Friday, July 15, 2011

Getting Organized and Keeping a Loose Schedule

I've been wanting to write this for a while now, but just now found the time. About six months ago I wrote about getting things ready for homeschooling first grade. Well we started homeschooling first grade back on May 25th and the children have been learning 4 days a week since then. (Side note: I firmly believe that children are learning all the time and learning doesn't stop for weekends and holidays, however we have what I like to call "official school days" 4 days a week during the summer.) So, now that I'm about 6 weeks into homeschooling I can tell we definitely need to be more organized in some areas.
I found this really cool storage box at a missions yard sale a few months ago. It was just too awesome to pass up and now I'm so glad I have it. I've organized our homeschooling materials in the slots by subject and since there are way more slots than subjects I've filled the others with supplemental magazines on art, science and geography. I've read online that most homeschooling families use a filing cabinet. Well this box is my "filing cabinet" and it doubles as a bench or play table in the kids room. I think it's a great use of space!
As for organizing a schedule, many homeschooling families have a strict schedule they follow. Example: 8am Science, 9am PE, 10am Math, 11am Science, and so on. We have a much looser schedule than this because I've found that life on a farm with young children will always bring daily surprises. We start our school day with the Pledge of Allegiance and Lord's Prayer then our first grader works on handwriting and spelling words while our 3yr old works on a page or two out of a preschool book. After about 20 minutes of this we go to another room and play some math games on the floor (counting/adding marbles, pattern blocks, addition bingo, telling time, etc.). The math games usually take up 30-45 minutes, but I never stop if we're all having fun. I don't think learning should be about watching the clock, it should be more about being in the moment and learning what is going on around us. After the math games we will either have indoor PE, music, or art depending on what day of the week it is. This could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on how enthusiastic the kids are about what we're doing.
After our morning lessons we usually have a snack around 10:30 and then
play educational computer games (Jump Start, Math Blaster, Raz-Kids, etc.). This allows me to get some housework done or help them where they need it. Most of our Science and Bible lessons are after lunch. If we have a Science project to do I will read the lesson and let them follow along with me looking at the pictures then we will do the project later after quiet time. Quiet time is from 1:30-3:00 and the children can play quietly in their room, look at books, watch an educational (and calm) cartoon such as Signing Time, or play on their learning laptop (a kids computer with tons of games for ages 5-10).

Pretty much that's it. It's certainly not a "set in stone" schedule and occasionally things have to be shifted around for vet appointments, swimming, impromptu playdates, etc. It is summertime after all and as I said before, learning happens all the time.

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