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!


SmallWorld at Home said...

Your schedule sounds a lot like mine! Except for the starting time--we're later than that!

Christy said...

Thanks for stopping by...I need to keep that quote in mind: "Blessed are the flexible..."

Mrs.HansenHomeschools said...

Thank you for this. I love to see how you structure your time. We often have even later start times, since this week the kids have been sleeping till 9 or 9:30. It is almost 10 today and they are still asleep. Being sick makes them very tired. I love that quote about flexibility. I will be saying that to myself a lot I am sure. You have given me some great ideas, thank you!

Kim said...

We usually stay up late due to my husbands work schedule as well, & usally do not start school until 10:oo. It is great to have the time flexibility! I love the idea about listening to music while doing school. Noah loved listening to classical music when he was little but I have never tried it with school. I don't think I have any classical music right now...but I do have some Josh Groban. Think I will try that!