Our first week back to school was tough, but we made it!
People ask me all the time, “How on earth do you manage to home school with so many little kids in the house.” Well, first I should let it be know that it’s not perfect or even close. Homeschooling is also very different from what most people think of when they think of school. So for those of you who wonder, this is how we do it.
We follow a schedule. Things just don’t happen in a house with four kiddos unless you have a plan. Our schedule is not rigid, but it is a great routine that makes life much easier. On a perfect day (few and far between), I get up and get dressed and then get the kids up and they get dressed while I make breakfast. We eat real breakfast food, too, ‘cause it’s the most important meal of the day, don’t you know?! After breakfast, the kids do a few chores and get ready for school. I try to start the school day at 8:30 and never after 9:00 each morning.
When the kids get to our “classroom,” they get their desks ready for learning, we spend a little time working on the calendar and singing the ABC’s and skip counting just like a regular classroom, and we read a story together. Then, the kids get out their seatwork. Yes, seatwork. I don’t like it either, but I haven’t found a better way to teach handwriting, spelling and math. It’s just the easiest way to make sure that we have all the bases covered. I start out by helping the youngest and move up the line. The older two know how to read their assignment sheets and get started on their own. My oldest helps the littles as needed, too. I try to spend a bit of time each morning working with my kindergartener on reading, too.
My goal each morning, is to be done with seatwork by 10:00. It’s still nice outside and the kids go out to play while I get some house work done. We eat at 11:30 and the little ones head to bed for nap at 12:30. Naptime is the best time for fun school projects like painting, science projects, and serious reading. I get the kids started and often leave them to their learning. When they are finished, they are free to play quiet until the little ones are up.
It doesn’t sound like much “learning time,” but we don’t limit our learning to traditional settings. The kids ask questions and explore all day. We involve them in all sorts of activities around home to teach them real skills and help them develop problem solving. We expect much from them and also provide lots of time for just being kids. At any rate, it’s working for us.
The greatest challenge is in keeping my youngest busy while I help the others. I’m well aware that my tricks for entertaining him are running a bit thin. That will be my challenge in coming weeks. I’m looking for ideas to keep my toddler busy and will share my ideas as soon as I can get a list made. I’ll have to get busy on this, because the counting bears that thrilled him this week are now “so last week.”
That’s how we do it, this home school thing. It’s messy and complicated and sometimes falls apart. When it does, we just pick up the pieces and try again later. Just like in the traditional classroom, lessons sometimes don’t work and life sometimes presents lessons we are ill-equipped to teach. But, we keep on teaching and learning and giving our best to the kiddos.
We have chosen a difficult path, but it is so rewarding. I love watching them learn and grow and thrive. I love their enthusiasm for learning and curiosity. We are having a blast!