Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Ideal Homeschooling Day

This was inspired by a WTM thread where someone asked for everyone to put aside reality and daydream about how a perfect homeschool day would go. I've been thinking about this and sitting out here on my backyard porch, sipping tea, on a cool (yes, it is actually a little chilly out right now!) summer morning, I am inclined to be optimistic! So here's my ideal day for this coming school year. We are going to be a little more formal than last year, just because my high schooler needs to be and my rising 6th grader wants to be.

6:30 I'd wake up rested! I'd patter downstairs, feed the pets, make a cup of tea, check e-mail while slowly waking up. I'd probably put on a load of laundry and unload the dishwasher. Doing those last two things always makes me feel like I've got a jump start on household duties. I'd also like to prepare a bit for our morning studies.

7:30 If the weather is good I'd like to take a 20 to 30 minute walk, probably with the dog. Hopefully I'd remember to say at least part of a rosary or do some sort of prayer while I walked. If the weather is bad, I'll probably just sit in my living room and pray. Probably by this time others are stirring in the house. Then I'd like to take a quick shower in whatever bathroom happens to be free. I don't want to take a long shower because then I tend to start daydreaming and this really demotivates me. After I hop out of the shower, I'll dress quickly and get downstairs to put out a simple breakfast. My plans are: M, Th - eggs and some kind of breakfast meat, T and F - oatmeal/cereal and fruit, W - rolls, cheese and fruit.

8:30 Everyone needs to report to the kitchen by this time. I'd prefer everyone to have gotten up, showered (if they are a morning shower type person), maybe taken two minutes to tidy their rooms. But I'll be happy if folks show up in their pjs as long as they are on time. Over breakfast I will read aloud Bible stories or chapters from the 6th and 4th graders Faith and Life books. Also, if it happens to be a saint's feast day, we might read a short something about the saint of the day. The 10th grader can listen in if he wants!

9:00 Sweep all the dishes into the sink and get out materials for morning studies. This is basically the three R's plus Latin/Greek. There is a maps, graphs and charts workbook thrown in there for good measure courtesy of Kolbe. Kids can do work in any order they choose as long as I can bounced back and forth between them helping and giving the attention needed. High schooler goes off to the dining room and works on homework he needs to do for his various classes.

There are little breaks here and there through out the morning. Maybe there is a Mozart cd playing in the background. No one feels rushed or tense, but just comfortably working through lessons. Mid-morning snacks of fruit and crackers are available when needed. I get to drink another cup of caffeine or two! I remember to drink plenty of water too. I keep an eye on high schooler's progress.

My 18 yo son will be on a different schedule. He'll be studying for CLEP tests and working, so he will float in and out of this scenario, depending on what's going on with him each day.

Noonish - We stop for lunch. Hopefully we got the mornings lessons done. If not we might have to finish up a bit in the evening. This is the time to clean the kitchen from both breakfast and lunch and also make sure I know what is going on for dinner that night. Lunches are simple: sandwiches or leftovers.

After lunch - we'll do either history or science, depending on the day. These studies are more read aloud/project oriented. I'll also continue to check in on 10th grader to make sure he's up to speed.

Tuesdays will be a bit different. Tuesday morning the younger two will have art class while 10th grader and I are in Latin class. Friday mornings I'll be taking 10th grader to Biology class but that will only take about 15 minutes out of the morning.

Mid-afternoon - depending on the day, afternoon activities will include: American Heritage Girls, Little Flowers, Tennis, working on stuff for 4H, free time which includes computer/TV time, playing outside, running errands, appointments, etc.

Dinner - dinner prep, a quick blitz tidy up of major living areas, eating dinner, cleaning up from dinner, going to 4H meetings which tend to be T or TH evenings a couple times a month. 10th grader goes to his teen group meeting at church on Wednesday nights at 7:30.

After dinner - my new thing is to have no screen after dinner. Except maybe watching a half hour of Jeopardy. That gets the mind rolling and eager for knowledge! But other than that, after dinner should be for: putting laundry away, taking a walk or playing outside some more, playing a game, reading, finishing up studies that weren't completed during the day, showers/baths for the evening shower/bath people, read alouds and prayer. Maybe after the younger two are in bed, the teens can watch an episode of the Simpsons with their dad. But that's it. Twice now my pediatrician has told me not to let the kids do screen at least two hours before bedtime. They have so much trouble falling asleep and he says a major cause of this in kids is too much screen time right before bed. So I'm taking his advice to heart.

10:00 or 10:30 Hopefully I can settle into bed and read my book right about this time!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fun American History

Well, I've taken a long hiatus from this blog, but I am in planning mode again and this is a good place to put my thoughts and plans.

Right now I'm organizing Sean's 6th grade history plans. I want to cover some American history in a fun way. I'm relying on some books from Royal Fireworks Press. We read one of these books as a read aloud a while ago and it was one of the few history books that got Sean really engaged. He thinks he hates history. I am out to prove him wrong this year! I am also going to use some Learning Through History magazines which are quite nice and I think will appeal to him. I think he'd rather read short articles then long historical fiction or even listen to a long textbook as a spine. I'm also going to assign a few books for him to read. We'll also do some movies, a game, and read alouds. I'm hoping also to maybe get a couple of field trips in and maybe some activities that are historically related.

Since Sean does not enjoy reading the books I've selected on are the easy side. I figure if I want him to read for knowledge I shouldn't make the reading a struggle for him. He will be a book club this coming year with 6th through 8th graders and I think those books will be challenging enough for him.

Books for Independent Reading:

The Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac (1838)- Step Into Reading-Step 5

Adventures of the Pioneer Show People by Edith McCall (begins in 1812 - Annie Oakley)

If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon (part of the Scholastic series)

Learning Through History Magazine, Tribes of the American Plains issue

Striking It Rich by Stephen Krensky - (1849) Ready to Read Level 3

Gold Rush Adventures by Edith McCall

Lotta Crabtree, Gold Rush Girl by Marian T. Place (Childhood of Famous Americans series) I remember reading this book as a child! I found a used copy.

Learning Through History Magazine - The Atlantic Slave Trade

Willy Finds Victory; A Blessed Francis Seelos Story by Joan Stromberg

Learning Through History Magazine - The American Civil War

Civil War for Kids - A History with 21 Activities

A Story of Father Damien by Brother Ernest, CSC

Learning Through History - Industrial Revolution

The Orphans Find a Home - A St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Story

Read Alouds:

(This include a couple of Roman history books too in prep for our trip to Rome in the spring)

The Aeneid for Boys and Girls by Church (dh started this in the spring but the kids objected. So I plan to read during 'school' hours.

I Rode with Hannibal by Hans ?????

Hitty, Her First Hundred Years

Across Five Aprils

Moccasin Trail



The Jazz Singer

Annie Get Your Gun


The Red Badge of Courage

Gone with the Wind

Field trips

Gold Vein VA?

Gettysburg PA

Civil War Reenactment somewhere?


Stephen Foster/Civil War Songs


Study timeline posted on wall in re Civil War
Any activities Sean would be interested in doing

This probably isn't complete. But at least I've got it written down now!