Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NOT Back to school-A Day in the Life

‘Typical Days’ are hard to come by around here. We spend at least two days out of the house every week (errands, library, homeschool co-op), another one or two days at home, but in the company of friends, and when you throw in a once or twice a month field trip you realize that there just isn’t one day that’s the same as the next!

Our day starts somewhere around 8-9am, which is late for a lot of homeschoolers, I realize. We’ve adapted our schedule to work with my husband’s work schedule, so in the evenings we have a later dinner and stay up a bit longer to have some time with him. Taylor & Bear like to read in their rooms at night and will occasionally stay up until 11 or later if they’re wrapped up in a good story. They’ve discovered that this is about the only time the house is peaceful since Chloe stopped taking a nap! I’m incredibly reluctant to tell any child to put down a book for any reason, unless their life is in danger, of course, and I feel that this is one of the reasons that we homeschool. Our life revolves around OUR schedule and our interests, not something imposed on us by society. Hooray for homeschooling!

Our mornings are fairly relaxed. I try to make sure we do things in the proper order, like eating breakfast and then clearing the table BEFORE we get the school books out, but sometimes we are practicing writing whilst eating Cocoa Puffs, I must admit. When the 4-year-old adamantly INSISTS on practicing her letters would you tell her “No?” The preferred order of events goes something like this:

Breakfast & cleanup
Morning Chores
“On their own” activities like writing, math and grammar practice

I like to put a CD in to listen to as we work on these things. I’m always impressed with the knowledge they can pick up from just hearing songs in the background. Some of our favorite tunes to “learn by osmosis” from include:

Lyrical Life Science
Lyrical Earth Science
Classical Kids

Frequently things don’t go according to schedule. Sometimes I will be upstairs switching the laundry while Bear is ricocheting a bouncy ball around the entry way, and I try to remind myself that my highly kinetic learner is learning important information about physics and anticipating trajectories, while I patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) remind him for the second, third or fourth time to go feed the dogs. Sometimes I will come downstairs after doing my chores to find them all engrossed in an imaginary world of some sort, happily playing and laughing together. I think imaginative play is highly underrated, and that most kids don’t get enough of it. When I find them in this condition, I leave them uninterrupted...for as long as it takes. Some smart guy once said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” I think his name might have been Einstein? ;-)

I try to make sure we cover every subject in a day, and to keep the workload balanced so they don't get overloaded. One of my biggest challenges as a homeschooling Mom has been to come up with a schedule that offers just enough structure and something to benchmark our yearly accomplishments but not so much that it kicks in my free-spirited rebellious streak wherein I begin to feel like our daily tasks are overwhelming and over-complicated, and I just want to give up. There is truth in the saying: "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape." Flexibility in scheduling and lesson planning is definitely important in homeschooling!

We usually try to schedule an hour or two each day of “Instruction” time. This is teaching time that includes both Taylor & Bear and frequently Chloe. Though I don’t require Chloe to sit in with us she often does because she just wants to be included. She has picked up on so much material beyond her age range (like memorizing the first 36 elements from the periodic table) just from this simple fact. Their Opa (my Dad) chalks it up to the joys of an uncluttered mind and I think I have to agree with him!

So instruction time usually involves reading through a lesson or chapter together, discussing to make sure they understand, and then doing an activity together to help cement this knowledge. One instruction period typically lasts about an hour, and we usually do one before lunch, and one after lunch. Subjects that we use this method for include History, Grammar, Science and Math. Obviously with only two instruction times each day we can’t cover all four subjects in that manner, so for the other two subjects we take a lighter approach. For example, if we read a chapter of Science together, with discussion and activity time, and then after lunch covered a History lesson; then for Math they would work on their own on worksheets from the lesson for that week, or practice their addition/multiplication facts in a computer game, and for Grammar we might sit down and do some Mad Libs together. The next day we would cover Math and Grammar in more depth while taking a lighter approach with Science and History.

Often we are done with our schoolwork before 3, at which point they will clean up their books, papers & whatnot. I usually send them upstairs to neaten their rooms and if they are saving money for a toy or something special then this is the time they can offer to do extra chores for payment. Otherwise they each have 30 minutes each of computer & TV time, and free time until it is time to clean up and get ready for dinner. Usually I will send them upstairs to clean and they will be distracted with their toys and end up playing and I won’t see them again for an hour or two, at which point I have to send them back upstairs to clean up the even bigger messes! Some days we stretch the T.V. time out longer and watch a movie or documentary together.

Stop by Heart of the Matter to peek in on A Day in the Life of other Homeschoolers!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thoughts On Being Real...

"What is REAL?"..."Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made. It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?"

"Sometimes, but when you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept..."

"...Generally, by they time you are Real, most of your hair has been rubbed off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby..."

"...But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"Once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why I Love Homeschooling #5: Sick Days

Bear (8) is sick today. He had a rough night last night as he has a difficult time sleeping with a stuffy nose. This morning we had plans to run to the church garden to pick tomatoes for the food pantry, drop off & pick up more books at the library, and visit with Oma at her house for a bit. Everyone in the house was up and going by 8am except for Bear. Luckily none of these activities had a time frame on them, so I decided to let the boy sleep as long as he wanted. I was reminded how nice it was not to have to drag him out of bed to see just HOW sick he really was, and then do the should I/shouldn't I send him to school routine. I remember my Mom having to do that to me, and I remember her stressing over how many days I had already been absent, and if I could afford to miss another day. I distinctly recall going to school feeling miserable quite a few times.

Once when I was in High School I contracted a stomach bug. I spent a few days at home and then it was decided that I needed to go back to school so I didn't miss any more days. I went back to class, but couldn't keep anything in my stomach. I had to keep leaving class to run to the bathroom and finally got so dehydrated that I had to be hospitalized overnight with an IV to re-hydrate me. I can't help thinking that that was one hospital bill that could have been avoided with a few more days at home in bed. I wonder how many other kids ended up getting sick because I had to go back to class while I was still contagious?

I am so thankful that I don't have to worry about keeping my kids at home when they are sick! If they need to sleep in or take a nap it is no problem. Our outside activities are flexible and our friends and family are understanding. When Bear finally got out of bed at 10am, bleary eyed and snuffly, he promptly came to ask: "Bob, I dod feel gewd, do we HAB to go oud today?" I was happy to be able to tell him that we could certainly stay home.

He's been resting for the most part today, though he did ask me to play a game of Dinosaurs vs. Army Men with him. There was rolling of the dice involved and adding and subtracting and even some multiplication. He also managed to get in some writing and educational games on We had a minor meltdown over the writing, which was when I realized that I might be asking a bit too much of a sickly kiddo, but with a break to rest and a modification of the assignment it all went smoothly once again. It's not been his most productive day, educationally speaking, but pretty good for a sick day!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

2010-2011 School Year Curriculum

Taylor (Fourth Grade)

Rod & Staff English
Write Source
Math Wrap Ups multiplication/division
Read to Chloe Daily

Reading: Book List
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter (DONE 08/10)
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Read 04/07...will re-read)
The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit
A Book of Golden Deeds by Charlotte Yonge
Bambi by Felix Salten
The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
Little Britches series by Ralph Moody
The Borrowers series by Mary Norton (DONE 8/25)
Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight
Gentle Ben by Walt Morey
Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright
Return To Gone Away by Elizabeth Enright
By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Peterkin Papers by Lucretia Hale
Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
Tree of Freedom by Rebecca Caudill
Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
The Reb and the Redcoats by Constance Savery
Justin Morgan had a Horse by Marguerite Henry
Wrinkle in Time Series by Madeline L’Engle (finished through Swiftly Tilting Planet 12/10)
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Bear (Third Grade)

Work on letter/number reversals
HWT Block Paper
Draw Write Now with HWT’s Draw and Write Notebook
Shurley English
Math Wrap Ups addition/subtraction
Read to Chloe Daily

Reading: Book List
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford audio version (finished 12/31)
The Call of the Wild by Jack London abridged (finished 1/3)
Heidi by Joanna Spyri
A Wonder Book by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales
Pied Piper of Hamlin by Robert Browning
Abraham Lincoln by Ingri D'Aulaire
Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater
Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
Chanticleer and the Fox - Barbara Cooney
Along Came A Dog by Meindert De Jong
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli
Because of Winn-Dixie By Kate DiCamillo

Chloe (Kindergarten-ish)

The Three R’s by Ruth Beechick
The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading
BOB Books
Free Printable Readers by Henriette Taylor Treadwell

Be read to by T, B, Mommy & Daddy (and anyone else she can get to sit still for a minute)
All Things Bright and Beautiful by Ashley Bryan
Dr. Seuss Books (multiple readings)
The Little Bear Books by Maurice Sendak
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (finished 1/9)
The Margaret Wise Brown Books
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee (finished 1/9)
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Udry
The Real Mother Goose
A.A. Milne
Winnie the Pooh audio book (finished 1/3)
Beatrix Potter
MEP Math
Finger Match
Mazes (pre-writing skills)

All (Include Chloe as Able or Interested)
Chemistry-Elements and Carbon Chemistry
History-Prehistory, SOTW book 1
Daily Devotionals: Training Hearts, Teaching Minds
Scripture Copywork & Memorization
Timed Writing
Spelling City
Mad Libs
Memorize US States, Capitols
Classical Kids
I Know

Outside activities with Co-Op Group or Church
Nature Study