Friday, September 6, 2013

When and Where Do We Home-School?

When I think of others home-schooling, I imagine them setting around the table at a set time (say 8 in the morning), doing an hour for each subject, taking a set lunch break, and being done at a set time. But...that's not how I do it...and I would suspect it's not how a lot of others do school either. It really depends on the family.

This is what a "typical" day looks like for us, even though "typical" is used loosely.

We start our mornings very casual.
I get up and fix myself and Bubzy something quick to eat--maybe a Bagel with cream cheese, and get him changed. I don't need to wake up the other children. Abram's usually up before me watching cartoons or playing with transformers. I have to ask if he's eaten yet, because he always puts eating last and sometimes chimes in that he's hungry right when we're about to start school. He hasn't. He fixes himself some cereal and turns Barney on for Bubzy. A few minutes later Abby wakes up and drags herself to the kitchen. She's just like her Mama and likes peace and quiet in the mornings. She also fixes herself some cereal.

I sit down with a cup of coffee and get on the computer. Abby gets dressed and ready for the day and makes her bed. Then she may make herself some hot Chai Tea. Abram has totally forgotten that he has to get dressed and ready for the day, so I ask him if he's started on his chore list. "Not yet," is his daily answer as he hops up to also get dressed and ready (teeth brushed/hair combed/etc). Barney's still playing and Bubzy's drinking his juice and watching with interest. The kids all get comfy on the couch and wait for me to close the computer. Barney's almost over and my cup of coffee's almost empty, so I finish my paragraph (reading or writing--depending on my mood that day) and close the computer.

My bible's sitting right next to my morning spot and I open it to the Proverb for the day. We usually have to skip a few as we aren't consistent on weekends. That's okay, we'll eventually circle back around to it, anyway. Morning bible time includes a prayer, a proverb, a parable and a person. The proverb and parable are read out of my bible, the person out of a storybook bible, and then we pray together.

Often times, studies take on a life of their own, taking up extra time. I don't mind if I see that it's productive. Bubzy begins looking through the pictures and pointing to things of interest. The older two tell him who they are and what's happening, giving unscheduled review. If I was strict on a time schedule, these times would be thrown out for the sake of the clock.

Now it's time to get busy on our chore lists.

Abby knows her chores by heart, so she starts right in on unloading the dishwasher. I read Abram the first couple he needs to work on while I'm getting dressed and ready for the day. He needs to clear the table(s) and wipe it (them if we ate dinner in the dining room) down. He needs to pick up the stuff that ends up under the tables through the day and then he deals with all the kitchen trash. Wrappers from Romen noodles, paper plates that were left on the counter the day before, and little straws that fell on the floor are all up to Abram to pick up. Then he empties any kitchen trash bins that are full and puts them in the big trash bin in the garage. Abby fills the dishwasher with all the dishes that aren't hand-wash only. Those are up to me. While she's working on that, I'm cleaning off all the kitchen counters, putting away pantry items that were left out and looking forward to dinner to see if anything needs to be thawed. Abby sweeps to finish off the kitchen and breakfast areas.

Once we're finished with kitchen duties, we move on to tidying the house. We just worry about the main areas like the living and dining rooms, entryway and main bathroom, and school library. This usually only takes about 15-20 minutes, but tends to take longer on Mondays or after a holiday. On those days I'm not as particular about stuff like the edges of the couch or looking behind side tables. We just do the main messes and finish up the following day. We all know what we're in charge of as we move around the house. I fold and put away blankets (they get taken down to make tents or wrap up in nearly every day), clean off the side tables, and put away stray school stuff. Abby picks up Bubzy's toys with his help, takes a trash bag around to every room to pick up stray paper plates and stuff, and picks up her own belongings. She also takes all the toys that end up at the bottom of the stairs up to the play room. Abram straightens the pillows on each couch with pride. He's very particular with the way they look. He also gathers any stray dirty clothes or towels and starts the washing machine. He takes care of his own belongings and helps Bubzy gather shoes from around the house and put them back in the shoe basket. We then spend 15 minutes timed on our bedrooms just to keep them from overflowing with mess.

Now we're ready for school, but it's almost time for lunch. We may get an hour of school done and then fix lunch before we really start the main part of our school day or we might fix lunch and eat it while we work and then take an outside break.

First, I spend a little time with Abby and Abram individually.

Abby gets her time first since she usually doesn't need a lot of time. We focus on memorizing multiplication and division facts and spend some much needed time on spelling. She brings me one of her workbooks to check and asks any needed questions. When she's working by herself she marks or skips anything she'll need help on and brings me it when it's her time the next day. She records her school progress in a home-school record keeping book that I check up on a couple of times per week. Usually she needs about an hour of one-on-one time per day.

Bubzy's favorite time of day is in front of the white board with Abby. Abby takes a little time out to teach Bubzy a letter. He thinks he's big stuff when he scribbles on the board with her.

Meanwhile, Abram has his alone learning time. He has a group of choices to do during this time and today he chooses to color his Roman history coloring book and listen to Story of the World on cd while eating a little lunch.

Most days he also practices a book he's confident reading while he's off to himself learning.

All of our children end up outside a lot in nice weather. Even if it's hot, they attempt it for a while before coming back inside. It's their favorite place to learn.

After Abby is finished with her individual time with me, the rest of the school day for her is primarily off on her own. She can be found in the tree house reading, on the couch reading when it gets hot, on the computer doing one of her math programs, or just about anywhere.

I check in on her occasionally, but she's pretty self-sufficient. She usually gets 3-4 hours of reading time in reading literature, history, science encyclopedias, and poetry. Then she works primarily in Fred Math and occasionally in Teaching Textbooks math on the computer. She also has language arts on the computer plus some workbooks she works on. She's officially finished with school at 4:00, but normally assigns herself "homework" just for fun (such as a map and color sheet for history) and reads a little before bed as well.

While Abby begins working on her own, I work with Abram. We have one-on-one time working on flashcards in math, reading lessons, and workbook pages. Then we work on his computer curriculum for a while, some of which he needs my help on and some that I can just remain nearby just in case. I try and steal away a little time to read Bubzy a story or two and spend some one-on-one time with him as well. Some days it happens and some it doesn't.

I remember Abby needing a whole lot of side by side time with me in third grade, too. I try and leave the school work that Abram can primarily do by himself for 4:00. I start cooking dinner around that time, but he's at the kitchen desk where I can stop and glance over his shoulder when he needs me. Usually Abram gets a little playtime in the playroom while I put Bubzy down for a nap, so his schoolwork lasts a little past Abby's. About 4:30 or 5:00 we're finished and all exhausted.

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