Update 8/26/13 ~ The below system reflects the last few months of our schooling. However, Goldilocks (who has numerous mental health issues) began cheating on the computer and stealing sugar prodcuts from the kitchen. So, now she homeschools in her room with workbooks and books on tape for three hours each day while the other two homeschool with me. I go into check on Goldilocks and answer any questions she has every half and hour or so. She is doing better work and really prefers the silence of her room. It is a good fit for all of us.
I have changed the way we homeschool so many times in the last 14 years. We have homeschooled with only one, up to four and back to three kids. We have used a literature approach, workbook approach (for only a few weeks at a time during a crisis), unit study approach and unschooling approach (for one year ~ way back when). Now, we have made another change and it feels so good. I have turned Goldilocks's education over to the computer. She is doing most of her academic work with Time 4 Learning. It is a big change and one that I thought would benefit her, but never imagined it would benefit the other kids so much. Goldilocks now spends between 2 and 3 hours on the computer with Time 4 Learning each day. Here is a day in the life in our new normal:
6:45 am ~ I am up and stumble off to the kitchen to start my husband's coffee pot and tea for the rest of us. We are having buckwheat hot cereal this morning. No one likes it much, but we have to finish the box. I opt to just have a Greek yogurt fruit shake and some watermelon. Tom Sawyer's birthday party is just a few days away and now they are predicting rain! I have to think of more indoor activities. I start searching Pinterest for Lego games.
8:00 am ~ Where did the time go? The kids are all up and eating the unpopular cereal and tasty watermelon. Tom Sawyer and Tim are having "playtime" together (laughing hysterically over You Tube videos of chemistry experiments gone wrong). After breakfast everyone does their personal hygiene chores and gathers what they need to be ready for school.
8:20 am ~ It is school together time. We pray for our day and people we know who are struggling. We also do jumping jacks and leg compressions for sensory wake up. Then the kids watch CNN Student News (current events) and listen to three chapters of Little Town on the Prairie (literature). I move all of the kids to the family room to watch this week's movie, Spellbound (character training). My kids often seem to lack motivation to reach higher, strive harder and just plain excel. I like for them to see others reaching for high bars and hopefully they will reach more often themselves. Spellbound has been a great movie for this ongoing discussion in our family. It follows eight kids trying to win the National Spelling Bee. We watch the movie chosen for the week for about 30 minutes each day until we finish the movie. While the kids are learning through media forms, I am mopping the floors in the same room as them (works great for keeping everyone in their seats, ha ha) and folding laundry.
9:30 am ~ At this point we separate. Goldilocks goes to the computer for the next two hours and the rest of us move to the library. Goldilocks will do math and language arts on the computer. I do still need to work on this one part. I can't maintain line of sight while I am in the library. I have to keep checking on her to make sure she is doing what she is supposed to be doing. Tom Sawyer and Little Red Riding Hood start with silent reading time. In the last two weeks Little Red Riding Hood has taken off with Paddington Bear books. She loves them, even though they are a bit of a struggle for her!
10:00 am ~ I read to the kids Grandfather Tang's Story (math). I am returning to literature-based math to supplement Tom Sawyer's and Little Red Riding Hood's Teaching Textbooks math. The kids play with Tangrams while I read.
I love this way of learning! It just feels so natural. The big change in our day is that with Goldilocks engaged with the computer, our interruptions have been reduced by 75%. I knew she was adding chaos to our day ~ but I didn't realize how much.
We read two more picture books. The first is Molly, By Golly The Legend of Molly William, who was the first woman firefighter. We then read Fifty Cents and a Dream, a story about young Booker T. Washington (both books tie into the period of history we are studying).
11:30 am ~ It is time to get lunch going and I start potatoes boiling for mashed potatoes with salsa. Little Red Riding Hood is on the computer doing Teaching Textbooks (math), and Tom Sawyer is doing Explode the Code and Cursive Writing (language arts). They trade when Little Red Riding Hood is done with the computer. Goldilocks reads to me and works her way through Draw Write Now.
12:00 pm ~ Lunch time! We finish up school by taking care of our tadpole and recording any changes (science). There are none today.
12:45 pm ~ We take Tim to college and come home to clean up the yard so Daddy will be able to mow when he gets home.
1:30 pm ~ The kids have free time and choose to play on the Kindle and computer. I sneak a chapter of the book I am reading, The Help, and make a few phone calls.
2:30 pm ~ We have outdoor time and work a bit on our "secret garden". We also just enjoy the sunshine.
3:30 pm ~ Chore time... The kids reload the dishwasher and clean the bathrooms.
4:00 pm ~ We pick up Tim and return home to make dinner and enjoy time with Daddy.
Another day is done. What a blessing it is to homeschool ....