A Day in Our (Home)School.

One of the most common questions I get is “what does your day look like?”

And after that, “What curriculum do you use?”

This post should answer those questions.  At least for this month – I have a feeling that our typical day will continuously change.

So, as of right now, this is how it all goes down.

(All times are estimates, especially my time of awakening.)

7:30: I wake up, have my bible study time, and take a shower.  Ali also wakes up, takes care of her personal grooming, and plays in her room until I’m ready.  Noah is a blessedly odd bird who never tells me when he wakes up, and plays quietly in his crib until I get around to fetching him.

(As a note, none of us see Chris in the morning.  He leaves quietly around 7:15, before any of us rouse.)

(Don’t hate me already if you have sadistically early risers.  I’m sorry.  I truly am.)

8:30: Breakfast.  Nothing special – cereal for Ali and I, and Nutri-grain bars and dry cereal for Noah.  If kids can be stunted or permanently traumatized for never being fed hot breakfasts, mine will be the first in line.

9:00: We start school.

We always start with math – I figure Ali’s brain is fresh and fueled with highly nutritious Apple Jacks or Lucky Charms, so I better put it to good use.  I talked some about our math last week, but to clarify, I am currently doing about 60% Mommy-Provided and 40% Curriculum-Provided Education.

Mommy-Provided currently includes addition and subtraction problems, multiplication tables, and division.

Any time we can make this more fun, we do.  For instance, last week, Ali had a Math Fairy helping her:

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She’s great for doing the heavy lifting that tends to wear out a five year old.

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For curriculum, we’re using Miquon Math (the Red Book), along with Cuisenaire Rods.  This is a great visual math curriculum, using pictures, rods, coloring, dot-to-dots, and standard math problems to learn.  I also like it because you’re encouraged to skip around (because it’s visual and easy to understand and the lessons don’t build on each other), and it teaches many different aspects of math in each book, rather than harping exhaustingly on one skill.

It’s drawback: very little teacher help in explaining concepts.

Ali’s favorite pages have been the fraction pages, because it encourages you to draw and color to produce the answers.

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(And yes, that was the photo with the little brother interruption.)

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(For more information on what Noah does during school, you can check out his guest post here.)

Math usually takes between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how quick Ali’s brain is working from her artisanal breakfast.  And because that’s her favorite subject, we spend longer on it than anything else.

9:45:  Bible and Handwriting.

For bible, we’ve been using a book called My ABC Bible Verses.  It has a memory verse, then a little story to explain the verse.  I read the verse and story on Monday, and then Monday through Friday, we use the verse as part of our handwriting practice.

We talk about the verse a little more each day, and she typically has it memorized within a couple of days.

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However, I had issues with handwriting early on, as it was the first item of schoolwork that made her cry.

(Which, by the way, when you’re homeschooling and school makes your kid cry, your Mommy Guilt goes THROUGH THE ROOF.)

I had impressed upon her that the reason for handwriting was to learn how to write letters really well, and during an especially stressful school day when I was dealing with Noah and a dozen other things (and had probably already been short with her), she wrote what she felt was a “bad C”, and burst into tears before I even saw it.

I pondered this, and realized I needed to take a different approach: positive, rather than negative reinforcement.

(Duh.)

So starting last week, I told her that I was going to make a dot on all of her perfect letters each day, and TWO dots on the letters that were better than mine, and when she got 100 points, she would get a special surprise out of my reward drawer (which houses random crap trinkets that she adores.)

Sure enough, this motivation worked wonders in her handwriting excitement, and she had gotten over 100 points by the end of the week.

During handwriting, which takes about 20 minutes because she’s so bent on getting her points, I take the opportunity to spend time with Noah.  We read books and play, and this helps him stretch to make it through our (oh-so-long) two hour school day.

10:00: We take an Art break. We either do drawing, a craft, or some other such project.  I have a few books from Usborne that I LOVE for this time, including 365 Things to Draw and Paint and Lots of Things to Find and Color, the latter of which has the added benefit of working on reading instructions and comprehension.

10:20:  We move from the dining room table to the couch.

(Please note: We DO NOT have a fancy schoolroom that you can pin on Pinterest.  It’d be nice, but really, with a toddler running around, it’s easier to be in the middle of the house to minimize melee.)

To the couch.  We take a book for Ali to read to me, a Sciencey book for me to read to her, our history book, and a read-aloud book.

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For her reading, we’re borrowing early reader books from the library.  Her favorite series include Fancy Nancy, Pinkalicious, Fly Guy, Dr. Seuss, and my personal favorites, Jane O’Connor’s Non-Fancy-Nancy books like Snail City and Splat.

The first week of school, it took the whole week for her to read me one or two of these books, and she hated it.

Although her reading improved every week, she still despised it for several weeks.  But somewhere during the fifth week of school, she proclaimed, “I like reading now!!” – it was a beautiful moment indeed.

She is now up to reading one book a day in about 20 minutes (except for Seuss – his books are painfully long, so we spread them over multiple days.)

For history, we’re using A Living History of Our World: America’s Story, which is a conversationally written chronological book.  It’s meant to be supplemented with ancillary reading from biographies and such, but since Ali is so young, we’re just reading through it.

I like it because it’s written from a Christian perspective, but presents all sides of the story and offers discussions about many different views of an event depending on the perspective of the person witnessing it.

I bought the journal to go with it, but quickly realized that it was overkill and way too much work for Kindergarten.

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So we ditched it.

For read-aloud time, I’m working through my list of 215 Read-Aloud books (we’re currently in the abridged version of Pollyanna), as well as supplementing with fun learning books, like Usborne’s Princess Treasury, which thrills Ali as it teaches about how historical and modern-day princesses live.

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For science, I’ll pick up a stack of learning books from the library on whatever subject Ali is interested in that week (Sunflowers, trees, bugs, the body – her favorite book by far has been Reader’s Digest’s Looking Into My Body), or we do an around-the-house science experiment from Science Play.

(When it comes to Science, my philosophy so far has been to learn a little about a bunch of completely random stuff.)

11:00: We’re done for the day.

Things that I need to add to our day:

1. Spelling.  I bought Spell to Write And Read because I liked their philosophy on using phonics-based spelling as a basis for writing and reading, but I can’t understand how to teach it for the life of me.  I even bought an explanation DVD – which I haven’t found time to watch.

2.  Hands-On and Creativity.  I’ve been pretty lazy thus far, and would like to do more science experiments, nature walks, projects, and FUN stuff.

3.  Organization and Neatness.  My office, and house in general, have suffered with the addition of two hours of homeschooling a day.  (And Noah being bored for two hours a day.)

Are you homeschooling?  Want to share about your day?  I would LOVE to see how other family’s days work! Link up here:

Feel free to ask any questions about our day, or about homeschooling in general, below!

The follow-up, our day in First Grade, is available here.