Not long ago I posted what our schedule looked like. I loved it and we got out of the house everyday, giving us purpose and direction. Well that lasted about a month. So here is an updated look into how we roll.
My favorite thing about homeschooling has got to be, hands down, the flexibility.
We had a schedule that was working well for us because it allowed us to meet the needs of our whole family. We were still getting used to Apartment living and still needed to get out of the apartment every single day in order to keep from going crazy. It was pretty expensive in terms of gas but it was doable because we had two cars. That did not last long. Our second car is now an unmovable hunk of metal in the Apartment parking lot…ok thats an exaggeration. It can move but not in reverse unless your pushing it and not for a long period of time without having to restart it. We are still paying off the car so getting another is just not possible right now (it was a rookie car buying mistake and we are kicking ourselves thoroughly for it). So, for the foreseeable future we are a one car family and that meant changes needed to happen.
Enter the new schedule!
We spend much more time at home than ever before and that requires a whole lot more of a focus on life skills. I’ll be honest 4/5 weekdays inside means a very messy house. Very, messy. This new schedule needed to incorporate time for independence, time for cleaning and cooking as well as time for active learning but I am not a big schedule person so I also ended something that could change easily.
Mellow Mondays are our weekend recovery days. We all clean little by little, together, all week long but the weekends are fun and free of stress and I demand to be let in on that freedom so monday morning usually leaves us with a huge mess. Its actually not that huge but in a small space a small mess looks gigantic. We clean together, organize, open up the windows (not always sometimes the weather sucks!), turn up the music (I completely consider this music appreciation time because we read off the names of the composers and jump through a multitude of genres) and dance while cleaning. Sometimes, sometimes I clean and yell at children, over the music, who are playing when they are supposed to be cleaning. Either way the house gets put back in order. We make lunch together and then it is a technology free for all. Everybody grabs a spot with a device (iPads, PSP, PS Vita, Nintendo DS, Playstation or Netflix) and the kids have free reign until nap time (this is when I work on my blog posts). Nap time is really a mandatory down time that is electronic free (about an hour from 2-3), we don’t always nap but we all have independent time with our thoughts, books, building materials or notebooks (I work on my novel). Afterwards its teatime (close to 4) with a very light snack and a poem or two (Shel Silverstien is a favorite) before I make dinner and the children again get free electronics time.
I need a mellow monday. It is part of me working towards a healthy balance of me & family. For this introvert weekends are draining. We use saturdays to run errands as a family or go on field trips and Sunday morning is church (where I teach Sunday school to a class of 2-3 year olds) and both days are filled with people, noises and touching. I need more than just an afternoon at home (which works well for my extroverted husband). I need a full day of being lost in thought. A full day of creativity, world building and writing. The only way I get that is if my children are allowed to have free reign of the electronics. The funny thing is that even though they get almost a whole day of unrestricted electronic usage, they only choose to use half of it. I find them drawing and pretending more than playing or watching! Also we don’t restrict the other days of the week…we just make other activities look way more interesting.
Teaching Tuesdays sound like a day where the kids all sit at a table and I give them lectures. That couldn’t be further from reality. It is however our day for focusing on the 3 R’s. We start after breakfast, around 9 am usually because momma is a night owl and doesn’t function well before that (although they eat yogurt, granola or fruit when they first wake up), with story time. Story time is basically literature, if you were to put it into subject break ups, and right now we are reading through The Neverending Story. They all lay on the floor with pillows and blankets and get comfy while I read aloud.
We have a stack of puzzle books, logic books, crosswords, word finds, workbooks (from stores that they children have chosen to work through) and journals that the children pull out to work on. I don’t assign these. I just ask them what they are going to work on, pull out my own journal, turn on the music and then start working. They know that I expect them to do some sort of work and every activity needs to be based on Reading, Writing or Arithmetic. The younger two break out the lincoln logs, blocks, Mancala, dominoes and puzzles and quietly play with them nearby. The music is the volume control, everyone should be able to hear it and if you can’t then you are too loud. The electronics equipment is all out of sight and so I am not even asked if they can use them (occasionally they have tried and I have offered other options instead…not really saying no but making it clear that I would prefer another choice). After we have worked on everything together, they proudly show off their work and we have a sort of show and tell period.
We then make lunch and watch a documentary or cartoon that relates to something that was brought up in discussions (usually in relation to the days journal entry or copy work). That is followed by Nap time and then tea, where we read a poem (the classics like Stevenson) and a short story (usually from a fairy book/folktale or myth). We end our day with free play (pretending, painting, legos, etc) before the nights activities.
World Wednesdays are almost exactly like Teaching Tuesdays except the focus is on the whole world. We read stories about people from different places, we work on filling in maps, we watch documentaries and we build replicas. We practice our Bible verses, talk about theology and spend almost all day in pj’s talking to each other about how the world works. Did I mention we watch documentaries? Wednesdays are not so schoolish, it loos a lot like a family watching tv. It looks a lot like pretend. It looks like cartoons and international food! It is entirely based on relationships and learning together. It is one of my favorite days of the week.
Exploration Thursday is our one day out and about. We wake up with daddy, grab a to go breakfast as we are leaving the house and don’t come home until after we pick daddy up from work. We mix it up each Thursday, one week we may go to three libraries, the next two nature preserves or the farm and the fourth thumbing through used bookstores. We get groceries for the week, get in our PE and Music (piano lessons) and make art along the way. We have picnic lunches and read on the grass while watching clouds and birds. My next post will be entirely based on how we do Nature Study but its safe to say that Thursdays are their favorite day… it’s a tie with Wednesday for me!
Free Friday is exactly that: a free for all. We paint, do science experiments, build, pretend, watch cartoons, practice needle craft, search for new youtube videos or watch favorites. We read books galore, bake together (I measure/they watch, they dump & we take turns mixing), work on puzzles and play battleship. It is an anything goes kinds of day and we enjoy each others company.
We are still trying to figure out how to keep things reasonably clean around these parts and we are trying to get more outside time in but for now I am loving the concentrated blocks of time! I don’t have to worry about being grumpy because we all work on our schedule and we are saving money in the process. Less eating out means healthier options and over all it has been a great change for us. Who knows how long it will last but for now we have a new groove.