People are always asking me what our days look like. The truth is, they are always changing depending on the season, what courses are being offered in our network, how we're feeling, and which way the wind is blowing. I love hearing about all the different ways people learn, and how everyone finds their own way through their own education. Unfortunately, I can only seem to find this sort of information through live conversation, with friends and family. I've never really be able to find these stories, in their entirety, online. So while I kept a handwritten journal of our learning last year, I decided to put it online this year, in hopes that it might help others to understand what we do. We are just one family, and for now, at least for this week, this is what works for us. This is how we homeschool:
IN THE CAR THIS WEEK
I love audio books. I can NOT tell you how good audio books are for us. For all that time spent in the car each week, instead of the pop music, we go educational.
Living Language - Spanish Started this as an in-car suppliment to our in-home classes (2xs/week). I secretly love it when we are all repeating words and phrases together in the car. Highlight - 5yo: "Oh, mom. Did you hear that one? I just did a really good 'Buenas noches'."
Leonardo da Vinci - Science of Giants . Another great one and only 2.5 hours. Lots of fun tidbits to keep kids engaged. (Note: You might want to listen to track 11 + 12 of disc one before sharing with your kids. Some heavier/sensitive content there.)
Shakespeare for Children: A Midsummer Night's Dream + The Taming of the Shrew, Jim Weiss. These short adaptations are a great starter for any age (40 and over included :). Easy enough to understand in today's modern world, they offer a nice foundation, with just enough original wording, to get everyone situated in the world of Shakespeare. A great primer.
Little Town on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder. The one book we were forced to skip in the series due to it not being available when we traveled. I love researching/learning before a trip, but it's also nice to learn more after you return home. Just two different experiences.
The Shakespeare Stealer, by Gary Blackwood. Picked this one up on the recommendation of the librarian when looking for Renassance relevant content in preparation for the fair. So far, so good. Kids are hooked, and I'm super happy to discover this is an actual series with two more books to go.
Shakespeare, by Bill Bryson. This one was for me, and my prepping for the Renaissance refresher. But like so many adult books I read or listen to, I feel there is a lot of wonderful information that is perfect for curious young minds. Typically I listen to these while alone in the car to make sure the content is OK for young ears, and then I play it again while they are with me. They always tune in, and I just love that. I don't believe our culture gives kids enough credit for what they can take in. Here is another adult audio book we enjoyed together in the car.
9:30 – 3:00 Homeschool in the Forest
5yos group: n/a
Well the theme of our day became lost-proofing.
3:30 - 6:00 Library with former neighbor/daughter of dear friend - a Monday ritual. Pick her up after school and head to library for a weeks worth of fresh reading. We hang-out for about an hour and then head to an early dinner of burgers and fries. Imagine my excitement when I discovered the Spanish aisle and load-up on some old favorites!!!
10yo: Brian's Winter, by Gary Paulsen
Little kids: Fossil, by Bill Thomson. Love this illustrator's wordless books! We take turns narrating the story, page by page. I encourage them to replace simple words with ones more descriptive.
Kiddos wake-up between 7 and 8. I set berries, yogurt and toast on the kitchen table decorated with juvinile magazines for browsing. We currently subscribe to Ladybugs, Appleseeds, Muse and Dig (as well as Smithsonian, National Geographic, Reptiles and All About History - these for the big kid). We love magazines!
until 8:30 breakfast and morning chores (grooming, clean room, make bed)
9:00 - 12:00 Big kids enrolled in locally taught homeschool courses Language Arts + Drawing Out Arithmetic ("Playing with the ancient tools of compass and straight edge, children will discover the skills and methods employed by the Ancient Greeks to uncover enduring mathematical truths"). Incredibly enthusiastic teacher, Daniel, helps reinforce the priciples of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division by having each of the four students saw one 36" dowel down into 1/2 units. (He also teaches them how to find the center with out measuring :) Using these units (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128) he challenges them to a wide range of math problems. Daniel has put this class together based on some higher-level theories he learned as an adult. I ask him how to qualify it and he hesitates before saying, "You could call it bianary multiplication, but you wouldn't get the right info if you Google that term." He's developed this class all on his own with the goal of getting kids to touch math and to have a physical relationship with it. I've never seen anything like this and when you see it in action it is super cool!
At home during this time, Tiny Bun paints some water color thank you notes, and we watch a video in Spanish about counting 1 - 10. He gets it and can now count 1 - 10 in Spanish. :-)
12:00 - 2:00 Open studio art class for homeschoolers. Imagine a fully stocked open room and the freedom to create whatever you want. 10yo worked on props for his Halloween costume (a steam punk) and Beanie cast her hand in plaster, spun a clay bowl on the wheel, and began knitting a hat.
Tiny Buns is under the weather and skips preK. Instead he plays with Fimo clay while we are home.
2:15 - 3:15 Music for the 10yo. He's super excited to get his aunt's middle school guitar re-strung and proudly brings it to his lesson. They work on basic guitar beats, and hit the drums for the final 15. While he's in music I'm outside with little kids. It's a mixture of squirrel family games and subtraction flash cards. Beans is good with subtraction, so we focus our energy in teaching the principles to Tiny Buns. He loves it and I can tell he's feeling proud.
3:45 Soccer drop-off, back home, quick walk with puppy, 5:15 Soccer pick-up
6:45 - 8:45 Daddy heads out with 10yo to see a concert of his music teachers students. This is good for the kid - to see the hard work paying off.
Meanwhile. I'm at home with little kids and begin making Pomander balls as part of our Renaissance block.
We all wake between 7 and 8. Beanie reads to her Daddy. Over breakfast I read another chapter from Shakespeare activity book while kids continue working on their pomnaders. 10yo brushes up on multiplication (per his tutors request), and builds 3D triangle our of rolled paper scraps.
Chores: brushing, cleaning, bed making.
10:00 - 11:00 Maestro Jason for family Spanish lesson. 30 minutes of crazy, then verb conjugation. Beanie prefers to draw pictures and label them than to just write out words. I love that she can do this freely. 10yo checks out mentally at ten to the hour. I have him go to his room and read. Hubs later mentions it's crazy to even try to teach kids this young to conjugate verbs in Spanish when they can't even always do it properly in English. This cracks me up. He makes a good point.
Off to science and poetry classes at another family's house.
11:45 - 12:45 Beanie takes SCIENCE with 7yos (while 10yos BAKE SCONES with host mom). Report from instructor for this week:
"This week, we raced cars down a ramp and measured the distance they traveled. We raced three cars that weighed different amounts. One car had 0 extra weights attached, one had 5 weights, and the last had 10 weights.
1:00 - 2:00 Beanie (and the 7yos) move over to poetry class with lovely language arts instructor.
1:00-2:30 10yo+ SCIENCE class. Report from instructor for this week:
"This week we began our review of the nervous system. We made a clay model of the four lobes of the brain and the cerebellum. We attached the functions of each lobe onto our model. We also began constructing our model of the neuron."
While big kids in their classes, Tiny Buns and I hang out and make stuff with stickers.
3:00 I drop 7yo at her grandma's house for home economics. Today they make a shrimp cocktail appetizer to bring for dinner, and begin cutting out fabric for a quilt. 10yo takes his fishing pole and walks to his other grandmas house (the gmas live about two blocks from each other) where he fishes on the creek for two hours.
8:15 - 9:15 Math tutor for 10yo. A rough session and we realize we need to make some modifications to our math program, if you could even call it that yet. We are still finding our way here this year. Homeschooling all three kids is a whole differnt ball game and everything I figured out last year doesn't seem to apply anymore.
9:30 – 3:00 Homeschool 4-wheel drive - the 10yo's second day a week in nature. Run by the same organization as Monday's class, this group happens have only boys enrolled at this time, which I love. It's great to see them just go off a wild adventure with a great male leader.
Little kids spend the morning playing Legos. I'm good with this and don't want to interupt until I have to.
10:25 - 11:05 PeeWee soccer. Beanie and I do some math on the side. Again, the math part didn't go so well. Starting to wonder if math ever goes well.
Home for lunch then off to Prek for Tiny Buns, 1:00 - 4:00
1:15 - 2:15 French class for Beanie
3:00 pick-up, 3:15 soccer drop, 4:00 PreK pick-up, 4:15 soccer pick-up
4:30 - 10yo journals about day in nature. I have him write a page then I go over it with him and discuss ways to improve it, starting by replacing simple verbs for more descriptive ones. He then re-writes the entry with his new changes. A little teeth-pulling, but it gets done well.
FRIDAYS (ARE FOR FIELD TRIPS)
8:30 Grandpa picks up the 10yo for a day on Alcatraz and at Fisherman's Wharf.
The little kids and I head into SF for some beach time. Sunshine, seashell counting games, simple math in the sand, the beautiful bay, fish tacos while catching the Giants game on a big screen, and organic, dipped soft serve are just some of the reasons why we homeschool! ;-)
EXTENDED LEARNING (aka THE WEEKEND)
SATURDAY soccer games then we drive to Santa Cruz. Dinner on the wharf with family, total surprise that tonight marks the 100 year celebration of the wharf. Fireworks at 9, boardwalk open until 10. Super fun night - cousins have a great time. SUNDAY at the Rennaisance Fair! So much research, preparation and anticipation has gone into the fair over the last month. Kids loved every minute of it. I'll post about the whole day at the fair next.