Our school week, week 9
Ok- so I haven't been blogging about our school days in over a year, it just became too much after the baby was born and Alexa started her last year of middle school and so on. But I'm going to blog about our day to day life just for this week, as I've noticed several people in a couple of my homeschool groups on Facebook who are new to homeschooling asking about how people juggle their days, their schedules, and what it all really looks like. So here's what it looks like for me, with a husband, a 22 year old special needs daughter (mild to moderate retardation), a 14 year old 8th grade daughter and a nearly 9 year old 3rd grade son to homeschool, and a 13 month old baby. I'm doing it for one week because our days vary and that will create a better snapshot of what life is like than one day would. Here goes...
Today is Columbus Day but we don't do anything special to observe it and we don't take the day off because we plan our own family vacations and days off, not necessarily going by what the public schools do. We prefer to do those things on off seasons and days, when there are no crowds or extra expenses to contend with.
Today I woke Alexa, my 14 year old 8th grade daughter, at 8:15 AM. She got ready, we went downstairs and spent half an hour straightening up/doing chores. I made my coffee and we started school just before 9:00 AM.
We started with Oak Meadow civics. She read lesson 9 in her civics book, "Duties and Responsibilities of Citizenship." She then looked through the two recent newspapers we had for articles that demonstrated citizens fulfilling their civic duties and responsibilities. Whenever she found one, she cut it out, pasted it into her news article book (a spiral bound sketch pad) and wrote a comment for each identifying the specific duty or responsibility being performed.
Lastly for civics she worked a bit on a report she is writing on France as part of her immigration project. Today she did the section on religion in France.
By the time she finished Civics, it was after 10:30. We didn't have to stop because a bell rang, if we wanted to get a little sidetracked by conversation we could, she just worked on her assignment until she was done. Civics is always one of our more time consuming subjects.
Anyway, this is actually almost unheard of, and not at all the norm here, but the baby (13 months) and my nearly 9 year old 3rd grade son, Ben, were still sleeping!! (Yesterday had been a long, late day at the Renaissance Faire). My husband was still asleep too, but sleeping this late is common for him. I decided they'd all slept long enough and I woke them all up.
I had Ben sit and do a Reading Eggspress lesson at the computer followed by playing a few minutes of Timez Attack and had Alexa do assigned reading (a chapter of Clara Barton, Healing the Wounds, taking notes for a future report). I used that time to change the baby, give her some milk, cuddle with her a bit.
When Shawn came down, he made banana pancakes. Alexa helped and unloaded the dishwasher and we all had brunch together.
Around 11:45 we were ready to resume school, however, things got a little off track as things tend to do. My car needed repairs and was not available to me today, and I dislike driving my husband's car, having long grown out of the habit of driving a stick shift, so I asked him to run a few errands today- grocery shopping, picking up my oldest special needs daughter from a friend's house where she'd slept over last night, and he had to go to the auto parts store. But he decided he didn't feel like doing all that alone and wanted to take Alexa with him.
Okay. Whatever. One of the perks of homeschooling is its flexibility. Stuff to do during the day? No biggie, homeschool in the evening now and then. I try to just roll with it whenever possible, it all balances out. So she went off to run errands and spend time with her dad, and Ben and I did school.
Ben did a Teaching Textbooks math lesson. He did some handwriting practice. He finished the last few pages of a book he's been reading for silent reading time (Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great). I read a folk tale aloud to him. He read a chapter of Charlotte's Web aloud to me.
We read some poems together and he copied one into his main lesson book and worked on memorizing it. He wrote five spelling words in sentences. I read aloud to him from Chocolate Fever.
That was all I had for him for today as the cloudy weather didn't permit his social studies activity for today, so he was told to straighten his room and then was able to play on the computer and do his own thing.
Meanwhile the baby had been playing nearby in the living room, free to approach me when she wanted attention as we were working at a little card table, and at some point I put her down for a nap.
Shawn and Alexa got home just before 3, and we ate lunch (pizza they brought home) and put groceries away. I know, crazy meal schedule, but it happens like that sometimes.
At 3:25 PM, Shawn went across the street to help his friend work on my car. Alexa finished reading the last few chapters of a book called Galileo for supplemental Story of the World reading. I changed the baby who had just woken from her nap and fed her lunch (a jar of sweet potatoes, some Cheerios, and milk).
Around 4:00, Alexa did vocabulary, alphabetizing and defining this week's vocabulary words, which stem from her civics lessons. This week there were only five words (it varies). The book recommended choosing five more words from her reading, but I didn't bother. She's pretty good with vocabulary already.
Today's grammar assignment only consisted of reading a few pages in the book Writing For 100 Days, so that didn't take long.
While she did those things, I set up a fire safety program for the homeschool meetup group I organize, took a phone call about my oldest daughter's special needs services, and tried not to freak out every time the baby climbed up onto the couch (she just learned that today). I decided it's low to the ground, it's carpeted, and it wouldn't take many falls before she learned to get herself down safely, right? (Right. After three falls in which she did not get hurt, I watched her climb down backwards, safely and intentionally, a few times in a row)!
At 4:30, Alexa did science, which for today only consisted of reading a short lesson on wedges and levers. It took like five minutes.
When she finished that, I had her sit at the computer and do a Teaching Textbooks math lesson. She's not a big fan of math, and math is another of her more time-consuming subjects, so I usually try to have her get it over with early in the day, but it just didn't work out that way today.
At 5:40, with two problems left to do (today's math took her longer than usual, lots of tedious multiplying and dividing and multi-step unit conversions), she took a break to walk Ben to soccer practice for me, around the corner from our house, finishing the last couple of problems when she got back.
She then helped me prepare dinner (meatloaf and mashed potatoes) while the baby hung out in her high chair and had a snack, and went to pick her brother up from soccer while I finished up.
Ben took a quick shower, and then while the meatloaf was baking and the potatoes were cooking, she watched the baby while I took a quick shower, too. Because I hadn't even changed out of my pjs all day and decided last minute to invite our neighbor (the one helping with my car) to have dinner with us.
At this point, the only things left on Alexa's school list were:
Watching a TED talk for a public speaking class she's taking (so I had her do this while keeping an eye on baby, while I showered).
Music practice (I told her she could skip this for today).
After my shower, I hung out till dinner was ready. Threw some green beans in a microwave steam bag, set the table, etc.
Took the meatloaf out when it was time- only to discover that somehow I'd screwed it up royally. The meatloaf was way too loose. Called Shawn over (really, he's the chef of the household) for help and we had to turn it into a variation of shepherd's pie instead. Good times.
We ate, around 8:30 PM. And it actually turned out pretty awesome tasting. Thank goodness. (We'd smooshed the "meatloaf" into the bottom of the glass dish, spread a can of peas and a can of corn over it, then a layer of a gravy Shawn whipped up, then a layer of the prepared mashed potatoes, topped all that with shredded cheddar cheese, and stuck it under the broiler for a few minutes).
Alexa got the baby changed and into pjs for me after dinner while I cleaned up the kitchen, then she helped her older sister pack a lunch for her day program while I got the baby to bed (which means I got into bed with the baby and read until she fell asleep knowing I'd fall asleep myself soon after and that Shawn would eventually move her into the crib.
Shawn and his friend went back across the street to his friend's garage and continued working on my car, and will continue working on it tomorrow, too. It needed quite a few things done to it.
And that pretty much wrapped up our very long Monday!