May 22, 2012

How Structured Is Our Day?

Happy Home School Greetings,

As our year is coming to a close, I am wrapping up my planning for next fall.  How about you?  In the back of my mind I am thinking ahead to Brianna's high school graduation next spring.  Which has me reflecting back on eleven years of her schooling in the old Wachter Academy.  I am always evaluating and reflecting and fine tuning our school program.  This year we tried a few new things that we really took to.  I hope to share them in other posts shortly for those who are looking for some new ideas for next year.  This letter from a fellow home school blogger, Lisa, over at Homeschool Days was very timely with all our figuring and thinking and end of the year summing up this week.

I hope you don’t mind me asking you some questions.  I’m not asking to be nosy.  A friend and I were talking about these things and both of us, at times, revert back to the public school way of thinking.  So here goes… What does your homeschool look like?  Do you use a certain curriculum?  How do you feel about teaching former grammar and sentence diagramming, etc.?  And what about math?  How structured are your days?  In what month do you start and finish school, normally? Blessings,Lisa

Dear Lisa,

In no way do I mind your questions.  Asking questions and sharing ideas is one of the ways we make a successful home school.  I have answered many of these questions to some degree before here at Art's Chili Pepper.  If you check the Homeschool Label on the side bar you can check out some previous posts that may be of interest to you.  In the meantime, let me try to summarize some of your questions quickly.

How structured is our day? 

Not as much as I would like.  Ha!  I am a very structured person and do best in a more routine oriented environment.  However, most of my children take after their father and do far better in a looser environment.  We have worked to find a compromise that works for us all.  Our day goes roughly like this.  

Upon rising and waking each child is expected to do their chores and personal Bible study.  This time is also used for those who are discipleship study with younger siblings.  This is also when I have my personal study time, get ready for the day and do my own chores.  

Now some of our kids prefer to rise early and others prefer to sleep in.  All are expected to be up by 7 at the latest and finished their morning routine no later than 8 am.  

Aedan is an early riser and is usually finished by 7.  This is where having school set up all the time comes in handy.  He just pops down stairs and gets a head start on things he can do by himself.  

Brianna chose breakfast as her chore so she makes breakfast and sets out a buffet so people can eat when they are ready.  If Allen is working from home he likes us to eat all together periodically.  

At 8 am we meet for family Bible reading while I nurse and dress the baby.  

Immediately, following Bible reading (around 9 am) we start our school "Circle time" while Pa goes to work.  This is an in depth Bible study (we are currently studying the Life of David) and character training time (We are getting ready to start respect.)  Now, even though my older kids don't really need this training, they like to be part of it and I like the contribution they make in teaching the youngers.   If we finish before Carmella's nap, we take turns playing with her while some of the kids get started on independent work.  That would be something like readers, Science books, history books or some of the periodicals I mentioned earlier.  

When Carmella goes down for her morning nap, 10 am, we move downstairs for our morning session.  I like to start off with the hard subjects so Math, Reading and Grammar are morning subjects.  We rotate through subjects taking turns using the computer for our Xtra math practice.  

At noon, I wake Carmella and feed her while Kaitlin and the kids make lunch.  Some days we eat lunch while we continue working and some days we move to the kitchen table and eat with Allen if he is at home.    

If we have stopped for lunch we have a little play time in the nursery with baby before her nap at 2 pm.  If not she plays on the floor by the table while we keep working.  At 2 pm Carmella goes for a nap and Elisabeth and Samuel lay down for some rest.  Elisabeth loves to listen to her Jesus Storybook Bible CDs at this time and Samuel loves Jonathan Park CDs or Uncle Rick reading Proverbs.

The rest of us return to the school table and do our less strenuous work.  Science, History, Art, Music, etc... These subjects are usually finished by March or April so then after lunch the kids use this time for special projects, playing out doors or reading quietly.  This is my time to work on special projects, answering email, sewing, or blogging.  Sometimes, I might lie down and read to Elisabeth.      

This is also the time of day when the big girls are permitted to use the computer for whatever projects or blogging or email they want to tend.  We find limiting the hours when the computer can be on fosters more face to face relationships and less interruptions into our lives.  It works for us.

Four o'clock is when I get the little ones up and nurse Carmella.  We then take turns playing with her, while working together outdoors or making dinner etc...

We try to have dinner strictly at 6 pm.  This is always opened to interpretation, though, since we have classes on Monday night and Allen is almost always done on Wednesday nights.  We like to use dinner time for each member to share something from their day and to tell us what the Lord taught them in their study that day.

After dinner, we might read some science or history together or read a book aloud or color or play a game.  If it is bath night we rotate through the shower.  Allen typically tucks the kids in bed while I feed the baby at 8.

Then we try to spend some uninterrupted time with our 3 big girls.  This time alone with them is so important to keeping heart strings tied and the pathways of communication open.  Even though I would like to go straight to bed, and even though I often fall asleep on the couch, I like to be with them and for them to know we are there.  I think they like it, too.  They call it girl time, but we let Pa come.  And if one of us takes a little longer to get down stairs they are asking after us.

Now, that we are finishing up our school and the weather is nice, all this will change until next fall.  We will spend our mornings working in the gardens, our afternoons by the pool reading aloud together, the evenings by the pool playing cards or banagrams and the nights catching fire flies.

One more note:  I know I have mentioned this before but I think it is worth repeating.  I keep Tuesdays between 10 and 12 for visiting, appointments, errands and the Bible studies I am doing with younger ladies away from home.  This makes it very easy to schedule and keeps interruptions to a minimum.  That makes our school time much more efficient.  The only exception is the orthodontist who is only in our area on Thursday.  So every six weeks or so we also have a Thursday appointment.  If Allen is working at home, he will try to take the kids for me so our school day can continue as normal.  If not, Kaitlin jumps in and teaches for me or I schedule it during my afternoon free time.

Wow!  So, my friend, you made me work!  But, I hope I have answered your questions.  Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.



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