I marvel at families that are finished school before lunch. How do they do it? What hour do they start at? Certainly not an hour this family would function well at. (Closest friends, I can hear your snickers. Pipe down there please!!) But mostly I wonder how they can possibly get everything done.
Our days are only just warming up by lunch time. Most days we are still working by 3pm or even 4pm. Mind you the kids aren’t tied to their chairs from start to finish. We kind of just groove along until we feel like we have completed a full day.
Generally we start school work anywhere between 8.30am and 9.30am. That gives us time to have breakfast, do some quick chores, check our email, and generally wake up. We are night owls of the latest variety known to man. 🙂
Yesterday we started with reading aloud. We read a chapter or two from a whole pile of books – the Bible, “The Ark, The Reed and the Fire Cloud”, “The Night Flyers” and “Angel on the Square”. We actually read several chapters from “Angel on the Square” as we want to listen to the second book in the series as an audio book and we just finish listening to “Breaking Stalin’s Nose” the day before and are currently audiobook-less.
We also read a bit more of a Horrible Histories magazine about the Russian Revolution. The book makes light of the facts and so the boys and I spent a bit of time discussing the inaccuracies the author has made by trying to make the facts humorous. A pretty poor piece of literature actually but at the same time a helpful summary.
Next up the boys completed their weekly Travel Journal. Earlier in the week I read more about Egypt from “A Child’s Geography”. So the boys had to collect related pictures from Google images, add them to their journal with informative captions to summarise what they had learned.
Brayden finished before the Ethan so he ran through a few of his quick easy tasks – reviewed the countries of South America, reviewed his multiplication facts with flashcards, worked on some phonics reviews with me and completed a spelling lesson on the whiteboard.
When both boys were ready we did our Science lesson. We are using Dr Jay Wile’s elementary (currently unpublished) text and looooving it. Our task for the day was to make a Cartesian Diver. You know the one….where you make the little floating contraption, that when put in a sealed bottle of liquid sinks when pressure is exerted onto the bottle. Well it’s not as easy as it sounds to make. We followed the book exactly but couldn’t get ours to sink at all. My boys already knew the concept and had announced to me that they’d seen it done on Backyard Science but we are not quitters so we all headed to the internet to see what we were doing wrong. Finding a few different ‘diver’ designs we decided to try them. Ethan and I picked different designs and Brayden was determined to use the one he partially remembered from Backyard Science. So we spent the good part of an hour dabbling with our designs. We eventually discovered the key to this ‘not so easy’ activity. You have to find the equilibrium between floating and sinking and have your ‘diver’ just on the floating side so you don’t have to exert too much pressure on the bottle to get it to work. Finally we had various designs that did in fact work and an epic watery mess to clean up but first we pulled out our text and read the lesson that went with our activity. The concept was simply that fish use a similar concept in their swim bladder to help them dive and stay at various levels in the water. Orally the boys answered the questions at the end of the lesson. We’ve stopped making a big ordeal of all the written notebooking tasks.
Next up was more bookwork. Brayden was sent to finish handwriting his good copy of a written piece from last week. He also had some Explode the Code work to complete. At the same time Ethan ran through his short review tasks – the countries of South America, multiplication facts and spelling. Then he orally completed his Latin lesson with me. He’s using “Getting Started with Latin” and it’s finally working really really well now that we do it orally. I’m really happy with our Latin progress at present. Then I sent Ethan off to work at his desk on his Fix-It lesson. He had to edit incorrectly used homophones; locate adverbs, adjectives and strong verbs; define bolded words, and rewrite the sentences as copywork. He then had two pieces of his own writing that he had to finish dressing up. He does this on his laptop and then emails his work to me.
While both boys worked independently I cleaned up the wet kitchen, did dishes, bought in the washing before the rain got to it and put on lunch. By the time lunch was ready, Brayden was completed but Ethan still had work to complete. The boys stopped for lunch anyway. Ethan knows that incomplete work must be finished some time during the day. During lunch the boys chose to watch an episode of Cyberchase, a Math program I recorded for them during the week and then spent the next half an hour charging around my house on gyrocars in an attempt to make me batty…well I think that was the motive because it was working well. (The weather had been rainy and cold a lot of the week.)
After lunch Ethan returned to his ‘dress up’ task while Brayden read aloud to me from several books. We also checked out Amazon together and found some more titles to read together and put them on hold from our library.
The next task I set my men was to write a paragraph or two about the last Tsar in Russia – the Romanov family. We have read and watched so much about them in the last few weeks that I wanted to see what they had absorbed. Ethan typed his draft and Brayden narrated his to me as I typed it. His ideas go way faster than his hands. I was really impressed with what they had grasped just from reading historical fictions and watching a few documentaries.
Finally we did some Math. I almost forgot it! Both boys are working on the same tasks at present – fractions. While Ethan reviews, Brayden is learning. So three pages of simplifying fractions was completed. It probably took them about forty to fifty minutes, bearing in mind that I check work as it’s completed and erase incorrect work and send them back to redo it. It’s the norm for them.
It was around 3.30pm by this time and my little men had some plans of their own and I had washing to fold so we parted ways for a few hours. One was off building with Lego and drawing and the other was reading a Java language manual and trying to figure out how to password protect websites or something like that. Later in the day the boys also used the computer for an hour – Minecraft of course.
While waiting for tea to cook, about 6.30ish, I asked the boys if they wanted to read more of “Angel on the Square” so they moved their activities to the reading lounge and played while I read. One was playing with sticks, building and making patterns, and the other was using Lego. At the end of the chapter I wondered whether Brainpop might have any videos about Russia, the Romanovs or Communism. Ethan found one on communism which we watched together and then completed the online quiz just as Hubby came home from work (he’s working late at present – it’s reporting and interview time of the school year).
After tea and showers we sat down together and watched a movie I found at the library about the Romanov family. It was three hours long so we’ll watch the other half tonight. The movie in itself was a great lesson. The boys got to share information with their Daddy and we paused the movie several times to satisfy our curiosity and answer various questions (ipads are great for this!) – like what is the significant of their unusual Christian cross, what was the war they were fighting with Japan and where was the Crimea.
And that was our day. A normalish full school day, but bear in mind that we have several half days during the week – with swimming lessons on one and playdates on another. Plus all the standard interruptions – this week it was a visit to the mechanic and a full day out playing with dear dear friends. So things balance out nicely in the end.
But looking it over there’s no way I could get it all done by lunch. Quite frankly there’s no way we’d want to be done by lunch. What would we do with ourselves for the rest of the day? Housework? Eek. I think not! And if there’s something the kids want to do it usually happens as part of our school day. Trust me, they speak their mind! And because we aren’t ‘early to bed’ types we have all evening to pursue anything else we want to do. Plus the weekends and holidays. We like life like this. My boys don’t feel like school goes on forever. They love read alouds, experiments, hands on stuff, discussions…it’s only when they have a pen in their hand that they think they are being tortured and doing ‘school’. Allow them to use a computer to type their tasks or orally share what they know and you have happy men. I suppose you could say that there isn’t really much of a school/life division in our home. School oozes over into life and life into school and that’s pretty much how we like it. 🙂