I know some of you are very interested in how our homeschool day works, so this may be a little more detailed than others of you really care about. Permission to skip this post and come back tomorrow is granted.
In trying to figure out the details, I had a couple of problems. I had a lot of little people and not-so-little people who needed my attention through out the morning. When you include the older grade school student who isn't quite ready to do everything on his own, the junior high student who needs not as many check-in times, but still needs them, a completely independent high schooler, and an ESL high schooler, it made for a lot of needs and not so many people to fill them. I eventually decided on a less-is-more approach. Here is how I hope it will work.
9:00 - 10:00 - This is the hour when I will do work with G. and L. (they are beginning the Rod and Staff preschool books this year). I expect that they will breeze through their work (I'm thinking 10 minutes for each girl) and then they will play. K. will come next. He cannot sit still for more than 15 minutes of book work and we will squeeze in some math (Rod and Staff 1st grade) and phonics (AlphaPhonics and Explode the Code). I will work with H. for the rest of the hour. I think we are going to focus on reading this fall. She has finished Explode the Code book 1 and she is starting to try to sound our words when she comes across them in everyday life. Numbers boggle her. She can count accurately and do other math-related things, but remembering the name of a numeral without a visual clue is very difficult. I'm going to focus on other memory-building exercises and let the math rest for a while. I'm afraid that if I push it, all I will do will be to compound the problem. I wish I could go back and erase all math-related learning that she had prior to coming with us. The stacks of books I have with numbers written by rote have done something truly funky to how her brain stores and retrieves number-related information. Anything that she has learned from scratch here has not been a problem.
10:00 - 10:30 - This is the preschool half hour, when I do hands-on activities and games with the five developmental preschoolers that can really use them. I have an old book called Kindergarten Learning Games (from the 1960's) that I am going to use for some of the days. They cover concepts such as listening, instruction following, story telling, emotions, colors, numbers, and letter, and with five children, we can actually play some of them as group games. Some other activities I'm creating or making up... some will be directed play about what we will be learning later in the morning, some with be songs and actions rhymes, and a game I'm creating for learning prepositions. The other weeks we will be doing activities based on children's picture books (in the Five in a Row style). I chose picture books that we don't already own (not always easy!) and every few weeks we will spend a week on one of them and do related activities. I thought I would do the whole year in that way, but then came to my senses about the amount of work it would be. Since this is detailed, here is the list of books we will be using:
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World
The Storm in the Night
The Glorious Flight
A Pair of Red Clogs
The Bee Tree
The Carrot Seed
10:30 - 11:00 - This is the half hour where I will work with TM. He was one of the challenging pieces of the puzzle. He is easily overwhelmed and it is difficult for him to work independently because of this. It's not that he cannot do the work -- he is freakily bright -- but there are many things which cause his brain to stop working and to enter panic mode. So, I decided to try out a modified work box system. I know many homeschool parents love this, but I've always thought it sounded like far too much work on my part. I think it might be the answer to TM's difficulties. I am using a hanging file box with just four empty hanging folders inside. I have made myself a list of the activities that I will put inside each file folder every morning (I think I can handle one child's work... just not 8+), with the last folder being the work he does with me. I am not asking him to do math, English, or reading alone, and we will be only doing one of these subjects a day. The other folders will have things such as mazes, drawing exercises, simple (as in very few problems) math worksheets, independent reading, and things such as this. Not heavily academic, not huge amounts of work, and some of it even enjoyable for him. My goal is not to make huge academic progress, but to retrain the connections in his brain about how he feels about schoolwork.
This is sort of along the lines of what we have done this past year with his raging. We had made it our goal to reduce the number or rages and give him alternative behaviors for when he became upset or frustrated. It often meant biting our tongues or ignoring things that we wouldn't have with the goal of increasing his level of safety and security. It has been working and as he had gained the ability (in small amounts, mind you) of controlling his raging emotions and feelings, we have been able to have conversations about behavior and feelings that we hadn't before. I am hoping that we can do the same type of brain reprogamming in the area of school. (Let me not over-paint the picture. Life can still be hard and helping TM deal with his emotions can still be tricky. But it has been several months since we have had a full-blown, out-of-control rage. I'm hesitant to even type that and if I were superstitious I would be banging away at the wood on my desk.)
D. will be doing all of his work independently this year, but I have still written his assignments out in daily amounts. I will check up with him as needed. Plus, he wanted to learn about dinosaurs, so I created a dinosaur study for him to work on. He will be making four dinosaur lap books throughout the year.
11:00 - 12:00 - This hour will be very much like it has been for several years; the period where we do our group learning. On Mondays and Wednesdays we will be learning about Ancient Rome and on Tuesdays and Thursdays we will do science.. finishing up botany this fall and starting on sea creatures in the winter. For Rome we will be reading through The Story of the Romans by H. A. Guerber. I read through the book so I could also plan supplemental readings and art projects and movies to go along with it. For science we are using the Charlotte Mason-styled Apologia grade school science books, with supplemental books as movies as well.
On Fridays, the schedule will be different. For the past 14 years, we have had our history co-op meet at that time, but some of us (OK, really it's just me) needed a break and so we have Friday mornings free. Instead of continuing with our regular schedule, I decided to do something different. On some Fridays, we will go on field trips, others we will do our monthly library visit, some will be for catching-up if we got behind or for playing games if we didn't, and still others will be what I am calling 'Art Fridays'. On those days we will do a Charlotte Mason-style picture study. We started Turner last spring, looked at one picture, and then didn't finish, so we will be looking at the rest this year. (I have been using the art portfolios from Simply Charlotte Mason for a couple of years now and really love them.) Then we will do a bigger art project. I even have those all planned out, complete with lists of supplies to get ahead of time. I'm not going to list them, but if you're curious, looking at the homeschooling board on my Pinterest page will give you some idea of what we're doing.
Now onto what the older three students are doing. P., in 8th grade, is pretty independent these days. I have gone through all of her work and broken it down into weekly assignments. In order for me to supervise a bit, she is to show me all of her completed work on Friday afternoons. She will be doing Rod and Staff English, Key to Algebra, Reading (by Christian Light Education) Apologia 8th grade science, working through The Fallacy Detective and The Thinking Toolbox for logic, plus she really wanted to learn about horses. The mom of the H-S family gave me a great idea to look at 4-H for curriculum as I was moaning about creating yet another personalized study. It was a great tip and not only is she doing the horse study guides, she will also be doing the three guides on veterinary science. In addition to all that she is working through the Scottish Gaelic program on Mango Language and will be listening to Exploring Music programs (with A.) which are produced by WFMT. This is definitely her most academic year yet, but I think she is looking forward to what she is going to work on.
A. is completely independent and I am pretty extraneous these days except for my credit card to purchase curriculum. She loves textbooks and loves a challenge, so together, this is the list we came up with for her this year: Worldviews of the Western World, year 1 from Cornerstone Curriculum. It's pretty intense and she'll be doing a lot of reading including The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid. Geometry and Trig with VideoText, Chemistry using Apologia, a book on Latin Roots, a Writing program from Excellence in Writing, Mandarin using Mango Language, and the Exploring Music programs. She also wants me to give her a list of literature to read this year.
HG will work with me for a bit each day after lunch and everybody is resting. She can do some things independently in the morning, but due to learning in a new language, she also needs my help to fill in some of the gaps.
I think I've covered everything. I still have preschool games to make, some photocopying to do, and a new job assignment chart to create. Our current one doesn't work so well these days with B. not living at home. Once again I'm afraid I have too many little people and not enough big and capable ones to make a workable system. I've kind of been ignoring it. That will only work for so long.