Lots of people ask me what our days look like and some even ask to come and watch us for the morning. We’ve actually tried homeschooling with another homeschooling family and it was a disaster. No one got anything done as everyone was watching everyone else and no one was doing what they should.
So perhaps this post will help people get an idea of what an ordinary day looks like at our home. I’m going to be brutally honest and not change a thing. This particular day (it was today actually) is not an overly busy one or an under planned one. It’s a fairly average sort of day.
We started school after 10 today. Okay it was closer to 11. At 10 the boys were busy with a construction project and since we have all day there was no reason to make them stop everything right there and then and move them to the school table. Who wants to create grumpy students…not me. Plus, this counts as technology. Yes, of course I’ll write it down.
Brayden sat at the homeschool table with me and started with two pages of Earlybird Math (the Singapore Preschool text). It was about subtraction today.
He then did two pages of an ordinary school textbook I found on the shelves…I think it’s Targeting Math grade 1. Yes our main Math curriculum is Singapore Maths but we add in all sorts of other resources now and then.
Then he moved onto an Excel phonic workbook. He did a double page spread in this too. It only takes him a minute or two to complete these workbooks. He’s funny though. He’s happy to do as many workbooks as you put in front of him but only double page spreads. He thinks I’ve pushed the boundaries if I make him turn the page in any book and complete work on another page.
So I add in extra workbooks. Ahhh he’s too easily tricked. This is another phonics workbook. Here he’s working on the “h” sound. What makes me cringe is that I have used this same textbook in a real classroom situation and a double page spread like this would take 30 minutes at least to complete. At home Brayden can finish it in a minute or two. In fact ALL of his workbooks can be completed in less than 20 minutes.
Meanwhile Ethan was still playing on the floor working on his cars. But rest assured I gave him reminders now and again that he’d have to come to the table soon as we couldn’t leave to go riding later in the day until all of our school work was complete.
Ah threats…sorry reminders…can sometimes be successful. Below you can see BOTH of my little men working on their bookwork. Here both boys are working in a handwriting text. I’m not sure why I bother. At present both boys are looking like they might make great doctors.
Once Brayden’s workbooks were completed, he completed a number fact sheet. Both boys complete one of these every day. I think consistency is the key to number facts.
Yes morning tea is a cut up apple on the table to nibble on while you work. Hey, I’m not giving them a snack break and letting them leave the table. It could take me another hour to round them up!
Next Brayden works on his Flashmaster reviewing his number facts.
But Ethan’s noise and movement drives Brayden batty so I let him go to the playroom for some peace and quiet. Here you can see him rocking on a seal while solving number facts.
Ethan moves onto problem solving (a Singapore Math extension book). He solves one page of problems every day. I think problem solving is a vital skill so we do it daily.
Distractable is Ethan’s middle name. He fidgets, daydreams, talks about all things unrelated to his work and manages to make a five minute task take 40 minutes.
But eventually he gets back to the task at hand – three pages in Explode the Code. See – homeschoolers don’t need patience before they make the decision to homeschool. On a daily basis your patience will be tested and strengthen.
As each workbook is completed. I use a date stamper to date the work, I photograph it for our journal and then stash the books back in this basket. I used to keep them in drawers – one for each subject and separate drawers for each child – but getting them out each day was tiresome. This way I just grab the whole chunk and start work.
While all this work is happening I get to look at how grotty the room is getting. You may not be able to see the results but there was a paper cutting fest earlier in the morning and now the floor looks likes it’s snowed inside.
Here’s Ethan still procrastinating.
Brayden then returns to complete his skip counting. He’s learning to skip count in 10s and 5s. He does not like to receive help. He likes to do things himself.
But it’s okay if his brother wants to help. Here is Brayden practising his memory verse with his brother’s help.
I decide that Ethan might as well practise his verses while he’s sitting there. I print out our memory verse and use a business card folder to store them in. The boys read them or chant them every day. Just the repetition is enough to cement them in their memories.
Ethan then goes back to table work and completes his number facts. I have a new tactic that is working to eliminate procrastination on this task. We time how long it takes and he tries to beat his score each day. He’s down to one minute. Number facts have been a real challenge for Ethan. I started out teaching him the number fact strategies. He really struggled with these. So we tried number fact stories. That didn’t click with him either. So we tried audio facts. Nope that didn’t work either. So we’ve gone right back to the basics. All the techniques I’ve tried to teach him have just weighed him down with obstacles to something that is so natural. Now I let him solve them however he feels is most efficient. At present he’s drawing dots on the page and counting them. But he completes a page every day. He also practises skip counting patterns and chants his number facts from a chart. I figure he’ll put it all together himself at some point. But since I’ve stopped dabbling he’s so much happier to work on them.
All this time Brayden is off working in the study on his skip counting patterns with a hundred board.
Writing is next. Each day Ethan writes a caption to a printed photo that I glue into an exercise book. He’s liking this activity more now that I don’t sit by him and require perfectly formed letters. I do stay nearby so we can discuss sound patterns and spelling though.
Oh this is not a look of joy at seeing his math text. This is just Ethan making a random ear splitting noise. Ear plugs would be nice.
Brayden moved onto his Reading Eggs cd roms. He completes two or three lessons by himself each day.
Hmmm…I hope everyone else’s children don’t do all their work actually “sitting” at the table. Why not stand for variety.
Here’s Ethan working on three digit subtraction without regrouping. Using a number line he did very well.
Finally bookwork is complete and Ethan gets to review his number facts on the Flashmaster.
Then he skip counts in 3s and 4s
and chants the 3 plus facts.
With all of our bookwork behind us we start on reading. First Brayden reads his phonetically controlled reader , “Max”. Both boys read at least one reader every single day.
At present we’re also using “The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading”.
With Brayden I use this book to introduce new sounds. We practise reading words and sentences with the new sounds before I introduce a reader with the same sounds. At present we are working on “an” words.
“Addition the Fun Way” is a book that teaches number facts through stories. While this technique hasn’t worked well for Ethan, Brayden absolutely loves the book so I read a number fact set everyday. I don’t go out of my way to encourage him to translate the information to his number fact sheets. I figure it’ll happen if it’s a technique that works for him.
Today we read the eight fact stories.
Usually we start school by reading the bible. But it didn’t happen that way today and to keep this real I’m keeping our order just as it was.I just felt that the boys were not ready to sit and listen earlier in the day. By the time we did sit and read from our Egermeier’s Storybook Bible (which I LOVE by the way) the boys were settled and all ears.
Today we read about young King Josiah. Brayden is narrating our bible stories for us at present. He’s just learning how to narrate so I often prompt him after each paragraph.
Then we read a chapter from Story of the World 2. We are currently learning about the Middle Ages.
Today we read about the Christian Church in the East, in the Byzantine Empire.
While I read our history chapter the boys played quietly on the floor. Ethan is responsible for narrating our history text and is getting real quite good at it.
Rod and Staff Grammar was next. (Usually we read aloud for a lot longer but I fear I may have a chest infection so reading aloud and breathing at the same time can be challenging).
We complete this text orally. Today we read about using capital letters for specific place names. Ethan came and curled up next to me while I read and wanted to list some places that he could think of. He enjoys this book…yes children can enjoy grammar.
Then Ethan read his reader aloud to his brother. Ethan is currently enjoying a set of readers from the UK called “Jelly and Bean” readers. They are absolutely wonderful and both of my boys adore them.
Then Ethan read his exercise from “Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading”. With Ethan I am using this book to review sounds we have already learned.
At this point most of our school was complete and it was nearly 1pm. This is what my house looked like at this point. See, it does get messy. People don’t usually see it this way as I frantically clean it before people arrive or before I photograph it for blog entries.
Why does it not look as messy in the photos as it actually looked when I was looking at it in real time?!
Lunch – basic pasta. Hey, it’s what they asked for. I wasn’t going to complain and offer than a gourmet option…like perhaps a vegemite sandwich.
While waiting for lunch Ethan completed his typing tutor lesson. He just plods away at this every day. Two or three minutes a day.
After lunch we headed off to go to the library and then spent some time at the bike park where the boys enjoyed riding their scooters. On the way there (it’s a half hour trip) we listened to an Adventures in Odyssey cd we got the other day.
Here’s the boys scooting off together.
We stayed there for a hour or so. The boys scooted and I sat in the shade of a gorgeous tree and read a book. So peaceful.
My little bookworm kept me company. Isn’t he cute. He must have fallen from the tree.
Then we met hubby after work and did our grocery shopping.
While I unpacked the groceries two little men set to work on restoring order.
Not long after the boys were put to bed and I was just about ready to sit down and relax when Hubby decided that he felt like damper and would I pretty please make some.
So I best sign off now as my damper is just about ready to be served, warmed with jam of course.
I hope you enjoyed your time in our homeschool.