Thursday, October 22, 2009

"How was school today?"

This is not a question I ask my children.

The reason, of course, is that I'm right there with them when they're having school. If I'm not actively teaching, I'm nearby. If it's been a tough, frustrating day, I know about it. If there's been a breakthrough, I know about it. And if it was a day when schoolwork was absolutely chucked out, I certainly know about that too.

Today, in our second week of the school year, was a particularly good day. I can't tell you how encouraging that is to me. I never wanted to teach. I've known for years that teaching is not my gift. I've never had a desire to homeschool. There's no one more surprised than I that we've arrived at this place. Believe me.

Our "schedule" varies, but this particular day went something like this:

7:35 AM - Wake up the children. Note a cheerful, energetic Kyle, alongside a grumpy, slowly-moving Benjamin. used to always be the other way around. Methinks that Ben has been staying up too late, whereas Kyle has (astoundingly!) decided to go right to sleep the past couple of nights. It's a bummer when you stay up past your bedtime, and then Mama doesn't let you sleep in...

8:05 AM- Breakfast is served. Kyle sits at the table; Ben is missing. Owen, Kyle and I happily consume cheesy scrambled eggs, almond butter toast, and ripe, sliced pear, and raw milk.

8:28 AM - I go tell Benjamin that "Breakfast will be served for 10 more minutes. Feel free to join us after you're dressed." He shows up with 5 minutes to eat what is still remaining on the table. Poor kid missed out on the eggs today.

8:33 AM - Clearing places, cleaning up the kitchen, washing hands and faces, brushing teeth, combing hair, changing a diaper.

9:00 AM - Science: I am so thrilled to actually start at a better time today! We begin our series on Creation Day One. I read the Genesis account, and we talk about different kinds of light (candle, electric, sun). The boys design a chapter title page for their Science notebooks. I settle Owen in with a piece of yellow construction paper and a purple crayon. He decorates the dining room table.

9:30 AM - I propose a short Wii break. Ben and Kyle each have a turn on the Wii Fit Plus (does this count as P.E.?), while I work on the treats I'm taking to tonight's Bible study group.

9:45 AM - Reading: group time. Benjamin is on fire! And Kyle is reading sentences. I really like our curriculum, happily enough.

10:15 AM - Individual work time. Ben does his reading workbook, while Kyle works on his pre-K activity book. Owen (still in his pajamas) sits in an easy chair, thumbing through Sandra Boynton's "But Not the Hippopotamus." I work on my pumpkin bars, pausing many times to assist the young gentlemen at the table.

10:45 AM - Transition. I change another diaper. Kyle changes into his Eeyore costume. Ben transforms into a Power Ranger.

10:50 AM - Math. We practice translating between written numbers, spoken numbers, numbers on tally sticks, numbers represented on fingers, and the abacus. Owen exits his brothers' bedroom wielding a plastic hunting knife. I introduce some games. I am amazed at how well Kyle is keeping up with the first grade work, when I'd been letting him "tag along." Owen attempts to deconstruct the kitchen.

11:30 AM - We are done with school for the day! I prepare lunch, and the boys play in the living room.

Owen did okay today, but I'm still a bit at a loss as to what to do with him. He is such a sweet, easygoing kid, but I feel that I'm neglecting him a bit when we're doing our morning work. I've thought about something like Tot School, but honestly I can just imagine him barely touching the materials I've prepared for him. That sounds awfully self-defeating, I suppose. I know I have at least two homeschooling mamas with young children out there. How do you occupy/engage your toddler when you're attending to the older ones?

Overall, I am very pleased with how our school year is going so far. I feel that the first few weeks have been setting the foundation, and now we're going to be moving into some really interesting stuff. And it's so exciting that I get to go right along on the educational "ride"!


Amanda said...

I have a little bit different situation, as my kids are younger than yours and we are homeschooling for just preschool. But, I do have a baby, soon to be toddler. Our school day doesn't last as long as yours, but I have a long list of things for him to do. Cheerios, or anything else that takes a long time to eat are a favorite. He also likes to play with sponges (messy but keeps him happy), pipe cleaners, a shallow bucket of water etc. My 2.5 year old also needs to stay occupied while I work on pre-k things with my oldest. He likes cutting, tearing paper, playing with math manipulatives, magnets, chalk etc. I think it helps that a lot of these things are only taken out during school time so they are "special." Good luck!

Kristin said...

Can't say I will be much help, but most days I feel like I'm floundering. With two in school (kindergarten and 2nd grade) and then a 3-year-old and 1-year-old to occupy, I often feel at a loss.

I try to keep everyone together as much as possible. The "big kids" sit at the table doing their work while I'm in the floor playing blocks and then we ALL move to the sofa to read and then we ALL go outside for a walk, etc. However, there are times when I have to work directly with the olders and the littles are neglected.

I try to let my Owen play with things during school time that he doesn't usually have-- a special coloring book, colorful flash cards, a puzzle...this week, it has been a train set that was pushed under the bed weeks ago and forgotten.

Trish said...

I loved this peek into your day. Thanks for sharing!

Jeff said...

You rock honey!

I'm so proud of how you've stretched beyond your natural talents and developed the skill of teaching. I'm so excited to see how our boys are progressing this year even in the 2 short weeks you've been doing school. Especially as Ben who has been indifferent to trying to read has really gotten a fire for it. That is a true testament to how well you're doing.