Monday, August 16, 2010

Our New-Look Homeschool Week

For us, weekdays are very different to weekends. Saturdays are 'Papa days' - well the morning at least, while I'm teaching piano - and Stuart spends lots of time playing with the children and running errands with them in town. Sunday is very much a Sabbath day - a day of rest - for all of us. We seldom go anywhere, and it is a quiet, restful, family home day. Stuart works long hours through the week, and the children and I have lots and lots to get done at home. This requires organisation on my part!! And this term, we're trying something new.

I have written a very simple timetable for the children to see when they walk out of their bedroom in the morning. This tells them in a basic form what we will be doing each weekday. Many things are not included in the chart, but the basic form is there.

The chart includes their morning chores, outings, and any formal learning we will be doing each day. Saraya and I are only covering one to two school subjects per day. This is indeed a new tactic for us. Previously we had been spending 15-20 minutes on each subject, probably doing 3-4 subjects a day. I was interested in seeing how it would feel if we instead did a block session on a subject - say 1 - 11/2 hours. The goal is to cover in one day what we would normally cover in a week. And the object is to simplify things, for both Saraya and I. And guess what? It's working!!

Of course, having been unwell and also rather busy these past weeks, we haven't stuck rigidly to the timetable. But that is okay. Life ebbs and flows, as does homeschooling. The children are always involved, always interested, always learning. And life is just that - life. It requires flexibility.

Interested in how a 'typical' day might look for us? Well, here's a basic glimpse for you.

7am-8am - everyone wakes up, we have breakfast, Stuart leaves for work.
8am-9am - I work on chores (beds, dishes, washing on, etc. etc.) and the children have free time. This is often creative/dramatic play, or drawing/reading at the table. They often play outside too. Sometimes they are on chook or rubbish duty during this time also.
9am- I call them to get dressed, make beds, do teeth and hair, etc. They also need to tidy up whatever they've been doing.

9:30-10:15 - The children watch 'Playschool' (though Saraya often reads during this), followed by a 15 minute educational program. This morning it was on "Wheat" - growing, grinding, bread baking etc. I consider this 45 minutes PRECIOUS - I often check my emails, have a coffee, hang the washing in the sunshine etc. It's my breathing time. :) This morning I even used it for Bible study.

10:15 - Outdoor play and morning tea. This is fresh air time, time to stretch our legs.

11am - Formal learning time. Today was Monday, so for Saraya it was maths. We did a whole Math-U-See component, which took us about an hour. This included the introduction of a new concept, 5 practice worksheets and a test. Saraya got 100% on the test so I know she's ready to move on to the next concept next week. I will now informally wind some informal maths into the rest of the week to reinforce what she learned today - just seizing the moments when they spring up. It's important for kids to see how relevant and useful maths really can be!

For my boys, this is activity time. Sometimes I just lay out 2 boards, playdough and toys. Sometimes, they are happy dressing up and playing outside. Sometimes Elijah uses Starfall or Alphablocks on the computer. Today however, I opted to put out a selection of table activities and they kept busy the whole time for which I was thankful.

William digging and scooping lentils

Elijah playing with Stuart's Micro Machines (still around from when he was little!)

And while the boys were busy at the outdoor table, Saraya worked away inside.

I 'float' during this time. Saraya needs help with a sum, or Will spills lentils everywhere, or the phone rings..... yeah, I float. :) I also like to sit and spend time with the boys during their play.

Once Saraya was done, she quickly joined in the 'fun' activities. :)
Writing words with Duplo letters.

Playing with this pirate puzzle - it's tricky. I sat and had a good go too which had the kids smiling, especially when I struggled figuring them out. ;)

Lunch is usually sometime between 12:30 and 1pm. Most days we have a picnic. The kids usually play outside while I prepare our food and they have dragged the rug down under the trees by the time I get out there. After we eat I read the children a chapter or two of our chapter book - we're still reading "The Secret Garden" at the moment. William often kicks a ball or chases the kittens or some such thing while we're reading.

1:30-ish - Rest Time. I pick out a pile of books for Elijah, and he reads them on his bed. I pick a pile of books for Will, and he and I lie on my bed. I read to him, and usually try to shut my eyes for 5 minutes as well. ;) Saraya reads on her bed. In the last couple of months she has gone from reading picture books to reading chapter books. First the large font, illustrated type... and now the smaller font, no illustrated type! Thursday-Sunday she read "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe", using rest times and other quiet times in her days. Yikes!!!

2:30 - the children have tidied away their books, made their beds etc. and we are all up. Today being Monday our afternoon session was baking, of which Saraya is in charge. I also get Elijah to do a fair bit in the kitchen- today he helped me grate cheese and carrots to put on our wraps at lunch time.

3:00 - Well, on a home day like today, afternoon 'Playschool' often gets turned on. It did today. I used this time to clean up the kitchen and get the mince for dinner cooking. Then we all headed outside and ate some of the slice we had made for afternoon tea.

3:30 - 5pm is usually total free time - I often do emailing/phone calls, dinner preparation, folding, watering the garden, reading with a cuppa on the verandah (on really good days.....), pushing the kids on the swing, etc. The children most often play outside - dressing up, tree climbing, running, bike riding, trampolining, etc. Today I offered to take the children to the park (it's literally a 5 minute drive from here, a very quiet tiny little park but it was a nice change of scene and I'd already cooked dinner!). I took my book and enjoyed a quiet hour on the park bench while the children played.

5pm - Bath time. This time is also dotted with other things........ tidying up toys, putting away folding - and this is all the children's responsibility. And Stuart helps with baths, once he gets home. :) I am on dinner duty!

5:30-ish - Dinner.

6:30 - Bedtime routine. I do dishes, and Stu settles the kids. Teeth etc. and stories / chatting on the bed. Prayer time and quiet music on. We try to get their lights out by 7pm. Once dishes are done I get Will into his routine... teeth, nappy, and reading books on my bed. Stuart usually comes in and settles him.

Evenings are grown up time! Most often Will is asleep by 7:30 which leaves us several hours of quiet before bed. This too is precious time, especially when you homeschool and have little ones underfoot all day long.

So there you have it. If you're still reading, you are committed!! :P This of course is a glimpse - every day is different. Tomorrow for instance is a town day, and we will be out for the whole morning at our kids music group, and grocery shopping. Lunch and rests will still be the same, but the afternoon will contain all our formal learning and house chores that need to be done. I like having a balance of town days and home days.

Off topic, I wanted to share what I gave my brother Michael for his 21st..........

He and I from 1989 - 2010. Each photo is engraved with the year. I was so happy with it, and he sent me a text tonight to say he cried when he opened it! Sweet guy. :)

Oh, and I had my hair cut on Saturday!! So nice to be feeling well enough to be up and about, and it was long overdue.

I went for a shorter, easier maintenance style and I'm liking it a lot so far.

Phew! This was a marathon post! Lucky Stu has been out at indoor netball tonight. He is home now, so I'd best go spend some time with him. Blessing friends! xx


sarah in the woods said...

Sounds like a nice pace. We are trying, for the first time, to get all school work done in the morning. Then I have the rest of the day to do whatever I need to get done. We have been working outside - the fresh air makes the work go better, I think. Plus the little ones can run and play.

...they call me mommy... said...

Very nice!!! I love reading posts like this Saminda! :)

AmFriend said...

Very informative post. I like how you have your days loosely planned out. It seems well balanced and I am glad that it is working for you. Nice that you and Stu get a few hours of quality adult time in the evenings.

K-tribe said...

Thank you for this! I now have four and am trying to gear up the confidence this year. :-)
Kelly K


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