For 5 years I sought out every homeschooling family I knew and drilled them with questions. My questions have slowly dwindled as I’ve started figuring out what works best for my family, and trusted myself to make those decisions. Yet, the funniest thing has happened. I’ve stopped asking as many questions, but have started receiving them. I’m certainly no expert (for heaven’s sake, we’ve only been doing it for 2 years), but in response to my last homeschool post, I wanted to answer a few more questions I’ve been asked lately.
1) What does your day typically look like?
Our average day “should” look like this. The kids get up around 7:30 and eat breakfast. Then they know to get dressed, make beds, and brush their teeth. We typically start school around 8:30, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that it could be 9:00 or even 9:30 depending on the morning. Addy usually plays through her piano lessons once, and then we gather at the table for calendar, “Bulgarian Word of the Week,” and a prayer by one of the kids. On Mondays, we do “world prayer day,” in which we either play a game with our world map area rug , or I will choose a country, tell the kids a few facts about it, and we’ll pray for the people who live there. At this point, I usually give Abe a worksheet/ coloring page/ puzzle about what letter he is studying (I use K4 curriculum from www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com), Cora gets Playdough, coloring books, her “homework” (old workbook sheets that she scribbles on), or my Kindle for games (ahem). This gives me time to work with Addy.
For Addy, I have been using the My Father’s World curriculum the last two years. We love it, and it is less expensive than some of the more popular curriculums. She starts with a Bible/ History lesson, Language Arts & Reading, and she practices writing. I check over Abe’s work and let he and Cora go play while I start Math with Addy. She does a lesson about the # of the day, practices some addition flashcards, and works in her Math book. We have recently started doing some addition timed tests–mostly because she likes it, but also because I’m wanting her to keep practicing them without counting fingers. Abe, Cora and I occasionally play “restaurant” or “grocery store” with her to apply her addition/subtraction skills. We wrap up school in the morning by alternating a music/ art appreciation/ craft each day, and then they all join me on the couch, and I read them a chapter from a book like the Magic Tree House series, The Boxcar Children, Robin Hood, Pippi Longstockings, ect. (This is my favorite part of school!)
At this point they come upstairs and either start on their chore for the day or play while I get lunch. After lunch they finish their chore (in a perfect world) and play until Cora’s nap time at 1:00. After Cora goes down, Addy will usually do a lesson on ABCya.com, abcmouse.com, take her timed tests or do a lesson from her Explode the Code book. We love this curriculum and it has helped Addy with her reading tremendously! When Cora wakes up, they watch a show, then go play for a few hours. Around 4:30 they’ll sit and watch Wild Kratts or Odd Squad (ugh.) while I fix supper.
Fridays are a bit different as we don’t do as much “structured work.” It consists of a Science lesson/ experiment, a Kiwi craft or project, puzzles. Then we typically run errands or visit grandparents.
Again, this is an “ideal” day. We also throw in Piano lessons, Homeschool events, visits to grandparents, ect. Cora and Abe very rarely sit and play and entertain themselves like perfect little “students”, and it is much noisier than you are probably imagining. Sometimes there are tantrums and gnashing of teeth….and the kids act out too.
2) How do you do school when you have babies/ toddlers that need your constant attention?
If I could have a dollar for every time I have asked someone else that question, I could have matched by beginning teacher’s salary by now. My best answer is, “I have no idea.” Okay, not really, it is possible to have school and give attention to other littles. I don’t have this figured out yet (if you do, please let me know your secrets!), but I do know what has helped for me.
Cora was 16 months old when Addy started Kindergarten. She was a climber of all things, an eater of inedible things…..the kind of kid that would stick her fingers in an electrical outlet while playing with matches and eating a ladybug as she headed for the steep staircase leading away from the rest of the family. (Not much has changed!) She was not a baby I could turn my back on. Some days were easier than others, but I learned flexibility would be crucial. Some days I taught Addy with Cora on my lap/ hip/ back; some days we waited until her nap time to do the things that required the most concentration, some days we did school on the floor so we could be at her level while she played and therefore didn’t feel like she was being left out. Things are slightly easier this year, and I expect they will continue to get easier….until we bring home our next child at which point we will start all over again!
The most important thing I discovered was to take breaks often to spend with each younger child so they don’t feel left out. As soon as I would get Addy started on something that would take a few minutes, I would immediately do a puzzle with Abe or read a book with Cora. I let them join in on Addy’s lessons anytime I think they can enjoy what she’s doing–music, art, games. It’s no magic trick. Truth be told, there have been mornings where it just ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN. In which case, I throw my hands up and say, “We’ll try again after lunch….or tomorrow.” And I’ve decided that’s okay.
I’ve still got a lot to work out, but hopefully this gives you a glimpse into what we do each day.