This is our third year homeschooling, and my first year with two official students. In the past, I was very fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. I didn't now what assignment Primus was going to do next until the moment I assigned it. I was the only one who knew what the plan was for the day. It worked out ok. But it was obvious that now with two students, a preschooler, and a baby, we needed some more order, routine, and independence.
The first step was to decide on a daily routine and print it out for all to see. The Monday schedule stays on the wall at all times. Then I can clip the other days to the front. For example, if you look at Tuesday below, the paper actually starts with 9:45am because before that, the schedule is exactly the same on Monday so I just clip it to Monday, leaving the top part visible. The schedule is also laminated so I can easily make any adjustments with a dry erase marker.
I then set up recurring alarms on my phone to keep on schedule. When the kids hear the alarm, they know something is supposed to happen. If it wasn't for those alarms, I don't think we would ever eat between meal snacks. My kids definitely like the alarms!
You'll notice above that I have Science, History, and Literature scheduled at certain times. Those are the three subjects that we all do together. We do Science on Tuesday and Thursday, History on Monday and Wednesday, and Literature on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
For science we use Evan Moor's Science Works for Kids. This school year we chose 5 of the books in the series. Each book has 9 topics. So I figured if we studied 1 topic per week, then we would have almost exactly the right amount of weeks in the school year to do everything (some weeks we would have to study 2 topics) . Well, it's become clear that that was an unrealistic and frantic pace. We are a couple weeks behind. I think I'm going to take a day or two soon and dedicate them to science. We'll just do nothing but fun science experiments all day and get caught up and ahead.
For history we use Story of the World. I have no specific goals for this. We just take it at a leisurely pace and spend as much time doing enrichment activities and reading books about a certain chapter as we want.
Until two weeks ago, for literature we were studying Folk Tales and Fairy Tales using a book from Evan Moor. The book had 3 activities for each story so we would study one story per week. Each day we read a different version of the story and then do one activity.
Now we are studying one Caldecott winning book per week. We read it on Monday and discuss to check for comprehension and pick two new vocabulary words from it to define. Wednesday and Thursday we do two art projects from a book called, Art Through Children's Literature.
You'll notice on the chart above that we have "List" scheduled several times. That means it is their time to work on their daily list of tasks. They each have their own clipboard. I don't care what order they do their tasks, as long as they are done by the end of the day. They even occasionally work ahead and do the next day's pages.
These lists make for easy record keeping. And Primus is getting really good at working independently. She doesn't have to wait for me to tell her what to do next. She just looks at her clipboard and decides what she feels like doing.
Finally, you might be able to see that on their lists it says "Pick a Stick." This is one of their tasks almost every day. This means that they chose a large craft stick from their own jar (those are little peanut butter jars hot-glued together) and do the activity that is written on it. These are all fun and educational things that I want them to have an opportunity to do, but I am too scatterbrained to remember to assign them.
The kids love this! I really need to reevaluate their daily lists and make it so they can pick-a-stick everyday, maybe twice on some days. Some examples of stick activities are: tanagrams, pattern blocks, take a magnifying glass outside and explore, phonics bingo, play "store," explore with our magnet science kit, origami, puzzles, math fact practice with 10 sided dice, and fine motor skills practice with tweezers or eyedroppers.
So there you have it, a peak into our school day.