Written by Dave Pommier of Bloke School.
A regular day often seems more of a theoretical ideal than a practical reality. Work and study commitments for the adults run to an irregular schedule.
My youngest boy goes to preschool two days a week, so the number of boys at the lessons vary. We aim to do five hours of education each weekday. If everyone is focused and engaged, we might do as many as eight. If not, we will struggle to get through two.
My boys consider “homeschooling” sitting down with a textbook. I consider it a much broader application of skills.
This means we sometimes arrive at the end of an exhausting day, only to have my boy say “Yeah, we didn’t do any homeschool today. We just played.” I guess it’s a victory for me that he was enjoying it that much, but I still find the comment a little deflating.
Broadly speaking, our days will look like this:
Around 7 a.m., the boys wake up. If my wife and I are not already up by then, we soon will be. While the coffee brews, we clean up the kitchen which we were too tired to get to the night before.
Lessons start ideally somewhere between 8 and 9, depending on everybody’s moods and organisational ability. I find this time of day has the most potential. Everyone is well fed and alert, but not yet distracted by anything else.
I like to study theory here, partly because everyone is focused, and partly because it gives us a reference point for the rest of the day. Each morning comes with its own subject. Today is Monday and that means history.
We bulk out our textbook with a lot of extra material from the library. We fill the table with maps, books, activity sheets, and the globe. After an hour of intense discussion, it is time for some action.
We have been looking at ancient Babylon and discussing the development of the twelve hour day. Over morning tea, we briefly study the movement of shadows and angles of latitude.
The next hour is spent measuring and building a sundial. We use a scrap of wood we find which looked like it was waiting to be turned into something useful. We set it up, check the time against it, and make a mental note to keep coming back to it throughout the day.
By now it is late morning. Everyone is starting to lose their focus, but it is still too early for lunch. That means it is iPod hour. iPod hour came about as a means of curbing the boys addiction to Minecraft.
The idea was that they got a dedicated hour each day. In practice, the time varies from thirty minutes to two hours, depending on how much space I need for myself. I don’t class this as educational time.
An eerie silence descends on the house. I take the opportunity to catch up on various household chores, exercise, or sleep, depending on where my priorities for the day are lying.
iPod hour ends, and we all get together for lunch. I try to use the afternoon for an easy application of ideas after the intensity of the morning. We check the sundial. Then, with everyone settled, we all sit down and I read them a story.
We have been reading a lot of Roald Dahl lately, and today we finish Matilda. The boys and I all appreciate his humour.
After reading, we play board games. I think that board games are a great teaching tool. Not only are they fun (hopefully), but they are loaded with the practical application of a host of mathematical ideas. One of our favourites at the moment is Carcassonne, which is what we play today.
When the game ends, my oldest boy has a minor tantrum. He has been trying to stack the cards in his favour, except he miscalculated and lost badly. My contempt for people who feel the need to cheat at board games does nothing to improve his humour.
It is short lived, however, because we just don’t have time. While we can drag educational play out for several hours, Monday and Tuesday afternoons are dedicated to gymnastics and swimming respectively.
We quickly check the sundial one last time, then hurry off to the gym for his class. This is an intensive hour of coordinated running, balancing, jumping, tumbling and more. Because his little brother is just a bit too young to join in, we watch both ends of the class, and spend the middle of it playing at the skate park.
By the time we get home, both boys are pale, sweaty and exhausted. I have to hurry them through the shower and get dinner ready. If they don’t start eating by six o’clock, then bad things happen.
My wife comes home, and while they are all catching up with each other, I sneak off and give myself a short break before the bedtime routine starts. Despite all our best efforts, this is something we have never really got a handle on. Somewhere between 7:30 and 9:30, they will fall asleep.
After that, it is time for blogging, catching up on emails, or if I am lucky, reading a novel. My wife often studies. Anything which requires quiet and concentration usually happens here.
Cleaning the kitchen requires neither of these things. It bides its time, planning its ambush for the morning.
Do you incorporate games as part of your homeschooling?