So, I will start writing about our hours at the beginning, but it doesn’t really fit Leigh Bortin’s model. It might seem odd to include our breakfast and chore time in our school plan, but I am a big idea thinker, and it all is one in my mind: training and raising up the children is all aspects of life. Plus, we fit a few academic things in there anyway.
This format isn’t new for us; this is what has been working well for us the last couple months, which was only a tweak from how we’ve been doing our mornings for years, so I plan to keep it for next year, and for the foreseeable future.
People at our house start getting up around 7, and usually everyone is dressed and eating breakfast by 7:30 at least. When I’m on the ball, we listen to our playlist of a Proverb & Psalm — using an audio Bible — while eating breakfast. That not only gets us in the Word first thing, but it also helps breakfast go faster, because their mouths are focused on eating and not on telling jokes or playing guessing games.
On a good day, chores are completed by 8, but we haven’t had more than a handful of good days in the last few months. So I’ve decided to acknowledge reality and not always be cracking the whip in the mornings, trying to get us going on school by 8 like I did at the beginning of last year. Instead, by fiat, breakfast time will be declared over at 8, slow pokes disbanded from the table and sent to start their business. The first thing people are supposed to do after eating is clear their place and start their work.
While the kids start on chores, I turn on our composer for the term. I make sure the laundry is going and my other morning chores are done (usually they already are). I ride herd as needed and change and dress the 2-year-old.
The reading children have a chart to refer to that directs them straight from their morning business (room tidy, brush teeth, etc.) and chores to piano practice and math. When I’ve taken care of the toddler and completed my morning things (yes, including an email check or two), I pull out the math bin. The classical music is still playing in the background, and Knox has probably found a new brand of trouble for the day.
I pull out a drill page and lesson page (or go get the computer & DVD ready for a lesson) for the older two boys to grab when they are ready. I pull out a “math” page for the toddler and stick him in his chair — buckled — with his crayons. This past year I did the same with my 4-year-old (without the buckling part). Since she is displaying readiness and eagerness, and thrives with one-on-one time much more than the boys did, this coming year I will sit down with her and do a little math (counting & writing numbers) aas well as a little handwriting (about 5 minutes).
Whenever the first piano student starts practicing, I turn off the classical music before my head explodes.
Then the two little ones can get down and play or go outside. This usually doesn’t happen smoothly. Almost always the toddler or preschooler or both have other ideas about what they should be doing, but for the most part I am impervious, give them 2 choices and send them to their rooms or bed if they don’t like their choices.
Then if needed, the boys can bring any math questions and I can work with them. Or, if they finish, they stick their paper on the counter (I am hoping to figure out a better inbox for papers I need to correct) and I go and correct what’s there. If they have any wrong, I call them and we go over it and they have to redo any that are wrong until they have 100%. Then they file their finished sheets in their inbox.
If they’ve finished before 9, they can go play outside until I ring the bell for Circle Time to start at 9. If they haven’t finished their math by 9 (which is unusual), it becomes their independent work and we still start Circle Time.
Well, I cheated, I guess, that’s two hours. Two hours in which
- we dress
- we eat
- we listen to a Proverb & Psalm
- we tidy up
- we do morning chores
- we listen to our composer for the term
- we practice piano
- we accomplish our math
- we get in some preschool time
- we might even get a small recess
In all, we warm up for the day.