(Times are approximate. I’m severely Type B, after all.)
Technically, the first day of school was supposed to be this Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. That was the day my other kids started high school outside the home so it made sense to me. However, some day in July it made sense to me to make a long doctor’s appointment for my son on Tuesday. Not sure what I was thinking…but it worked out in the end. It was even a good visit – we don’t have to go back until December, and his joints are looking good! (Thanks to lots of horrible drugs /insert scowly eye roll here).
So Wednesday rolls around and I figure I can’t put off starting school forever just because I missed what would have been the perfect first day. I did think about it though! “Maybe we should start NEXT week.” No Amy, just do it. So a day late and half a curriculum short, and here we go.
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6:30 ish AM – I hear people banging around outside my room and know it’s time to get rolling. The school girls are getting ready. So I lie in bed for a long time scrolling through Instagram. I’ve become an Instagram Stories junkie lately. I’m secretly thankful it wears my battery down too fast or I would do it more often, when I should be doing other things. Like getting up and starting my day. Ahem.
7 AM – I say goodbye to dh and the girls and go shower. Today is the first day of homeschooling! I’m going to be ready. Well, at least I’m going to be clean…”ready” is saying a bit too much. I haven’t shopped for this year, I have vague plans…. yeah, “ready” is a little optimistic. But I’ve had a horse in this race for *gulp* 15 years now, so I’m just going to roll with it.
8 AM – the youngest two are up (they are 12 and almost 10… 7th and 4th grade) and getting ready. Getting ready means, hmmmm, not much. They sleep in shorts and t-shirts. They do school in shorts and t-shirts, LOL. They brush their teeth. I make snacks! This is not an every day thing but something nice for the first day. Belvita Bites, crackers, chai, tea, veggies. Shocked that they eat the veggies before the Belvitas and crackers. Make a mental note to put out veggies more often. Dip is a lifesaver.
9 AM – School starts! Find the kids. They are excited for their first day. I *know* that will not last, but it is nice for today. We gather on the couch, our only soft place to sit…we moved this summer and can’t afford more furniture until we sell our old house. 🙂 I suggest we start with a prayer. It was awkward but heartfelt. I never know what to say! “Thanks God. Help?!?!” LOL
After a prayer blessing our year I open A History of US Volume 1. My daughter has asked to learn about Native American history and cultures, and my son has no opinion right now, so Native Americans it is. (An aside: I’m agonizing over how to refer to them…Native Americans? Indigenous North Americans? Something else? Even a google search brings up interviews where no one is in agreement of what they call themselves. Usually prefer their tribe name. Which doesn’t help me name them as a whole for blogging and discussion purposes. So Native Americans it is…with an explanation of all this to my 12yo LOL) (Yes I’m an overthinker, why do you ask?)
9-10 AM – We read from A History of US, 2 chapters. This hour is a great example of my teaching style. Discussion based and all over the place. A History of Us starts with a poem, “This Newly Created World (a Winnebago Indian poem)”. We are doing “history” but stop to discuss the poem. There is some great imagery and metaphor…we discuss it and what a metaphor is. I don’t beat the poem to death, I just say a few things until it starts feeling unnatural, and then I move on. I know there will be another poem at some point to talk about something else. We talk about Winnebago and wonder about the name and where they lived/live.
The next few pages have several quotes, and we read them. They discuss the meaning and importance of history and my kids have opinions on it they share. There are brief discussions on who some of the people quoted are. We look a few things up. I’m happy nothing started us singing Hamilton songs because then we may never have fully recovered. 😀 We did sing the preamble to the Constitution when it came up in the text. I cried when we were done, trying to explain to my kids how cool it was that they were singing the same song I learned from Schoolhouse Rock when I was young. I am *always* crying during read alouds so they might as well get used to it now.
We have a little side discussions about: math/physics/physiology (the size of mammoths and length of tusks vs their legs), geology, evolution, vocabulary they didn’t know, what a theory is vs. things we know as absolute facts, weaponry, whether it’s OK to eat animals. We are about 18 pages into the book…and have covered history, math, geology, physics, biology, ethics, and language arts.
10ish – we hit the end of a history chapter … not a pre-planned stopping point, just a good one… so move to our read aloud: Prince Caspian. We finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at the end of last year, so this was an obvious choice. 🙂 I read and they listen and draw and snack. There are a few side discussions but not like with the history book.
Getting on my soapbox: I don’t “ruin” a book I’m reading aloud by asking comprehension questions. Asking comprehension questions while reading doesn’t teach kids anything, it is just *testing* them over and over. If a kid has comprehension problems I would address that separately, and probably pick easier (and very engaging) books as my read alouds with them. I know my kids are following for the most part because I’ll talk about what I like about the plot, or ask them if they remember where we left off yesterday, and they can usually converse pretty well about it. We cover a few new vocabulary words as we hit them. “Do you know what _____ means here?” I read a few chapters until my throat starts hurting.
I’ll pick a paragraph I like at some point next week for copy work, especially for my youngest. He had arthritis in his right hand for years and so I didn’t force handwriting. He’s doing well now, but his grip is weak and he needs practice.
11 AM – Time for math! They are both doing Life of Fred this year. We are in Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics for my 7th grader and Kidney (LOL) for my 4th grader, although so far it seems easy. Meaning, he is understanding the concepts, not necessarily remembering all his math facts right away or the steps to long division. I walk him through problems, and it will come with time. (Methotrexate Fog is a a real thing). I read to my son as my dd does hers on her own, surprisingly in the same room. She usually wants quiet.
Life of Fred works much like our other curriculum in that the author brings in random topics that send us down rabbit trails. Some people hate it but it really works for us. So today we talked about idioms, which is great because they showed up several times in our other work, music, alphabetizing, and fair salaries.
Does this take a long time? YES! But it seems to all balance out in the end. Because now, when we hit “idioms” in whatever language arts program I might use, they already know about it, and we can skim or skip. And they learned it in a more natural manner, so it seems to stick better than if it’s taught just because we happened to hit the “idiom” chapter in our book.
12 – Yay! So it’s about 12:00 and I know I, at least, am seriously hitting my wall for continuous interaction. We fend for ourselves for lunch and when they are done I put on a video. Lydia wants to learn about animals and asked about bird behavior, so we find Beaks and Brains on Netflix and watch that in my room on my bed together. Did I know we would watch this today? No, but I knew Netflix had a ton of animal videos and we would find *something.* We talk about it while watching, I throw in a few facts I know, it’s all very casual and fun. It really was fascinating learning how smart these birds are! 🙂
Before they are “dismissed” for the day to do whatever they want, they do some chores. We’ve introduced a new chore system that is working really well so far. I will go into it in more detail in another post, but here is a sneak peak (which you already have seen if you follow me on Instagram).
So that is it! We were done by 2, and it was by far the best first homeschooling day ever. I mostly read aloud and talked and discussed, and kept my expectations low. This works for us. I know it doesn’t work for everyone, it didn’t even work for everyone in my own family which is why two of my children are in high school right now even though I have gone through high school by homeschooling a different child. Let me clarify…I think it may have “worked” to educate them had they tried it for high school, but they *prefer* a much more structured, school-like atmosphere. It is a good fit for them.
I hope you liked this little peak into our first day. If you have any questions or want more detail on anything just drop it in the comments!