Wednesday, January 12, 2011
A Day in Our Homeschool
While obsessively watching the list of school closings during our recent Snowmageddon, I saw there was a daycare or preschool or some such young child corral called the Love Bug Learning Center.
I wish I had thought of it first. It would be the perfect name for our home school. I'm kind of tempted to co-opt it anyway, and to print up a sign and post it above our kitchen table (where much of our learning time is spent).
I started small, very small really, and used that first year to carve out an hour or two every day in which we sat together and did crafts, sang songs, and read poems and folk tales together during Princess Hazelnut's nap. It was a precious time, just for the two of us, and though I stuck pretty closely to the Sonlight P4/5 book list and referred to this as "Learning Time," it was very easy-going and snuggle-filled. We also joined a local homeschooling co-op that year, and met some other families and gingerly felt our way along.
For kindergarten, we used much of the Sonlight kindergarten curriculum, and expanded our Learning Time to two-to-three hours per day. Things got a big dicier that year, as I at first tried to force some of the materials even when they stressed out The Boy Wonder, but we found an easier rhythm as I gained confidence and learned to take cues from my son. We added a weekly homeschool P.E. class to our schedule, along with a weekly homeschool academy that offers drama, art, music and history; took advantage of classes for home schoolers at the Nature Center and the Botanical Gardens, and joined with other local groups on various field trips.
This year is First Grade for The Boy Wonder, and though there are still days when I threaten to enroll him in public school (because sometimes I think we have all lost our mind, and if we haven't yet, homeschooling will surely cause us to do so), we have finally settled into what seems to be a comfortable and lovely pattern to our days:
9am The kids and I gather at the table for a hot breakfast and spend some time chatting about nonsense and about the day to come. We do not rush. My children will not be rushed. It can be maddening, but I am letting them teach me the value of intentional living.
10am - noon We do the bulk of our Learning Time during these morning hours, while Princess Hazelnut (our resident temperamental three-year-old) either sits at the table drawing & coloring, causing general chaos, or participating as she sees fit. I start by reading a Bible story from one of our children's Bible storybooks or a devotion from Adventures in Odyssey, and then we spend a few minutes on a memory verse and reciting our phone number and address. We follow this with Science (Sonlight) and then with a few minutes of math (usually a worksheet from education.com or from Comprehensive Curriculum). Then we spend about an hour on Spelling, Reading and Handwriting, using a mixture of Sonlight, Comprehensive Curriculum, and good old-fashioned creative expression. Reading is really clicking now with The Boy Wonder after more than a few fitful starts and tearful meltdowns (from both mom & child), and I feel we are finally getting to have fun with Language Arts.
Noon We push the Learning Materials out of the way and eat a long, leisurely lunch. Sometimes we talk more about something we learned during the morning, or some new topic that The Boy Wonder wants to learn more about, or we plan out our afternoon.
Master's Academy, where he has drama, music, art and history (on those days, we do not do morning Learning Time). Friday afternoons are spent at a local gymnastics center where the kids learn Spanish and Sign Language, and get plenty of time to jump around on the equipment, followed by some quiet time at the library. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I try to let the kids lead the afternoons. We might do a science project or a craft, but just as often, the kids go off and play with Legos or walk around the yard or organize themselves into some other sort of mischief.
5pm We eat an early dinner together, usually by 5:00, and as this tends to be the only time of the day that all four of us are together, it can be fairly boisterous while we all try to talk about our day, and what we learned, and who we saw...
6pm - 7:30pm I head off to my home office to work while I can, and my husband spends time with the kids. The Boy Wonder generally spends another 15 minutes or so reading to my husband to strengthen his reading skills, and then Princess Hazelnut sits down with a stack of books she wants to have read to her, and then they all snuggle up on the sofa and watch a cartoon together.
7:30pm I take Princess Hazelnut and snuggle her down to sleep.
8pm The Boy Wonder and I snuggle up in bed for storytime. Right now I am reading The Chronicles of Narnia to him, and so we also spend some time defining new words and discussing our thoughts on the story. This, also, is as much for me as it is for him. Such a precious time.
9pm Both kids are asleep. Finally, blessedly, asleep and quiet. Sometimes I have to return to my office to wrap up some work, but usually my husband and I read together on the sofa or watch a TV show after we get some time to decompress and talk.
Some days are frustrating, some are fulfilling, most are a combination of the two. And while it can be a challenge to juggle it all sometimes, it is at the end of the day that I can look with some perspective on all the learning and loving and living that was done throughout the long, busy day and can rest assured that, for now at least, we are doing exactly what we should be doing.