Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Day Eight: Schedule Your Days

She drags her blanket up onto the stool in the kitchen and plants her head on her palm with that mop of chestnut hair spilling on all sides. She went to bed at a decent hour last night but this little nighthawk rarely falls asleep until the last light is out and my husband and I have nestled into our own bed. She mumbles something about toast and closes her eyes. I lean across the counter and tuck a strand of hair behind her ear, further exposing her sleepy face. She opens her eyes. I smile and she, through her feeble attempt to remain disconnected, smiles back. I step toward the toaster, that is normally her domain, and slip in a slice of bread. The familiar roar of a school bus reminds me this moment with my girl is sacred and special and we're blessed beyond measure.   
Personal devotions, breakfast, chores and getting dressed are the first orders of business in our home. Our goal is to be in the schoolroom by nine in the morning. Sometimes it's earlier, sometimes it's later, but setting a goal gives us something to work toward. One of my sisters doesn't like to make exceptions here and the other has children who wake so early that they're done school before most people begin! My theory is that we must do our best to maintain a schedule but I'm grateful that one perk of homeschooling is the ability to give grace to a child who's had a poor night's sleep, and to know that we have the option of completing schoolwork a little later if we need to.
Upon entering the schoolroom, our day begins with Bible time together. This may consist of reading straight from the Bible, doing a "Sword Drill", reading a Bible story book, flannel graph time, Bible journal, a Bible lapbook, singing, etc. Next is always math so we're sure to complete it all before Daddy comes home and unleashes his "math inspection".  We use Math-U-See and have ever since our homeschool journey began because it works well for us. Next, is Language Arts, Spelling and Phonics, and the companies I purchase from for these vary from year to year and child to child. Our favourite thing to do is incorporate Language Arts into whatever unit study we're immersed in with my sister, at the time. Lunchtime consists of children making themselves something to eat after I layout the ingredients, and then recess. 
In the afternoon, Read-Alouds, History, Geography and Science are next on the schedule and most years these come from Sonlight or are the core subjects of our unit study. Art, French and special electives (such as, Money Management, Entrepreneurship, speech writing, book making, Mad Science, etc.) are often taken through our co-op. For a couple of years, we hired a friend to teach French for a fun change (and she's more fluent in this area :)  All four kiddos receive piano lessons in our home. Recess and gym time are a combination of several things: outdoor play, dance classes, wrestling (most effective for exercise), hiking, swimming lessons, biking and soccer.
Our day winds down with some free play time, a kitchen helper for dinner and then family time around the supper table. Everyone helps tidy up and load the dishwasher, sometimes reluctantly :) We have "Family Night" once a week (mixed in there with our evening activities outside the home), when we watch a movie together or play a game. Soon after, it's Lights Out and, the ever-necessary, Mommy/Daddy time.
Your day with your children might look quite different than mine but the important thing is that we remain diligent in teaching them what they need to know for their age and abilities. How each family implements their curricula to achieve this is the variety that makes us wonderfully unique! If you're considering homeschooling and don't know where to begin to even look for a philosophy of education or methodology, Here are a few popular homeschooling styles to research. Individual families must choose what works for them.
Charlotte Mason
Unit Studies (Immersion)
Textbooks (School-at-home)
                                                ... to name a few
Don't become discouraged with all the choices. Pick what feel right for you and go with it. Changing a curriculum part way through the year or the following year is okay. We have tried several until we found what worked for the kids and for me. I have to love the curriculum myself or I'll lose interest before the kids do!
Just writing about our daily schedule has me itching to get back to it, so I'll talk to you tomorrow when I post about our amazing co-op and how community is so very important for homeschoolers. 

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