I think we are finishing up our 1st month of school, or there abouts, and we have really gotten a lot done this first month. More importantly, I think we have finally found a routine that is working for us and has us finishing up the day around 1:30-ish and with no fits and very little whining. This is BIG news around here. I think we just finished our best week of homeschooling ever and it was pretty amazing.
I have put together a check list of our various subjects and have divided it into the following categories:
* Prepare for our day - includes making bed, tidying room, getting dressed, eating, and brushing teeth and hair.
* "Let's remember to start our day off with a prayer" (I'm ashamed to admit that I will frequently forget this if it is not on our checklist and it really does help us all to have a better day.
* Subjects we all do together - includes Grammar, Spelling, History (Mon and Tues) / Science (Wed and Thurs or Thurs and Fri - depends on which day we take off, since we are schooling 4 days a week) and Memory Work.
* Subjects you do individually with Mom - includes writing, math and read aloud to Mom.
* Subjects you do independently - includes cursive practice, 30 minutes of fun read-to-self, 20 minutes of typing practice, piano practice, and sometimes I might assign a science or history library book for them to read-to-self.
I also list the once-a-week afternoon activities we are committed to each day, such as an hour and a half P.E. class, a two hour art class, Nick's 1 hour Occupation Therapy appt., 1 hour of piano lessons, 30 minutes of swimming lessons, a 1 hour almost-free Karate class at our church and an hour and a half of AWANAs.
We are not doing a co-op this year. The one I really like did not have anything to fit our schedule this time so we will try again next year maybe.
Other big news around here is that after two and a half years of playing the violin, Ben has now switched to the piano and is having a ball. He is so excited about it and loves to practice. The great thing is that he no longer needs me to help him practice. I always listen when Nick is practicing the piano and once in a great while I might go help him with something but, for the most part, I just provide encouragement and cheering, which works out quite nicely for keeping the peace around here. The violin has so many different variables that have to be worked on that most children this young cannot really practice by themselves and really see good improvement. Ben is really loving his independence of being able to practice the piano without me (and so am I!:). It really has helped so much to streamline our school day and allow us to be able to fit piano practice in as another one of our subjects. One child can be practicing the piano while I am doing math or writing with the other child. Music practice is now getting done more regularly in our house than ever before and none of us are stressing about it now. It used to be pushed to the end of the school day and they were ready for a break before practicing their music (and so was I!) and then it was a struggle for us to get back into gear and get it done. What a relief this one change has made for all of us. We'll see if it is still going this smoothly in another couple of months.
The other thing is I have started getting up a bit earlier and trying to finish my breakfast before the boys are ready to eat. They spend a little time playing and by the time they are dressed and ready to eat, I am ready to start school. So I usually read our grammar lesson to them while they are eating breakfast. They are learning the parts of speech and memorizing the definitions and the lists of pronouns, linking/helping verbs, prepositions, etc. so they repeat back or recite definitions and lists between bites. They are done eating before we finish our lesson so they do the written part after I finish the lecture part and then we move right into spelling. We normally finish up these two subjects in about 30 minutes or so and then we move right on to history or science and memory work. Grammar and spelling are pretty quick subjects to get done and we all end up feeling so positive about how our day is progressing as we fly through our morning lessons. It really gets our day off to a great start.
I won't bore you with the details of the rest of our day but I am happy to report that things around here are really going well right now and it is really refreshing. Nick even told me today that he is starting to like school now, which was quite an eye opener.
I must give all of the credit and glory for this vast improvement to God. I have been praying about this and I know he is moving around here. I believe we have gone through every day this week without one major attitude issue, which is amazing! Thank you Lord!!