Okay, so I just liked the idea of that title - but I rarely think of myself as a teacher, actually. :) At least no more of a teacher than any other parent. We are all teachers, all of the time!
I've been asked lots of questions recently along the lines of "how do you manage to fit everything in?" - that is, three young children, homeschooling, home maintenance, family commitments, exercise, and more recently - everything involved in moving house including PACKING! Well the truthful answer is, I often don't. :) Most days there is something that slips. It might be homeschooling. Or dinner. :) We've had lots of easy dinners lately! Or exercise (this one especially, lately. :( Thank goodness I'll be back at dancing tomorrow....). It is rare that I feel like I've truly achieved everything I want to / need to achieve in a day. But. I am learning to be more content with what I do get done, and stress less about what I don't.
Anyway, I'll stop babbling and start answering some of the questions you've been asking!
How do you get everything done?
I've probably answered that above. I don't!! But I do try. I think time management is important, as well as planning a basic list the night before of what you'd like to get done tomorrow. For me this really helps. It includes everything - house stuff, cooking, homeschooling, phone calls, outings, etc. My diary sits on my kitchen counter and I refer to it a lot during each day. When a quiet moment arises, I seize it! It's hard to plan quiet moments with small children in the house, so when it happens grab it, and do something from that list!! I also constantly pick up. I can't stand masses of mess, so I pick up regularly and definitely get my kids to help.
Do you get any time for yourself?
Yes, absolutely! Not a lot, but just enough. :0) Just like seizing moments to make phone calls or to clean the toilet, I seize moments to just breathe sometimes, too. :) As mothers we may not get a whole hour to ourselves, but we may be able to grab 5 minutes. I've learnt to just enjoy those minutes and try not to resent being interrupted. I'm a stay-at-home Mum for a reason - to look after my children! They are not interruptions. They are my work, and my blessings! 5 minutes checking emails or jumping on facebook, picking up a book to read, or phoning a friend. 5 minutes to pray. 5 minutes to stand outside just watching the sky.
And then there's the evenings. Night time is my true down time. The children go to bed fairly early, and I always do something with my husband and something just for me before I go to bed - often it's blogging, or just reading other blogs I enjoy. And the load is always lighter on weekends too, when there are 2 adults around. :)
How long have you been homeschooling?
We have wanted to homeschool our children since before they were born, and believe we have always homeschooled them - but I've only been homeschooling a school-age child for about 6 months. :)
What curriculum do you use?
I don't use a set curriculum at present. The children are still little, and I don't feel that the purchase of a full curriculum is necessary at this stage. I am enjoying researching what I plan to use in future years though! For now we are teaching the foundations and other things we or the children find interesting. In everything we do I try to find opportunities to tie in the key learning areas. And I prefer to let the children direct their own learning wherever possible. Elijah is still kindergarten age, and his days are completely play based. For Saraya, we have a strong literacy focus and do a lot of reading. If she is interested in something or if there is something I wish to teach her, I will try to find a great book to use as our foundation for learning - either a children's picture book, a junior non-fiction, or a "living book" for older readers or even adults - this is a book written by someone who intimately knows and is passionate about their topic. Interesting books make for interested students!
So.......... for literacy we read, read, read. Saraya also does handwriting activities a few times a week as well as writing her own notes in her Nature Notebook. Other writing may include poster captions for our science unit, story-writing, or writing letters/cards to friends. This is her absolute favourite activity and something she does nearly every day!
For history we are studying Early Australian History, and using "The Australia Book" by Eve Pownall.
Saraya is really enjoying this unit! Because I don't have a curriculum telling me what her follow-up activities should be after learning new information, I create them myself. Sometimes I might ask her to write a few sentences from the book. Sometimes she will create art on what she enjoyed most. Sometimes I will ask her to narrate to me orally everything she can remember from what we have just read, and I note her narration down. We talk a lot, I ask her questions, she asks me questions, and we really have good discussions. I would rather spend an hour looking at something while she is fully engaged in it than put a time limit on a subject and stop her in the midst of great learning.
For maths, we use Mathletics on weekends - she does this with Stuart. Other maths we wind into daily life - time, money, shape, fractions, and simple arithmetic. If you look for them, the opportunities abound!
For science we are learning about the structure and workings of the human body. We have a bunch of resources for this unit, and are also working from a Christian homeschool workbook on this topic as our base. We do regular nature walks, nature journalling and experiments for science as well.
We are currently reading the second Story Girl novel by L.M. Montgomery.
We are learning about composers using starfall.com - great fun!!!
We aren't doing any formal Bible study at the moment. Our faith is very intertwined into each day though, and I love that Saraya will often ask to turn on her lamp after Elijah is asleep to read her Bible. :) I love that. We pray together, read Bible stories and sing songs together. Next year I have some resources to use with both the older children to learn some new memory verses etc.
And that, my dears, is about it. Do we do all of this every day? No way! I do about an hour of formal learning with Saraya each day. Almost the rest of the day is free for her. SO much learning goes on, all day, every day, without me co-ordinating or planning a single bit of it. That's just how children are. Give them time, and resources, and ideas, and they will just run with them. They are sponges. They are made to learn.
I involve the children in the cooking, the cleaning, the packing. :) We talk together, all the time. Sometimes I long for quiet!! And I usually get it, eventually. :) We are also involved in the community through our friendships, and our interests and hobbies. We usually go to town 3-4 days a week.
How do you homeschool with a baby in the house?
Well. This is indeed a burning question, and one which has taken me on a steep learning curve already this year! I do find having WIlliam around the biggest homeschooling hurdle. If the rest of us are up at the table doing something together, he just wants to be up there too! :) Of course, his version of making patterns with counters is to tip them all over the floor or put them in his pockets. And to him painting art like Mary Pissaro is more like dipping his hands in the paint and painting everything in the room. ;) This has caused lots of tears both for him and for the other children, and sometimes even for me. I realised I had to come up with something that would work for us. I know there are hundreds of homeschooling families out there, many of them with lots of children and babies in the house, so I knew it must be possible!!
I had begun the year doing what most schools do, which is sitting down to start formal learning at 9am. I've since changed things, and our routine looks like this most week days:
6:30am - up and cuddling children, time in prayer, checking emails, opening windows etc.
7am - breakfast and make Stu's lunch; clean-up from breakfast and waving Stu off to work
8am - morning chores for everyone; children begin their free-play time while I continue house chores
9am - children play outdoors
9:30am - children watch Play School; I use this time for phone calls, emailing, washing, cooking, whatever needs to be done
10am - morning tea together, reading together
10:30 - either an outing to town / library / groceries / music group on Tuesdays / visiting a friend etc. OR I put out activities for the children such as painting, craft, playdough, puzzles, games, construction, drawing OR we do a special activity together - something I can walk away from as Will often needs me OR the children play. Sometimes they get into a creative game and there's no stopping them!!
12pm - we eat lunch together; clean up; Will goes down for his nap
12:30pm - Elijah has his quiet time either reading books, using construction materials or playing educational computer software. Now Saraya and I do our homeschooling! This gives me a full hour of uninterrupted time with her and we achieve SO much. I turn the phone off and just focus on her, and it's working so well.
1:30 / 2pm - Saraya finishes up and heads into some quiet alone time. She either makes craft, plays with dolls in a creative game in her room, or uses the computer etc. William is up by now and I spend this time with the little boys. We play, put on some music, read books, or sometimes they just follow me around while I do some house chores. :)
3pm - afternoon tea outside
3:30pm - either the children play outside until baths OR we go to town for afternoon activities
4:30 / 5pm - I cook dinner; children finish play and tidy up then have baths
That is our day in a nutshell! I am finding it very full at the moment with all the extra paperwork and packing related to moving house, but normally our daily routine is pretty manageable. I am so looking forward to resettling in our new home and getting things back to normal again!
This may have been a little long and boring. Just feels good to have finally answered some questions that have been coming my way. :) Now off to have a cuppa and head to bed!...... ;)