Tag Archives: Getty-Dubay

Day in the Life 2013

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.


Our Day in the Life 2012

Date: February 2, 2012.

Players: Henry, age 6; Samuel, age 5; Kate, age 3; Becca, age 3

No disclaimers. It is what it is.

I woke up at 6:42 a.m. feeling more rested than usual. Joe forgot to set our 5:00 a.m. alarm, but neither of us were complaining. Our early mornings tend to take a toll later in the week, especially if we haven’t been very diligent about getting to bed at a decent hour. Yes, it’s been one of those weeks.

I had time to pray and read my scriptures before the kids started filtering into our bedroom. We piled on the bed for our family scripture study before the kids ran into the kitchen for breakfast. It’s oatmeal for the kids, and since I was up late last night, I decided to try Aimee’s Apple Pie Steel-Cut Oats in the slow cooker. My 4-cup Pyrex wouldn’t fit in our slow cooker, so I had to cut the recipe in half. I know the kids would like this recipe, so for the moment, I was very happy that there wasn’t enough to share! It was delicious and Joe and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We got Daddy off to work and then aliens descended and abducted my children while I was getting dressed (no shower today! Ah, sweet slumber…).

A little back story might be helpful here.

My four kids are three years apart. I’ve been in survival mode for the last three years. I feel like I’ve gotten my footing as a mom, but there are lots of things that I have to let go. Cleaning frequently is one of those things. I’ve made feeble attempts to teach my children how to clean the toilet and unload the dishwasher, etc., but what happens is that all four of my kids are eager to help at the same time. It’s just plain HARD to put shoes away, pick up books, wipe down a bathroom counter, and make a bed simultaneously, with helpers. So most of the time, I end up doing it myself because it’s faster.

A few months ago, in a moment of brilliant brainstorming, I came up with the idea to write various small chores on a little foam stars glued onto tongue depressors. There are eight for the morning and eight for the evening. Each child draws two stars at random and they have the option to put one of them back if they’re not feeling it for both chores. As we inaugurated this program, we drew one star at a time and I showed all four of them how to complete that task, and then we moved on to the next one. It worked well for a while, and then the holidays rolled around, and well, we haven’t gotten back into the groove yet.

Enter the aliens. My kids, of their own accord and smiles on their faces, divvied up the morning stars and with little assistance from me, completed their tasks. Cue heavenly chorus. Two of the four even made their own beds without any prompting!

Home Economics = A+

I was so inspired by their industry that I started sweeping the kitchen floor. Samuel, in his exuberance to take the recycled items to the outside bin, chose the low road after a rain and tracked mud all through the kitchen when he reentered the house. I needed to mop anyway, so I just thanked him for seeing that he was making muddy footprints and for taking his shoes off before he got to the carpet.

While I mopped (and perhaps hummed a little as I did so), I listened to the joyous sounds of the kids entertaining educating themselves. For Sam and Henry, it was Engineering and Architecture (a.k.a. Legos). For Becca and Kate, it was Interpretive Dance and Drama (a.k.a. playing Dance Class and re-enacting their favorite scenes from The Parent Trap. Hailey Mills version, of course.). My, this morning is shaping up to be just heavenly.

I took advantage of the relative quiet to prep the day’s school work, and had time to work one-on-one with each of the girls before lunch. For Becca, it was the numbers 7-10 via a dinky dollar store workbook. For Kate, it was the same numbers from an identical dinky dollar store workbook, plus six pages of her Explode the Code primer. She’s in Book Two (Get Set for the Code). Becca hasn’t shown any interest in her primers, so I’ve been playing math games and doing occasional workbook pages with her. She’s cool with that.

During lunch, I directed the boys’ attention to our school wall so they could see what was on the docket for the day:

Yes, I know the chart says “What are we doing this morning?” But I am not crazy. My kids did their chores PLUS now I had a sparkling clean kitchen floor. There was no way I was about to give all of that up for grammar.

Besides, it’s the idea. The boys know that they can’t take the word strip off the chart until they’ve completed it. Time is irrelevant.

Samuel and Henry each got a private math lesson (we use RightStart A and B, respectively) before I called them both back to the table for grammar and handwriting together. We’re using First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind for grammar. Today’s lesson was on aunts, uncles, and cousins (common nouns) and the special names for their aunts, uncles, and cousins (proper nouns). Samuel is using the Getty and Dubay Italic Book B for handwriting and is about halfway through; Henry finished Book B last month and now copies a sentence or two from the Narnia books for his handwriting.

We finished with enough time for me to do the girls’ hair and get them dressed in leotards and tights for their afternoon dance class before we were out the door. The boys decided ahead of time that they wanted to find a quiet corner at the rec center and read aloud to me so they could log some time on their Read to Succeed charts; they both have about two hours left before they qualify for those Six Flags tickets!

Daddy beat us home by a few minutes, so he heard all about the kids’ day while I heated up leftovers for dinner.

After dinner, it was jammie time (no baths because we just re-caulked the tub and it needed to cure) and as a reward for obeying quickly, the kids chose to watch an episode of Star Wars: the Clone Wars (or something like that!). I checked email while Joe caught up with his Wired magazine subscription. When Star Wars was over, we all piled on the couch and read stories together before brushing teeth, going potty, and getting tucked into bed for the night.

When all was quiet in the house, Joe and I worked our way through the five loads of laundry I’d managed to run through the washer and dryer during the day. We caught up and got some needed face time in while we folded, and Joe had me listen to his latest podcast so I could critique it before he sent it to iTunes. Then we got ready for bed ourselves and made sure the alarm was set for 5:00 a.m.

I’m pretty sure I fell asleep smiling. 12 hours later, and I still couldn’t get over the fact that my kids had cleaned the house and that I had a clean kitchen floor.


Year One in Review (July 2010-July 2011)

Trite as it sounds, I can hardly believe it was a year ago that I sat down at the kitchen table and began teaching Henry how to read, which was the advent of our home schooling. All things considered, we’ve had a wonderful ride on the home schooling roller coaster this year. All of us have learned much!

Perspective is a wonderful thing, really. When I take into consideration the fact that none of my kids knew the sounds the letters in the alphabet make a mere 365 days ago, it is a marvelous feeling of accomplishment to know that today, all four of them can tell me the sound any letter makes. Not only that, but Henry—and Samuel—and even Kate and Becca (if you count the capital letter magnets) can read. A lot can happen in a year.

What began as Henry’s Kindergarten year in July found us adding the start of Samuel’s Kindergarten year in January, and Kate and Becca’s preschool in April. We’ve gone from putting the girls down for afternoon naps and having two hours to quietly work on school to having Mom tutor each child in turn for most of the morning. We’ve gone from two kids with library cards to four kids with library cards…at two different libraries.

So yes, looking back, the feeling of achievement is terrific. Did we accomplish anything in a year? Here’s the list, in brief:

Henry:

  • Completed “Hooked on Phonics,” Kindergarten level
  • Is nearly done with RightStart Math Level A (will finish before we start our next school year in October)
  • Completed Getty-Dubay Italics Handwriting Book A; is making good headway in Book B
  • Completed “Explode the Code” Book 1 and 2; is halfway through Book 3
  • On Lesson 62 (of 231) in “Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading”
  • Completed numerous science and art projects
  • Completed “Hooked on Spanish”
  • Nearly finished our social studies book (“Children Just Like Me”)
  • Memorized three poems and several Articles of Faith
  • Logged HOURS of reading time, including 8 classic read-alouds
  • Began piano lessons

Samuel:

  • Learned his alphabet and the sounds the letters make
  • Read through the first set of BOB books
  • On Lesson 51 (of 231) in “Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading”
  • Completed “Explode the Code” Book 1; is halfway through Book 2
  • Halfway through Getty-Dubay Italics Handwriting Book A
  • Completed “Hooked on Spanish”
  • Completed numerous science and art projects
  • Nearly finished our social studies book (“Children Just Like Me”)
  • Memorized three poems and several Articles of Faith
  • Logged HOURS of reading time, including 8 classic read-alouds
  • Is begging to start math and piano lessons

Kate and Becca:

  • Learned their alphabet and the sounds the letters make
  • Completed a workbook on shapes
  • Completed a few art projects
  • Memorized two poems
  • Logged HOURS of reading time

I’ve learned a few things along the way, as well, no surprise. Mostly, I’ve been pleased to discover that the reasons we gravitated toward the home education option are better in reality than in theory. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the flexibility home schooling gives us. Flexibility to start and stop as needed. Flexibility to try new curriculae or approaches or even put something away until the time is right for that student. We love being able to do school in the morning or the afternoon as the day requires. We love traveling in the off-season, and schooling during the blasted hot summer. I’ve loved discovering how much I enjoy teaching things to my kids and am excited to keep learning things right along with them. I’ve been surprised at how frequently questions or problems I’ve encountered have taken me to my knees. And I’ve been really grateful for the answers I’m led to. I’m grateful for growth.

All in all, I’ll call our first year a grand success. It’s been a good one. Sign us up for another year!