Date: January 30, 2013
Players: Henry (7), Samuel (6), Kate (4), Becca (4)
The conundrum: It’s been a rough month getting back into the groove after the fun of the holidays. Kind of like trudging through the mud. I’ve been realizing lately that my children excel in the Art of Leisure (a.k.a. dilly-dallying) and that when we do school well, it’s to the exclusion of everything else. But we have to eat. We’re nicer to be around when we wear clean clothes. I’m more positive and patient when clutter is picked up. So what’s a mom to do?
The solution: Ha! Of course it’s not as simple as that. I think we’re probably only on version 1.6 on our way to success. But we’ll get there.
No, seriously, I spent last weekend brooding over this conundrum and woke in the middle of the night with a brilliant plan in my head. We had a Homeschooling Huddle on Sunday to talk about the new plan and get the kiddos on board. It was simply this: each child is assigned an hour slot in the morning to work with Mom one-on-one. When their tutoring session is over, they finish their assigned work independently before they’re free for the day. Simple enough.
So this is how the plan went down on Wednesday, January 30th.
I (surprisingly) popped out of bed at 5:20 a.m. ready and rarin’ to go. I read a chapter in the New Testament before double layering my usual walking attire and heading out into the 45-degree-plus-a-stiff-headwind morning to meet my walking buddy.
I returned at 6:30 with a cold, red nose, and after stretching, bundled up in a cozy blanket and downed a couple of chapters in Don Quixote. The house still quiet, I took advantage of the extra minutes to enjoy a quick, but nice warm shower. By the time I got out and dressed, the sleepy kiddos were starting to stagger into our room bleary-eyed, looking for a cuddle to help them wake up.
By 8: 15 a.m., the day’s normal volume had been attained and pop-up pancakes were baking in the oven. I fixed a bowl of greek yogurt and granola for the son with the egg allergy. Dad headed off to work for the day.
Now, the new schedule mandates that I begin school with Child #1 at 9:00. This has been a lot harder than I thought it would be but today, I knew the schedule needed to bend a little. Why? Double-ad Wednesdays at Sprouts. The kids and I have this worked out to a science. We try to be out the door by 9:30 at the latest so we can skip morning commute traffic but also avoid the lunchtime crowd at the grocery store. The kids are all actually very good at selecting the produce for the week and we can usually get all of the groceries we need (mainly produce, dairy, and bulk items) and be back in the car heading home in around 30 minutes.
We returned home by 10:15 a.m. and by 10:30, the cold-sensitive groceries now residing in the refrigerator, Samuel and I were in the middle of a math lesson on adding double digits to double digits (RightStart B). He kind of had a case of the dilly-dallies so I decided to cut the lesson a little short and push the math game for the day to Thursday. He read a chapter of The Littles to me while we cuddled on the bed together. I helped him work through a page in Explode the Code Book 5. Then we called Henry to join us for grammar (First Language Lessons Book 2) and writing (Writing with Ease Book 1). Then Sam was off for some independent reading while I did math with Henry (determining perimeter, also RightStart B).
By now it was 11:40 a.m. I felt panic starting to well up, but reminded myself that we were making forward progress, so I forged ahead. Henry and I cuddled up with his National Geographic’s Rocks and Minerals book and worked through reading a page together. This book is a reading level or two above his reading ability but the topic is one he’s passionate about now, so it’s worth it to me to take a team approach to reading it. He then happily did his Explode the Code Book 5 page by himself and went to the front room to do his independent reading while I started math with the girls. (Dizzy, yet?)
I forget what our math lesson was on (RightStart A) but feel fairly confident it involved both abacuses and giving out a chocolate chip for each correct answer. Becca and Kate worked in tandem on their handwriting pages (Getty and Dubay Italic Handwriting Book A) and then took turns on the couch with me, working on their reading, which right now equates to a page in The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, followed by practicing their mad skills on a BOB book.
1:12 p.m. Phew. Made it to lunch time! The kids were happy for some play time while I prepared lunch. We ate, and then they headed outside to play in the backyard while I hurriedly cleaned up the kitchen. I now had exactly one hour to get a batch of bread in the oven and the kitchen ready so a friend could come over and use my wheat grinder to grind her wheat.
3:00, friend comes over, grinds wheat. 3:10, two neighbor boys come over to play for the afternoon until their mom gets home. 3:30, new piano student shows up for a lesson. 4:00, piano lesson #2. 4:30, piano lesson #3. Thankfully (oh, so thankfully!) the weather had warmed up from the morning and all six kids (my four plus the neighbor’s two) were happy as clams playing outside.
5:00: Sent neighbor boys home. Started dinner.
6:00: Dinner while everyone caught Dad up on the news of the day.
7:00: Showers for four dirty children (how do they get so dirty playing outside???), all got ready for bed, stories, etc.
8:00: Lights out for the kiddos.
8:30: Drove to the church to meet a student for an organ lesson.
9:15: Back home and got ready for bed.
9:50: Lights out and ready for a good night’s rest!
Considering all of the external intrusions on the day’s schedule (grocery shopping, bread making, piano lessons), I felt pretty good about the work we completed. Looking back on our week overall on our new schedule, I think it has its merits. At least it was a great jumpstart to get us back in the groove. I just need to figure out how to get history and science back into the schedule and we’ll be 100% back on track.
I was actually talking to a friend about the “homeschooling to the exclusion of everything else” problem today. Does anyone else have this problem, too? I love being up to my eyeballs in schoolwork and discovery and learning with my kids, but sometimes think it would be nice to find a few hours to batch cook some freezer meals. Providing, of course, I am able to find an hour to actually plan said meals!
Hope you enjoyed the snapshot of our life right now.