After reading a bunch of great posts over at the Simple Homeschool site I decided that I wanted to pitch in too! Our days can vary wildly, depending on how the oldest is coping, but yesterday was a pretty good example of what a school day looks like – it’s full on, and a little crazy, but it’s a lot of fun and super rewarding.
The kids start waking up around 6am normally. The youngest, Natalie, is normally up first and then Lauren slips into my bed as well, and as soon as she hears the other two moving around Ivy gets up. She wants to eat as soon as she wakes, so I try to be organized with some food. Breakfast can span a couple of hours because the kids all like to eat at different times – for example, I ended up making porridge 3 times yesterday morning because they all wanted it, just not at the same time. Between eating (Ivy has 3 breakfasts!) the girls normally play, setting up their town for the day and deciding what they’ll be using.
As I posted about yesterday, I’d just signed Ivy up for a class online, so around 9am we set up the lounge PC so that she could watch some of the videos and do the pop quizzes, and then we moved to the kitchen table to do some colour mixing, and for Ivy to make a colour wheel. The little girls joined in and did some painting as well, and then had a bath to clean themselves off.
After a quick snack, Lauren reminded me that I’d said she could do some of our new fun thing where she draws the letters and then turns them into pictures of a thing starting with that letter – her favourite is O, so she can draw octopuses. I’m finding this is a really great way for her to learn the shapes of the letters, and the sounds of them when used to start a word.
Then she wanted to do some maths stuff and we did some counting out with matchsticks, up to ten and back again, and she practiced writing the numbers and embellished with the right number of stickers. She loves this kind of thing.
Ivy decided that she wanted to do some stuff too, but couldn’t settle on anything so we glued her colour wheel into her project book and I suggested that we throw some ideas around for the triptychs that she will be creating over the term.
I asked her what she wanted to do, and reminded her that she wanted to do one with Leeloo, so we started making a plan for taking the photos. She made some notes in her book about what she needed, and then moved on to the beach idea she had. And then she asked if she could try taking some photos now, and took the ipod touch to the lounge where she threw Leeloo’s dinosaur squeaky around so she could get the shots she wanted.
We spent a little time outside before lunch – I hung the washing and the girls bounced on the trampoline. We did some bird spotting with the binoculars, and looked at a cicada which landed on the washing. Lauren and I followed where it flew off too and could hear a bunch of cicadas on a particular tree, so we’ll be trying to see if we can spot some cicada shells soon.
The girls snack on and off pretty much all morning, so we shared some corn together for lunch so we could sit and chat. Natalie was beginning to get tired, but bounced back when the girls decided to go and play with their toys in the bedroom.
I’m very much about child led learning, following the kids interests and letting them have some control over what they learn and when – as long as we cover the main things over the course of the week, it’s all good. Ivy is very much the type of child who needs a little control, because most of the time when I make suggestions (even when she asks me to) she will reject them, and this path leads to a difficult day. They go through phases and I find are most motivated when they are interested about something. I’d love to unschool, but left to her own devices Ivy would just want to play computer games. Forever. And I just don’t feel good about that. Normally we try to get the school work done in the morning, and do other fun stuff in the afternoons like visiting friends, or going out, or just playing.
That said, it wasn’t long before she was back and wanting to do more school work! lol Some days, she can be super hard to motivate to do anything, and other days, she has an endless amount of energy for learning. I make the most of those days 😉
She pulled out one of the books I got her for Christmas – a maths puzzle book – and we started the story. We did that for around half an hour, taking turns at reading the clues and working through the problems together. She’d have happily kept going, but by this time it was mid afternoon and I had barely had a break to sit down. We normally do twenty minutes of one-on-one time with each of the kids and I told Ivy we could do some more then.
But, after a small play with her sisters, she grabbed the book and plonked herself down on the couch and kept working at it for the next hour or so until she announced ‘I’m finished!’. I was so proud of her – she’s normally so resistant to reading that I was really surprised that she did so under her own steam. I am pretty careful when selecting books for her, and this suggests I’m getting a little better at finding things she will engage with.
After this they wanted to make some movies with the toys – this is a common thing. Ivy usually does the filming but they all discuss what will happen and the roles that the toys will play. I love watching them negotiate and plan, and then seeing it all come together. They are desperate to have their own Youtube channel, but I’ll be holding off for as long as possible – once Ivy gets involved in new technology it’s all she wants to do! lol They also spent some time playing learning games on computer/tablet/ipod touch. We have enough devices that they can all use them at the same time, which avoids arguments and gives me a little bit of downtime to do the things I need to (study, blogging, writing etc).
It was only yesterday, but I feel like I am forgetting stuff… That happens a fair bit. Our days ebb and flow, are punctuated by meltdowns and quick turn arounds of mood and interest. We can go from doing maths to talking about the meaning of life in a matter of moments, and I certainly can’t track all that we cover in one day.
I spent a chunk of the afternoon playing with Natalie because she was tired. She likes to sing ‘1,2,3,4,5, once I caught a fish alive’ and pretend that she’s the fish and I am catching her, and then it was a matter of making sure she stayed awake until my Dad came for his visit. He was in town on work and only had a small space to see us. Which was great, he got to do all the bed time reading and playing of games while I sat down for a bit! And it was just as well Ivy finished off her book by herself, or there would have been tears before bedtime.
Finally, 8pm rolled around and by 815 they were all asleep. I was well and truly ready to be ‘off-duty’ for the day.
The kids are all so different, all at different stages, and have different interests, so at times it can be hard juggling them all. They’ll be asking me questions all at the same time, wanting me to help with three different things in three different places. It’s only been in the last 6 months that the smaller two have made the move from not wanting to do school stuff, to wanting to be involved with everything (or have their own versions of school in Natalie’s case). Now that Lauren is 5 I’ve been giving her a lot more space to learn, but I can tell that Natalie isn’t going to be too far behind. I’m looking forward to the years to come, when they are all a little more independent and don’t all need me at the same time.
I might be able to breathe then 😉 And in the meantime, it’s a lot of fun, and I sleep very well at night (well, when the kids let me lol).