Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In Our School - Today

Welcome to a day with our house! Each day is different, but I wanted you to see what many of our days our like. We front-load our weeks, so we are busiest Monday - Wednesday. Thursdays have no afternoon activities and Fridays are our lightest academically as well as having no activities scheduled. This is what happened at our house on Monday:

6:00 am - I'm up (I'm a morning person - big time - so don't think this as necessary for homeschooling!) and workout. I often run with a friend or go to the gym, but I tried a workout video today. After I shower and dress, I read a few blogs. My Farmer and I have a cup of coffee together and watch the news.

7:00 to 7:15 am - My Farmer tells the children goodbye (and wakes them if they aren't already up) and heads out the door. Depending on the morning and the child, they may come out of their rooms already dressed and ready to go or they may shuffle out and lay on the couch, snoozing for a while longer. I make breakfast and visit with anyone who is awake enough.

7:30 am - We start school with breakfast; I don't have a dress code so anyone who is still in their pajamas is welcome. We usually begin our day with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. I read to the kids from our current historical novel while they eat. When they are finished, they clear their dishes and color, work in their journal or they may move to the floor to work on legos, pet the dog or find another quiet activity while they listen.

8:30 to 9:00 am - We are finished with our group work by now (finding places on the maps we have been reading about, discussing the period in history, culture of people or new vocabulary in the history books). Everyone takes a break to do some chores - there are animals to feed, beds to be made, and sometimes there are still children who need to get dressed!

9:30 to 11:00 - Individual work becomes our focus. We do not keep a set schedule for this part (or any part, really) of our day. My oldest (ten, doing mostly fifth grade work) requires very little help or instruction and often moves to the living room to work. My second son (eight, doing primarily third grade work) works more on his own this year then he ever has before, but he is also very dyslexic and does prefer that I be nearby and available, so he typically works at the kitchen table. My daughter (six, working on first grade materials) does short assignments which all require explanation beforehand, so she also works at the table. Each child will have reading, math, handwriting and language arts.

At any time during this block of work, any child may change subjects or take a break to work on his/her list of other jobs. These include feeding/watering our pets and livestock, picking up their rooms, folding and putting away their own laundry as well as tasks I assign each day on an as-needed basis (today my oldest took the trash and recycling bin to the road, my middle cleaned the toilets and my youngest dusted). Often they stop for a snack or drink, or to watch something out the window. Generally it is a quiet, focused time. The younger the child, the more often breaks are needed and the more frequently their breaks include just playing for a bit. I try to let them self-regulate and typically it works well.

11:00 - Pick up and put away school work, lunch goes on the table. This is usually something I've made quickly (like sandwiches) or something I reheated from a previous meal. If I'm really on the ball, it's a hot meal I prepped the night before and just had to pop in the oven. Today it was just sandwiches, apples, and nuts. I had a salad. We usually like to read while we have meals, which can make it a challenge for me to eat with good manners, but usually I eat about half my lunch, read while the kids finish off their lunch, then finish mine while they are brushing their hair/teeth and putting on their shoes/coats.

11:45 - leave for band. We drive about five miles into the little town whose public school district we are in. My oldest is enrolled for band and plays the coronet. He loves it. The class is only thirty minutes, so I usually bring another book to read to the younger kids while we wait, or if it's nice we go to a park. Sometimes we run to the Post Office or wash the van.

However, even though my calendar TOLD me it was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and even though I had a lesson on MLK, and even though I'd checked the night before and KNEW there was no band (public school not in session) - yep, I still took my kid. Thankfully I figured out before I left him there that the school was empty (the lack of bikes in the rack tipped me off). So we ran to the grocery store and Shooter just came with us.

12:35 pm - band is finished (or we finished at the store), we drive to Tae Kwan Do lessons. I drop off my oldest (who has been learning TKD for two years now) and youngest (who was given TKD lessons for Christmas this year) about quarter to one. My middle son and I arrive for his phonics tutoring (we began this after his dyslexia was diagnosed in the spring) at 1:00.

2:00 pm - Phonics tutoring is finished, pick up TKD kids, head home. My children like to read or draw while we drive. We also listen to music a lot. I play Geography Songs, Sing The Word, and math fact songs...but they prefer classic country.

2:30 to 5:30 pm - Free time! This is when the kids wrap up any chores or school work they did not have time to finish before we left home. Typically there is a chore or two left to be done, but for the most part they just play. If the weather is nice (above 40 degrees) they want to be outside. Otherwise they build Lego, play with action figures, draw or paint and read library books. Today the weather was nice, so the kids played outside. The kids also have a favorite PBS show that comes on at 4:00 each day. This is when I finish up *my* chores for the day and get as much done at my desk as I can (I do the bookwork and record keeping for our farm). I also check Facebook and email. Today I went through mail, paid bills, worked on a spreadsheet and checked Facebook. I folded and put away laundry and did some decluttering. Then I started dinner. I made roasted vegetables, baked pork chops and scratch biscuits.

6:30 - Supper time! This all depends on when or if My Farmer is going to make it home for the evening meal. If not, we may be delivering it to the field for him. He opted to wait until he got home today. So I let the children stay outside until they came in of their own choice & then served the food. Usually in the winter we eat earlier, but when we have a nice day I want the kids to enjoy every drop of sunshine they can!

7:30 to 8:30 pm - Time to get ready for bed! Everyone changes into their pajamas, has a bedtime story and maybe a snack. I let my oldest son read until 9:00 or so. I finish the dishes, get lunches ready for the next day, lay out all our school materials for morning and set the coffee pot. Then I headed back to my desk and visited with My Farmer when he came home at 10:15 pm. We headed to bed just after 11:00 pm.

A few things to keep in mind when you read this:

First of all, my children are all finished with the toddler stages. I can accomplish a lot with the hours in my day because their needs and independence level has changed. Secondly, we couldn't keep this tight a schedule every day, but a few days a week is fine for us. Third, I don't need a lot of sleep. Fourth, we have been homeschooling now for three years, so we have had some practice! We have figured out what times of day are most productive in which way for each of us. This took some ironing out! This also means we've had quite some time to work into this routine and we are very comfortable with and good at it. The day I've described here looks nothing like our first nine weeks of homeschooling in the spring of 2008 - because we have all grown and changed since then.

Find the ways that are best for your family - the ways that keep most of the people happy and learning most of the time. Wise homeschooling families (several right here on GYH!) have written about the changing, growing, living nature of a homeschool - it is always going to look different from one family to another and from one month/year to the next in your own family.

I know this is long - thanks if you made it all the way to the end!

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