October 17, 2012

home day/school day

{guthrie's school shelf}

Today is one of two days this week that we don't have outside-the-house plans. We've had fewer home days this season than I anticipated, but the reoccurring theme is that learning happens everywhere and I should just settle down and get out of the way. We do all benefit from having some rhythm at home though, so while school time is not formal at all there are certain elements I try to incorporate into every day. Otherwise the kids seem to kind of flounder. They don't move as smoothly from activity to activity, have more meltdowns, and beg, beg to watch tv. The rule is no computer* or kid-chosen tv before rest time on school days. I broke the rule last week when I had to spend an extensive amount of time on the phone after breakfast and it was a disastrous day. Lesson learned - and I'm sure it'll be learned again!

I've been wanting to talk more about our homeschooling and what exactly we do, what curriculums I'm loosely following, but wanted to get more comfortable and confident in what we were doing first. We've gotten a surprising amount of uhh, commentary? about our decision to do this. People have some really, really strong feelings about it and it's rare you find someone who is unequivocally supportive. It's  equally rare that you find someone with any significant personal experience with homeschooling. John had a coworker that told him Guthrie's first day of Kindergarten wasn't "a real first day of Kindergarten." It was hurtful and minimizing and we're still so new at this that we don't quite have the ability to respond with confidence instead of defensiveness. I've been surprised at how vulnerable this decision has made me feel, however I'm getting there and our children are completely flourishing.

My mom recently asked me how I fill our days. So, I guess that's where I'll start - if only for our own posterity and record keeping.

On a "normal" home day we start with family breakfast around 8:15 or so. John leaves for work around 8:40 and we spend a few minutes cleaning up from breakfast and making sure the spaces we'll use for school are tidy. Usually by 9:00 we will get out the quilt for 'circle time'. I wasn't totally sure we'd have circle time, but both kids love it and I enjoy it too. At the most it'll last 30 minutes, when we have wiggly days it can be as short as 5-10 minutes, but it seems to center us no matter the length and that's the goal - or one of them.

Then we'll move to the table/shelves area. Guthrie seems to prefer to do her work at the table rather than on the floor and Laithe also likes the table, but also really likes to take his stuff to the couch which is waist high to him and stand to work on stuff. I couldn't care less where they do their stuff as long as the floor is protected. And no markers on the couch. We've done that before. Not cool. They'll typically spend 20 - 60 minutes with the activities I put out on their shelves. In the next couple of years that time will expand a couple more hours as their attention span increases.

After work time we have snack and outside time and then either a group art/sensory activity or free play until lunch.  I try to only have a group activity a couple times a week because I strongly believe the task of childhood is play. It is how kids learn. I can't tell you how many times something we talked about either at circle time or dinner or the night before has become incorporated into the kids' play. It reinforces my ever growing education philosophy that my job is to tell stories, make materials available and accessible and then get out of the way.

After lunch is cleaning and putting away school stuff. Then rest for everyone- the hope is for a nap, but with increasing frequency there's stories, laying quietly for a bit and then audio books and quiet play in their room. Laithe's at that magic point where too long of a nap means he doesn't fall asleep until super late, but no naps for more than 3 days in a row and he's a total mess. At minimum I get 45 minutes of mom time as the kids aren't allowed to come downstairs during quiet time. I'm pretty insistent.

Late afternoon is more playing, usually a cartoon, meal prep and playing with the neighbors. We're doing that Iowa thing where even the kids know these are the last nice days of the year and there is pressure to spend every last minute possible enjoying the sun's warmth. John gets home a bit before 6:30 then there's dinner and my work day is over.  haha.  .  . hahaha!

Its an easy rhythm to hold for now, not easy like it doesn't take any planning or effort, but natural. And when we get at least 3 of these kind of days a week I think everyone does better.

Later on, maybe towards winter break I hope to revisit this and break down what we actually do during these time slots. I am loving this season of my life. For however long it lasts, I'm just so pleased to be here.

*oh computer time. mixed feelings. i hate having to monitor and help guthrie on the computer. i want her to be able to independently use it which means my not having to run in there to read something to her, to navigate the page, etc.  i don't think kids need to spend any time on the computer at this age. i don't think there's anything they can learn on the computer than i can't teach them and i strongly believe that the time kids spend in front of any screen needs to be limited. i also don't think they need to practice learning how to use a computer at this age. typing, for sure down the road. but the goal of apple is to make their products user-friendly enough for an 18 month old to use. i also think we lose a lot of our sensory experience when we use a computer instead of using a paintbrush, or turning the pages of a book. it's not a negative thing necessarily, but it needs to be made up for with other experiences or we're going to lose part of our human experience.

i do feel just fine about using it as a tool. for a block of time that i know she's doing something vaguely constructive, something she totally loves, and something that allows me to have a bit of time to do things like pay bills - where the consequence of me not having quiet can be kind of huge. i also feel good about using it as a reward in certain situations.

so, Guthrie plays minecraft. for the record i was totally against this at the beginning, but i've become a fan. guthrie plays it as a creating/building game. one time she made a compound - houses for her and her dad, so they can visit each other. farm animals, a swimming pool, and a huge flower garden. it was really cool. think of it as Legos on a computer. John runs a server for work so i'm not concerned that she's going to get into something she shouldn't. sometimes i still have to spell things out for her to write on signs and last week i spent a significant amount of time helping her search for bone meal to help her tree grow faster, but, well, that kind of made me smile.

ok. done on my soapbox. :)

1 comment:

Luci & Loree said...

Well, i think that really sounds cool. Very informative on what your day at home is like. I know u have outings with other kids tho as i as i saw it on Facebook, right, a field trip!!!
Thank Guthrie for the really nice card i got, it is very special. I miss all of you too!!!


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