Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Typical Homeschool Day For Us

I don't know that I've ever described in detail what a typical homeschool day looks like for us. So I took the time to take notes along the way today to help me describe the day in detail.

Disclaimer: This was a typical day in that we didn't have anything out of the ordinary planned for the day. Not every day looks like this. Some days have more work, some have less. Different subjects may be covered from day to day. Some days we start earlier, but we rarely start later (today was a late start day). I do not schedule each minute. I keep in mind what is important for me to accomplish for the day and just keep plugging away until we finish. As you will see, it can be rather chaotic and busy. If there is a badly timed appointment or someone comes down sick, It throws everything off. Also, I don't need to do a lot of lesson planning along the way. I do all of my lesson planning for the year before the school year starts (not standard practice, I'm told), so that I just have to pick up on the next day's lessons where we left off in the plan. This rendition does not include all conversations had along the way. I don't tell about all of the bathroom trips or diaper changes. I skipped at least one altercation between kids. This is simply to give a feel for what goes on during the day.

This is not anyone else's typical day homeschooling. Just ours. Every homeschooling family handles things their own way, based on their own priorities, skills, talent, time, resources, etc. I did not have this kind of schedule last year and I probably won't have this kind of schedule next year. As the kids grow older the family dynamics and the school lessons change as they need to to accommodate our changing needs. I am not dictating this type of life for anyone else (make your own decisions please). That said, my disclaimer is over. Hang on it's a wild ride....

6:30 AM: The Chunk starts fussing in his crib in our room. We don't want to be up yet, so we let him fuss a little while longer.

7:00 AM: Tim starts getting ready for the day while I feed the baby and change a diaper. I put the baby on the middle of the bed and lay down again to nap until my turn for the shower.

7:30 AM: I get my clean-up time while Tim takes The Chunk with him to get breakfast. Tim checks news online while he eats breakfast, and The Chunk hangs out in a high chair next to the computer and plays. I join them at some point and then wake up the other kids. The Happy Boy wants a Mommy cuddle and then breakfast soon after.

8:00 AM: Tim is off to work. The Chunk is moved over next to the table and I start making breakfast for myself and the kids. The Happy Boy asks for green eggs this morning and I'm in a good mood and oblige. He and I have green eggs and toast.

8:30 AM: The Chunk starts to fuss since he is seeing us eat. I take a break from breakfast to feed the baby his "second breakfast," rice cereal and mushy bananas. In the meantime the girls wander in. After the baby is finished, I fix the girls breakfast. They are in the mood for toaster waffles this morning with their preferred toppings. Then I get to finish my breakfast. The Happy Boy finishes breakfast first and asks to play a computer game.

9:00 AM: The Happy Boy is on the computer while the girls get dressed. I put dishes in the dishwasher and run it (I forgot to the night before). I bring in two basketfuls of clean laundry that didn't get folded from the day before and dump them on my bed, deliver previously folded clean laundry to various bedrooms, and pay a bill. The girls have gotten dressed and come out to play on the computer, too. The Chunk has been playing on his playmat all this time and is starting to get fussy. After a diaper change and swaddling, he goes down for a nap.

9:30 AM: I help the Happy Boy get dressed. He then gets out some paper and a pencil and starts drawing and writing. He asks me how to spell various words. I check emails and facebook. I do a status comment on facebook. Then I send an email to my doctor with an appointment question. Since my allergies are causing me trouble this week, I do a sinus rinse. The Happy Boy comes over to watch (cheap thrills).

10:00 AM: I start lessons with the Pillowfight Fairy doing a Bible reading and a review of the latest latin lesson. The Adrenaline Junkie decides to make a home-made coloring book in her bedroom and the Happy Boy finishes off one more game on the computer. While the Fairy finishes her Latin lesson on her own, I do a Bible reading with the Adrenaline Junkie. Next, the Happy Boy asks for a snack, cheetos. I fix myself a mug of hot tea and put some chicken in the crock pot for tonight's dinner. I hear a cry over the baby monitor so check on the baby. It was only a phantom baby cry, he's still asleep.

10:30 AM: Back to lessons, I do a narration practice and writing practice with the Pillowfight Fairy. We read a chapter from the Last of the Mohicans (an elementary school level adaptation), while the Happy Boy is building a train track. The Adrenaline Junkie comes asking for help. She accidentally put some of her pages to her home-made coloring book in upside down and wants help to fix it.

11:00 AM: Back to lessons. This time I work with the Adrenaline Junkie while The Pillowfight Fairy plays in her room. We do some reading practice from a book of her choice. Today she chose "Madeline Says Merci." While we read, the Happy Boy climbs into Mommy's lap to listen to the story. Then I have her copy a sentence that I choose from the book. The Happy Boy goes back to his trains. The Adrenaline Junkie next has a spelling lesson and a math page. I hear the baby wake up during the math lesson. I get him up and change his diaper while the Junkie finishes the page on her own.

11:30 AM: The Junkie rushes off to her room to play with her sister. The Happy Boy joins them and all three older kids have play time while I feed The Chunk his next meal "elevensies" which is just a snack of oat cereal. After he's done, he plays in his highchair while I make lunches for everyone else.

12:00 PM: The Pillowfight Fairy gets PB & J, string cheese and a pineapple fruit cup. the Adrenaline Junkie and Happy Boy have other tastes. They each get a hot dog, slice of bread, slice of cheddar, and raisins. The boy likes milk, the girls take water. I reheat some leftovers for my lunch, add an orange and finish off my now cold tea. The Chunk starts to think it isn't fair that we are stuffing our faces in front of him and starts to complain. After I eat, I get desert for the Happy Boy (ice cream and caramel sauce) then feed the Chunk his next bottle. It turns out that the baby wasn't as hungry as he was making himself out to be. I chalk it up to teething. The Adrenaline Junkie skips dessert. The Pillowfight Fairy eats all but half of her sandwich. I save it for later, guessing that she will get hungry before dinner time. Then I clear the table, wipe it down, and hand wash some bottles and other non-dishwasher items. The Pillowfight Fairy reads from a comic book of Calvin and Hobbes while the Adrenaline Junkie and Happy Boy listen.

12:30 PM: After a while the younger two run off to play in the girls' room. The baby still is making not quite content noises so I pick him up and hold him while I check emails and facebook. My doctor responded to my message so I follow up on that. I surf the web while I bounce a baby on my knee.

1:00 PM: Our break is over. I put the baby down on his play mat while I get kids to clean up the bedroom. The Pillowfight Fairy has the job of sweeping under the dining room table. The Adrenaline Junkie and the Happy Boy take turns dusting various rooms of the house. I keep getting the kids focused on their chores until I hear a mad baby yelling from the other room. He has had enough of his mat and just wants to yell. I get him down for another nap.

1:30 PM: Chores are over and we go back to lessons. I start with a science reading with the Pillowfight Fairy. Afterwards I ask her to draw a diagram of something we read about. She asks to do a 3-D craft to illustrate and I agree. While she does that, I read to the other two. Three stories later the Pillowfight Fairy is done and wants a story. I read to her and the Happy Boy while the Adrenaline Junkie starts her piano practice.

2:00 PM: Then the Fairy reads to herself and the Happy Boy while I check the food in the crockpot and shift the loads of laundry. Then I call up Tim to check in with him. I tell him how the day is going and he reminds me to call someone about a babysitting job we need done. After the Adrenaline Junkie finishes piano practice, she celebrates because she's done with schoolwork for the day. The Pillowfight Fairy does her piano practice next while the others play with legos. I call our potential babysitter and leave a message. Then I make a new batch of formula, unload the dishwasher and reload it with the lunch dishes. I bring in the mail and sort it.

2:30 PM: I hear the baby crying over the baby monitor. I go get him up, change a diaper, and give him his "tea time" bottle. I note that the lego play has transformed into quite a production. They are re-enacting the scene where Moses breaks the tablets of the ten commandments because of the Israelites' worship of the golden calf. The Chunk gets some cuddle time with Mommy while we wait for piano practice to end.

3:00 PM: After piano, all three older kids want a snack. The Pillowfight Fairy gets the remainder of her sandwich from lunch and some potato chips. The Adrenaline Junkie wants a handful of cheerios (new in the house again since we are starting to feed solids to the baby). Happy Boy gets a graham cracker and potato chips. I then record what school work was completed thus far while the baby plays on a blanket nearby. I play and sing with the baby and the Fairy comes and joins me. The other two have to pick up the legos they left out.

3:30 PM: Next the Pillowfight Fairy cleans the table to get ready for more school work. The Adrenaline Junkie gets out a flannelgraph to play with. The Happy Boy watches the flannelgraph play for a while and then asks for another computer game. I am carrying around the baby with me at this point. I sort the clothing piles on the bed according to whose they are. I get the Fairy started with her math page. I stay close by to help her stay focused on her work.

4:00 PM: The Chunk is fussy and tired still. His last nap was too short. I put him down for a nap again and deliver the sorted clothes to the proper rooms. I come back to the Fairy and help her remember some parts that are still new for her and we work through them together. The computer game is too distracting, so that gets turned off and the Junkie and Happy Boy clean up the room and then stage a mock battle.

4:30 PM: With the math page done, the Pillowfight Fairy joyfully goes off to play in her room. Her school day is done. The Adrenaline Junkie is allowed to pick a video to watch (the kids have to take turns and this was her turn to pick a video and to say prayers for us before meals).

5:00 PM: While the kids are enjoying themselves, I check the math page and make sure a needed correction gets made. Then I break up the chicken in the crockpot and add BBQ sauce. I make sure the bread rolls for BBQ sandwiches are thawed and cut up some carrot sticks as a side dish. The Pillowfight Fairy wanders out from time to time to watch parts of the video. Then she goes back to her own entertainments in the bedroom. I have a spare moment again so decide to do another sinus rinse, without an audience this time. I finish just in time. I start to hear happy baby sounds over the baby monitor.

5:30 PM: I get The Chunk up from his nap. I give him an afternoon snack of barley cereal. He then gets play time in his chair while I sit nearby getting the next days lesson books in order and finish recording the days schoolwork. The school day is done, and dinner will be ready when Tim gets home.

The evening activities vary quite a bit from day to day. There is usually some clean up in the kitchen. Kids have to clean up toys before bed. Our main accomplishments tonight were having Tim check my calculations on our State Tax Return that I had done on a previous evening and my composing this blog post. The kids played some more. Tim spent some time in the backyard checking on some pepper plants and just enjoying the outdoors.

It was a busy day. I didn't get much time to rest in between one task and another. I do get lots of variety of activities. On some days I make a point of going for a walk with the kids or spend time in the backyard. I actually avoided that today because the allergens are overloading my system lately. When I go to sleep tonight, my rest will be well earned.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Mea culpa

It is my fault.

I was wrong.

I spoke carelessly and hurt people I care about.

I hurt them to the point that they won't let me say I'm sorry.

My intentions however harmless, had results that I never imagined. Now they see me as someone I do not believe I am. But my actions toward them tell them that I am that kind of person.

In tears and sorrow, I am heartily ashamed of myself.

I wish to make it right, but I know I can't.

I wish I could explain myself better... to help them see what I really meant. I am afraid any attempt to do so would result in my digging a bigger hole than I already have.

I was rude and insensitive.

I am too blunt and tactless.

I forgot that computer messages are notoriously bad medium for touchy subjects.

This is the best I can figure out to do. I publicly apologize. I provide the following links so that people can see for themselves how I have behaved badly. This is my public confession. I will do my utmost, with God's help, to change my ways.

The original post to which I made a comment. ( Update: After publishing I realized that since all commenting has been removed, you are no longer able to see my horribly insensitive comment. This is also why I cannot apologize where the damage was done.)

The results and response to my actions.

I am sure that many others of you will be as horrified as I am that such a wonderful blogger is closing his blog because of my actions. I am truly, truly sorry. Those words cannot convey the depths of my sorrow, but they are the only ones I have.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Observations from a week of sunshine

The following are some thoughts that were triggered in the last week. They run the gamut of topics so I won't try to group them. It has just been one of those weeks when all sorts of thoughts are stirred up.

We had our first full week of sunshine in a long long time. It was wonderful. I had started to forget what it was like. Once again we were able to go for walks (the neighbors tell me they think of them more as parades). We managed to get three walks in this week. I would have done two more except for appointments that disarranged the other two days. We did get some time for play in the backyard too... once the ground dried out for a few days. The kids and I always feel more energized and happy when we get some outside time.

through the years I have been thinking more and more that we need time outside among growing things. We need to become familiar with the land and sky. We need to acquaint ourselves with plants and wild life. We need to learn the ways of weather. It is when we learn more about these things that we become more acquainted to the God who made them. When we learn more about God and his creation, we start to understand the ways of God and how the world really works. When we isolate ourselves from nature in man made buildings, grouped into man made cities, doing man made jobs, for man made reasons, we start to lose our grasp on the character of God. We lose our grasp on reality and lose perspective on what is really important. Now I will agree that these man made things are useful and in many ways necessary for our survival. But they are not all there is and they can lead us to destruction if we don't open our eyes to that which was not made by man.

One day this week I took the kids for a playdate with friends while I had a dentist appointment. It was scheduled for our most productive time of day so I just let the kids have the day off from school. They loved that too. In some ways I got some time off too, but I noticed that most of the day was chaotic and the place turned into a big mess. I keep rediscovering that whenever we have a schedule or even a general plan for the day, everything goes much more smoothly and needed things get accomplished. But, every time that I let schedules or plans go out the window, nothing much gets accomplished at all. I even think the kids don't get to have as much fun in some ways. They get caught up in minor issues instead of the things that are more important to them. They end up never getting around to the stuff they said that they wanted to do. This theme keeps recurring enough that I'm tempted to go to a more year-round schedule than what we currently have. The main reason I haven't is because I have a tendency to over-schedule myself. I need the extra time to deal with days lost along the way for appointments, sickness, or other unplanned events. I need the time to consider what worked and what needs to come next. I need a break to get ready for doing it all again, even if the kids tend to get a bit chaotic. I guess I'll just have to give the kids a basic non-school day schedule to give them their needed structure.

Today, we had the Pillowfight Fairy's main evaluation to determine if she has Asperger's Syndrome. The preliminary answer to that is "no." But the evaluation was useful, because it did determine where she is having communication and social issues that can be improved upon. We will probably be investigating how to best integrate some extra training into her school schedule next year. And for those who are always questioning homeschooling's ability to properly socialize individuals, our daughter's issues are not the result of homeschooling. We know this because her siblings do not have these issues even though they are growing up in a homeschooling environment just like their sister. Rather these issues are individual to her and would be there whether she were homeschooled or attended a traditional school. In fact, it is her differences early on that convinced us that public school or even an institutional private school would be inappropriate for her. And it is her differences now, that made us wonder if there was something more specific that needed to be addressed. I like that we have the flexibility to find our way and follow the path that our daughter needs to go along. I like that we as her parents can weigh our options and determine what seems best for her, rather than trying to fit her into someone else's idea of how she should be educated.

I find it interesting that although we started homeschooling to fit the needs of our eldest daughter, we discovered that it fit the needs of the whole family, too. The only drawback I see to our homeschooling is the great effort that is needed to get it done. I don't say this to mean that I regret it. Homeschooling is one of the most challenging and yet rewarding things that I have ever done. I just keep coming back to the feeling that other people would also benefit from homeschooling, but they are afraid of the challenge and the work. Yes it is a lot of work. It requires discipline. It requires sacrifices in time, money, and numberless daily choices. But like the farmer working his land or the musician practicing his instrument or the businessman trying to succeed in his career, good results only come if you put in the work that is needed. I think if you asked any teacher they would probably tell you they wished their students, students' parents and everyone in the education process put in a 100% effort into the lives of their students. It would make a marvelous difference. We are nearing the end of another year of school and I am feeling drained and overworked. But I also can see the progress made and the good work done. It came little by little and day by day, but all of the work was worth it.

I broke down and joined facebook this week. Now that I'm in the inside, I can see how useful it is to help people manage their contacts. After only three days, I'm already starting to see how different people use it in different ways. I can also see how people can abuse it and how some people can have it become an addiction in their lives. I'm finding some of my library training is coming into use. After all, facebook manages information. People have to be wise about how they present their own information and wise about how they use other people's information. There are a lot of people out there who are not wise. By the way, if you want to be my friend on facebook, you will need to be my friend off the computer first.