Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae
It seems this “day in the life” assignment always comes around when I’m in the midst of transition or crisis, but I suppose that’s just what homeschooling is: educating our kids in the middle of Life.
Our family moved to a new house last month. My school room looks like this. Not exactly Pinterest-worthy, yet, is it?
The good news is, despite moving, the flu, the holidays, and another cold amongst us, we’re still plugging away with school.
Our school day is divided into two chunks. We have a morning session that involves me teaching directly. Once their time with me is finished, my kids are free to play for a bit. After lunch, there is a chunk reserved for independent school work.
I’m essentially working with two levels of students: those who can read and those who can’t.
My independent readers receive a hand-out at the beginning of the week that includes all of their assignments, maps, and worksheets. They are responsible for finishing all of their reading and projects by Friday when they are tested.
I charge five dollars for a lost assignment packet. I don’t care if they file it in their backpack or on the ceiling fan, as long as they know where it is and they follow its instructions. This cuts back on my nagging and teaches them responsibility and organization.
My non-readers, of course, rely on me for keeping track of their assignments.
We try to start at 9 in the morning. However, if the stars align and the baby sleeps in, we are perfectly okay with throwing the entire day’s schedule late just to catch up on some shut-eye.
I don’t apologize for this homeschooling luxury any more. As a family, we are all in agreement that well-rested parents and students are crucial to better learning and better relationships.
Inspired by Brave Writer’s book “The Writer’s Jungle,” we’ve recently (as in, last week) added both copywork and dictation into our day. Both the kids and I find it enjoyable and I don’t have to do any nagging or prodding for them to gather.
First, my six oldest children sit at the dining room table. Everyone is included (except the baby, who might be napping or he might be eating raisins off the floor.) We pass out composition notebooks and do 15 minutes of copywork. My Littles sit and scribble in their books. I play Classical music. It’s a very warm and cozy way to begin the day.
Which is good, because all bets are off once that 15 minutes is up.
Copywork is simple enough that they can do it well consistently. Everyone leaves the table feeling confident that no matter what happens next, they did something well today.
When this is done, I speak to my 3rd graders for a minute, reminding them of assignments, and then I set them loose to do their reading or work on projects. I gather my kindergartener and my 2nd grader onto the couch and we do our Read Aloud for the day.
My Littles wander in and out, as do my big kids. I usually field several questions, break up a fight, and change a diaper somewhere in there.
Then I send the second grader off to play with his younger sisters while I do reading with the kindergartener.
When we finish, I swap them. It really helps to assign an older child to play with the Littles. I don’t have a system for this, I just do it as it works out. But I highly recommend it.
By the time I’ve run through my various list of subjects to cover with my people, we’ve killed about two hours, give or take an interruption.
Independent Work Time
After lunch, I put the Littles down to nap and then the four olders work on their book work. This includes math, handwriting, or any other work they can do independently. I make sure to go over their assignments with them and then I go to my room (but I leave my door open.)
I’m an introvert by nature and I’ve learned that with all the voices around here, Mama needs some room time in order to get through the day without my head spinning off my shoulders.
My kids know that if they get really stuck, they can interrupt me and I will gladly help them. But I’d like for them to try to work it out on their own first. This fosters independent learning, which is really one of the ultimate goals of schooling at home.
Once I’ve had my break, I re-emerge and check everyone’s work. The kids have usually wandered off at this point. Unless there’s a major issue in their workbooks that needs to be resolved immediately, I save giving them minor corrections until the next day when they’re fresh.
One of the perks of schooling year round like we do is that I can put some subjects off until we finish our core curriculum. We will do a science intensive unit during our three months when we aren’t doing Tapestry of Grace. This allows me to balance everyone’s work load to something I feel we can reasonably complete.
In the meantime, we are watching lots of “Magic School Bus” videos by way of supplementing science.
And that totally counts…
A look back at Lora’s homeschool days:
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How does it affect the way you plan your school day? And are you jealous of my school room decor?