That is a picture of our school room. And our church’s sunday school room. And storage room. And spare bedroom/guest room. The organization is inspiring, isn’t it? Notice, please, the high chair holding pots of soil, the door falling off of the wooden bookshelf, the crib hidden behind the stack of plastic chairs.
I recently shared on Facebook about big changes to our homeschool day and one of the first things we had to do was get out of that room! How can anyone think in there?
I HATE being locked away in a room doing school. I much prefer having the kids working at the kitchen table while I cook or clean. So, first big change was pulling all of our daily work assignments OUT of that disaster zone. I placed all their daily work in one small basket (keep in mind, I have a 1st grader and a 5 year old. Not much work is needed.)
Second big change, was to change the hour. I did not like spending all morning doing school. Mornings are when I have most of my energy, and the girls do too. What would happen is that we were all wiggly and cooped up in that room when we would rather be outside or roaming the house. Now, mornings are for chores, cleaning, riding scooters, watching Sesame Street in Spanish, getting meals cooked and stored for the day. Next comes quiet time, I nap, then wake up feeling ready to sit, read, learn…etc. Morning school doesn’t work for us. Again, my girls are young, and we don’t need hours and hours of school yet.
Third big change, switching curriculum. We were using Rod and Staff Phonics and Math for the first grader. And she cried. And cried. And cried. The Phonics was too easy and was boring her, so we threw out the first book (actually, gave it to the three year old for her “school”) and started on book 2. She is now engaged and happier. To Elena, there is NOTHING worse than being bored. The Math, however, was too hard. So I put it away and took a few weeks off while we waited for Math U See to arrive from the USA. I had been gifted the Teachers book, the DVD, and the manipulative blocks. All I needed to purchase was the student workbook. Now, Elena (who is 7 and struggles with math) and Abbie (5 years old, excels in math) are working through Math U See together, at the same pace. Two birds with one stone and everyone is happy.
Fourth change, instead of planning out a school year, I plan out the week. One week at a time, because our life is very hectic, unstable and plain crazy. Every week is different, so trying to plan out a whole school year is ridiculous for us.
The lesson plans change on a weekly basis, I make my weekly photocopies, and change or tweak whatever didn’t work that well last week. Flexibility is key for us.
Fifth change, we do our together subjects first, then separate into one-on-one time after that. Otherwise, someone gets bored waiting for the other student to finish a copywork sheet before we can read together, etc.
So here is run down of what we’re doing right now:
Bible: We read a Bible story from one of their children’s Bibles and then work on our memory verses from this app.
History: Reading two chapters a day out of Little House on the Prairie series and then asking questions at the end, to see what they heard and learned. They draw what they are hearing as I read. Questions come out of my Prairie Primer. We do not do all the activities and projects, because I am not Super Mom and I don’t feel like building a wagon out of a paper bag and popsicle sticks. Not this year anyway. (Also, we have been reading through this series for three years…it’s okay. We’re not in a rush, as long as they are learning.)
Math: Math U See Alpha. One lesson a day…we just keep plugging away, we’ll finish when we finish.
Geography: We are currently doing a lapbook on How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, but it is too much cutting and pasting for my taste, so I will be looking for something new when we’re finished.
Phonics and Reading: With the 5 year old we are working our way through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and Bob Books. The 7 year old is doing Book 2 in Rod and Staff Phonics Grade 1. She also reads to me once a day from many of the books we have laying around the house and this Bible.
Literature: They are listening to an audiobook of Little Women at night as they fall asleep. They love it and they’re falling to sleep faster and sleeping better! Score!
They also do worksheets and copywork pages that I print out from the internet, depending on what I feel they need to work on that week (math, clocks, alphabet…)
So, let’s re-cap the adjustments we made to fit our family.
1. Get out of the school room!
2. Change the hour of school! Afternoon school is where it’s at, for us.
3. If a curriculum isn’t working, dump it!
4. Together time first, one-on-one time later.
5. Accept that my life is too hectic to plan a whole year of school. Flexibly plan one week in advance. I homeschool year round, so this takes a lot of pressure off of me to follow a schedule. If we need a day or day off, because a mission team is here, or we need to make a church visit, or Mommy needs to go to youth camp for a week, we take it.
Basically, we’re doing what works for US and OUR lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to do the same in your house. 🙂
(FYI: I have recently cleaned out and organized the school/storage/sunday school room. It’s not so terrifying anymore.)