for playing with the other kids instead of working! I had much less stress in regard to his school work this first week. He owned it and he was responsible for making sure it was done.
Also, when I had everything laid out for him, I always wondered if he was just doing it because I was making him do it, or if it was really training in some lifelong habits for him. Given the reaction I got from him this week, I’d say he has really formed some habits that will stick.
Also, I was very satisfied with this little experiment when he talked with me Friday evening. He had such a satisfied look on his face and gave this sigh of relief as he said, “It will be so nice going to sleep tonight knowing that I’ve gotten all my work done and I can sleep in and do fun things tomorrow!” I think he had a much clearer sense of accomplishment in his work this week. I definitely noticed that he was concentrating harder – he usually sings or makes noises once his brain starts wandering and I didn’t hear much of that.
The next week, we had our week long Bible Conference so we took our already planned week off. We all had a wonderful time listening to the awesome preaching and fellowshipping with old and new friends. The week went by much too quickly!
Then, it hit us! The overwhelming sickness bug attacked out house from left to right! I was so bummed – I had really wanted to get right back on schedule without missing a beat, but now here we were, all sick. All except my ACE student! A very unexpected yet very interesting thing happened as a result of our changes.
My son actually set his alarm a half an hour earlier than I usually make him get up. He woke up immediately when his alarm went off (I can’t even do that yet!) and got dressed and read his Bible – sometimes, he even remembered to brush his teeth. Once he was ready for the day, he sat right down to work and took advantage of the quiet time. Once the little ones started to wake up, he let me sleep in a little bit and got some toast and tea ready for them.
Every morning for a whole week, he took care of all of us! Not that he wouldn’t have taken care of us before the changes – he has always been a very sweet, very caring child. But, he would have gotten up and started reading something else he was interested in, still in his pajamas without getting ready for the day and definitely without starting on his schoolwork. If I am in charge of directing everything and I happen to be sick in bed, then nothing gets done because nothing is getting directed. If, on the other hand, he is in charge, then no matter what is going on with me the work gets done because the director is there!
I think next week I’ll add a few more pieces to this little experiment. Up to this point, he has only been responsible for his schoolwork. Everything else, like piano practice and chores, are still being directed by me. I’d like to try to give him one chore to get done each day and a certain amount of time on the piano.
We’ll see how it goes. For now, I am extremely pleased with the way this is working out. I think it will really benefit my son as he enters the workforce and employers are looking for self-directed, hard-working folks who can get a job done without needing a babysitter or their hand held all the time!