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Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Dream and Reality

I recently saw a post from The Old Schoolhouse on their Facebook wall asking about a “typical day” in a homeschool and it got me to thinking…

A typical day in our homeschool? Well, where should I begin hmmm let’s see…

We have been homeschooling for seven years and we have four daughters. Yes, we have all girls and we love it! We started out schooling with all workbooks. My poor oldest daughter suffered through Kindergarten having to complete somewhere between 7-8 workbooks plus reading books on top of that! She handled it like a pro. Our second born did not handle the same approach well. In fact it was a disaster. But, I forced her, I mean we persevered and we both survived. Next came our third born and I was bound and determined not to use the same approach. So, I backed off and only made her go through 4-5 workbooks-in Kindergarten!! Now that the fourth is getting ready for Kindergarten, I have completely revamped my thinking about the early years in school. Well, school in general actually. We have come around to a more classical style with a few workbooks thrown in and it is going swimmingly.
Now, for a typical day in our school.

My phone alarm, because that’s where my life is scheduled, starts going off around 5:45 and I wake up, work out and then do my devotions. The first set of kid alarms go off at 6:45 so the older two can take showers before breakfast. They shower and then start on chores. While they are working on chores, the younger two wake up and start on their chores for about 10 minutes. Breakfast is served at 7:30. I have extra pancakes, waffles, and French toast in the freezer for easy meal options. By 8am we are starting individual devotion time. All is quiet during this time.
At 8:30 the timer goes off and it is time to start reading time. This scheduled reading time has to be something that comes from their schoolwork and must be read for 30 minutes. When 9am rolls around, it is time to start regular studies. Each thirty minute slot is scheduled and I have individual time scheduled with each child for Math, Language, and Spelling. At 11am, we start our writing assignments, and then move on to Discussion time.

Lunch is an hour long with total free time. By 1pm we start history read-alouds for an hour. Next comes Science or Latin, depending on the day, followed by Piano and Art/Hands-On projects. We end the day with Homework time at 3:30pm.
Chores start again by 4, then supper, clean up, and a free time before bed.

It works beautifully. On paper!

Now, here’s how our day really goes.
My alarm goes off at 5:45 and I turn it off and drop it on the floor, hoping for a few more minutes of sleep. This glorious extra sleep is interrupted by the children complaining that if they have to be awake, then so do I. Nice.
I get up and stumble to the kitchen to start the coffee maker, growling at any of the kids that dare talk to me. While I am in the kitchen, said children start complaining about not having any food. Yup, I forgot to make any pancakes or waffles and no, we don’t have any milk for cereal. Next comes the phrase that would win me Mother of the Year, at least in childrens’ eyes everywhere, “Eat whatever you want.” I walk away with my coffee so that I can’t see what they are eating. I truly don’t want to know; it can’t be good. I carefully maneuver down the stairs so as not to spill my precious coffee and check emails.

Not long after I find my happy place, the first of the questions start. “Do we really have to do school today?” “Can I just do art today?” “Can we watch TV?” “Do I have to take a bath?” All of the questions start melting into one another until I say, “You can do Free School today.” Cheers go up from the students and a sigh of relief is exhaled by the teacher.

By 11am everyone is complaining about how they are starving to death and they won’t live if they can’t eat right this minute. So, being a good teacher I ask if they have gotten their schoolwork done. Suddenly, no one is making eye contact and they have developed an insane interest in their shoes. Hemming and hawing ensue until I give up and tell them to just go eat, again! I decide that we will do better in the afternoon.

After lunch, I help with the subjects that I should, which takes all of one hour, and then we move on to more serious business. Art. No one complains about doing Art; everyone loves it. I redeem my status as a homeschooler by being in our Art project to our History studies and we actually learn something while we are painting. Then the arguing starts because someone took the color someone else wanted; pouting begins. Mine, not theirs.

In my frustration, I yell at them to just go do their history by themselves if they don’t like who they are sitting by. No one moves. I am stuck reading History aloud, again. More pouting can be seen throughout the house. History is read, but I don’t enjoy it and I make sure that they know how unhappy I am about it. There is finally some peace and quiet; no one is arguing or complaining. In fact, it is so quiet that I fall asleep while I am reading. I wake up to find that the kids have scattered like roaches in the daytime. I heave a sigh and realize that I have failed the day and contemplate sending them to a ‘real school’ that would undoubtedly do a better job than I ever could.

Chores don’t get done until 10 minutes before Dad gets home so everyone is running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Supper is hastily started, attitudes are at a peak, and then Dad walks in the door. Everyone is all smiles for him. They fawn all over him telling him how happy they are that he’s home and how much they missed him. I stand there staring at these angelic children that have mysteriously replaced my own,wondering when that happened.

Dinner is completed and I start nagging about the dishes getting done. During my nagging, one of the kiddos pipes up and asks their Dad to guess what they learned in school today. A twenty minute conversation begins with all four participating and filling in all about their studies and the era of history we read about. I sit back and watch them conversing with their father and realize that I must not be that bad of a homeschooler because they are learning something at least!

After the kids scatter, my husband looks at me and says those magical words, “Good job, honey! They are really learning a lot.”

Oh, if he only knew!

Okay, it doesn’t really always go like that. But on any given day several – if not most – of those things happen! We really do have a schedule like the one I described and when we can manage to stick to it, we get so much accomplished and are much happier people. The hard part is not letting the schedule be our master; but making it fit what we need when we need it. Not only has homeschooling my kiddos taught me the need for structure and discipline, it has taught me the art of being flexible.


Lindsay said...

LOL! I was reading the first part and thinking....."wow, I wish my day went like that" Now, don't get me wrong, I have my beautiful, colourful Managers of their Homes (MOTH) schedule on my wall and have for about 10 years now, but I don't think in all that time I have been able to follow it fully for one full day.....EVER! But, when I started the schedule *and homeschooling), I was pregnant with our 5th child in 5 years and have had 5 since him (spaced out a little more than the first 5 LOL) so that could be the reason. And yes, you are right, everyone is happier when everything does go as planned.......i just wish it would always go as planned LOL!

Cynthia said...

FUN post! It took me to almost the bottom of the first part to realize this couldn't possibly happen, right???? (LOL)!

Marie said...

Thanks for the chuckle and encouragement. When I first began reading I thought you were serious and I thought...oh my, my kids would never be able to behave and follow this schedule, lol!
Thanks for visiting my blog...looking forward to meeting all my new crew mates.

Elizabeth Herr said...

Oh yes, I second, third and fourth the other replies! LOL, smiling, thinking... oh yes, to be organized, then maybe I"m doing and ok job myself :)... I think the most encouraging of this is that is makes everyone realize that 'I'm not alone'! Thanks for the post.
Elizabeth Herr

momma24 said...

I wish the first part was how our days really went! lol Well, mostly anyway. We do alright most of the time if I remember to relax. ;-) Glad to know I'm not alone, too!!

Kristine said...

TOO funny! I too read the first part, thinking, wow, great schedule, maybe I can do this!

You think I'd know by now. You can't do it, and neither can I!

But there's always next year!