It’s hard to do a day-in-the-life writing prompt when Monday starts a brand new schedule for us. I’m looking forward to this second semester being much easier on us because I think I’ve remedied our biggest weakness from the first semester’s schedule.
We’ve only been homeschooling for half a year, and if there’s one lesson I’ve been beat with over the head, it’s that homeschool rarely spins out the rainbow and butterfly reality I plan for it to.
But, for what it’s worth, here’s what I’m going for..
God willing, on Monday, the schoolroom will be tidy again. (It’s today’s project. And that’s what I’ve been saying for about, let’s see… three days now?) Instead of having the schedule for each week posted in the schoolroom on our pretty, little hanging dry-erase planner, it’ll be typed and hanging on the fridge. (No more “what are we doing today, mom… UGH, I have to go ALL the way downstairs to check!?”). I’ve already prepared her for the new block schedule, where each day will focus on a particular core subject. But Mondays are grammar, and grammar’s already kind of a yawn without knocking out the whole week’s worth in an afternoon, so I expect a hot, heaping load of complaints to kick us off. This subject will come with 8-10 worksheets by the day’s end and I’m pretty sure her eyes will bulge out of their sockets if she realizes this before we gets started. (Not exactly famed for her subtlety, this one.) I’m sure that once we get rolling though, she’ll be fine, especially because I know for virtually a fact, that we’ll finish sooner this way than on any other Monday before. She does much better staying on one subject than she does hopping from task to task, which is why I chose to switch it up for take two.
Our morning routine will pretty much always be the same.
She’ll wake up around 9:00, look over the new schedule, and we’ll eat breakfast over a little video. First thing in the morning is always the roughest for Mary; she is the polar opposite of a morning person. So I think that waking up to a short video (relevant to whatever we’re learning that week) will be a good mind-stretch for her without me having to wrestle morning combativeness. (I’m compiling a playlist now, titling each video based on what week in the year it’ll compliment a lesson.)
Over Christmas break we rearranged the kitchen and dining room to allow for a new breakfast nook that’s perfect for our new HS lifestyle. The nook gives us more room to sit at and move more freely around the table; there’s storage in the benches (great for all those workbooks and papers that are rarely taken back to the schoolroom when they ought to be); and we’re able to set the laptop up on a nearby surface now so that I don’t have to worry about the smaller kids grabbing at it if I put a video on for them over a snack or schoolwork. We’ve instituted a new rule, where the laptop stays in plain view permanently. (Mary’s at that age — internet safety is at peek importance.) I’m not thrilled about it from an aesthetic point, but having it at our easy disposal during school is a nice, glittery little lining of silver.
Reading, 30 minutes.
Then, I’ll read aloud to them, which usually gets Mary wanting to read for a while too. Reading is one of my favorites because it engages the whole bunch of us, from two to twenty-seven. It’s just a cozy little way to start a winter day, especially with kids who won’t be content to listen so quietly later in the morning. I also like taking the opportunity to point out where the author used strategies we’re learning to plug into our own writing, and encouraging her to speak up when she sees or hears them too.
Writing, 30 minutes to an hour.
I like to warm-up with writing immediately after a good book’s just spurred us to get creative. Good writing has a natural flow, and I always feel like reading just before she writes helps to get that rhythm wheeling.
Spelling and Vocabulary/Editing, 10 – 20 minutes.
Then, we knock out spelling, which is required to be done everyday, but only takes about 10 minutes.
And to wrap it up, she’ll play for a while on Word Dynamo. Last semester, we tried three different ways to tackle vocabulary. I’m a huge vocab nerd, so it was underwhelming for me to watch none of it really work any magic on her — until she introduced me to this neat, little number. I actually bookmarked it before we started officially schooling, and then let it slip through the cracks of my frazzled, distracted brain. She found it on her own one day and has been hooked ever since. Seriously, I have fun just watching her play. It’s fast-paced and better yet — one player, so I can actually pay attention to my other kids while she becomes a word-whiz on her own. (A lot of times, even when I’m happy to have a little of my own time freed up, I’ll get sucked in just rooting for her.) It’s pretty cool, so I’ve decided to make it a small part of the daily routine. A fun way to transition from the stuff we do everyday to our core subject.
If it’s Tuesday, though, she’ll do an editing exercise instead. These are only required once a week, which is nice because even I think they’re dull. They’re quick, though, and essential, or I wouldn’t make her do them.
Core Subject of the Day.
One of the hassles of our old routine that I can’t wait to escape, is the need for every single book every single day. (Almost, anyway.) When I expected that most of school would happen in the schoolroom, there was no reason to mind that. But school happens so much more often at the dining room table or curled into the sofa, that we wind up with forty pounds of books and binders and art supplies and pencil shavings scattered around the dining room – that no one cares to lug back down a flight of stairs and into their schoolroom cubbies. Taking care of a single core subject a day ensures that we’ll only need one massive textbook at a time, which, by the way, will fit like a well-worn shoe into the new bench storage.
Check out my last post to see an outline of our new schedule. It’s full of adventure and excitement and bullet points.
Then, there’s Matthew…
Of course, that only covers Mary. There are two other kids to parent and one of them is a pre-schooler, which forces me to drag this out a little longer. Bear with me. For him, I’m a little more lax. Play is a big part of his day and I take full advantage of that. He occupies his little sister while Mary and I work on the more “mom-intensive” academics.
Down in the schoolroom, we have a little routine that we call “calendar time” usually before Mary even wakes up because Matthew’s an early riser like his Momma. He counts all the days on the calendar and posts the new one, then we practice saying and writing the date. Then, we do the Pledge of Allegiance. Lastly, we have poster where I point to each letter blend sound, and he tells me what sound each of them makes. Periodically, he’ll work on Reading Eggs. It used to be a daily endeavor, but that tended to make him lose steam a little. When we scale back his reading program to just a few times a week, he treats it much more like a privilege. He’ll plug away at that thing for hours and I’ll have to pry him off with a spatula.
He’s always involved in the art projects, history crafts or science experiments, lending a small hand whenever age appropriate and loves being included in the discussions afterward. This semester, I plan to organize his day a little better. He has a backpack for next year that he can’t wait to use. So I’ll fill it each day with the games, activities and workbooks I want him to spend some time on. I think that he’ll enjoy reaching into it himself to pull out kind of a surprise activity. Instead of being told out of the blue: “Okay, time to do your reading”, he’ll know from the first time he peeks into his bag, exactly what we’ll be doing. Plus, he can pick the order in which they get done. Board games are (at least) a once a week activity for him because the number practice is so effective, and I love that Mary always wants to join. For kids who are generally at each other’s throats (getting used to being around each other 24/7), it’s a great way for them to practice keeping cool and being considerate.
So, in a nutshell, that’s our day. If you’re here from the homeschool hop, let me know you stopped by! I just missed the cut-off for participation, but because I’m THAT big of a nerd about reading other people’s homeschool plans, I’m going to check out everyone’s blog in the listing anyway.