So now that we have the cupboards stocked with fun resources, we jump into the actual doing of each day.
One of the great advantages to educating at home is the efficiency of time. I don’t have the challenge of wrangling 28 kids in a classroom; we can just sit down and get started. Though I am not a boxed curriculum user, I am also far from being an unschooler. I try to make the material we study fun and engaging, but I won’t lie: I expect a lot from my kids. But I also put in breaks, with an entire hour for lunch (I am cafeteria staff as well, so I need that extra time). And there is almost never any “homework.” The kids work hard, but unless there is something out of the ordinary (which does happen), they’re completely done by 3 or earlier.
Here’s our typical schedule, which I write up on our ginormous white board every day:
7:20 Ian: Jazz Band at Wachter (he does this four days each week)
8:00 Ian and Eva: History (we’re studying the Renaissance this quarter – over the last 2 years we’ve worked up to this point all the way back from early humans; we study this subject together)
9:00 Ian and Eva: Math (we alternate days using Khan Academy and textbooks; the kids work side by side, but on their own materials)
9:50: snack and break
10:10 Ian and Eva: Literature (we tie literature into our history unit whenever possible. Right now we’re doing the Canterbury Tales; although often they have separate literature assignments, for now we’re doing this together)
11:00 Ian and Eva: Spanish (we do this together)
12:45 Ian goes to Wachter Middle School for Earth Science and Band
1:00 Eva: creative writing (For now, I let her work on stories she’s got in her head. In October, we’ll begin the National Novel Writing Month work.)
1:45 Eva: trumpet practice
2:00 Eva: typing practice
2:15 Eva is done
2:30 Pick up Ian – he gets a break
4:00 Ian: drum practice
Each day is a little different: on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we start off the day by playing racquetball with Jamie (their dad) at the University of Mary. We don’t do Spanish on those days. And a couple of afternoons each week Ian has drum lessons and music theory lessons. For music theory assignments, I imagine we’ll alternate with literature class.
Lunches usually have a little treat too – sometimes we do logic puzzles together, or I read an historical fiction novel from the history period we’re studying. Or maybe we’ll watch a NOVA Science Now or TED Talk. Lots of fun options there. And Fridays are pretty laid back. We do history, but after that it’s game day, and we play educational games together. Or maybe we’ll catch up with projects we’re behind on. Or maybe they will want to do art or composing. We like to keep that day pretty flexible.
The trick for me this year will be to find alone time. I get a huge recharge out of being in my home by myself in utter silence, and finding this time will not be easy. I also have a need to connect with my adult friends. Last year I did this while my kids were in their part-time public school situation. But this year is different as Eva is home all the time. As the semester gets underway, I’ll have to carve out these times somewhere. Balance is important for everybody, home educators included. I don’t always do that well, but I continue to try.
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