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Friday, October 16, 2015

Homeschooling So Far

Homeschooling so far is going rather well.  There are some things we need to work on but it is so very rewarding.  I'm very happy we made the decision to do this.

What is working:
  • The start of the day.  Everyone has to be dressed, teeth brushed, hair done, hands washed and must have had breakfast before we start.  This keeps me accountable.  Otherwise Isabelle may not brush her teeth for a month or Nathan wouldn't see a washcloth in even longer period of time.  Exaggerating of course but you get the point.
  • The schedule.  The kids love having a routine and knowing what to expect.  The only thing I'm not sure of is math as the first thing in the morning.  Nathan in particular balks when it is Math time.  It may be that I'm giving them too much math as well.
  • Our rewards system.  I mean really, how can rewards not work???
  • Chores.  The kids now have a lot more chores.  Nathan is really on top of this and that surprised me.  He is literally thriving on this.  Abby needs a little more help.  She likes to get out of them and "forget" them.  
  • Our curricula!  I read so many times about a curriculum not working for a child.  And all of ours do!  We also did not get a package deal but chose different curricula for different subjects, so I was running even more so of a risk that they didn't like one or more.   And there is always a chance that if you pick one, you don't like it either.  All of them are fun to teach. 
    • Writing.  I'm surprised at this.  They actually have to write more than before but they enjoy it.  Abby thinks that Mr. Pudewa of IEW is hilarious, so she loves watching the teaching DVDs.  Nathan again thrives on having a structure that he can follow.
    • Math.  This is the only one that Nathan is somewhat struggling with. Mainly because he doesn't like change.  Primary Mathematics is actually a great program.  I will also ease up on pushing the schedule so much on this particular subject.
    •  Grammar.  Love, love, love the program (Fix It! Grammar).  It builds on repetition and is only a short lesson every day.  All this while the kids are writing a story and reading a little bit each day to keep them interested.  It is the hardest thing in the world to keep Abby from reading ahead!  I have them making a book that they can put on their shelf when they are done, with their own illustrations.
    • Spelling.  Nathan feels like a big boy doing Phonetic Zoo by himself and with a pen.  :-)  Abby enjoys the physical touching of letter tiles that All About Spelling offers.
    • Reading.  Nathan may have turned into a bigger reader than Abby.  Yeah, I know!  He found a series he really likes: Warriors by Erin Hunter.  Abby just got American Girl Kirsten books from the library but is very intrigued by the Warrior books as they have turned her brother into a reading monster.  She finally got to have the first book in the series last night and started to read away.
    • History - Story of the World.  There is just nothing like listening to history as a story.  We color while we listen and read along the second time around.  And really, this is the third time through this series.  My kids have truly come to love history.
    • Science.  REAL for kids is wonderful.  It has made me a fun mom as we are doing so many hands-on things now.  And I'm learning from this.  They are fun lessons that usually include an experiment.  It makes it so much easier for the kids to remember.  However, I realized that Nathan for one needs to write things down in order to remember and that we need to have a short run-down on what we've learned so far.  It seems the kids both forget otherwise because the curriculum itself does not necessarily build on previous knowledge (at least not yet).  
    • PE is baseball for Nathan and ballet for Abby.  Nathan also takes a PE class at Friday school.  
  • The timing.  We start at 8:30am and go through until about 1-2pm.  We take 10 minute or more breaks in between subjects and have a 1/2 hour lunch. 
  • We do all subjects (except art) every day.  This works really well because it keeps us on track and it also keeps the kids in the same routine.  The one subject I only do on Mondays is art and Nathan balks when it is art time.  Not because he hates art but because it breaks his routine.
  • Friday school.  Although I'd love to be home whenever I can, the kids LOVE Friday school where they can mingle with other kids and have totally fun classes.  The selection of classes makes me wish I could be in some of them.  Seriously.  I mean things like "Pancakes around the world."  Who wouldn't love that?  
  • Shopping on Monday night instead.  This may save us money.  I'm so tired, I just want to get done with it.  :-)  
  • Set-up.  I have a junk room now where I store all the school stuff.  We actually do school at the dining room table.  We have our whiteboard there but other than that, it is a dining room.  Which is probably why it is so nice to work in there.  We also do our reading on the couch, which is very relaxing.  And we are not overwhelmed by school things in one of our rooms.  Other than Abby, the rest of us get overwhelmed by clutter.
  • The cleanliness of the house.  Having the kids help is huge!!  I never wanted to give them chores when they were home because I felt they were barely home.  But now they are a great help and the house is staying clean.  No more worrying about someone dropping by unexpectedly. 
What is not working:
  • I'm awfully tired.  I need to change my diet and start exercising.  It is important for me to be able to last through this school year.
  • It is still really loud in our house.  It makes it utterly hard for David to work.  We are working on being quieter and arguing less.
  • Cooking.  By simply not having the time (and because I have super picky kids), I've cooked really simple meals (think chicken nuggets, drumsticks, hamburgers).  While my family may like this, it is not as healthy.  On the other hand, I got most of them (David and Abby excluded) to heat Dave's Killer Bread!
  • Extra time.  While I'm around the kids all the time now, I still need to find ways to extra things with them.  Most of my time after school is spent on chores and errands and cooking.  I need to simplify more and even if some things costs us a few more dollars.  This may also be the reason I am so tired.
  • Read Alouds.  I'm way behind.  Not sure why this is hard as this is one of my favorites to do with the kids.  Maybe the challenge is to have all three of us available at the same time without interruptions.
What I need to improve on:
  • More fun!  I'm pretty boring as a mom and need to come up with more fun things to break up the routine.  Part of me freaks out just thinking about it because one of my kids can't handle the break in routine.
  • Not always have the goal in mind.  In the long run, I need to make sure that I don't get too focused on the schedule.  It would be easy to just chase that schedule, sick kids or not.  So that tendency needs to be kept in line.
  • Maybe a schedule for the littles as well?  I've been thinking about ways to easily give the two littlest ones a schedule as well rather than just letting them wander aimlessly.  However, it needs to be somewhat easy to facilitate. 

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