November 11, 2005

A Good Home School Day

Recently I've been singing the praises of a home schooling mom's resource titled Managers of Their Homes. I finally finished a draft of our family's schedule on Tuesday night, and Wednesday we officially implemented it. Of course, we had been roughly following a basic routine, but having everything written out brought things together more tightly and actually allowed us to do more than we would "normally" do. Plus, having activity changes about every half hour meant the children were not getting restless and bored, which usually leads to LOTS of sibling rivalry!

So I thought I'd outline how our day went, for those who are interested in what our daily schedule looks like. It will be interesting to save our schedule worksheets over time and see how our routines change as the children grow older, but for now, this seems to be a reasonable schedule for us, one that allows us to participate in a variety of activities on a regular basis, rather than whenever Mom feels like it!

First, a caveat: This schedule is a "typical" day for us. Unfortunately, we often do not have typical days! Every other Monday morning I attend MOPS at our church, and on the off Mondays our group likes to get together, which I will do if it involves meeting for lunch or close to the lunch hour so that it doesn't cut into our school time. Tuesday mornings I sometimes meet with another group of friends for a play group. Sometimes it is just letting kids play together at someone's home, and sometimes (like this coming Tuesday) it is more of a field trip, and I do like to participate in those--very educational! Next week we are going to Bonnie Springs, and that will surely warrant a post on here with pictures! Thursdays we like to go to the library for story time at 11 a.m. and to get new books, but I try to keep it to every other week simply because of the distance to the library here. Gas has come down to $2.45 a gallon, but still... And then there are trips to the commissary for groceries, a two-hour ordeal with drive time and shopping time. Still, it does seem that we are home more often than we are not, and that is a good thing.

So here is how our day went on Wednesday, and how typical days will likely go unless I discover that I need to change something about the schedule...

5:30 a.m. I wake up and shower. (This has to change...I'm supposed to get up at 5 a.m. to exercise!)

6:00 Quiet time while sipping hot green tea, made by my dear husband

6:45 Computer time--check email

7:00 Browse the newspaper, begin setting the table for breakfast

7:15 Boys wake up; change and dress Arden; guide Tobin in picking out clothes that match; set out puzzles for Arden to work on while I finish getting breakfast ready

7:30 Wake Charis up; remind her to make her bed and straighten her room before she comes down for breakfast

7:45 Eat breakfast together; read and discuss Bible stories (they are so eager and have so many questions!); review memory verses; clean up. I start a load of wash--today it's just towels and kitchen linens.

8:30 Charis begins her handwriting practice page plus a page from Developing the Early Learner; I take the boys upstairs and get them settled into "playpen time and room time." Tobin picks two drawers of toys to play with and we carry them from the play area to his room. I remember to have him use the bathroom before he starts play time. Arden has (as usual) a stack of books and asks for more puzzles. I set everything plus some blocks in his playpen and put him in. He settles down and happily begins working his puzzles. Playpen time and room time actually starts around 8:45, and I start a Veggie Tale CD for the boys to listen to and head downstairs to check Charis' work.

8:50 Math time! Today we do two review pages. The lesson is on tally marks, so the first review page is simply converting tally marks to numbers, then drawing tally marks for the numbers given. The second page is a systematic review and includes skip counting by 5, using the manipulatives to solve for the unknown (___ + 3 = 5 and my daughter is doing algebra!!), and adding tens and hundreds.

9:10 Reading time! Today Charis chooses some A Beka readers that used to be mine when I was her age and reads them to me.

9:25 I give a shout out to the boys (I love the cathedral ceiling in the living room) to start cleaning up.

9:30 Charis and I finish reading, and she goes to help Arden put away his playpen toys. I check Tobin's work--today he did a great job of cleaning up, probably because I had told him we were doing a surprise for his school time.

9:35 Charis and Arden play together in the boys' room while Tobin and I do pre-school downstairs. Today he does a new letter in his pre-handwriting book, capital A. He practices the slanted lines in big, broad strokes on one page, then practices making the A's on the other page. He keeps tracing the middle line from right to left instead of left to right, but though I gently try to get him to switch, I decide it is really not worth worrying about. Then we do two math pages. He loves his math book, which is actually a kindergarten/1st grade workbook. I wasn't sure if he'd be ready, but he can certainly count, and it has been very basic. Today's pages include practicing writing numbers 1-12, which he does surprisingly well. I don't think Charis was writing numbers at this age, though I do remember we had started teaching her to write letters. The other page introduces pennies, and we count pennies and write how many cents. Then we put away the books and come to the computer (the aforementioned surprise), and Tobin sits on my lap while we go to and click on letters to see silly little animation while hearing the letter sounds. Tobin LOVES this activity, and we do letters A-G before it is time to finish.

10:05 We get Charis and Arden out of the boys' room by removing the gate--they seem to have mostly been doing puzzles while Tobin and I were working downstairs. We go down and pile on the couch, where I read our stories from Sonlight (the curriculum we purchased this year for Charis). Today we read "Selfish Sand Frog" from The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book and "The Twins" from the Treasury of Little Golden Books. We talk about how Grandma Keist and Auntie Iola are twins, and cousins Maelin and Joyella are twins, just like the twin girls in the story.

10:30 We are finished with our "official" school activities, and now it is outside play time. I open the garage door that goes to our back yard and allow the children to play inside the garage or go out to the backyard. They like to ride their bikes and trikes in the garage. Now it's my time to make phone calls, and I have the chance to chat with my dear friend Monica, whom I miss after moving. We chat beyond my allotted phone time, but that's OK, because next on our schedule is lunch prep, and I can do that while talking! The children play amazingly well together while I'm on the phone. I guess we can call this "recess!"

11:30 We sit down for lunch, and I remind the children of what we will be doing the rest of the day. We discussed the new schedule at breakfast, and I want them to understand that there are specific things we will do at specific times. Up until lunch time, our activities have been more or less what we normally do anyway, but there are a few differences in the way this afternoon will go than the free-for-all that afternoon time has become of late.

12:00 After cleaning up lunch, Charis and I prepare to do some chores. Tobin's job is to play outside with Arden. Charis helps me take the laundry out of the dryer, and I show her how to carefully fold the napkins and dishtowels. She takes great pride in lining up the corners. This job is much more pleasant with my daughter to talk to me! When we finish, she begs, "May I please do more chores?" How can I refuse such a request?! So I tell her she can help me clean our bathroom, and we head upstairs after a quick peek on the boys to make sure they are all right. During our bathroom cleaning spree, Tobin comes in no less than 3 times asking if he can help! I tell him that today he is helping me by playing with Arden, and tomorrow will be his turn to do chores with Mommy after lunch!

12:30 Now it's time for Charis and Tobin to play together. They choose to play in the garage. This is good, because now I get to spend one-on-one time with Arden. All he wants to do is read, so we read a pile of books and then get ready for his nap.

1:00 Arden is in bed for nap time; I set the timer and tell Charis and Tobin they have 30 more minutes to play. They are playing so well together and enjoying riding around in the garage. I'm glad I thought to move the van out to the driveway so they would have lots of space! I take advantage of the play time to work on the computer a little, answering email, particularly for business-related issues. I have two stampers' clubs meeting next week, followed by a home workshop, and I am excited to get things rolling again.

1:30 The timer goes off, and I bring the big kids back inside, where they get drinks, go potty, and choose stories. We snuggle together and read some more, and then it is off to bed. Tobin naps in my room, and I am hoping that today he will go to sleep without a struggle. I am expecting a phone call from our financial advisor at 2:30 so we can review our portfolio, and I NEED Tobin to be asleep during this time!

2:00 Tobin is now in bed, so that gives him half an hour to fall asleep. I tuck Charis in, telling her I will set the timer for 30 minutes so she can rest her body and her brain. She is agreeable. I listen at Arden's door--sound asleep. Good boy!

2:30 I check on Tobin--asleep! Woohoo! I go to Charis' room and tell her she may play quietly in her room. I remind her that I will be on the phone, and when her quiet room time is over, we get to have Creative Activity time. Her eyes light up at this thought!

2:40 The phone rings, and for the next 45 minutes I discuss our financial situation with our advisor, who seems to think we are in very good shape, though we do decide to switch funds for various reasons. We have worked with Shane for over 5 years now, and we trust him completely.

3:30 Time for Creative Activities! I check in on Tobin...still sound asleep. So is Arden. Charis and I go to the kitchen table to work on making some beaded bracelets with a kit she got for her birthday. First we must repair one she made for her friend. Arden stretched it out yesterday. Then I get Charis started on making a necklace. I have to help her towards the end, since the rope is getting frayed and we can't keep snipping the end off. The elastic bracelet string is much easier to work with, and she makes a coordinating bracelet. She gives me permission to make a bracelet, too, so I enjoy pulling out letter beads and make one for myself with the kids' names on it. I am pleased with the results, and Charis oohs and aahs as well. Her necklace and bracelet look nice, too, and we delight in our shared time together.

4:00 I get the boys up...sure is hard to wake Tobin up! Arden is always ready to begin working on puzzles whenever he wakes, so I get him up first, change him, and then turn him loose on his choice of puzzles.

4:30 Finally Tobin is awake. It takes lots of prodding and pushing and holding, but eventually he is coherent. The kids play while I begin dinner preparations.

And that's pretty much it! This is a Wednesday, so after dinner we pack up and go to church for AWANA and the adult celebration service. We are going through the book of Acts on Wednesday nights--the series title is "Power to Change Me, Power to Change the World." I especially like this because the next Bible study I'm to write for the Commission youth camp is power-themed, as in superheroes. I'm getting ideas everywhere!

Charis earns another jewel for her Sparks crown, plus AWANA shares for bringing food for Good Samaritan night. Tobin and Arden apparently do well in their rooms, and then we all head home and hit the sack!

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