Thursday, September 18, 2014

Our First Week Back to School

We are a bit out of sync with the rest of the world around here....but then what else is new! We just started back to school this week and we are in the middle of working out our new house/new curriculum/new students kinks.  So far things are going pretty well. Just the normal summer forgetfulness going on for the most part. We had originally planned to school year round with 4 day weeks and several weeks off through out the year for holiday breaks. However when we decided to move to a civilian house we took a month off to get the packing and such accomplished. As I mentioned before I managed to hurt myself pretty badly during the move and was on bedrest for a week and now two months later am still in physical therapy 3 times a week. So our 1 month school break turned into a 2.5 month break. Of course when we started back up no one remembered how to do even the simplest math problem. So this week has been a lot of review and reteaching things they learned last year. Lesson more 2.5 mth breaks if we can help it! 

We are back to our original plan of 4 day weeks and a year round school year. I like having Friday's "free" since we have co-op those days. We are gone all morning and then go to the library that afternoon for new books for the next week. It is just a really busy day around here. I also like having the Friday open to finish any work that didn't get finished the 4 days before hand if needed. That way we are not constantly "running behind" if someone is sick or life happens and an assignment doesn't get done as planned. 

Also this year we are learning how to add two new preschoolers into our program. They did a bit of school work last year but since they were 3/4yrs old we really didn't push it. They did school when they felt like it and were excited to do so. This year they are 4/5yrs old and it is time to get the basics in place. We are focusing on learning the ABC's and 123's to begin with then see where we are in the school year. If they were in public school they would be in pre-k this year so I don't think we are too far behind the curve on this one. I am learning how to keep them involved in our group lessons (History, Science, Geography, Bible) and  divide my time between them during their individual lessons. I have a great deal of respect for public school teachers. I have a great deal of trouble dividing myself between the girls as they are working through the same assignments. It is much easier for me to have children of different ages working through different assignments at the same time. I am sure it is just because that is what I learned to manage first. I am hoping I will get a bit better at bouncing between the girls making sure they each get my individual attention as needed.

The method to my madness with the older girls is really pretty simple. Lots of hands on experiments and learning activities and very little "busy work".  We can read about gravity all day long but it will not come close to the level of learning you get when the kids have to design a system for getting a marble through a series of tubes. After about 6 failed attempts they finally realized that they needed to work with gravity instead of against it.  I love watching the light go on when they really honestly understand a lesson.

 I also am not all that fond of doing school work inside a structured school room. Yes I have a school room and not having one was deal breaker for me when we were looking for a new house. That isn't to say we only do school in our school room. We use it for messy activities where we don't want the wind blowing our supplies away, for storing our books and supplies, and for working in when the weather is yucky outside. It however isn't the only place we do our work. I love to take the kids outside and do our work while sitting under a tree or laying on a blanket. I figure that is the best part of homeschooling, not being stuck in the same room for 8 hours a day. Sometimes we even snuggle up in bed to do our reading! I have found that my 8yr old who dislikes reading will gladly read me a bedtime story. Just taking the school out of the classroom really helps her relax and enjoy the process of learning.

We also like to stop at random times and play with the information we have been learning about.  While reading about Constantinople in history we found that the Hagia Sophia church was decorated with complex mosaics. Of course we took that opportunity to put down out books and pick up our art supplies. We did some researching about what mosaics were and the girls were very happy to make their own paper versions. I can promise you that they will remember the name of the Hagia Sophia now thanks to this art project more than they ever would have from my just reading about it to them.

So what does our actual schedule look like these days? Well for days I don't have physical therapy it looks roughly like this.....

6am wake up and eat breakfast
7:15 Son gets on the bus
7:20 Group lesson: Bible 
7:40 Group lesson: History
8:10  Group lesson: Geography
8:30 BREAK (mom cleans the kitchen and starts dinner)
8:45 Group lesson: Science
9:15 5th and 3rd grader do handwriting
9:30  5th grader does English readings/assignments while 3rd grader does math with mom
10:00 Pre-k time with the twins
10:30 5th grader does math with mom
11:00 3rd grader does English with mom
Noon  Lunch and 3 youngest go down for naps
1pm In home therapies begin for the children

On days when I have physical therapy the schedule gets stopped at the 8:30 break and resumed at 10:30 when I get home.  It isn't ideal but you gotta do what you gotta do to keep up with these little ones!

How is school going at your house?

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