Thursday, February 05, 2009

Oh Yeah...Homeschooling...

This has been the most laid-back homeschooling year we have ever had. But it had to be! After last year of homeschooling four, including two high schoolers (for the first time), plus two preschoolers, AND keeping a house on the market for nearly a year, then packing, moving and unpacking--I was too exhausted to plan much for last fall. But as it turns out, I think we are having an awesome year!

We haven't drilled as hard as usual on the academics, but we've done lots of educational things, like enrichment classes in caricature drawing, critical thinking, foam sword-making and battling, and robotics. We've had gym classes, theater classes, piano and guitar lessons. We've been on field trips. We've made new friends, and picked up some new interests, like skateboarding, bike tricks, magic tricks and swing dancing.

The boys worked up singing, dancing and acting auditions, and Bantam13 memorized a monologue to audition for another class. Both boys got into the show and memorized lyrics and dances for seven scenes each. B13 got into the play and has memorized all the lines and blocking for a relatively big part.

We've read aloud and to ourselves almost daily, and we've kept up with where we need to be in math. We spent a lot of time last fall just drilling on math facts, which no one has regretted, and we did a good bit of writing early on. Chicklet is learning to read, among other skills, and has spent countless hours teaching Bantam3 everything she knows, about everything.

Most of this (especially the non-theater-related bits) has been happening more and more erratically, though, since about Thanksgiving...and you know it's time for a little more structure when your seventh grade son is agreeing with you that a schedule could be a good thing, and perhaps a return to the grammar workbooks, and a regular dose of American history.

And what a great thing when he helps plan the schedule! I have tried to get input from my kids before, without any enthusiasm ever arising, but perhaps because I had given in to his request, last fall, that we be schedule-less, he was now more able to see the need. And to actually refer to it! (Although I think that perhaps the key to that action has been my new oversized white board that we printed the schedule on, much larger and more readable than previous computer-printed schedules which I had posted on the refrigerator.)

At any rate, we created a schedule that has worked beautifully for two days now! I am so pleased, I shall share it with you all.


Mom read aloud: Bible (Catherine Vos' Children's Story Bible) and chapter book (The Silver Chair)
Breakfast (help Chicklet6)
Unload dishwasher
Vacuum tile floors
Read 2 chapters of history (Hakim's The Story of US, Vol. 1)
Read Bible/devotional (J.C. Ryle's Thoughts for Young Men) and chapter book (My Side of the Mountain)
Math (Saxon 87)
Clean up kitchen, take out trash
"Other school" (currently has been Easy Grammar and continuing to work on his lines for The Matchmaker)

B9 (10 next week!):
Mom read aloud: Bible (Catherine Vos' Children's Story Bible) and chapter book (The Silver Chair)
Breakfast (serve Bantam3)
Clean up kitchen
Empty recycling
Practice piano
Read The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes to C6 and B3, then chapter book (Harry Potter, Bk 5)
Easy Grammar workbook page
Math lesson (Saxon 54)
Vacuum wood floors
"Other school" (currently is writing a blog post about being in Schoolhouse Rock)

We kind of stumbled into the reading before breakfast time slot, but it has worked so well! Both boys are slow to wake up, so they stumble downstairs and lie down on the couch and I read to them while they wake up, and then we pray together, out loud, before breakfast. Usually the little kids are up before the Bantams, but they will play for a long time before they complain of being hungry!

They don't have a separate schedule, but during the Bantams' reading hour, after B9 reads them a few Bible stories, then I read picture books to them and we do Chicklet's reading lesson in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We may do more, but this will be the minimum.

I just realized that another key, perhaps, is the way I wrote the schedule so that each boy's chores are listed there too, instead of just "Chores." Even though they KNOW their chores--it seems to help. Also, I sketched in times next to each thing, so they can see that they can actually be done before 3:00 if they don't dawdle.

It's been a great year--but it feels good to be getting back into a routine!


tonia said...

we are having the same's hard not to stare with your mouth open when the 9 year old asks if we can start doing grammar again, but that's what happens!

and what's wonderful is that i don't feel pressure to "do grammar every day." we do it, we don't do it. it's fine. i have a bare bones schedule we do every day: math and reading. and then we fit the rest in as we go.

i LOVE it. i'm finally really enjoying homeschool and so are the kids.

what a fun journey!

p.s. i enjoyed reading about how God has answered your specific prayers for your kids with the theater. we are seeing similar things here in other areas. He is always present...what a gift!

Melinda said...

I'm curious as to how you like the 100 Easy Lessons reading? I had considered using it but have gotten mixed reviews from other moms. How is working out for you guys?

At A Hen's Pace said...


It's so cool how our journeys seem to keep holding parallel!!


I LOVE 100 Easy Lessons--this is the 5th child I've taught to read using it. It's so simple to use and such a straightforward approach. My kids have all enjoyed it too.

I would recommend reading the introduction thoroughly so you understand the point of the beginning exercises in the first 10 lessons or so, and then skip rapidly through them as soon as your child gets the concepts. They're important, but not all kids need to spend so much time on them. That's the only reason I can imagine that someone might not care for it--because those beginning lessons can seem very awkward. I've always skipped rapidly through them, and my kids really enjoyed the rest of the book. (Though actually, they were all reading so well by about lesson 80 that they were on to reading other things and only one of them finished the book, without me.)