Saturday, February 19, 2011

A day of homeschooling: What it consists of for us

One thing my veteran homeschooling friends have told me is that there is always more we could be doing.  But, that doesn't mean we should.   One of my friends encouraged me this summer to simplify as much as possible.  

So, for Sami this year, this is my curriculum:
HSP 1 Math- 4 pages or 2 lessons
100 Easy Lessons-1 lesson a day
Handwriting without Tears 2-4 pages a day, and after they've finished a book I have them retrace the pages with a sharp crayon or colored pencil for additional practice 
The Bible Illustrated for children by Ella Lindvall (1 story a day)
Health once a week, 2 short lessons
The Writing Spot workbook
And she did the Explode the Code A, B, and C books last year.  So, she started Book 1 at the beginning of December and does two pages a day. .
I have just now begun to increase her reading practice.  She reads 2 Bob books or Now I'm reading books or 2 Hooked on Phonics Lessons in addition to the 100 Easy Lessons.

In total, her lessons take anywhere from 1 hour to  2 1/2 hours, depending on her focus, interruptions etc.  But, it's enough.  I know this now because I did it with Autumn and did too much!  I did science with her, but realized that she would have been fine starting it in 1st.  For Sami, her science this year will consist of our Penguin Theme pocket we made in January, cooking lessons, and gardening in the spring.

When Autumn was in PK, I started doing report cards and some evaluations so that I could gauge how she was doing and so I could show my husband that she was learning everything she needed to.  I used the World Book Scope and Sequence to know that I was covering everything she needed to learn.  If you'd like me to mail or email you a copy of the pages I use for report cards and evals, I'd be glad to.  They aren't as formal as they might sound, but I really like what I've found.  What it does for me is to help me see the progress she's made.  What it does for her is that I can show her that she's improving.  What it does for my husband is that I can prove to him that she's doing well =)  I just did my first evaluations for Sami and it was good to do that.  Autumn is finally at 7 ready to set goals.  I didn't really feel that I could convey that concept to her before, so I haven't really felt compelled to gauge her progress by goals yet.

As for our day, when it was just Autumn doing school, we'd aim to start about 10 am.  We also aimed to be done by lunch.  That way, they'd have some play time in the morning and then she and I would sit down for a bit.  The other two had to learn to play.  I let Sami sit in on as much as she could and often gave her a coloring book or something to work on herself because she wanted to be a part of everything.  I can't say that it was easy, but we got through it and she learned and so did I =)  Last year required more time and this year more still, so I'm adjusting little by little.  I did try to do it in the afternoon but that didn't work for me at all.  I was a basket case.  I need time in the afternoon with the kids in their rooms.  Even if I just sit down.  I go from 5 am when I get my husband ready and out the door till they're in bed at 8/8:30 p.m.  I need 2 hours in the middle of the day.  So, though it's harder to do it with the distractions of the other kids, I decided I had to do it in the morning.  I also discovered that Autumn had a horrible time with math in the afternoon.  Her brain struggled to work.  We do math first because it's the subject she most resists.  Even now she struggles with it and sometimes it takes her so long (1-2 hours) because she dazes off.  But, I know I can't do it for her and she blazes through it when it's math that she loves.  

So, that's our homeschool day in a nutshell.  Every day is a little different depending on what comes up.  I keep a planner and check of each subject as we finish it.  If I have to leave a little until the next day, I will and go back the next day to finish it up.  I try to not let things get to the end of the week without getting done though.

Over the years, a few non-homeschooling friends have expressed skepticism about how we can get so much done in so few hours.  I have a few thoughts about that...

1)  Each year gets a little tougher and requires a little more work.  I'm already expecting an increase in how much work Autumn will need to get done next week.  I'm thankful that God has given me the opportunity to let go of "my time" ;) little by little as she needs more time for school.

2)  We school all day.  I talk to them in the grocery store.  I teach them about how I'm driving and what I'm watching for.  I talk to them about what we pass by.  They have chores and are taking on more and more responsibility.  They fold and put away their clothes now.  They help me cook when I have the patience.  They are going to have their own garden this spring.  

3)  I listed our academic lessons, but I didn't mention that Sami goes to Preschool two days a week for a total of 5 hours.  Autumn has piano lessons every week.  The girls are in ballet, gymnastics, and Awanas.  They are active and social kids.

4)  They don't get enough socialization--Actually, between church, activities, neighbors, and their siblings, they are social beings.  And they are learning to include children of different ages in their play rather than excluding them.  

So, those are my thoughts for now... As homeschoolers, we can often think that we aren't doing enough and that everyone else is doing more.  I know it is something to guard against-- becoming a "lazy" homeschooler and not planning or making sure your children learn and are able to complete appropriate grade level work.  But, we also have to guard against--unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our children.  This is the dangerous trap I am far more tempted to fall into.

I feel as if God has helped me a lot with resisting that trap this year.  I fall into at times, but I'm doing a lot better than I did last year.  I do make mistakes and get upset at times, but those times are more about my forgetting to have patience than about them.  (Homeschooling really is about God working in me as much as them, I strongly believe.)

The weakness that I feel God bringing to my attention now is that I need to pay closer attention to the hearts of my children.  Amidst the stress of the last few months, I feel as if that is what I lost sight of.  I got mired down in the busyness and struggles of life.  This week it was my daughter's heart and her grace that I think God used to calm me and give me peace.  

There's always something for the Lord to work on in my heart... ;)

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