Monday, January 10, 2011

A Day with Us

Jamie invited us to write about a day in our homeschool life, so we thought we'd share.

Our homeschool includes Ender, a 5-year-old kindergartner, Ezra, a 3-year-old who wishes quite desperately to be in kindergarten like his brother, and a combination of me, my husband and my mom working together on these days.

As you can already tell, our schedule is a bit less traditional than many homeschoolers. I work full time as does my husband, but I am fortunate to be self-employed as a music teacher. I was able to work this year's lesson schedule to leave our mornings and weekends open. I am considered the primary homeschooling parent in our family, partly because I take care of the planning, but also because I am with the boys for the main component of our homeschooling day: the mornings.

While we value parts of a few different styles, Ender's Kindergarten year has been a fun mix of Charlotte Mason, Project Based Learning and some good old free time to explore. I "planned" our year
around a few things:

Always have a chapter book going

Leave room for their ideas

Do the basics every day and do them well- these include memorizing, reading, writing, and math.

Early Morning

Our mornings start early, primarily because Ezra wakes early. He is up between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. every morning no matter what so I try to rise ahead of him to get a shower in and have a bit of time to pray and read while it's quiet. Once Ezra is up we eat breakfast together, then he gets dressed and helps me with a few things around the house.

Ender joins us around 8, eats breakfast and gets dressed. We go upstairs and they brush teeth together before we head into the school room (also upstairs) together.

Learning Together

We start our learning together on the floor in a sort of modified circle time. Ezra listens in while Ender and I talk about days of the week and check the calendar. Next we work through our daily basics starting with reviewing memory work. Currently we have one longer Scripture passage or poem we work on all month long that Brian and I choose for our family, and then Ender also memorizes 1 or 2 verses each week for Sparks. We review these verses using the method described at Simply Charlotte Mason.

We read together next and each select a book. The book I choose is usually on a topic I'd like to introduce or something related to the season. Sometimes they really take to a topic and it leads to days and days of projects and discussion, and sometimes we talk about it just that day and move on to something else the next. 

We spend the next 30 minutes working on our other basics: 10 minute short lessons on reading, writing and math. Ender reads aloud to me for either 5 pages (since he's 5 years old and that connection makes sense to him) or 10 minutes, whichever comes first.

Next we spend 10 minutes on hand writing. The only thing that is consistent every day is that he must write his full name every day. Some days he asks how to spell words he's interested in and I just keep an eye on his formation, about twice a week we use copy work, and about twice a week he does a few pages in Explode the Code. I keep this part short too, no more than 10 minutes.

I present a new math lesson to Ender most Mondays and then we work together on the skill through the week. I don't push ahead unless he's ready, but if he asks for a new lesson before the next Monday I let him move on as long as he's confident in the current lesson. This is mostly manipulatives, except for about 3 times a month where I have him practice writing a few numbers.

And where is Ezra during all this?

Chances are good that he's making *something*. Ezra got the artistic streak from me and spends this time working at his own little table coloring, painting, cutting, gluing, or whatever it is that he's interested in.

Project Time

After we get our basics in, Ender is ready to start making things too. We call this part of the morning project time. Sometimes they work together on a craft, sometimes they are off chasing their own ideas. Lately Ender can be found pouring over lego diagrams and following the directions to the letter (he's such a black-and-white thinker!) Ezra has been building a lot lately as well, but he can easily spend an entire morning at the craft table making things.

Me? I'm usually in the rocking chair working on my own project (knitting) and making notes about what the boys are up to.

We take a break mid-morning for a snack and a chore or two and then head back to a group project. We've been learning about the continents over the last few months- the people who live there, the animals, the kind of land and weather- and that has been really fun, but the boys think up projects that become our family project as well. Sometimes a little question leads us to looking up books on our library website, spending time online looking at pictures of animals or looking up the answer to a question or we take advantage of Netflix streaming and watch a video about something we're interested in.

Afternoon & Evening

At 11:45 it's time for lunch and to get ready for the afternoon. I start teaching between 12:45 and 1 p.m. Monday-Friday, so my mom picks the boys up around 12:30 to head over to her house to play. My mom retired from teaching at a Montessori school in 2008, and her house is a fabulous place for the grand kids! My boys have the advantage of hanging out with her until their daddy (Brian) finishes work around 5:30 p.m. They meet up to go home with him and Brian takes care of the evening hours. The boys play while he makes dinner, and after dinner Brian manages the brushing of teeth, baths, asking Ender to read to him for 10 more minutes and the evening read aloud. I teach away during these hours in my studio.

I'm finished teaching in time to be a part of the evening read aloud and bed time routine most nights, but two nights a week I'm either teaching or in rehearsal until 9 p.m. and Brian handles those evenings.

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