Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Day In The Life...

When we first started homeschooling, I always wondered if our days were like other homeschool families' days.  Probably not, because what works for one kid or set of kids is different from what works for another.  Some basic idea is always kind of nice to have though.  So I took the time to (mostly) photograph our day on Monday.

Sedona is in 2nd grade, and still does most of her work one-on-one with me.  Sierra is in 5th grade, and does a lot of her work independently.  Also, we have an actual set school time this year.  This is new for us.  We used to play our day by ear, having a list of tasks, but not a specific time to do them.  I've always shied away from a specific schedule because there are so many things that can mess them up, but this has been working out extremely well to help Sedona stay focused and to help both of them get through their work without complaining about the time spent.

7am-8am:
Everyone wakes up when they want, makes their breakfast and watches some cartoons while they eat. 

8am-9am:
The kids have free time, usually involving riding scooters or doing flips or standing on their head, while I get my brain caffeinated and respond to work emails (new mothers.....always sending emails at 3 in the morning...)

9am-11am:
School time.  Sounds so simple, doesn't it?  A lot of people assume all of our days are like weekends, that we're home and free at a moment's notice.  Here's what this two hour block looks like:

Sedona and I walk into the school room at 9 to find Sierra has already gotten started on her Spanish work so she'll be able to finish school a little earlier today.  She's a morning person and prefers working early:
 Secora immediately gets out her current favorite activity, painting letter sheets:
 Sierra has already checked out her assignments for the week and put up her "mad" tag.  We have a basket of emotions to choose from and everyone puts up how they're feeling and changes them when they feel like it throughout the day.  It helps all of us have a little more empathy and get along better.  Sierra was frustrated with Spanish because it's currently her least favorite subject.  Sedona started out the day happy:
 My emotion tag goes on the big calendar:
 Sedona chooses to work on writing first and for this particular day, that means reading the original Aladdin story.  She and I will read it together, and later in the week she will draw a picture of the story, then orally narrate the story while I write it down.  On Friday, she'll watch the Disney version and orally narrate a list of similarities and differences between the stories:
 We finish Aladdin and Sedona erases that assignment from her board:
 Sierra has moved on to reading her biology assignment (her text was purchased as an e-book and I'm not printing out 800 pages).  Secora's put away her paint and gotten out some books to look at:
 Sedona decides to do reading next, so we get out our All About Reading board and cards:
 Someone asks for a snack, which makes everyone realize they need a snack, so there's a quick stampede to the kitchen, then Sierra sits down to plan her attack on her history lessons...
 ...while Sedona munches apples and practices decoding words by dividing them into syllables, labeling each syllable with which type it is (that helps determine the sound each letter makes), and reading the words.
 While Sedona works on an onomatopoeia worksheet, Sierra takes advantage of the break to ask me a history question:
 Sedona finishes her worksheet (and the day's reading lesson):
 Sedona erases the reading assignment from her board and chooses to work on spelling next.  All About Spelling uses the same board and phonogram tiles, but Sedona prefers to write spelling words on a lined white board instead of the big open space.
 While she's working on that, I have a few seconds to snap a picture of Secora, who has decided to thumb through a consumer economics textbook ('cause why not?)
 And Sierra, who's made a lot of progress on her history lesson and is working on using her textbook to label a map of the area around Mesopotamia. 
 Before long, Sedona is done with spelling and Secora has turned in the economics book for some markers and paper.
 It's Sedona's turn for Spanish.  She doesn't have headphones on because this is her first year to use Rosetta Stone.  For now, I'm sitting with her to prompt her through using the program correctly and give her some hints when she's getting frustrated. 
 After a solid two hours of work, Sedona is done for the morning.  She wanders off to watch TV and change out of her pajama pants.  Sierra chooses to stay with me even though school time is over and since it's Monday, we go over all of her work from last week.  I've graded everything over the weekend and made notes where I need to do a better job teaching a concept or where she just needs to work harder.

11:30-12:
Lunch time!  The girls are generally tired and lunch is pretty quiet and low-key.  I eat while checking work email again.  Those moms I wrote to first thing in the morning have generally replied back with answers to my questions or with more questions of their own.  Sometimes I'm working on a class I'm teaching, or sending invoices.  I almost always get a chance to also check in with friends on facebook and play a quick mindless game.

12p-2p:
Free time for Sedona and Secora.  Sedona heads next door to round up a neighbor kid to play with
 And to climb a tree
 Secora's not allowed outside without an adult yet and I've told Sierra I will spend one-on-one school time with her whenever she's ready today, so Secora plays with legos.
 Sedona runs back in for popsicles:
 Around 1pm, Sierra decides she's ready to get back to work.  Officially, we don't have school time again until 2p-3p, but she knows she's got more than 3 hours worth of work to do today and she has theater class later on, so she wants to get done so she has a little time to play when her public school friends get home. 

We start with biology.  It's not as scary as it looks! Every Monday, she reads the chapter for the week, then we sit down together and I read it to her, while expanding on key points and explaining things she doesn't quite understand.  We're working on learning how to take notes in a lecture environment, so this also involves ME taking notes on my own "lecture" while she also takes notes based on what she's hearing and seeing me write. 
 We also went over anything she had done that morning and had questions about, which ate up the rest of the hour.

2p-3p:
Back to official school time, which means I put Secora down for her nap, then did Sedona's math lesson with her (the last thing on her schedule this day).  I don't have a picture though, because at this point, Sierra decided to take a break and try her hand at stop motion animation:
This particular day, Sedona was done with school by about 2:30p.  Sierra had to work (with me) until 4pm, then she went out to play.  Secora woke up, so I got her a snack and started cooking dinner.  Sierra had to eat and leave a little after 5pm for theater class.  Sedona ate while she was gone, then went with Josh to pick up Sierra and buy crickets for her bearded dragon.  At some point in there, I ended up with this picture, which means Sedona had the camera.
7p-8p:
Various bedtime routines for all the little people.

8:30p:
Momma is finally totally off-duty.  Time to sit down with some ice cream and netflix.   I remembered right before bed that it was Monday, which meant the next day was Tuesday...speech therapy day.  One of the big girls goes to speech with Secora and me, the other goes to work with Josh for the morning.  Monday night I pack up some assignments that can be done independently so the kid that goes with Josh can get some school work done without bothering him too much.

11p--???????
I play facebook games or read until my brain stops spinning so I can get some sleep and do it all over again the next day!

It's a great life and I love the flexibility of being able to set our own routine, schedule days off when we need or want to and not having homework assignments keeping us up late, but it is busy.  It wasn't like this when it was just Sierra, but with the way we homeschool, I expect the days will look similar to this until Secora is about 10 or 11 and all of the girls are more independent studiers.  Last year was busy, but this year feels almost like a full-time job.  We are less stressed and staying on task better, but more often than not I look up and it's 4 or 4:30 and all I've done is school and my lactation work all day and friends and family are leaving voice mails and emails wondering where I'm at.  Just keeping all these kids educated!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Free ABC Coloring Sheets


Secora has been asking me questions about letter sounds recently, and she always wants to paint.  I decided it would be a good idea for one of her work trays to include letter sound coloring sheets that she can paint with paint daubers.  As usual, these are available for free to anyone who wants to use them.  I only ask that you share the link to this post rather than sharing the sheets directly.

A few notes
  • I tried to find pictures that wouldn't be confusing for my child.  For instance, I used dinosaur instead of dog because she will think, "puppy dog" when she sees a dog picture.  Other kids may need different pictures. 
  • I tried to use pictures that wouldn't use a ton of ink, but the letter edges are pretty thick, so you may still want to print draft quality to minimize ink usage.
  • I made the sounds coincide with the All About Reading program that we use, so instead of "q", there is a "qu" and all of the vowels have a picture that illustrates their short sound.  I've also added on some two letter phonograms at the end of the set. 
  • Because children will see lower case letters more than upper case letters in reading, we always start by teaching lower case letters first.  We only add in upper case letters after they're starting to get the hang of the sounds.  Accordingly, this set only includes lower case letters because that's where we're at for the moment. 
  • I use these with one letter per page so she can easily paint them.  An older child or one more interested in coloring than painting might benefit from printing 4 pages to a sheet so the letters are smaller. 
 Now for the link!  Go here to download your own full set of letter coloring sheets!

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