Our week so far…

This was meant to be a end of the week review last week but I was busy getting ready to go away for the weekend for our 12th wedding anniversary. So it’s a mid-week review instead!

We are doing Week 15 of Core B this week. We are finishing up the Ancient Egypt section in Usborne Time Traveller this week. It’s been one of our favourite history books so far. We’ll come back to it later – it is scheduled out of order, something that really bugged us at first. We almost didn’t read it as scheduled, but I’m glad we are. Something that I am learning about Sonlight is that they have good reasons for scheduling things the way they do. Time Traveller is covering the same topics that we are reading about in Child’s History of the World and Usborne Book of World History, but it gives a different perspective. The cries of recognition as we read about something that we came across in another book are fun for me to hear. It’s nice to see them making connections.

We are trying a new thing at the moment. I’m calling it “history journalling”. I have given the girls each a sketchbook and in our Morning Basket time we are spending a few minutes creating a page about what we have read and discussed. I’m leaving it pretty free for them – they can choose to write, or draw a picture, or do a diagram or map. I’m using the discussion questions in the IG as a prompt if they want it. I am expecting Bookworm to do a fairly detailed drawing or to write about it, Snugglepot to caption her drawing, and at this stage Buttercup can choose whether or not to join in. The other day she stuck in a map of Egypt that I photocopied out of World History. It’s a way of them making connections with what we read.

This is Bookworm’s page from yesterday

I also started using Khan Academy with Bookworm. We have been using Miquon maths but she was having a bit of trouble understanding multiplying fractions with whole numbers, so I pulled up a few videos to show her. I have had the Khan academy app on my phone for ages and not used it. I think I will be making it a regular thing!

This is Snugglepot’s journal page. We took a detour while reading about Ahkenaten to discuss Nefertiti and she decided to draw their wedding. It’s a modern version!

Today we have been having a bit of an alternative day. One of my good friends is moving away (sniff…) and so she came over for coffee this morning. We started our day late because I was up with Rosebud overnight and needed a sleep in. So we have only done half our Core work and no bookwork. But… Buttercup spent the morning doing a jigsaw puzzle that my friend gave us. All three biggies spent a good few hours playing with a wooden train set from said friend, including figuring out how to put it together and make the ends connect. Right now they are all making cards (cardmaking is a shared craft love). I think that free play and developing creativity is so important, so while part of me mildly panics about not doing maths yet today (we might still get to it), another part of me knows that they are still learning, and it is still time well spent.

Does anyone else struggle with having the courage to take an alternative path in learning?


A day in the life of our homeschool

Here is a little look into what our day often looks like.

We don’t run according to a schedule here. My head doesn’t cope well with following strict times. Something always happens to disrupt the schedule. I get woken up overnight by a baby and need to sleep in. My husband and I have an important conversation in the morning and we are late starting breakfast. My sister calls from the other side of the world just as we are about to start a read aloud when I haven’t spoken to her for over a week. Life happens.

We prefer rhythms. When there is a natural order to things, it becomes easy. Snugglepot, particularly, thrives on predictable rhythms. We use the phrase “usually, but not always”. We usually, but not always, do bedtime maths. We usually, but not always, do morning jobs straight after breakfast. We usually, but not always, sit on the couch under the window to read. It’s liberating to live this way.

And so, without further ado, here is the rhythm that usually, but not always, orders our days:

6am: My alarm goes off. I roll out of bed, put the kettle on, and make tea. Then I sit and read my bible for a while, and wake up. If I have time I chat to family on the other side of the world, or watch a short educational youtube clip, or have another cup of tea. Usually, Rosebud wakes up at about 6:30 and my husband brings her downstairs to me, then we sit and chat over tea and coffee.

7am: I have an alarm set to remind me to get the other kids up, which I do by turning on music.This is their signal that they are allowed to come downstairs, though they sometimes choose to sleep in or read.

7:30 (ish): I have a shower and get ready for the day, then get breakfast ready. One of the things I like about our days at the moment is that we sit down and eat breakfast together, with time to chat. I like to have a toast rack and a teapot. They are some of the grace notes of life. Grace notes are little notes added to music that are unnecessary to the tune but add depth and beauty. A pot of tea adds beauty to my life. Especially if it has a pretty teacup with it.

After breakfast we clean up and divide our morning jobs. We feed the dog, vacuum the lounge, put on washing, and empty the dishwasher. All my big kids (aged 9, 7, and almost 5) can do these jobs – Buttercup with a bit of help. Then I usually put on an educational program of 10-15 minutes while I put Rosebud down for a nap if she’s not already gone down. I take a moment to get my head into gear. And make a cup of tea.

9am (ish): We sit on the couch together to start our Morning Basket time. This is one of the main parts of our day, and we all look forward to it. We begin with a school day prayer, which I shamelessly ripped from somewhere and now can’t remember where. Then we say the Lord’s Prayer or Apostles’ Creed. We then move into our Bible time. Sonlight, the curriculum we use, uses a book called Leading Little Ones to God. We start with this on the days it’s scheduled. I mostly like it – I have some theological issues with it but I’m using it as a chance to teach the kids to be discerning. After that we do a Bible reading, and then, on the days it’s set, a collection of stories about missionaries. Once a week we also watch a video put out by the Bible Project.

After Bible we do our history reading. We are loving the Core B history – we have great discussions, sometimes brief and sometimes not at all brief. Here at the Disorganised Homeschool we know how to talk! History has always been one of my favourite subjects and I still can’t believe that I get to sit here every day and read interesting books with my kids, and it’s my job.

After this we need to move a bit, so we get up and do what I creatively call “Get up and move time”. I have a list of activities, numbered 1-31, and we do whatever is on the list for today’s date. I find that obeying a list takes out a lot of complaining about doing things.

Then we sit right back down – nearly there – and use the bedtime maths app. It’s a great little app and we all enjoy reading the stories on it and solving the problems.

We finish with the Grace and then it’s onto bookwork. Depending on when we start, and how long we chat for, it’s usually sometime between 10am and 10:30am.

10/10:30 am (ish): I announce bookwork. The kids announce they’re hungry. I tell them that it’s not time to eat. They complain a bit, then start their bookwork. It’s part of our rhythm. They have a schedule for the week in a spiral notebook, and they have some work that I help with, some they do independently. Mostly it’s done on the loungeroom floor.

11am (ish): We break for snack and read aloud. This is an institution. I’m not allowed to read if there is no snack. We don’t snack without a book appearing. This is where we do our Sonlight literature read aloud. We don’t follow the Sonlight schedule for these – we just pick up the book we’re up to, read a chapter or two (or three), and when we’re done, go onto the next one. Sometimes we read other books in between. Again, I can’t believe that part of my job is to sit here and read great books to my kids. It’s fantastic!

After snack and read aloud we go back to bookwork. Rosebud is usually well and truly up by now, wreaking havoc amongst the school books on the floor, whilst I try and convince everyone that the dining table is actually a wonderful place to do writing. Buttercup is not officially required to be at school yet, so her work is optional. She is a bright little thing, though, and chooses most days to do some reading and maths. Otherwise she potters – helping me with housework, looking at books, colouring, distracting her sisters.

12:30 (ish): Bookwork is usually finished and we are all well and truly ready for lunch. The kids hit the backyard to blow off steam on the trampoline. I have a quiet moment if I can to gather myself, and then make lunch.

1pm (ish): We usually, and almost always, have rest time after lunch. This started life as afternoon naps, and I have clung to it tooth and nail. It is absolutely essential to my sanity and it is so much a part of our day that my kids now ask for it. I never have to  ask them twice. Ever. We are all introverts in this house, and need our down time. They read on their beds, or do a quiet jigsaw puzzle or some colouring. If I’m super lucky, Rosebud naps during this time and I get a blissful few moments to myself. I usually waste it on Facebook, but I’m trying to be disciplined and read instead, or do craft.

2pm (ish): The kids come downstairs. What should happen is that they watch another 10-15 minute educational program while I prepare an afternoon activity. What actually happens is that they trickle down declaring their hunger while I struggle to find energy somewhere to move. Sleep deprivation is a killer. We’re still working on our afternoon rhythm. A cup of tea helps.

Over the afternoon we play, do craft, bake, maybe read aloud again, play with the baby, go out to groups and activities or to meet friends. Somehow it disappears, and before I know it, it’s evening.

5:30pm (ish): I start getting dinner ready, often with someone hanging round to help. On a good day the kids play well, and then come and cheerfully tidy up. On a long day I put on something for the kids to watch, make a cup of tea, and hope my husband won’t notice the mess when he gets home.

6pm/6:30 pm (ish): Dinner. We eat at the table, and at the moment Rosebud keeps us all entertained by painting her face with food. The dog is her best friend at dinner time.

7pm: Rosebud and Buttercup go to bed, and Bookworm and Snugglepot read in the playroom until 8, then follow the others to bed. My husband and I tidy up the kitchen and collapse on the couch. Another day is done.

Some days go smoothly like this. Some days have a lot of yelling. Some days we get loads of work done, others we don’t because we desperately need to go shopping to buy more tea, or because the day is too lovely to stay inside, and we go to meet friends instead. Through it all, lots of learning happens. I like our days.