August 29, 2013

What School Looks Like in Our House

So, now that I've shared with you how I hope to turn October into a month all about others, I'll write a post that's all about me (OK, my family, too!)

There is no typical day in our house.  If Larinee Dennis or Tomi Lowes or Courney Janes or Jess Corkern or the other myriad of amazing teachers I know ever came to observe a day of school for us, they would run screaming after the first 5 minutes and probably never allow me to write another Family Quest lesson or teach anywhere ever again!!!  Ok, it may not be that bad, but it's pretty close.

See, I have a problem.  (Admitting it is the first step, right?) When there is a schedule, I follow it to a tee!  I mean, no deviation is allowed, by me or anyone else.  Times are set in stone and I live by the mantra "10 minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable." (Though my husband would probably tell you I think an hour early is on time!)  When I have a schedule, everyone in the house is miserable because I just can't bring myself to loosen up with it.  It's a sickness, it really is.

So, the first year of homeschooling was pretty hard on both Sophie and I because I had a schedule for school and there was no messing with the schedule.  It's amazing either one of us survived, really. The second year I loosened up and instead of having a schedule with times included, it was just the order in which the subjects would be done everyday.  Yeah, that wasn't any better.  Don't get me wrong, we had some great days and I did loosen up and go with the flow much more, but it still was pretty frustrating most days.  I mean, one of the perks of homeschooling is that you are more free to go and do things, see people, and just enjoy the world around you and the amazing family God has given you, right?  Well, there wasn't a lot of that happening because I was still refusing to let go of the "schedule."

This year, things are changing.  I am working really hard at being flexible with the hope that God will open more doors for the kids and I (and Kevin when his schedule allows) to serve others, even if that means during the day or what would normally be school hours.  To do this, I have a new system, one that will most likely make you cringe.  Each child has their own weekly binder divided by subject:

On Saturday or Sunday I go through the lessons that are coming up that week, make a list of whatever supplies we will need, and pull out all worksheets to place them in the binder under the appropriate subject.  The binder is basically what I want to accomplish before the week is over, however that has to happen.  I try not to do school on Fridays, so we do our best to get it all done in 4 days.  Of course, lots of things come up, but I think it will work.  We've been doing school for 2 weeks and both weeks have gone well using this format.
Of course, each day looks a little different.  I try to be up by 6:30 (which is sleeping in for most of you, but I have tried to be up before that, and it isn't a good idea for anyone involved, trust me!)  I start with prayer and devotion time.  I let the kids wake up on their own (that's best for all involved, too!)  While I wait for them to get up, I take care of the dishwasher or laundry or whatever I can that isn't too noisy.  Once the kids are up, I get them breakfast (admittedly, it's usually cereal or toast, occasionally eggs or bacon or something much more "domestic".)  Once that's done, E gets in the shower while Sophie makes her bed and does her quiet time.  When he's done, then Sophie gets in.  She showers, gets dressed and practices her piano.  While she is doing all that, I do all of E's school with him.  (He just works better without her around.)  Once done with her piano, Sophie heads downstairs and we start school with her.  I usually let her choose what she wants to do first.  E just plays, either upstairs or in his room, while she does school.  Once her individual work is done, then I do science and history with both of them together.  I try to get all of this done before lunch, if possible.  I'll admit, sometimes we only accomplish that because I push lunch off until we're done. That's what snacks are for, right?
Of course, in between each lesson, I have E stand up and jump, or run to the TV and back, or do somersaults, whatever I can to let him get some energy out so he can get focused again on what we need to do.  Sophie gets about 5 minutes between each lesson to play, jump rope, go outside, whatever she wants.  That helps both of us to stay focused and not get frustrated. I usually give them 45 minutes to an hour for lunch, then it's to their rooms for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Sophie has to spend 30 minutes reading on her own or out loud to E.  For the rest of the time they can play, as long as they do so upstairs and quietly. That's usually the time I fold laundry or do the cleaning downstairs.  Another confession, that's sometimes the time I take a nap.  Yes, a nap.  Some days, that is just a necessity if we all still want to be alive at the end of the day! After that, who knows what we will do for the day.  Sometimes we read books, other times we run errands or meet up with friends or take a walk.
I am sure that was more info than you cared to know, but there you go, anyway!  Praying that God will use this new "schedule" to both enhance our learning and allow us to serve more.  Lord, mold our hearts to be more like yours.  Use what they are learning in school to draw them to You and to help them see that Your hand is in everything, from creation to math to the words we use.  Draw their hearts to You through all we do and in spite of our shortcomings!
Here are just a few more shots of our school area and what we're up to this year:
 Sophie's spelling/vocabulary work
 E's daily calendar notebook
 Did I mention I have given up writing out lesson plans?  Well, I here's what I do...I have a notebook handy where I write down what we're doing as we do it, then I enter it all into the computer at the end of the day.  Yeah, not an education major, can you tell?
 This is Sophie's shelf.  I am using the suggestion from the book The Well-Trained Mind to keep their completed work in labeled binders that I can pull out at any time to see the progress they've made or review anything we've studied.
 E's shelf.

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