As much as I try to schedule out my days, weeks and years for school I usually work pretty loosely with what I've planned. I am, by nature a bit spontaneous and work best when I can comfortably make changes that keep school interesting.
So most days the plan is scratched or dented. Some days we focus more on math and do less reading. Some days math all comes out in play and science I just let them practice math without touching their normal curricula. Lately I'm pulling out other books &
workbooks so that we can keep it interesting for this last stretch. Some days we just go on a hike instead of paper school, or head out for a field trip.
It's become pretty standard that every few months our schooldays shift drastically. Whether I'm working with all three boys together or individually, whether I'm starting school at 9 a.m. and pushing through until it's done or starting school when I get a few things done and working through a subject then taking recess. I make changes to keep school interesting to myself and the boys, to work best with our ever changing family-life.
Going into this school year, I'd planned to follow the public school year as we have in years past. School starts in September, ends in early June. But after Spring break I realized that I really, really love the structure that even a little school does for our family.
But "year round" just ain't going to cut it around here. My boys are totally put out with the idea that they'd be doing school while they're public school friends are at home, playing the summer away. So I've come up with some sort of a compromise. We're going to take a summer break, I've just shortened it. We'll run school through most of June to make up for days of Spring that we couldn't stand to be inside for paper school & sick days. Then in August when the boredom sets in we'll start up again bit by bit.
Of course we have camping trips and a vacation planned, and that time will be off. I think we'll take off nearly two months of play time. When we're not camping or off playing I hope to continue reading aloud to the kids. I will also be buying a cursive handwriting curriculum for the boys to try out. I'm hearing more and more about teachers that are starting with cursive rather than printing because the flow of the letters is easier to start with. Now, I've heard opposing views on this, but I'll give it a shot. With 4, 6 & 8 year old boys trying can't hurt.
Maybe they can work on this while I read to them sometimes.
This brings up another good topic. How on earth does one read aloud to three wiggly-pants-different-aged little boys.
Reading Aloud To My Boys
Well, it's not as romantic as it may sound. Sometimes I read while the boys are eating. This of course, keeps them seated & satisfied, but doesn't last that long. Mostly I read to them in the living room where we all can get comfy. Sometimes I have a boy or two next to me, but mostly they're posted in different spots around the room, one drawing at the kitchen table, two on the floor building with legos or blocks. This keeps their little hands busy while I read and allows them to imagine what they will of the story we're reading. Maybe my favorite way to read to the boys is up on our bed. The boys will pick out story books to flip through while I read, or I give them beeswax to work their little fingers while they listen. It's so cozy that way.
It's taken time and practice for me to be able to read to the boys, with them all busy and quiet. They still interrupt to ask me questions about the story, but that's okay. I'm oftentimes reading over their heads a bit (especially little Eli) so their understanding needs to be clarified.
So tell me about you....will you take a summer break? Year round school? And what are your favorite stories to read and of reading with your family?
COMMENTS WORTH READING:
One summer we took a complete academic break - but our walls of routine fell as well. We suffered physically, mentally and spiritually. Then, in the fall, I suffered along with my oldest son, who had to re-learn his entire math knowledge base. The 1-2 months it took to get us back on track did not seem to be worth it - to be completely learning free in the summer.
We will continue our normal routine this summer, Handbook of Nature Study, Journal Sketches, and a page or so of math every other day. I will not go out of my way to assign academic work, but I will keep our daily routine the same. :)
Angie, over at Petra School