Saturday, September 20, 2014

One Month In

We are one month into the school year and we're all still alive! Honestly, we're all doing great and enjoying the materials we're using this year. 
My boys have the general routine down and transitioned back into formal learning fairly well. Little Miss Annalyse had a tougher start, I think. Instead of having my immediate attention whenever she wants, she's learning to wait her turn and play patiently by herself. And Jax doesn't have a clue what's going on since we manage to get almost all of our formal school work done during his morning nap.
Both boys continue to be avid readers and enjoy geography and any work with maps. Grady Lee is surprising me by how well he's doing with typing; Micah wows me with how quickly he grasps math concepts; Annalyse is making great progress in writing her letters; and prayerfully, I'm going to make strides forward in patience toward my kids when all four seemingly need me at the same time.
Some of you have asked what my routine or schedule is each day. Great question, but unfortunately I don't have a great answer! Our day-to-day changes each week because I'm usually one to agree to park and picnic dates, field trips, and other opportunities whenever they arise. Generally speaking, I don't hold too fast to a schedule of academic check marks. I am a person of routine, though, so there are some things that stay the same each week.
The following is an overview of how most days go around here:

- 8:45: Devotions and Bible memory work all together at the kitchen table.
- 9:00: Jax goes down for a morning nap, the boys and I do spelling, and Annalyse works on her letters.
- 9:15: The boys and I do language/grammar and Annalyse works on her numbers.
- 9:30: The boys and I explore geography and Annalyse will do something at the table with us (play doh, stickers, coloring, etc.). I never require Annalyse to be at the table with us but she generally prefers to be close by and a part of what we're doing. Inadvertently then, I know she is picking up tidbits of what we're discussing and learning!
- 10:00: Recess and snack for everyone. I'll use the time to get some simple chores done or prepare for the next subject.
- 10:15: One boy upstairs to his desk for seatwork (math, penmanship, and journal) and the other boy sits with me downstairs to read a chapter, answer some comprehension questions, and discuss new vocabulary words. Annalyse usually likes to sit on my lap and listen to the story the first time around.
- 10:40: The boys switch - one comes down to read and the other goes up for seat work.
- 11:00: Jax wakes up, the kids go out to play, I feed Jax and make lunch for the other three. While the kids eat, I read a chapter from a biography, adventure tale, or historical fiction book.
- 12:00: Annalyse and Jax play together, one boy works on typing while the other boy does a chore or else finishes seat work from earlier that morning, and then the boys switch places. I mediate all over to either play or help or answer questions.
- 1:00: Jax goes down for an afternoon nap and the rest of us gather for science.
- 1:30: Annalyse plays or naps in her room for quiet time; the boys lay on their beds and read for quiet time; and I sigh deeply because the house is quiet and I have an hour or two to myself!

The afternoon is full of running errands, enjoying the park, visiting the library, finishing chores, and playing with neighborhood friends.
Somewhere in the midst of the "core learning" I try to make room for art projects, creative writing, nature walks, life skills training, and other child-led interests, like tinkering with tools, making forts in the woods, or simply enjoying creative and pretend play. This is where the beauty of homsechooling shines: the flexibility!

The routine above isn't hard and fast and can be adjusted on any given day. Twice a month are science classes at a local museum. Fridays are ballet for Annalyse. There are the occasional doctor appointments. There is room for ministry-related service and projects. And, last but not least, there is still everything within the walls of my home that need to be cleaned and organized and washed and folded and cooked and...!
You've also asked about homeschool cop-ops, organization tips, managing a home in the midst of schooling, and some other great questions. I will be the first to loudly declare that I do not have great answers to those questions and do not have most of it figured out yet. But, I'm happy to share some of what I've learned along the way as well as some insights on what works best for us and why. That's another post for another day... stay tuned.

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