Sunday, October 25, 2015

All Together Now

Now I am going to tell you about how we open our homeschool day each morning.  

I would love to say that we always start on time and that the kids are always ready with their binders and their journals the way they're supposed to be.  But that would be lying.  One of the disadvantages of homeschool is how hard it is to create structure in an environment where they are comfortable and where there is constant distraction.  And no matter how many times I tell them to take care of eating their breakfast before school starts,  inevitably when I say "school starts in three minutes!" at least one kid says, "but I haven't had breakfast yet!"  

I keep telling myself that when the twins are older and sleep better and I am not always trying to sleep as long as possible in the morning that things will go better.   I fervently hope that's true.   

Anyway, we all meet in the living room and we start with a song.  I printed them each their own copy of whatever our current song is (usually a hymn printed off lds.org) and put it in their binders right after their weekly checkoff sheet.  The song is the signal that the school day is beginning.   

It started out with just singing a song through one time and it has kind of evolved into a mini choir practice.   It turns out we all like to sing and I am really excited about this.  I think I will write a separate post about that. 

Prayer is next, and then we read our theme scripture for the year.  This year it's Alma 37:35-37.  Each child has a copy in their binder right after the song.  The next page in their binder is a section of The Living Christ, which we have been working on memorizing for awhile now (Discover the Scriptures has a great free resource you can download to help with the memorizing.)  So we go over that next.  

At that point my kids all like me to pull out my planner and talk about the day.... what is scheduled or what fun thing we might do if everyone stays on task (that's rare, by the way.)  Someone always asks if we can go to the library that day (I must be doing something right!)  

Next is journal time.  The idea was that they are supposed to write steadily for 15 minutes each morning.  I was going for an increase in writing quantity, which I understand will translate into an increase in writing quality in time.  We are having mixed success with this.  Some kids tend to think a lot and only write a sentence or two (they say they're thinking about the journal but...)  Some kids completely ignore my suggested topic and write fiction instead (not exactly what I had in mind, but I did tell them I just wanted them to write....)  And some kids run off and go forage for more breakfast or start playing with toys.  But we're trying,  and I think it will get better in time.  Every once in awhile I am really impressed with someone's journal.   The Rabbit wrote a great entry the other day and that made me happy.  So I think we will keep doing this.   

After journals, we usually work on something as a group, such as science or history.  On Mondays I read to them for a few minutes from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens.   On Friday I read to them from The Fallacy Detective.   They really enjoy these and always want me to read more.  I wish we could do it more often than once a week, but as it is it always puts us behind.  However,  these are some of the best moments in our homeschool and they are moments when I am profoundly grateful that I can teach my children myself and help them to understand these skills for a successful life.  

Twice a week we do history with Fish, Roo, and the Rabbit.  We are doing Story of the World volume 3 (early modern times.) Each chapter has two sections, so we read one each day.  This year I decided our history binder is a group project (I was tired of multiple copies of the map and the coloring page lying around half-colored forever (especially from the younger kids who had thrown a fit for me to print them their own copy....)   So this year Fish and Roo take turns writing summary paragraphs and doing the maps, and the Rabbit is supposed to do the coloring page.  Then we put it all together into one binder.  Fish and Roo do very well with the summaries and maps, even doing them willingly and quickly, which is refreshing.  The Rabbit decides to be stubborn about half the time about coloring... oh well, it's just coloring.  

Two days a week we do science, which is botany and which I have already talked about in individual reports.  

The idea, then, is that on Fridays, where I have given them a slightly lighter schedule, we are supposed to have time for a more in-depth project in either history or science.   Both these books have some really awesome enrichment activities.   The reality, however, is that this is eluding us right now.  Usually by the time Friday comes there have been so many encroachments on our time (football games in distant cities, trips to the store, doctor appointments, visiting teaching, mom exhausted after a bad night with twins, and on and on...) that we are lucky to be able to wrap everything up for the week.  For this same reason, the logic puzzle time I scheduled for Fridays always gets axed these days, alas.  

I am always wishing things would run more smoothly and we could get more done.  Whenever I think about all the time we waste that is more efficiently used in a traditional classroom, I feel discouraged.   But then I stop and think about all the things we are doing and the wonderful moments we have and just the fact that I can be with these amazing people all day every day, I feel very blessed.  Truly, I am grateful to be homeschooling right now, and I know that I will never regret the effort I put into it for them. 

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