Let me tell you about a typical day, so far…
We decided to start school every morning at 9:00. I typically check in on the computer around 8:00 to see what needs to be done with our k12 program (we use that for history and language arts). I then check my calendar that I’ve put together where I’ve divided the other subject lessons throughout the school year (science, math, and seminary.) I gather all their needed supplies, make them a check list of their daily tasks, and plop it on the kitchen table. I use lots of mini-sticky notes to mark their assignments in each book.
Notice how “chores” are part of their school day?? That’s been one of the greatest things! If I saved their chores until later, it would be a big battle. They LOVE feeling “done” for the day and being able to visually check off what they’ve completed. I’ve noticed I get a lot less complaining 🙂 I’ve heard several gals say that their house really suffers when they homeschool. But, honestly, REALLY honestly…I’ve noticed the opposite. Having this daily structure makes for less mess. We now eat breakfast and lunches at the same time…before it seemed to be whenever someone was hungry! Now, I can clean up just once! They are busier with things to do rather than mess making AND they are working right in the kitchen so I can multi-task and do the dishes/mop/dust/whatever in-between helping them. There’s lots of times where I’ll just have to sit down with them and give them undivided attention and help. But, there’s also several times where I can just walk over when I’m needed.
I’ve promised myself that I’m going to stay “flexible” when it comes to homeschooling. I want to be open to ideas, change if something isn’t working, and make it a great experience. So, when I say 9:00 is when school starts…that’s just MOST of the time! We aim for meeting at 9:00 but if I have a rough night (as mothers and/or 8 month preggo gals experience often), I’ll sleep in and we’ll start an hour late. Big freakin’ deal. That’s one huge favorite of homeschooling! I really, really, really don’t miss dragging the kids out of bed at 7:30 and battling with them to jump in the car. Mornings are so much more pleasant now!
Breakfast time! They celebrated their first week of school with a box of Cookie Crisp 🙂 It was gone in like 10 minutes. Then it’s off to the kitchen table to tackle their task list. Here are the boys working on their handwriting assignments.
I promise I feed this kid!
When all of the work tasks are done (subjects and chores), we’ll usually do something fun. This gives them something to motivate them to finish their work and it makes homeschool more enjoyable. We might do a craft, play a board game together, watch a movie that is related (OR even distantly related) to a topic we discussed (we just talked about Archaeologists, so we made popcorn and watched Scooby Doo in Where’s My Mummy?) I might have them write a little report on the movie, and other times not (Netflix and the library are a great source for movies.) We might go to the park, go for a walk, work on a project relating to one of our studied subjects, etc.
At first, I thought I would be able to squeeze in lots of the extra classes…like music, home studies, art, etc. But, I’ve quickly found that…well, again…I need to be flexible. I don’t have these classes scheduled for specific days, but we do them when the work for me. Last week, Caden took his first cooking class, in an effort to help him overcome his picky-eating habits….see post here. He can’t wait to do another one! Shane is anxious to have a little class on raising rabbits…a requirement of mine BEFORE I let them get their own. We had an origami lesson and the boys learned to make chinese stars and rockets out of paper 🙂
I can’t forget about my other two little ones. It’s funny how much my attention has shifted from the younger ones to the older ones. So, I’m always trying to keep that in check. Audrey likes to get in on a lot of the learning. But, when she’s not interested, she’ll play with Isabelle or work on a craft project. I’ve made sure to gather lots of fun supplies for her to keep entertained. She feels like she’s doing school too and loves it. Isabelle just goes with the flow, poops her pants, and gives us many much-needed laughs throughout the school hours.
Here’s Audrey working on her princess picture and Belle is browsing the Halloween costume magazine.
Halloween candy is so exciting!
Dishes. I despise them. But, it’s sure nice to be able to get them done during those moments where the boys don’t need me and still be right there for them when they do.
For Science class this year, the kids are taking Astronomy. We recently learned about the planets and their place in the solar system. I had them look at their book and try to make each planet out of clay…trying to do them similar in color and in proportion to each other. Once they are dry, they are going to hang them up inside a box in their correct order from the sun.
We can’t forget about lunch. I like to keep it easy…mac n’ cheese, sandwiches, soup, etc.
Besides the question, “why homeschool?,” I am always asked “how do you get your kids to listen to you?” Well, I only have 3 weeks experience…but, there are a few things that have been working so far. First, the treat bags. Sometimes rewarding kids is the easiest way to teach them new habits. We have a deal that at the end of the day, if I have been happy with their school behavior (being on time, not complaining, being helpful, attentive, kind, etc.), they can pick a treat. If Audrey (who isn’t in school) can help me with Isabelle, play quietly, and be a good listener…she can have one too. This really has worked so well! I can tell it’s already starting to be a habit because they are behaving well and forgetting that they ever earned a treat! Fine with me 🙂
Another thing I have done is really talked to them and helped them understand that I only want to be their teacher if they want to homeschool. If they complain and give me a hard time constantly, they’re outta here. They both have loved homeschooling (so far) and can’t stand the thought of going back to school. So, they will often say to each other, “Don’t make this hard on mom, I don’t want to go back to school.” I love that. Fear.
Lastly, we take breaks. Taking 15 minute breaks randomly REALLY helps keep their attitude in check and helps them stay focused. It helps me too! If I can tell that one of them is starting to mentally fall apart, I send them off for a break. When they come back, it’s like night and day…so much better!
Anyway, I only have GOOD things to say, so far! I love that we’re spending more quality time together. I love that they can stay up later and spend time with their dad. I love that the kids get more sleep and I can too (if I need it). I love having extra time in the mornings to exercise…which I super need. I love knowing what my kids are learning and that I get to re-learn it too! I love seeing them progress, help each other, and interact more. I love not driving back and forth to the school several times a day, whoo! I love that my kids are no longer learning about the “F-word” and what a “douche bag” is. I love seeing Caden not worry about dealing with his jerky-not-really-friends friends at school. I love that we can finish school in half the time of public school and have plenty of time leftover for family, friends, and activities. I love that they get one-on-one attention. I love no homework! And, I love that they’re loving it.
I’m sure we’ll have lots of adjustments still to make and stumbling blocks along the way. And, I’m not putting any time limit on how long I’m going to do it…we’re playing it by ear. But, 3 weeks down…the report is in…it’s been great! I’ll update you again soon 🙂