Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Homeschooling: Order and Chaos

Linking up with Kendra at Catholic All Year for What Does Your Homeschooling Day Look Like?

Our homeschooling day can be summed up in two words: order and chaos. 

The End.

Okay, okay...I know you all want to read more than that.  So, here is a bit more detail about what our homeschooling day looks like. 

This year, I have kids in 6th grade, 3rd grade and Kindergarten. 

We generally start school between 9:30-10:00 AM.  Yes, I know that's late.  And, no, we don't usually finish by lunch time. In fact, depending on if we take a lunch break or not, we sometimes go far into the afternoon.  If we work through lunch, we usually finish by 2:30 or so.  If not, then it's usually more like 4:00-4:30PM.  

Generally every morning, I get up around 6:30-7:00 AM.  I could get up earlier, but if I do, then I find I'm falling asleep by 9:30 PM and I don't get ANY kid-free time by myself or with my husband.   So, I try really hard to sleep in until 6:45-7:00 so I am able to stay up later (10:30 instead of 9:30).  My sleep is almost always interrupted...either Elsa nursing or the cat meowing or the wind is blowing too hard (I'm a light sleeper), so I find that I need at least 8 hours in bed to feel well-rested. 

Anyway... I get up about 7:00 AM.  Then I take an hour to do my morning stuff.  Brush teeth, change the baby, throw in a load of laundry, feed the kids breakfast, check email, respond to email, check facebook, check a few blogs...you know, important stuff like that. 

Usually between 8:00-8:15, I start my exercise/work-out.  That lasts until around 8:45-9:00 AM.  Then I eat breakfast, take a shower, change clothes and get ready for the day. 

So, we start school between 9:30-10:00 AM.

We do math first, always, always, always, always, always, always.   Did I mention that we always do math first?  The reason for this is because if we only get to one subject a day, I want it to be math. In the words of the notorious Barbie doll, math is tough. I know, I know we don't want to be all stereotypical and have girls think math is tough..but it is for us.  It's our hardest subject...it takes the longest amount of time and I like to get the hardest subject out of the way first.  Plus, the girls are both super readers and writers and enjoy doing things like reading their science or history books and writing stories for fun, so I'm not as worried about those subjects at all...they would learn them on their own.  But no one has ever wanted to do math problems for fun. Never, ever, ever, so I make math a priority.  Actually, I take that back, Greta likes to write word problems for fun...but then Greta like to write everything and anything for fun.

Plus, we just switched math curriculum, and while I really like the new curriculum, it is working at a harder level than our old curriculum and it takes a bit longer.

So, that is what we do.  In our living room, we have two desks, a couch and a recliner chair.  I sit either at my desk or in the recliner chair and pretty much try to stay there so I'm available for help.  We call my seat the "help chair" and anyone who needs help, comes and sits next to me, and I help them.  Heidi and Greta start their math.  Greta (3rd grade) prefers to work in another room entirely...at the dining room table.  Heidi prefers to stay in the living room and work, she usually sits at the other desk  If they need help, they come to  me.   After they finish one page, they bring it to me to check. I don't let them go onto the next page until I check the first page.  I learned this the hard way...we were having way too many days where they would do 4 pages of math and get 50% wrong and we were just spending way too much time reteaching and correcting.  So...I make them bring me each page as it's done.  That way we can catch mistakes or misunderstandings early. 

In between helping the girls, I squeeze in doing school with John (K).   His most important subject is reading;/phonics, so I make that a priority with him and try to do that first. 

After we do math, we move onto the next subjects.  If we are going to be home all day, then I let them chose what order they do their next subjects in.  If we aren't, then I prioritize the subjects (usually by order of what we skipped the last time we didn't have a full day.  We pretty much do a full day on Mondays and Wednesdays and do partial days on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  This is because we have outside activities on those days. So for example, if we don't do history on Tuesday, we be sure to do it on Thursday.  Fridays, we just do math.   Of course this schedule is flexible because things like field trips or other activities come up.

And, for the rest of the day, I basically sit in the 'help chair" and go back and forth between helping/instructing different kids and checking work.  Checking work actually takes a lot of time, I check all my kids work and make them correct EVERYTHING they get wrong.  EVERYTHING.  So ,while Heidi and Greta do most of their work independently, I do spend time with them going over mistakes. for most subjects.  Heidi checks her own Latin and I just do a cursory check on Science and their History is a lot of reading, so that often doesn't require checking.

Somehow it all works.  It may not be the most efficient way, as sometimes a kid is stuck waiting for the "help desk" to be available, but it works for us as I prefer to finish one subject completely before going onto the next.  My poor overloaded brain just can't handle too many things going on at once.   And, most of the time we do get it all done.  We also school straight through summer and I have no qualms about doing school on days that "regular" school is out if we have had a lot of field trips or other things that interfere with our regular schoolwork.  This gives us lots of leeway to get off schedule without falling too far behind.

Sometimes we take a lunch break and sometimes we work through lunch...it usually depends on what else I want to get accomplished that day.   If we do take a lunch break, it usually stretches out into 1.5 hours or so...so sometimes I like to keep the momentum going and just work through lunch. 

Now, onto the big looming question..the one that people ALWAYS ask me. ALWAYS. 

How do you do school with a baby/toddler around?

I usually reply with I don't know, but we do.  Usually she just plays around on the floor and is near us.  Sometimes she pesters us and cries and causes interruptions and disturbances, so it just takes longer but you do what you gotta do.  That's just homeschooling life with big kids and babies.  Usually if I can make her feel included somehow she is better, so I'll give her a pencil and paper and help her "write" and then she's happy that she was included and will go play by herself for a few minutes.   She doesn't take a long enough or regular enough naps for me to "count" on her napping or try to schedule school around her naps.   So, most of the time she is awake.   And, yes it is hard and there are plenty of days where I want to throw everyone on that big yellow school bus, (just kidding, actually we live within walking distance of the local school, so no big yellow buses come down our street) but there are also plenty of other days where everything goes smoothly and the baby is happy and most of their work is done correctly. 

There you have it...what our typical homeschooling day looks like.  I also do some work-at-home stuff too...you can read all about that in Woes of a Work At Home Mama, but because of homeschooling I mostly work on weekends. 

This is actually not what a typical homeschooling day looks like, as typically they don't sit at the table. 
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  1. Thanks for linking up! I've had that happen with not checking math too: headdesk. It's the WORST feeling to know they've spent all that time working on something incorrectly. SO much better to catch it right away.

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  3. Sounds a lot like my typical day!

  4. Your routine is awesome! We are still slugging along, everyday is new, it seems, this should inspire me for the better. And when I was homeschooling all of them, we NEVER started school before 9:30. Who can even think before that?


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