Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Snapshot of One Homeschooling Day

We're pretty relaxed homeschoolers but need a bit of form to our day to keep from going insane. We typically have a general plan of where we'd like to end up, but often get there in unconventional ways. There's a very fine line around here between organization and chaos. I jump over it frequently.

Today I'm sharing another quick snapshot of what "educational" things we might do during a given day. Some of these occur during more structured "school" time and others just kind of happen. I should probably add a disclaimer that I wrote this down after the fact, so it's likely I forgot something, and these "activities" are listed in random order. And we did Other Stuff, too; I'm just trying to single out the most school-y things. Also, we didn't go anywhere this particular day (library, errands, etc.). 

Watching Little Pim (Spanish) and playing with Little Pim flash cards. We love that adorable panda around here, and have used both the Spanish and Italian videos in the past. And the flash cards, well, let's just say the Agents are the type of kids who actually like flash cards and enjoy organizing them into stories. Or, spreading them around the living room floor randomly. 

(Side note: Several of the Pim videos are available for free on Amazon Prime!)

Reading all the books. I once tried to keep track of how much time the Senior Agents spend on independent fiction reading each day, but I gave up. I usually assume at least two hours, but honestly, it's probably more like three or more many days. Mostly they like "real" (paper) books from the library or our own bookshelf, but they've both been more into Kindle books in recent weeks. (We got the Agents their own, shared Kindle for Christmas last year, with Free Time Unlimited, and I think that's when they started becoming more keen on the whole eBook concept.)

Marriage discussion. We had a very interesting (impromptu) chat about who can get married. Yes, this was very educational. Up until this point, they honestly had no idea that a woman could marry a woman or a man could marry a man . . . even though they had met a married, lesbian couple and chatted with them just a few months ago. Full disclosure, they had a little trouble digesting this new information. But, young kids in general are extremely accepting and this is no different. Agent J confirmed for me during our discussion that she will still be marrying Patrick.

(Side story: About a year ago Agent J told me she had a dream about her future husband. His name is Patrick, he has blue eyes, light brown hair that is kind of thin, is about the same height or a little shorter than her future self, and has a skin tone slightly darker than hers, kind of like a perpetual tan. Yes, she was that specific. They meet in Starbucks and date for ten years before getting married. Agent E is her maid of honor, of course. She is undecided as to whether she will take his last name, keep her own, or use both. They go on to have three children (two girls and a boy) and they name them Unicorn, Rainbow, and Pants.)

Checking out videos and articles on KidsHealth. This is one of our absolute favorite go to sites for science and health questions. I believe the topics that day included why we have gas, what happens when you throw up, and the kidneys and urine. If anyone thinks girls are not into gross things and bodily functions in the same way boys are, um, yeah. They would be wrong.

Math. We use a few basic math workbooks we found Amazon (not a full curriculum). Agent J worked through some basic addition and subtraction and Agent E learned about area. We also read a book called Math Appeal, which is part of a series of math "riddle" books written by Greg Tang. While I like them, they are not that into these books, however, and prefer some of the others we've read, including the Sir Cumference series. 

More reading. We did a quick recap of the books they had read yesterday on the specific school subjects we're covering right now, including two books about presidents (Lincoln and Cleveland), two books about kangaroos, and one about Charles Darwin. For today's "lessons" they read more about kangaroos (we're studying animals and Australia, so it makes sense) and a short biography of Bach. 

Scrabble. At some point Agent E and I played a game of Scrabble. She often still needs my assistance, and we don't keep score, but she's getting better. Agent J occasionally plays with us, too, but I have to help her a lot. We frequently play a "game" where we just look at all the letters and try to spell as many connected words on one topic as we can. So, for instance I might put "Mickey" in the middle of the board and they they have to build as many Disney-related words around it as they can. 

Watched an episode of How the States Got Their Shapes. We generally like this show (yeah, Netflix!) but this particular one was kind of weird and not as good as some others. Overall, however, they enjoy it and like learning random facts about the states.

Music. Both girls (well, mostly Agent E) practiced a few notes on the recorder and watched a short online lesson about the music staff and learning the different whole notes. We decided to work toward learning a few simple songs like Mary Had a Little Lamb and Jingle Bells. (I should add here that we just began exploring the idea of learning an instrument about 3 days ago, so we're pretty early in the process.)

So we covered math, language arts, a little science/health, music, Spanish, and a touch of history. Some more than others, but I tend to think in terms of balancing weeks or months, not necessarily covering everything every day. (We do tend to lean heavy toward math and reading at this age, though.)

I often wonder if we would still do the kinds of things on this list if the Agents went to a traditional public or private school. I would like to think that we would, but honestly, I think time constraints and schedules would get the best of us. Truthfully, one of the best things about homeschooling is how little time it actually takes to work on our "curriculum"; we all have way more free time than we would if we had to conform to a 7:30-3:30 Monday-Friday plan (not counting homework). Their independent reading time would definitely be curtailed, that's for sure. Would they still be excited about watching Spanish language and history shows? I don't know. All I know is this is what we're doing and it works for us, for now.

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I can also be reached via e-mail at mommainprogress {at} gmail {dot} com.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The First 10 Blog Posts I Wrote

Today I'm pulling out some old posts from the depths of insanity (i.e., the first few months this blog existed) and sharing them. I simply cannot pass up the chance to humiliate myself with a good link up.

Reading these again made my brain cry.

Welcome Post (12 June 2010)
This one has more views than it's worthy of. Probably because some folks come to the blog and scroll to the very first post thinking it's going to actually say something of value about the blog or the author. For the record, it does neither.

Sleep (14 June 2010)
Random rambling and whining about why the Agents aren't sleeping.

This Is What I Do, Part 1 (23 June 2010)
Aside from one Wordless Wednesday post, this has the fewest views of anything on the blog. Not surprising, because it sucks. But, that clearly didn't stop me from adding a part two and a part three. My Beginning Blogger Self had no control.

This Is What I Do, Part 2 (24 June 2010)
Skimmed this and learned that a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away my kids went to bed between 8:00 and 8:30. Ha.

This Is What I Do, Part 3 (24 June 2010)
I wrote this on the same day as Part 2 (above) because clearly I needed to further expand the madness just hours later. I just re-read this post and . . . I can't even.

Writing (28 June 2010)
Relatively benign but pointless post about Anne Lamott and sh!@#y first drafts.

Feeding Baby (30 June 2010)
This has a decent page view count for such an early post. I must have shared it on another blog during World Breastfeeding Week or something. I don't remember.

Nothing posted at all for July or August 2010. I know we traveled twice during this time (a two-week trip to Germany and a one-week trip to Disneyland Paris). I may have also deleted some of these posts during a major blog reorganization a while back. (I shudder to think that the remaining posts in this list are the ones I deemed worthy of keeping. Eek.)

Travel Fun (3 September 2010)
The highs and lows of our final trip as a family of four (to Disneyland Paris).

Not nearly as interesting as a similar post I wrote a few months later.

Boob Talk (23 February 2011)
All I can say about this one is I think it was supposed to be funny. (Spoiler alert: It's not.)

And a bonus one, simply because I couldn't resist once I saw what the very next post was. Also, it was the same date as the 10th one, because apparently I used to have a thing for posting twice in the same day.

On Second Thought . . . (23 February 2011)
The post where I kinda sorta maybe almost admit that homeschooling the Agents is on my radar.

These are pretty much all the posts I wrote prior to creating a Facebook page for the blog. (It's here, BTW. You could click on it and like it. Hint. Hint.) Which means almost no one read any of them. (Not like people are falling over their keyboards to click on my links now, but at least now there's a chance someone on social media somewhere might take pity upon me and toss out a page view here and there.)

Fellow bloggers, what gems do you have hidden in your early archives?

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Thanks so much for stopping by today.
I would love to connect on FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+Instagram, or Bloglovin.
I can also be reached via e-mail at mommainprogress {at} gmail {dot} com.

Linking up with Tuesday Ten co-hosted by Rabia at The Liebers and Lisa at The Golden Spoons.

Friday, February 13, 2015

What Our Homeschool Days Look Like Right Now

At least once a year, usually more, I like to draft a blog on what our everyday craziness looks like. From a homeschooling perspective, it's interesting to see what kinds of activities dominate our days at different grades/ages. From a parenting perspective, it's nice to look back on our various "seasons" and know we survived. Plus, they are just plain fun to re-read.

This is what our homeschool days look like right now. Our students are third grade, first grade, and portable tornado. 
I mean, we also have four-year-old.

I try to be up no later than 6:00, and the Senior Agents (ages 8 and 6) are typically downstairs before 8:00. Our littlest Agent (age 4) still sleeps the longest; he doesn't join us until closer to 9:30. 

Early morning time for me means coffee, drafting blog posts, reading, and catching up on social media. The girls might take turns with the Kindle, read a book, color, or just play one of their made-up games. If Agent A isn't downstairs by 9:30, they go to wake him up.

No later than 10:00 we have some fruit and begin planning our day. I'm not sure when the "fruit as first breakfast" thing started, but somehow it became an everyday thing. Recently we evolved into having a bigger "brunch" type meal somewhere between 10:30 and noon. This involves some combination of pancakes, eggs, bagels, bacon, muffins, French toast, yogurt, or more fruit.

The rest of our morning and early afternoon generally don't follow any particular schedule. Kids play, read, have art time, or just make up crazy games to play. I clean or write or do other Boring Mommy Stuff while simultaneously offering any necessary assistance. If they ask, I play/read with them (and sometimes I volunteer just because I like to play/read with them) but they don't need or want as much hands-on direction as they used to. Honestly, now that the Agents are all out of the high intensity baby/toddler stages, my mothering "work" is more of the supervisory and mediation variety.

We're all kind of homebodies, but if/when we do leave the house it's almost always late morning. Which means we get the oh, no school today? question a lot. Still, this works better for our schedule so that's what we do. We like to be home by early afternoon. We're fine with only having "plans" one or two days a week.

I don't find staying home most days to be constricting in any way; in fact, we enjoy the unhurriedness of it all. (That is totally a word.) Especially when we'd have to deal with snow and ice and single-digit temperatures, not having to be anywhere most days is not a negative for us, it's a luxury.

We have our structured school time after lunch. (Yes; we have breakfast, brunch, and lunch. We're hungry around here, what can I say?) So, typically we don't break out The School Stuff until 2:00-ish, sometimes later. 

Most days we'll work on 3-4 subjects. Because my kiddos are young we focus on math and language arts. Oh, we still cover Everything Else (geography, history, science, health, music, art, PE) throughout the week but the majority of our daily, organized, Momma-sitting-at-the-table-with-them-let's-do-this work tends to be related to the three R's. At their ages, "formal" lessons take surprisingly little time.

Our go-to method for other subjects at this age could be summed up as Read All the Books. At any given time we have 50-100 books out of the library about our current history, science, music, etc. studies. (So we don't get them mixed up with our own, we have an entire bookshelf off the kitchen devoted to just library books.) We do some written work with all subjects, but it doesn't take priority.

The girls both read quite a bit, spending a minimum of two hours a day (usually more) buried in various paper and Kindle titles. In addition to reading about our current school topics, they both love fiction, especially historical fiction (American Girl, Magic Tree House), stories about mythical creatures (e.g., mermaids and unicorns) and modern twists on fairy tales (The Land of Stories, Whatever After).

Agent A is finally patient enough to sit through not just one book, but a whole stack, so we do that at least once a day, often more. (His current favorites include Elephant and Piggie, Olivia, and Curious George.) Other than reading whenever he likes, we don't do anything that would really be considered "school" with him. Since he has a fall birthday, we likely won't until he's close to turning six.

Our late afternoon/early evening time looks a lot like our late morning/early afternoon time. The Agents play, read, and (yes) watch videos or Netflix. They color and draw a lot . . . Agent J even has her own comic book, ha. Mostly they just hang out together and have fun. I love that they are able to enjoy so much free time each day. 

Dinner is usually around 6:15-6:30-ish, which coincides with Hubby coming home from work. Everyone heads upstairs around 7:15-7:30-ish for baths/pajamas and then back downstairs by 8:15-8:30-ish for a movie, snacks, more play time.

We've pretty much settled into a pattern of going upstairs to get ready for bed at 10:00. Everyone (usually) is sound asleep before 10:30. It's later than what we used to do, which means everyone also sleeps later in the mornings, but it's working for now.

Our days are pretty relaxed, and we like it that way. What do your days look like right now?

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Thanks so much for stopping by today.
I would love to connect on FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+Instagram, or Bloglovin.
I can also be reached via e-mail at mommainprogress {at} gmail {dot} com.

Sharing this post at Simple Homeschool as part of their 5th annual Day in the Life series.

Also linking up with the SHINE Blog Hop hosted by Jennifer at The Deliberate Mom.