I can’t believe I am more than half way through my 6th year of homeschooling. Seriously, how did that happen? I feel like I am learning so, so much…. and I also feel like this is the first year where I have felt truly comfortable in my skin. Mind you, that is a FAR FAR FAR cry from feeling like I have it together or have it down. That I do not. But, I feel like I am now more comfortable and confident and am thus willing to think outside the box.
I taught for 3 and a half years before becoming a stay at home mom. And one thing that I have seen in the traditional classroom as well as the homeschool classroom, is that the third quarter is, for me at least, one of the hardest.
I am thankful that we have one quarter left in our school year. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is starting to peek through!!!!!
This year I had a strong desire to spend a great deal of time prior to Easter preparing my heart, my mind and those of my children. A few years ago I bought a book called Amon’s Adventure but I never got around to reading it to the kids. This year I pulled it out and the kids and I started our “school at home days” snuggled around the fireplace with me reading aloud to them from this book. Reading aloud to the kids was one of those thing I knew I should make more time to do, but yet never felt like I could fit it in with all the other academic work we HAD to do. However, I have learned it set such a sweet tone for our days… and it was a time the kids and I both cherished. We finished the book this morning, but I have already decided read aloud is now a non negotiable start to our school at home days and I’ve already picked out our next book.
I have known, oh I have even written over and over on THIS very blog, that my days would go smoother if I would get up BEFORE the kids and prep myself and START out school day at a set time. And we’d do really well at this every September and January. But then as life set in, I would often get lazy and our school days would start with a behind and frustrated Mom prepping breakfast and ordering kids to start around the table.
This year has been the first that we have really stuck to a set start time. And to be honest, this is because Scott has had to go in to work early and so once I am setting the alarm for him and getting up with him, it is easier to just stay up and get started. It has been a huge difference maker for our school at home days. One I have known I should do but haven’t felt like doing.
Those who know me in real life, know that I am not a type A person. And so I have fought against the notion of having a schedule for our school days. I liked the freedom and the flexibility of the kids choosing what they wanted to do when… this resulted in my helping one with math, while another worked independently on spelling while another worked beside me on grammar…. more often than not I would find myself answering questions on 3 different subjects at the same time all while entertaining my toddler on the side. And QUITE OFTEN I FELT LIKE I WAS GOING INSANE! I felt like a million tabs were open in my head at once and how was I going to get through it. Scott has over and over and over suggested I just make a schedule dictating when we do what. And I have over and over bulked at it.
Until about a month ago.
When I screamed, “That’s it…. I am dictating the schedule from now on.”
And after several attempts we have kinda worked out a system that works for the kids and I. It is kind of a combination of both worlds. I have a set start time and a set end time. We do school from 8:30-3 with an hour to hour and a half break for lunch and recess. Some days we go until 3:30 and some days we may finish around 2:30. But typically we are 8:30-3. Each day I write out my plan for what we will do when, but I have built in flexibility as well. For example, there are some subjects such as spelling, handwriting, flashcards, and typing, which the kids do not need me for. I have set an hour where I work with one kid on grammar while the other two work through those subjects. I get one on one time during that hour with each kid to work on grammar, but they also get the independence to pick what they do when of those 4 free subjects during that time. And we bang through 5 subjects in that hour!!!
I don’t do the same order each day. Other than the fact that I start every day with a read aloud and then quiet reading…. after that it switches up day to day. I have a pulse of how many subjects we need to do before lunch and definitely try not to save all the hard or heavy subjects for afternoon. But, by switching up the order day to day it keeps things changing and flexible like I wanted. There are still a few times where I have them working on different subjects at the same time… this is so we can space out one using the computer for writing while the other does Latin and I do my best to help both at the same time.
I have found recess to be a necessary part of our homeschool day. It allows us to have a fresh start, a natural do over, which is so important on days when we have had a rough morning. Often times we return refreshed and with new attitudes after a time away from the books and away from each other for a bit. The kids and I need a breath of fresh air, or time to play and or create (even if all I create is dinner in the crock pot). Some days we will still return to rotten attitudes and battles of the will, sometimes no amount of fresh air can releave us of those as we tackle the task at hand… and on those days, I am still thankful for recess b/c at least we had a temporary reprieve which is vital to making it through the day. Since we live very close to Scott’s work, he tries hard to make it home for lunch. It isn’t always doable and sometimes it is really just a quick stop in to grab food and head out, but other times it is a nice sit down meal together as a family in the middle of the day. I love those times. And because of this, I need prep time for lunch so we try to break around 11:30-11:45 so I have time to prep lunch and we get back to the books by 1:00.
So, with the end in sight…. I say I have learned that getting up early, starting at a set time, having a schedule set in writing, having read aloud time together and RECESS have all been HUGE HUGE game changers to our homeschool days.
I will also say that just today I sent an email to Scott venting about a huge battle with one of my children. Sometimes no amount of scheduling or read alouds can rid us from the inevitable battle of wills, and we must just work through them. And I am so so thankful for a loving and gracious heavenly Father whom I call out to day after day in repentance for my shortcomings as their mother, for wisdom in discipling them, for guidance and comfort. And I have found…. He is always there. And He shows me glimpses of the work He is doing in my heart and in theirs.