Tuesday, August 7, 2007

How do I homescool?

Well, this is our topic for today, class! How DO we do it? By sheer determination! He He!

No, really...A lot of people have the idea that because I school at home, I conduct our classes just like public school. In most cases, and mine, that is not really the case. Here is what we try to have as a 'normal' day....

Usually I get up before the kids, have devotion ( I try to take my time here), make my bed, start some laundry, odd and end tidying, maybe a little blogging if I am lucky! The children have a 'list' they check off every day. I downloaded it from Whole Heart Ministries tool box. I drew a list for Alex with pictures of the bed made up, a tooth brush, etc.

Daniel is supposed to be ready at 7am for our walk around the neighborhood, with his teeth brushed and the cats fed. While we are on our walk, Amelia does her list, makes sure Alex is on task and sometimes starts breakfast. (My neighbors are always home and look after Amelia and Alex while I walk.)

We return, have breakfast and devotion then finish any morning chores. We have school room time. This is time for math, grammar, copy work, spelling (desk work), reading for Alex, history reading, science reading, my reading aloud, memorization work ... . Then, around 11am we break for daily chores and lunch. (We tackle one area of the house each day of the week, we have a big house and cannot do it all in one day. We all work together and it takes just a little time. We try to deep clean the areas once a month, but the bathrooms and kitchen gets scrubbed weekly. Sometimes on Fridays we have 'center day' and I am free to do extra cleaning or fun things like scrapbooking .) After lunch is nap for Alex, reading for the older students (they work on three to four books at a time... one fun, one challenging or classic, one biography, one about a subject we are discovering... for about one to two hours. The rest of the afternoon is for reading aloud, projects, sewing, crafts, club meetings, music practice and all sorts of fun! Anything 'thought provoking' or skill building is acceptable during this time.

About three or four I kick them out of the school room if we have happened to be there all day, they need to go outside or just plain play sometimes.

When it is time for preparing supper, they take turns helping me in the kitchen. After supper we are only in the school room if we are reading out loud or listening to something or playing games. Usually they take another hop outside, or finish up other activities. They do a night time routine (from the same list) and are supposed to be in bed at 8pm to read, relax, draw, knit and lights out by 9pm.

It may sound difficult, but our day usually runs smoothly if we do not allow ourselves to dilly dally.. waste time, give into laziness. Sometimes we throw schedule in the wind and take advantage of wonderful weather, fun field trips, or a day of projects, or even to watch an old movie on TCM!

About being Mom and teacher, I have always passed the responsibility to learn to my children. I can't make them learn, I just give them the tools and opportunity and atmosphere to learn. I always tell that we will figure it out together if we are ever stumped. They learn obedience to authority, looking into their own hearts, in other areas of their life before we begin 'formal education'. They have a desire to do right, to grow and please. It is so sweet to raise children in a home of Peace. We spend a lot of time talking and praying, striving to serve and honor God in our actions, thoughts and reactions. Analyzing situations in our life and seeking God's guidance. There is really no definite boundary between Mom and teacher, it just sort of blurs together. I am teacher in all areas, not just math and science! (And really, good books do most of the teaching there!)

I give them a date that I expect their assigned books to be completed and they keep a log of all read books. I also keep to short lessons and do not stress the children. Instead of 'sit there until you have this math page done' I say, 'work diligently on this page for twenty minutes. If you need help, let me know, and what you do not finish we can do later or tomorrow'. Works like a charm! Now, mind you, they must stay focused and this is very difficult sometimes. I have a very easily distracted pupil... but little by little we have worked our way up to intently focusing on the task at hand. Yeah! You really must learn how your kids think, their personality traits, and how to apply that knowledge to their school work. More on that in another blog, maybe...

About budgeting... two words... THRIFT STORE. Books and more books. Good books, not twaddle (oh, I guess I didn't mention, I am a Charlotte Mason girl. I read her original works for fun, I just love her little stories about her students). The books must be 'living' books, original, unabridged and thought provoking. Definitely not a waste of time to read! (sounds like another good topic for a blog.. )

There are many 'traditional' things about the way we homeschool, but that is only because it is fun and practical for us. As I mentioned earlier, we have a school room, which I absolutely love. We have four student desks in neat little rows. I have a teacher's desk. The alphabet and months and weekdays posted on the walls. We have 'centers' for almost all the main subject areas. It isn't as complicated as it sounds. For instance, the science center... I picked up an old display shelf from the flea market and hung a curtain to cover the two big bottom shelf. Behind the curtain we store our microscope, rock tumbler, leaf presses, building kit, animal containers, etc. On the top shelves are all of our science books we have collected and they are organized by subject (animals, rocks, magnets, birds, sea life, inventors, creation, weather, etc.) Also, there is room to display all of our 'discoveries' from nature walks and rocks and seashells. Our geography center has map puzzles, books, and wrap-ups. Our manipulative center (mostly for my five year old) has puzzles, string buttons (he calls it knitting, how cute!) and many other small motor skill games. Our art center has, guess what? art stuff, a lot of art stuff! We have a critical thinking center, with challenging games and puzzles. This photo is of Alex working on a puzzle from that center. Everytime he placed a peice he would comment, " Mom, that was good critical thinking of me, wasn't it?". We also added this year a 'leisure library'. What do you do with all those interesting little books you pick up that would be fun fun to read... one day? Mad libs? Your sign language flash card? Your classic books that are in comic strip form? You put them in the leisure library and tell the kids when they need some 'down time' to spend 30 minutes reading something from the Leisure Library. Hey, it is only two wicker baskets of books set on the back of a desk, simple.. yes? On some days, we do not do 'regular school', the children just go visit all our centers and jump into learning!

Mostly, it is not how we school, but how we live. Always looking for something to occupy our time that is worth spending time on.... it is school if we are challenging our minds and stretching our hearts toward others in Love. Our school is not only based on academics, it is based on heart learning and growing as well.

Well, this is a much longer blog than I anticipated, my husband is looking at me like I am crazy! There was a lot of topics to cover in the question and I skipped several! Back to Homeschool Week is hosted by Randi at i have to say.... check it out!


Traci said...

Great post! I'll have to play along too. I love hearing the different things that different families do.

Our Family of Five said...

It was long, but it was good. I don't think either of us make it sound easy........after reading your post and remembering what I put in mine......I'm worn completely out!! :) Heaven only knows what goes on during a day in our homes. Some days to go to bed with any sanity at all is a miracle! (Can you tell I need to go to bed??) Love, Lynn.