The time has come that we are “officially” homeschooling Peanut. Crazy, huh? We summited our paperwork and some bureaucrat in an office somewhere knows that I’m doing this and will be reviewing our portfolio twice a year (spooooooky). I have mixed feelings about the government oversight, what can I say?
Of course, once I explained to the children the legal obligations and our educational philosophies they all sat right down and started teaching themselves Latin and Trigonometry and we go about our days smooth as butter transitioning between subjects with choral singing. It’s really lovely. I will admit though that there are a few days that don’t go like that, but go more like this:
6:15—Hopefully this is the first time that I’ve woken up since I laid my sweet head down at 11:00 pm the night before. I figure that’s accurate maybe twice a week. At any rate, that’s when I ooze myself out of bed. I check to see if Industrious Andrew has made coffee (he gets up obscenely early in the morning to run,
which is why I don’t run in the morning because I have to be asleep at home and watch the children…) and if he hasn’t made it yet then I make it and shuffle into my Headquarters (yes, that’s what I taught the children to call my office) and read the Bible. Fifty percent of the time Peanut is already awake at this point and having a “breakfast snack” and I’m coming to terms with the fact that he will not “sleep in” until he’s a teenager. After my daily reading I go back out and get my coffee because I’ve found it to be very integral to staying awake while I’m praying.
By the time I’m done chances are 95% that everyone is awake. I try to stop and snuggle with Pickle for a few minutes in the living room every morning when he wakes up because it helps me to remember that he’s only three. The kids watch cartoons until Andrew leaves for work and then they have breakfast and I have another cup of coffee. At breakfast I try to remember to switch our Day of the Week card and we talk about who and what we’re praying for that day.
After breakfast the kids play, color/draw, watch another cartoon or any combination thereof. Briefly we did school right away and while that was nice in some respects, the kids have entirely too much
nonsense enthusiasm about life. I think we’ll move more into that schedule as they’re older, but not now. Mornings are also a time that they have a pretty decent chance of playing together nicely so we go with that. In the heat of the summer I was sending them outside around 8-8:30 (the first sign of fighting) to play, but already that has moved closer to 9:00 since it’s not so hot now and it’s still wet outside earlier than that. As we move into fall and then winter I know we’ll have to switch it up again so that we do school first and then they get sent outside more in the afternoon, but I don’t know what I’m going to do with that morning energy!
I love sending them outside in the mornings to play because although I joke about just getting them out of my hair and running off their energy (it does do both of those things) I think it’s very good for them to have a chance just to play, be in nature, to work things out a little more on their own, and to be kids longer. It also helps me to remember that while we are big fans of strong academics these are just little children who need to move their bodies and play. As I tell Peanut on the rare morning he protests about going outside, “it’s good for your body and your brain…and I’m the boss!” While they’re outside I do laundry, clean up the kitchen, sometimes I clean other things, make a phone call, etc.
10:00 is my goal for starting school (but if the kids are playing outside nicely then I will probably leave them alone). I bribe the kids back inside to the table with a snack. I would be completely happy if Boohoo and Peanut would just come inside and play, but they usually want to “do school” too. In fact, Boohoo wants to do it more than Peanut does half the time. Pickle…he just wants to be where the action is…because how else could he disrupt it?
Peanut usually starts with Math (Singapore Earlybird B) and then Language Arts (Kumon handwriting workbook, All About Spelling if it’s not the New Teaching part, or some kind of writing). After that we do the Science or History reading. (Sonlight Core A) We do history two or three days a week and science two days a week. If things are going smoothly at this point, I put on an ABC or counting dvd for “the babies” and Peanut and I will go do the New Teaching part of AAS if that’s scheduled and he’ll do part of his reading to me. Right now we’re asking him to do one story from his “I Can Read It” readers (Sonlight, grade 1 readers) and then 10-15 minutes of reading out loud any book he chooses. Sometimes at this point we’ll do his chapter book Read Alouds too, but not usually.
During this time Boohoo and Pickle kinda do whatever. I have the All About Reading Pre-Level 1, but Boohoo isn’t ready for that yet and Pickle knows it already and doesn’t have an interest in sitting. I also haven’t figured out how to teach to Boohoo and Peanut at the same time because they both need such intensive help still. Luckily, I don’t have to figure that out until next year if Boohoo is taught at home. I’m just not a formal preschool kind of woman. Boohoo has a couple easy workbooks that she likes to trace/color and Pickle has that option too. I tried to do preschool packs/tot boxes with them and it’s just too disruptive and Pickle doesn’t last more than 15 seconds per activity.
I resolve my Preschool Flunkie Guilt by doing “stations” with the kids two-ish days a week (aka the days when they come inside fighting and grumpy and sitting at the table together would be a total failure). Stations are when I separate the kids one into the front room, one to the kitchen table, and one either on the floor in the kitchen, or in the living room and have a different activity for them to do at each one for 15 minutes. It’s not a new idea, but it works really well for us when they’re cranky and they even ask for it on other days so I know they like it.
Usually our stations are 1) some kind of “paperwork” at the table…math, cutting, stickers, coloring, printed pages from the internet, etc. 2) The front room is our quiet space (in theory) and it’s almost always look at books quietly, mom will read to you or you read to me. The other station has the most variety it will be 15 minutes with some assigned building toy, the math manipulatives bin, some kind of sensory play (the bean box, water play…rarely, or play dough) or educational games on the ipad. Your choices during Stations are to play nicely at a reasonable decibel, or to sit in refusal rebellion at a reasonable decibel. Whatever mashes your potatoes!
11:30 is usually a quick break. It’s free time for the kids and I usually “isolate” my introverted-self by putting my earplugs in and listening to music while I do whatever I need to do for a bit (laundry, pop back into my email, read a story to the babies if my introverted-self isn’t totally melting down, etc) and then make the kids lunch.
We eat lunch around 12ish and we have the most settled routine at that point. I have no idea how it ended up happening like this. It’d be great if this was happening at breakfast, but it’s just not. lol. Maybe when they’re bigger, but I’m just going with it for now. We start by switching the Day of the Week card if I didn’t do it earlier. We pray and I read the Bible. Right now we’re reading through The Message for Kids and then I plan on switching to Egermeier's Bible Story Book" target=_blank>Ergermeier’s Bible which came with our Sonlight Core. Next the kids do their Memory Work. Right now that consists of three Bible verses and a poem. (This is currently under construction.) After that I read out loud. We have a book of poetry and a book of Mother Goose rhymes that I read a few pages out of each week (Sonlight). I read Science or History if we didn’t get it done earlier. Otherwise I read any shorter stories that are in our Core (but not the chapter books), or I’ll read any related books that go along with something we’re studying. Other times I read a family favorite or something from our Sonlight P3/4 Core because they still love those stories as well.
The lunch time memory work and reading is their absolute favorite and if I try to skip it they feel completely free to call me out. It’s also great because eating keeps those with shorter attention spans at the table and listening, but also gives them something else to do if they’re feeling antsy. Plus, it gives us practice learning together as a family which I love. It’s also great that in a pinch or on a bad day we can get most of Peanut’s work done during lunch!
During the rest of the day the only schoolwork that routinely happens is that I read Peanut’s chapter book read-alouds to him at the end of quiet time and then he reads aloud to me. This is a nice time for us because we snuggle together and have those quiet moments with a great story that can be hard to do during the regular hullabaloo of the day. Sometimes we do science in the afternoon or will do math or spelling if we didn’t get that done in the morning. Even if the last few months though it’s been getting easier to work on schoolwork in the afternoon. Initially it was a struggle, but it’s just one more change as he matures.
Hot off the press is the fact that we’ve joined a co-op that will be meeting once a week so we’ll see how that impacts our schedule!
So how about you? What does/did your kindergartener do?