Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Year in the Life

I know a lot of my friends are entertaining the idea of schooling their kiddos at home. I've been getting a lot of questions about our schooling lately. I thought I'd give you a little picture of what our school days are like.

An Average Perko School Day

7-9 am~ Boys up, get dressed, make beds, teeth and breakfast.
9-10am~ School for all the boys, mostly the smaller two preschoolers.
10-noonish~ The younger boys play, color, cut, paint, play with toys at the table, playdoh or sometimes watch Sesame Street while I school with Scooter.

Noonish~ lunch
Afternoon~ I do household chores, run errands prep dinner while the boys play around the house.
Some days I run after Ralph finishes work

Thoughts on schooling;

Every day is different. Some days we do afternoon school, always on Tuesday when I have am Bible Study.

Some days the kids are more anxious to get going and start without me before breakfast, especially if they know there is a play date or activity coming. Some days I have to do a lot of motivating.

I try to stay home at least 2-3 days a week in order to get household stuff done.

Each year I get excited about organizing and scheduling. I write up the ideal schedule and then I amend it about three weeks in to the year, if not sooner. The days need to be reevaluated every couple months, weather and holidays given allowance.

We usually school at the kitchen table, but it's not set in stone. Sometimes Scoot takes his work to his room if he's distracted. He's much more productive down at the table with me though.

Sometimes when things are quiet I crochet or read while I sit with the boys. They are ALWAYS more productive if I'm present. I always have a cup of tea, they often do too.

The mess is part of schooling. I usually let the papers, pencils, scraps, toys, whatever- just be while we school. Afterward I clean up, I need to have the boys do it more too.

We work at the kitchen table. I try and organize my school stuff but that is still something I'm trying to perfect. I would love to have that homeschool room, but it's our dining area that has posters and seeds, charts and markers everywhere. It's our life, so I don't mind (as much as I used to. ) I'm still pulling for that house with a school room- but then again, there is something cozy about the kids working on math while I fix dinner or empty the dishwasher. Maybe I'll be content. :)

Our home never looks quite like the family that has three boys that go to school 6 hours a day. We live, eat, school and play here so the house looks accordingly. I'm finding ways to employ the boys more and more, Critter made lunch for us all the other day. Kids can help out with chores- a lot.

All days look different. A school home is still a home that deals with illness, bad days, sleepy days. Some days I sleep in a bit, some days we nap. Some days we do less work, some days we're on a roll and do extra. I do have the kids all do something each school day, education is a discipline*.

Most of this is idyllic. Our days aren't perfect, I get grumpy and impatient and uninspired. I get tired of the mess and frustrated with our space in Winter. I work hard at staying inspired and motivated to make this learning fun for not only the boys but myself. I never, however, am sorry to have a full, noisy, messy house. I never regret having more rather than less time with our boys. This job is so, so worthwhile. I'll take a fingerprinted home over the magazine model any day...

An Average School Week:

Extracurricular activities are a big part of our weeks. None of us are homebodies, so we like getting out. Our regular outings include;
  • library
  • Bible study
  • grocery shopping
  • friend visits
  • music class
  • sports
  • reader's theatre
  • field trips occasionally
  • park dates
  • nature hikes
All of these outings can be learning.

Craft & Science Projects

These two areas are some of the areas that the average mom dreads or avoids the most. I'm speaking from own and that of what I have observed. I have finally found peace in this area. It's been a compromise.

Hands-on experience is vital to learning. Especially in the early years, kids take in so much from getting their hands on or watching real life projects happen. Obviously, I need these things to happen...but I don't want to do them all the time.

Some days I don't get out the paints and brushes and all that because I know I just don't want to deal with the mess. Some days I don't mind a bit, am happy to leave the room and let the kids paint everything but the dog, knowing that I can have it all cleaned up in a 1/2 an hour.

Then there are discipline days. (Didn't I say 'education is a discipline?') Moms have them too. When you're studying weather and it's time to make your own anemometer you just have to pull out all the stuff and do this so that your little one can understand how this stuff works...hands on.

Games....GREAT hands on.

Read a great reminder article about hands on schooling here at my TeachAble blog.

Some other thoughts on schooling at home;

One big concern for lots of parent teachers is "Will I be able to teach everything my child needs?" I struggled with this a lot, finding grade appropriate lists making sure I could check off everything I was teaching. "What if I miss something?"

A kind teacher-friend told me a wonderful secret that released me from this fear.

Teachers miss things. NO teacher is perfect and hits everything on the curriculum.

I will say that I breathed a sigh of relief when I was handed a complete curriculum, and I think that will be the best route for me for some time. I LOVE not worrying about whether we're getting all the bases hit, and knowing that I can just add what I want (books, books, Bible and books).

Another thing I've learned is that learning can really be an upward spiral. If you talk about the human body in 1st grade science, it's likely that you'll hit it again in say, 3rd and 4th and 5th grade science...just in a more detailed manner. Missing small things here and there just isn't the end of the world. You'll get a chance to redeem that missed topic in a month, six months or a year. No sweat.

I know that not all folks care about whether they hit all these milestones. If you lean more toward unschooling it's the last thing you're thinking of. I also know that a lot of my friends are thinking of these things.

Whatever you're headed for in the next year I hope that you have a great adventure in learning ahead for your kiddos. Schooling never looks the same around here year to year. Expect that there will be change and learning for you as well as for the kids.

*Charlotte Mason


Blessed Mama of 4 said...

I really appreciate this. I especially appreciate the "education is a discipline." My kids are probably close in age to your boys, my oldest being 7, going down from there every two years or so into the in-utero.... I actually have enjoyed seeing the disciplines you strive for in this, as well as your other posts. I am no where near as disciplined, but love seeing a picture of what it can be. My youngers have not been getting as much time and are more prone to being else where while I work with the eldest. This is something new I will try. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Kristin said...

Thank you Amanda for posting this! I too have experienced this when schooling Amanda 1st,3rd, and 1/2 of 6th. I loved it, but of course I had those days where I dreaded it. Now as I am trying to figure out what to do with school next year for 4 kids I feel a sense of excitement but also dread over the thought of Homeschooling. I can't even imagine right now what it would look like having all four at home all the time. I needed your post to remind me of the joys of having my children with me and by my side. This gives me a lot to chew on. I still don't know what the future holds but I am very open to this.

Amanda P said...

Mama of 4, I have struggled too with figuring out how to get my little ones the attention that they need, and I'm just learning (it was modeled by a fellow mom of 6.) It's working well to work with the little ones first and let them peel off...the big 'uns can work on their own for a bit. Good ideas from other moms!

DotBlogger said...

Fabulous Post!

Jessica said...

Great post, Amanda! It's fun to hear another Mama's perspective on schooling at home. As a former public school teacher I really struggled with the idea of being the sole source of my children's education. Being in charge of one year among twelve is doable, but in charge of everything! It took time and God working on my heart to give me an excitement for homeschooling. I love what you said about how "Teachers miss things. NO teacher is perfect and hits everything on the curriculum." So very, very true. Learning IS like an upward spiral...things will always be revisited.

My guys are still small, but I'm looking forward to the day we start formal learning at home. You've given me much encouragement for the future!

Jennifer in OR said...

Great review of how you do school. I remember before I homeschooled looking for articles like this, because I needed to know how others were doing it. What a joy!