Monday, November 17, 2008

So, you homeschool?

People often wonder what we DO when we homeschool, both civilians and homeschoolers alike. I always appreciate seeing what other families are doing, so I'll share the list of things we hypothetically do in a day. 

We're probably closest to the classical style of homeschooling, though I draw much of my philosophical base from what I've learned over the years from the brain-growth folks at IAHP and FHC, with new inspiration from some unholy combination of Lisa VanDamme and Andrew Pudewa.

Theo is almost 8. Here is his list:
- IEW Spelling Zoo, one lesson per day: 15 minutes
- Suzuki guitar practice: 30 minutes
- History at Our House teleconference lecture, plus geography map work: 30+15 minutes 
- Reading with pRoshi: 20 minutes
- RightStart Math, level B. One lesson per day, plus one practice sheet: 30 minutes
- IEW Poetry memorization, all known poems and new poem. In car: 20 minutes
- Physical: bike or run 
- IEW Writing: 15 minutes
- Literature discussion/copy work.  About 15 minutes per day.
- Read aloud library books

I typed them pretty much in order of priority, the things that need to be practiced daily or cost money seem to get most of my attention.  Writing, lit and read aloud get dropped on busy days, and I am truly sad how little time I seem to spend reading to the kids these days.  

Rosie's list, at 5 years, is much shorter. I find I'm really struggling to work with both kids because neither of them spend much time on independent work yet. Several of the items in Rosie's list exist sheerly to buy me focused time with Theo.
- Suzuki guitar practice: 15 minutes
- Headsprout reading program: 20 minutes (with some bonus Starfall or, gasp, Sesame Street if I need more time with Theo)
- Headsprout review flash cards and mini-books
- Handwriting Without Tears practice or copy work: 10 minutes
- RightStart Math, level A. One lesson every other day: 15 mintues
- Craft work (can you say "busy work"?).  Just printed out some compelling pages from WonderTime.
- IEW Poetry memorization, recite all known poems each day, plus work on new poem. In car: 20 minutes
- Physical: bike or run 
- Read aloud library books

On a weekly basis we also have an alternating art-science group, guitar lessons, park day, swim lessons and potluck night.

The crazy thing about writing a list out is that it doesn't really reflect how the day goes.  First off, there are the random days where the water heater explodes, someone is sick or we run away from home to Costco.  Still, if you add up the amount of time the work should take, the grand total is about 2.5 hours.  However, add children and mix and the work can easily stretch out to 5 hours. And I'm not willing to work that hard for that long.  So we stop about noon, do our afternoon activities and sometimes re-group for a little more work after dinner.

I beat myself up from time to time that our lists are so very rarely completed (yes, I have one too).  I don't really even know how to asses if they are doing "well" or not as we go along. Of course, the list also misses all the magical learning moments that happen throughout the day, too.  Making pancakes looks like math work to me.  Our runs along the lake beg a million questions about the life teaming in and near the water.  Spending every day together is a giant exercise in communication, negotiations and emotional intelligence. Millions of conversations in the car about friends, race, sterotypes, war, love, how puppies are made.  The water heater incident, the grocery store, talking with rodent control man - my children learn tons just making it through the day together as a family.  How do I quantify all that?

In any case, for now this is how we putter through our days,  and that's how we homeschool.

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