Homeschooling: Week One

>> Friday, September 11, 2020

So, ready or not . . . we started school this last week. And everyone is still speaking to one another. That's a good thing. I'd say in the four days we've been doing it, I have felt like I was running between my kids like a chicken with its head cut off. It feels exactly like that sometimes. But I realize that this is early days and I still have a lot to learn about my family's unique rhythm.

Ada is in third grade. Eloise is in pre-kindergarten. Their subject material doesn't overlap much at all, or I'd try doing more with them together. Instead, it's writing paragraphs about folk tales and doing Common Core math problems one second and coaching the alphabet and scissor skills the next. Then Eden starts coloring on a wall or swallowing a penny or having a tantrum. 

Later, rinse, repeat, and that's how the days have felt. School generally takes us from approximately 9AM until 2PM. But this isn't all seated bookwork. 

The schedule has gone something like this:

I wake up and do freelance work till around 7 or 7:30AM

Ada wakes up and spends 15 minutes with Stephen before he leaves for school

Ada wakes up slowly, reads from her current novel, watches YouTube Kids

Eloise and Eden wake up. Late, I know -- but it's a wakeup time we've worked hard for, and I'm hesitant to break what isn't broken!

Breakfast and morning chores, getting dressed, etc.

Ada and I do ELA and Social studies work. Lots of reading and writing and cursive practice. Eloise and I read a book on topic with her curriculum (this week it was apples and the letter A), we do a few easy art projects, and sensory stuff. Eloise's school is done in 45 minutes a day. Eden participates or I just give her some little projects of her own . . . at present moment, it's madness. 

Outdoor time, PE, exploring nature/science-y stuff

11-12PM: Ada and I do science and begin math. Math Mammoth is a great curriculum, but it can be somewhat intense. So we just get a handle on what the day's lesson is and usually save the rest for when the younger girls are in nap/quiet time. I'll often squeeze a short science show in here somewhere to get a quick break for myself.

Lunch and music. I play music while they eat and they discuss. This week was bluegrass. Then we kind of just play and have free time.

Little girls down for naps/quiet time. Ada and I spend very focused time on math. Then I let Ada take an hour-long break and then I have her read quietly. I finish up any freelance work that needs to be done, prepare dinner or any baking I want to do, and -- this week -- take a break of my own.

This week Stephen has been getting home at this time, and that was great. But when coaching starts that won't be the case. Boo. We play. I'll do a violin lesson with Ada in this slot or art projects.

5:30PM: Dinner, working out, etc.

It's not an airtight schedule by any means. And it will change when Stephen is coaching. I'd say we spend around 3-3:30 hours a day on school for Ada. 45 minutes for Eloise. What isn't in this schedule are the other specials that we just work in when it makes sense. This week we started Italian, read about the human body for health, and did a study of Monet/painted an impressionist style painting. 

I do like the freedom, but with all the subjects being my responsibility to guide, I can feel pretty overwhelmed at times. Other times, I get a blank and I'm like "WHAT IS NEXT?" So, I'll definitely be sitting down with the curriculum on Sunday afternoon to plan for next week.

Curriculum thoughts:

  • I like the Oak Meadow curriculum, but I am finding that the writing prompts don't have Ada writing nearly as much as she was expected to last year. So, I have made my own lessons to get her writing longer passages and sharing more complex thoughts on the page. We are both writers, so I guess this is something that we both sort of expect at a higher level, and she tends to do pretty well. 
  • Like I said, Math Mammoth is pretty tricky. We are only in review mode right now, but it's higher level than where we left off last year. I think it's a combination of school closing down in March with little work after that point and also I've heard that Math Mammoth tends to be faster than public school. I do think it's organized really well, though!
  • The rest is just stuff we are doing as we go along. I am pleased so far and glad I took so much care in getting it all together. That said, our beautifully organized school closet is a now a complete disaster zone. I feel like I'm always going in there and just tossing around everything as I make up the day as I go along.
  • None of what we are doing incorporates technology. But that wasn't on purpose. We are considering buying a relatively new iPad from a friend, and I would like to incorporate some learning apps because Ada really enjoyed those things when she was in public school.

Overall, not bad. Ada says she loves homeschool and has been really excited and receptive thus far. Eloise really misses being with friends. They both do. I still do not see homeschooling as a long-term thing for our family just because we've had such positive experiences with public school. But I guess we'll see how it goes. 

One benefit I've already seen is that by having my girls on a more routine schedule together, they seem to be getting along really well, playing more, and pitching in more with the housework and such. And on a social note, we are trying to set up more Zoom friend calls and possible outdoor/masked playdates now that the weather isn't repressively hot.

Just wanted to share how it went! I hope you are all having a good school year so far. I do not think a single parent I know is having an easy go of things right now. Like, all the choices we were given were problematic for some reason. Similarly, all had different perks. I am literally with all my kids all day long all week long. It's a joy. But I'd be lying if I said I don't miss breaks. Now we just roll with it. Fingers crossed things continue on a good note.

Happy Friday!

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