Thursday, 14 February 2013

Routine days of learning..

Scheduling is the bane of my life! I love my routines, and being orderly and organized, but living according to a clock drives me crazy. Not to mention that with three preschoolers and toddlers around, we get horribly behind schedule before we even start. So when people tell me that they homeschool their children, and school starts and ends at certain times of the day, like clockwork, I just shake my head with a vague sense of nagging underachievement. 

School for my oldest, on paper, should take about 4 hours to complete. I say "on paper" and "should" because that is not  much like reality. Reality says that we will start actual academics around 10:30-11ish in the morning and call it a day sometime before supper. And we may or may not have actually completed everything I had planned for that day. But this is the reality of living in a family where mom is 8 months pregnant, and we have a 17 mo old and 2.5 yr old still in diapers, and said 2.5 yr old is just starting potty training and her 4.5 yr old sister has sensory issues and some developmental delays... And there's a house to keep reasonably clean, laundry to do, meals to cook and general keeping of home and family... 

Actual academics work may only be about 4 hours in length, but it ain't gonna be 4 hours in one sitting. It will be 20 minutes here, break for diaper changes and snacks, 10 minutes before mom has to go sort out a fight between the 2 and 4 yr old, 15 more minutes before needing to go clean up all the garbage the toddler just pulled out (again!), and maybe 20 more minutes before needing to pause for character training and perhaps a wiggle break... Well, you get the idea. 

Currently, our academics consists of about 5 "subjects" covered in a day. Every day we do Bible, math, two language arts topics, and either science and geography or history. Our language arts program consists of spelling alternating with vocabulary, and grammar alternating with writing. History combines studying actual history, along with art and literature. Geography covers modern social studies and current events, as well as physical geography, and science.. well that's science, lol! All this is done at approximate a 4th-6th grade level, varying between subjects, depending on my daughter's aptitude and liking for the subject,  -- math is at 4th grade, history at around 6th grade, etc. I really don't pay attention to "levels" except for mastery and finding something that will challenge her to grow and think. 

On the other side, I do have preschoolers, so I do attempt a preschool program with my 2 and 4 yr old girls (with the toddler joining in as she likes..). This works out to watching videos through www.chalkpreschool.com, then working on our calendar board as a group (still tweaking this) and some coloring/tracing for letter recognition. It's very low-key right now, but I keep looking for easy ways to bring in more structure to their day, as the more activities I can "assign" the less sibling rivalry/mess/mischief they have time to get into!  Even my toddler likes to have some activities, usually activity bags with her own-level games and toys to play with. I don't really do crayon work with her yet, as she's teething currently, so .. yeah, a blue crayon mouth is not my idea of preschool right now. 

We soo do not "schedule" our school work or our day. It's just not practical at the moment, and frankly, with my fertility and our family's lifestyle, I don't see ever taking a "by-the-clock" approach. We do have a routine, in that "after-this-happens, that-happens". But nothing ever really happens at exactly the same time.. and you know what? I'm ok with that. There's room for improvement, of course, but nothing has to be set in stone. 

After all, part of the attraction of home education is the flexibility of your day, right? No one says it has to look like public school! 


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