It seems like for a lot of homeschool families, what I'm gong to call "table time" is an everyday occurrence. Meaning for large portions of their school day, the whole family is gathered around the kitchen table doing workbooks and such all at the same time, with Mom flitting around from child to child and assisting as needed.
I've always resisted that idea, though. And here's why:
1. I have a perfect little kid-sized table in my awesome school room. That's where I figured most schooling would take place.
2. I loathed the idea of cleaning the table after breakfast, dragging the school books to the kitchen, and packing it all up and putting it away to have lunch. To put a finer point on it, until recently, we would wake up to a messy table every morning that hadn't even been cleaned from dinner the night before. So usually, we would clean it just enough so we could eat breakfast and leave the dried on spills and sticky spots to be tackled later. Not an environment conducive to learning.
3. I thought one of the benefits to homeschooling was curling up with your math book in any comfy couch or bean bag chair you wanted anywhere around the house.
But with this being our first year of having two official students, it has become clear to me that something needed to change. Basically everyday this school year I have felt half crazy. For whatever reason, the girls hardly ever want to work at the school table, unless we're doing a group project. So with them and their books spread all over, it is such a struggle to stay on top of the girl's assignments and make sure they are staying focused and not wasting time between assignments. I am overwhelmed and wondering if maybe I was expecting too many things from them. Our school days are running way longer than I thought they should and we weren't fitting in enough time for fun stuff. Plus, Tertius hasn't been getting much preschool attention at all.
I was finally ready to try something different.
So this morning as soon as breakfast was done, I cleaned the table while the kids got dressed. When they finished getting ready for the day, they arrived back in the kitchen to find their baskets of school stuff and a jar of sharp pencils. Tertius even sat up with us and scribbled in a workbook for quite a while until he got bored and went to play in the living room. Quartus was also nearby in his highchair eating breakfast.
It worked wonderfully! The girls stayed remarkably focused and transitioned from assignment to assignment quickly. No pulling teeth! No nagging! No chasing down distracted children! No frantic searching for lost spelling lists!
They were able to complete all of their assigned work for the day well before lunch time. We even had time left before lunch to do science and an art project (which I had prepared and set up on the school table so it was waiting for us ready)!
I realize one good day might be too soon to tell, but I'm already convinced that this is a great way to do school for our family.