I have had a few friends recently ask me about homeschooling and what our days look like. For them and for my role as family historian, I am going to try to document what my homeschooling week looks like. Of course, every day and every week is different in some ways depending on demands from within and without, but I thought it would be fun to record at least a snippet of this part of our lives.
First, when someone asks me what a typical day is like, my first response is this: It is somewhat organized chaos.
I can't even say it is organized chaos, because my level of organization is not always the highest. I have basic things that need to be completed each day for the kids for school...and I take the opportunity to complete those things as the day allows. So there's my system (for those who like systems...although if you really like systems, mine won't be very satisfying). I thought it appropriate to start this series on a Thursday - because that seems a little random and out of order...and that's what a lot of our days feel like.
Thursday, March 14 (Pi day, which I did point out to the kids), 2013
7:00 a.m. Wake up late because daylight savings time has gifted us with extra darkness in the morning. I had a loooong day yesterday, the kids didn't need me, and I just took the freedom to sleep. Stay in my pajamas, pour a cup of coffee, head to my blue chair to read my Lent devotion for the morning.
Millie makes her way down (she's always first) to find scissors to cut out something she has created upstairs (She's really into coloring and making things these days. This morning it was a fan in the shape of a cardinal.). I asked her to bring her notebook down the next time she comes down so that I can look over her morning work and help her with the problems she couldn't read on her own.
Hunter and Millie's Notebooks
These notebooks are the single most awesome thing I have implemented this year to increase our productivity and offer more independence on school items that I don't need to oversee until they are completed.
They have five dividers, one for each weekday, with pockets on both sides. In a perfect world, I fill the folders at the beginning of the week with Monday - Friday's independent work. As they finish a day's work, they move it to the back pocket of that day's divider. I then check over their work. Hunter keeps his math meeting book, daily meeting strips, Bible reading plan, and his spelling book in there as well. It makes it easy to pack up and take with us if we have to be out of the house for something, but they do their notebook work first thing before they ever come down in the morning, so they normally have it finished before we go out to do anything.
I actually used Millie's notebook for the first half of our year as a home for all of our dossier paperwork for our adoption. She just wasn't ready at the beginning of the year for that kind of independent work. I re-introduced the notebook to her a few weeks ago, and she loves it. She still has to leave some math problems blank because she can't read all the instructions on her own, but she gets quite a bit of it done herself.
This is the inside of Hunter's notebook. The left side is what he did today and put in the back of the "Thursday" divider once he finished. You can see he has a linking verb sheet and some science flash cards to work on his CC memory work. There is also a math worksheet and another CC memory work sheet behind it. On the right side is his math worksheet for tomorrow morning. I also just added some math memory work flash cards tonight before I took the notebook back up to his room.
Now back to our morning...
I have no clue what time Hunter got up, but his notebook assignment today was a math worksheet, a Classical Conversations week 21 review worksheet, learn the linking verbs for CC, and read his grammar lesson on antonyms and synonyms. He doesn't often read his grammar lesson on his own, but this one was a simple review of things we covered on Tuesday. I had a full day ahead, so I assigned him to read it on his own. We talked about the lesson briefly during breakfast, and he showed that he understood the concepts. Check! It's great when they can teach themselves some things.
8:00 ish - Millie comes back down with her notebook, and we go over the math problems she couldn't read.
I also asked Donny to help her with her coat of arms that she drew/colored on Tuesday. He helped her put it on cardboard and make it into a shield.
8:15 a.m. - I finally get off the computer (which I had moved to after finishing my devotion) and move toward making breakfast. Oatmeal. We make breakfast and sit down to eat around 8:45. Not sure what I did between 8:15 and 8:45 since oatmeal only takes about 10-15 minutes to make. I think I talked with Donny for a bit. That was nice.
8:45 a.m. Hunter, Millie and I sat down for breakfast. We read from Ruth together. The first half of chapter one. I don't have a Bible plan for them right now, but I usually read something straight from scripture during breakfast, and we talk about it and pray for our day. I go in and out of having the Bible reading planned. Sometimes I just pick whatever Psalm or Proverb corresponds to the date. I went with Ruth today, because I had just read yesterday about Ruth from a book on adoption by Mike Milton, so that was fresh on my mind. We then reviewed grammar and linking verbs from Hunter's notebook (see above)
9:10 - I guess I should get Will up. He has had a runny nose and didn't sleep well yesterday, so I thought he was making up for lost sleep. When I got to his room he was sitting up, leaning against the rail of his crib. Not sure how long he had been up or if he had cried out and maybe I didn't hear him. He didn't seemed too scarred, so we moved on. While I got Will up and changed, I asked Hunter and Millie to change into clothes for the day. I'm still in my pajamas...which are a t-shirt and pajama pants...so it's a little like clothes. Just a little.
9:30 ish - Will gets breakfast, and while he eats I give Hunter his spelling test at the dining room table. After his spelling test, Hunter gets a few balls out and begins bouncing them around in the dining room. Will joins in, so I ask Hunter if he would play with Will while I did reading with Millie. See? The moment offered a natural time for Hunter and Will to play together, so I took it as an opportunity to get some time with Millie. Millie asked to stand for reading today (random, but she had made a paper kite and wanted to let it "fly"), so I took her in the kitchen to set her book on the counter to stand while we read together. That didn't last long. We both hopped up on the kitchen counter, and she read "At the Beach" to me - a phonics reader from A Beka that is part of a series I started with her this week. I then had her stand on the floor, and I gave her a spelling bee from the words in the book she had just read. Sometime in here Will and I had a little heart to heart about obeying/disobeying, so a little loving discipline got intermingled somewhere between reading and math. :)
10ish - Will and Hunter were still going strong, so I decided to get Millie's math lesson done as well. I grabbed a few supplies from the school room in the basement. At this point, Will became interested in what we were doing, so I put him in a high chair and gave him the same pattern blocks we were using for Millie's lesson. I was actually pretty amazed with some of the patterns he made and how high he could stack them without falling. That was a first for him to play with those pattern blocks for as long as he did. Millie and I did her lesson and also did some "math meeting" questions that related to the calendar and counting. I love that Millie is now doing her own morning notebook work, because it means that she has already done all of the written work she needs to do for math which makes the lesson she and I do together more enjoyable. The math curriculum we use (Saxon) is pretty involved and repetitive. It's nice to split up the written and oral work into two different parts of our day. While Will built blocks and Millie worked on math, I quizzed Hunter on his CC timeline while he still was practicing his baseball skills in the den.
Somewhere in here I put on yoga pants instead of pajama pants...but that's the only upgrade so far in my wardrobe since I was already wearing the t-shirt I slept in.
10:30 ish - Millie moves into the den where I set her up with an assignment on starfall.com, a reading web site I began to use for her to encourage reading. I sat with her while she read an online story. While we were doing that, both Hunter and Will became interested in the story (about a horse), so we all were in the den while Millie worked through that story. I then gave Millie freedom to play on starfall while I set Will up for "pack n play" time.
11:00 ish - Will gets a snack of dry cereal. Today it was Cookie Crisps and plain Cheerios. Once his playtime was over, I found that he had eaten all the Cookie Crisps and had thrown all the Cheerios on the floor. Guess he showed me for trying to mix plain Cheerios in. I put him in his crib with toys and books and his snack, and he plays mostly happily for about an hour. During that hour, the kids and I also got a snack, I warmed my coffee, and we headed to the schoolroom in our basement for history and Hunter's math lesson. We spent about 30 minutes on each. I read their history lesson on Japan and the Samurai, we did some map work, I asked questions about the lesson to see what they remembered, and they also brought their coat of arms which were now shields, and we talked more about them. Once we moved on to Hunter's math lesson, Millie played freely. She usually plays in our playroom downstairs, but this morning she went to the dining room to get back to her crafting. Hunter took a timed test on his "oddball" math subtraction facts. While he took his test, I sorted through his lesson (which I had not looked at in advance) and decided which parts I was going to do. The lesson was on making change for a dollar. I asked Hunter a few introductory questions of my own to determine that he already had a decent grasp on the subject, so I decided to teach him the lesson more briefly than the curriculum suggested and completely skipped using money to check his answers. Lessons using real or play money never end well for us. I have no idea what it is. The clanging change. The play bills that stick together. Frustration central. It is a necessary evil sometimes, but I skip using actual money/change whenever possible.
12:00 Get Will out of pack n play time. Move toward making lunch. School is mostly done, and my dining room table is a wreck covered with Millie's math and her paper from crafting. I'll get to it eventually. Hunter and Millie make their lunches. I work on Will's.
Kids play. I piddle. I really can't remember what happened between lunch and Will's nap.
1:15 p.m. Will goes down for an afternoon nap. I brew a little more coffee and snag an apple. Hunter and I sit down to quiz him on his material for Memory Masters for CC. We spend 30ish minutes going over English Grammar, Latin, Science, and some geography. He is working toward memorizing all of the memory work offered from our year in CC to become a "memory master." It's pretty impressive how much he is learning and retaining. Can you name and locate all the countries in South America or list all the Noun Case endings for the 1st-5th declensions of Latin? Classical Conversations has been great for us this year. I am enjoying watching the kids learn all of this memory work and then see their eyes light up when something in "real life" mentions something they have learned, and they get to interact with that information a little more. It's fun.
2:00 Hunter and Millie play freely. I do a few things on the computer and snag a shower.
2:45 I send the kids up for book time. They usually read on their own for an hour and a half while Will is napping. Sometimes I let them read together so that Hunter can read to Millie. Today was one of those days. They talked me into reading together for an hour and then quiet play for a half hour.
And that leads me to right now. I have been typing this while they have been "reading" and Will has been asleep. I just heard Will make some noise. It's almost 4:00 p.m., so that's about right. He usually naps 2 1/2-3 hours, so that affords me time to finish up school while getting a little more time to myself once the big kids are in book time.
Here are a few more thoughts about my day sitting here at 4:00 p.m.
- Breakfast and lunch dishes are still in the sink.
- Papers and books are covering the dining room table.
- No cleaning or tidying has happened today other than my morning routine in my bedroom to keep the bed made and clothes put away
- I haven't eaten lunch yet. Just a protein bar during history while the kids had their snack and an apple while I quizzed Hunter on his memory work. Man, I should really be losing weight at this pace...oh well. I'll probably snag a cup of yogurt before getting the kids up.
It's been a good day. Did the things we needed to do. The only thing missing is some handwriting for Millie. I am more inconsistent with handwriting than I would like to be. Oh well. She does a lot while she crafts.
There's a first look into our chaos. The kids and I go with it...some days more easily than others.
Stay tuned for day two tomorrow....