Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Unsinkable, Unsinkable How Do You School?

I often wonder how other people homeschool and what materials they use.  Some of it is plain curiosity and some of it is hoping they have the Holy Grail Curriculum/Methodology that will enable me to make my children into absolute prodigies.  For what it's worth, that probably doesn't exist, but I still like to look, just in case.  So for the curious, here is what our days look like.  

Morning Time:

In an ideal world, we begin our mornings after breakfast around 9am, all clean clothed and teeth brushed.  We sit on the couch snuggled together and start with a prayer.  More often than not, though, half of us are still in pajamas, the other half are still eating breakfast and I'm yelling at everyone to "Sit Your Butts On The Couch Or Else!", running around trying to keep the little kids occupied and the big kids engaged, a bit like Whack-A-Mole.  Regardless of the pace, though, we start with a prayer and we do a little memory work (we're memorizing pronouns at the moment, as well as a couple of poems and bible verses), and I read from a few books.

Our current selections

Individual Work:

Once the kids have totally listened to and absorbed my every word and not played with the legos in their pockets the whole time, we move on to individual work.  The older kids start things they don't need my help with (Spelling Workout, Building Thinking Skills, Life of Fred, etc.) and then when the little kids have been played with I move to the big kids and work with them.  We use Teaching Textbooks & Horizons for math, so it's all on the computer, but with David I still need to be near him to help him keep his focus.   We do Grammar and Writing, which involve me working individually with the kids using Writing With Ease and First Language Lessons.

Lunch Break:
Obviously, we stand on ceremony here.  If they aren't immediately outside, then they are screwing around inside or trying to convince me to let them watch Horrible Histories on the computer while we eat.  I let them do that a lot, can't help it.  The show is fabulous. 

Quiet Reading Time:

A fairly recent addition to our day is Quiet Reading Time.  After lunch I put Nolan in his room to nap or play quiet-ishly, Allie in her room to play, and the older kids and I sit in the living room and read quietly for 30 minutes.  This is their assigned reading time, so it's not just fun books.  David is almost finished with The Littles right now and Taylor is working on The Tale of Despereaux.   Occasionally, Allie joins us with a pile of stuffed animals and picture books, but that tends to make it a lot less quiet :) 

Group Work:

After we are pretty sure that Nolan is asleep and we've all had a chance to go to our corners and have some quiet time, we group back up for History or Science.  We are studying Modern History this year with Story of the World Vol. 4 and Chemistry with Elemental Science.  We *love* Story of the World, and the kids look forward to whatever we are doing with it.  I usually set them up with some sort of hands on activity (legos, History Pockets, a coloring page from the Activity Guide, etc) and either they listen to the chapter on audio book, or I read to them from whatever extra library books we've gotten on the subject.  For Science, we use Elemental Science: Chemistry for the Grammar Stage very loosely.  Mostly, though, I do a bit of reading, let them read some extra stuff, watch a LOT of youtube videos and do experiments from Adventures with Atoms and Molecules.  This is also when we throw in the more elective-type things, like Art, Nature Study, or extra things they are interested in. 

Coffee Break:

Literally the best part of my day.  Dave comes in from his home office out back and we have a little snack and some coffee and chit chat about how the day has gone so far while the kids wrap up their afternoon work.  Also, Sleepy and Grumpy up there on the Burr grinder are there to remind me that coffee covers a multitude of attitude problems. 

Clean Up & Free Time:

As we wrap up our day, I try to have the kids put all the things back that we used and do their regular chores.  Sometimes I set a timer, put on some music and we race through the house picking things up and putting them back.  Sometimes I get my megaphone (no lie) and yell to put away anything they don't want thrown away because this vacuum is running come hell or high water.   It can go either way, really.   But when things are picked up or I just don't care anymore they are free to run amok.  David is usually out the back door in a flash and is playing with our neighbor, sometimes the other kids join them or they go off on their own and play on the computer or read until dinner or whatever activity they have that night.

And that's all!  Most school days run like this, with trips and triggers here and there that sometimes blow the whole thing to pot, but that's life :).  

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