Ok, so I’ll get into the nitty gritty details of the plan. There are still a lot of the nitty gritty details I need to work out, so this will give me the opportunity. Then, of course, there will be the working out that happens on the fly as we try the plan out and make it work in real life. I’ll be trying to do more updates of that nature here, as well.
But, one part of our day has worked the same for years, and I am not about to mess with it. It’s ingrained, because it’s the way mornings went, for the most part, when I was growing up homeschooled, also. It’s just The Way Things Are.
- Get up.
- Get dressed.
- Eat breakfast.
- Do chores.
- Start math.
1, 2, 3: Up, dressed, breakfast
Pretty self-explanatory. Different families have different styles, and ours is a “get dressed first thing” family rather than a “hang out in your pajamas” family. The exception to the order are those in diapers who require assistance to get dressed and who also happen to make themselves a royal mess during breakfast. Such children get dressed after eating.
This pattern has been loose and lax these last many months. There has been many a morning when I have been overseeing breakfast in my pajamas, still groggy and even ill-humored. But my preferred mode, the mode I am trying to regain, is to be up and dressed before the kids, and be on top of things and the master of the ship rather than a sea-sick lieutenant.
I’m hoping by July I’ll be back in that position at least 90% of the time. I need to work on it.
Breakfast is usually oatmeal or granola and yogurt or eggs and toast, and at this point my oldest (soon-to-be 10) can fix all of these things.
For a time we listened to a Proverb and a Psalm on audio while we ate, but that hasn’t happened in a while. This year I’d like to return to that practice.
As both parents and educators, we are all about not only the academic side of learning, but the real-life learning as well. Chores are a part of that. The kids of course take care of their own hygiene tasks, but they also have chores they do to pitch in with the running of the household and also job-chores for which they are paid. We want to pay them for work for three reasons:
- So that they always associate money with work. If you want money, you ask for work.
- So that it is their own earned money they put into the offering plate at church and not money that doesn’t mean anything to them.
- So they have the opportunity to learn about spending, saving, and giving, in small amounts, for practice.
Now, I’ve not been at all good with consistency in pay days, and that is something I need to work on this year. Our economy is rather deflated, with jobs going for a dime or a quarter (although now that the boys can offer real help in yard work, there are sporadic opportunities for them to earn a more substantial amount). It’s gum money we are talking here, not LEGO set money. And, of course, the children are not to get mercenary over every request for help. If you ask if you’ll be paid for it, the answer is always no. But, that really hasn’t been a problem at all.
So, Knox is my garbage man and empties the bathroom garbages into the main kitchen garbage. Ilse unloads the dishwasher (our dishes are mostly in drawers, so she can reach; what she can’t, she puts on the counter). Hans washes the breakfast table and sweeps around it and Jaeger washes the kitchen island (where breakfast was served) and sweeps around it. That has been this year’s pattern. Starting in June, though, we’ll switch things up a bit for the older boys. Jaeger will do both the washings & sweepings and also load the plastics into the freshly unloaded dishwasher (and get double his current rate) and Hans will do a wipe-down and straighten-up of both bathrooms. They have had bathroom-cleaning responsibilities before, and it hasn’t worked out all that well. But with our third boy being added to the list of bathroom-users soon, it’s really got to be addressed daily. There will be better on-the-job training this time around, and I will be responsible for inspecting what I expect – with a good attitude.
And, of course, they will tidy up their room (they have to pick up any clothes left on the floor; so far they haven’t taken me up on my observation that it would be so much easier if they would just not dump them and leave them on the floor. That’s ok. I haven’t taken myself up on that advice, yet, either), and brush their teeth.
During chore time, we’ll listen to our term’s composer. I mention who it is as I turn it on, we listen while we work, and we call that composer study.
While the kids are eating breakfast or doing chores, I’ll be pulling out their math for the day so it’s ready to go whenever they finish. I just roll with the flow of the morning at this point. It is totally unpredictable who will be done with chores sooner or later than usual, who will be ready for the next lesson, who is chugging along and just needing reinforcement, and who needs some hand-holding. So I make the call that morning about what pages will be assigned, based on the previous day’s work and who needs what and what else there is that day.
We use Math-U-See, and I require them to get 100% on the first try on a Systematic Review page (or test page or drill page, if we’ve run out of Systematic Reviews) before moving on to the next lesson (each book has 32 lessons). Some days that’s day #1, some days that’s day #14 or even more. But, even with the irregular school year, they both made it through almost a book and a half since last June, so I guess it’s working for us.
Also, they always have to correct every mistake, every time, every day. MUS lessons usually have about 10-15 problems per workpage, and the goal is mastery, and I figure that the quickest way to mastery is to correct your mistakes. Sometimes it’s painful, but I think it’s valuable. I want to make sure that sloppy thinking and hasty work never pays off.
Our school year is over now and Hans ends on lesson 28 in Delta, Jaeger ends in lesson 24 in Gamma, and Ilse is in lesson 12 in Primer. In July we’ll just pick up where we left off and see how far we can get by the end of May 2014.
I also want to continue doing Calculadder drills, but we’ll have to see if having an all-gathered, structured, timed, start to the morning ends up working out. My guess is that it will go at the beginning or the end of Circle Time rather than “Math time,” just for logistical reasons.
Our classical music composer will continue playing during this time unless someone finishes early and starts in on their piano practice.
Other posts about our 2013-2014 year: