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Jan 5

Let’s Eat Some Brownies, We’ve Officially Started

Posted on Thursday, January 5, 2012

Our Soft Start planned for Wednesday, became a Non-Start that rolled over to our Official Start today!

We broke out the brownies and popcorn to celebrate the start and finish of Day 1!

After our slow, to stop, to slower start, I especially needed to mark our success with some chocolate.

I thought I’d give a brief view into what our first day looked like, particularly for those of you with multiple (and little) children. Our children are 11, 9, 6, and almost 3.

Many new homeschooling mama’s have asked me if I have our day scheduled by specific times.  For example, 8:30am-math, 9:15am-history.

I don’t organize our day that way and I never have.  I think there are too many variables to guarantee exact times and I would feel like I was behind before we even finished breakfast.

Instead I have a list of our subjects and assignments for the day and a general order and plan to accomplish them. It works for me and allows for flexibility.  If most of the assignments get done, even if I have to shift the order, it’s been a good day.

A Peek Into our Window on the First Day

(as I said we don’t schedule times, the times below are from looking back to the day that’s already happened)

Between 8 and 9-We all get up and I get a shower while the 9 and 11 year old get dressed and get started on their individual school work like math practice sheets and cursive.

9am-The kids eat eggs and grapefruit while I attempt to read the Bible and a book on art.  Squishy interrupts constantly and tells us long toddler versions of the Bible story so she’ll feel included in the conversation and I finally decided to postpone the art book until later.  Bible and breakfast are completed.

9:45ish-The kids go off to finish morning chores, such as brushing teeth, tidying their rooms, wiping off the kitchen table and sweeping the kitchen floor.  I grab yogurt and check my email.

10ish-Since the girls have already gotten some assignments done, I instruct them to go play with Squishy for 30 minutes while I help 6 year old Drummer boy clean out his school bin, do his handwriting, and read aloud for to me for 15 minutes.

Confession: the girls’ play gets very loud and completely distracting as they decide to play hide-and-go-seek throughout the house.  I confine their play to the back bedroom and things settle down.

Mid morning snack-We’re all at the table again and I finally get to read that art book from breakfast.

11:30ish-Instead of an hour of room-time for Squishy, I give her and her brother the privilege to watch a Scholastic Video and I work with the girls on their cursive (which is copying the first stanza of our hymn for this week) and introduce Simply Grammar to the 11 year old.

12ish-The girls finish their cursive and I head into the kitchen to make soup for lunch (we didn’t have anything quicker on hand).

12:30ish-We sit down for lunch and I eat my soup quickly so that I can try to read some of Little Lord Flauntleroy, our newest read-aloud, while everyone (meaning, Squishy) is occupied with food.

confession: Squishy interrupted every two minutes, exactly like Bible time that morning, so I finally gave up on reading.  I need to trouble shoot that problem and see if it can be rectified presently or if our longer reading times just need to happen during naptime for the greater peace of the reader and the listeners.

1:30ish-The kids have played a bit and Squishy is settled down for nap.  The three big kids sit down with me to do a history review which includes updating our timeline.

Confession: I had planned on doing this history review in the morning and starting a bit of our new history unit during this afternoon time.  The review was moved to this spot and the new history moved to the next day. The kids squabbled over who got to put which timeline pieces on and Mama started to get grumpy.

2ish-The boy plays on the computer in Microsoft Word while I do math with the girls.

2:30-The weather is sunny and actually warm, so I send the kids out to play and I make brownies and sit down to write part of a blog.

Confession: the blogging was a “yea, we made it” indulgence since I really had other things to do, but instead sat down to the computer and a spoonful of chocolate.

The end of Day 1 of our Winter/Spring Semester!

Do your days ever go just as you planned? Do you schedule specific times for school subjects? Your ideas and thoughts are always welcome!



Jan 4

The Softer Side of Starting back to School

Posted on Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I don’t know about you, but I can only describe December as a whirlwind month on a sugar high.  By the day after Christmas my brain turned itself off in an act of self-preservation in order to recharge from the planning involved in the previous month.

Planning school, planning advent, planning presents, planning a service project, planning food- What a relief to find a week of nothing to plan and no lists to make.  I put off anything related to planning (school, groceries, other life responsibilites) until the very last day or two of my husband’s generous vacation time.

And then when the planning brain did turn itself back on again, fully charged, my synapses and fingers were clicking on endless great ideas-a hymn study over at Practical Pages, Composer Studies from Harmony Arts Mom, music lessons for the kids from the husband, new science curriculum that hadn’t been cracked open this year, grammar for the 11 year old…

With the planning brain now on overload and as the cut-off to vacation life drew closer, I considered post-poning school an extra few days or maybe a week (this is a perk to homeschooling, I can add on extra days at the end of the year to make it right).  But experience has shown me that we didn’t need an extra week to flounder about (the kids) and feel grumpy about responsibilities(me).  It would take us down a road of fighting and general discontent which can aptly be titled- Chaos.

Thankfully, around monday evening I remembered The Soft Start.  I reminded myself that if I added all of my ideas into our first week back there might be a few of us no longer here by the end of the week (namely me, I’d probably be driving to the beach).

So I arranged my list by what I wanted to start with the first week, add in the second week, third, and by the end of the fourth all of my hopeful plans would be included in the schedule.

An example of what this might look like:

This Week:

  • Bible
  • Math
  • Reading
  • History

Next week

  • All of the above plus,
  • Science
  • Hymn Study
  • Art

Third week:

  • Composer study
  • Music Lessons with Dad
  • Flesh out weekly schedule

You’re soft start might look slower or faster than the example above based on the ages and numbers of your children, family illness or other extenuating circumstances.

The Soft Start is about feeling successful, for everyone. The entire family gets to feel successful in getting back into a normal schedule, with a lighter load of academics in the first week, and ease into the realization that we actually like normal life quite a lot.

This Soft Start was actually even slower because, on monday, when we planned to take down the christmas decorations, we went out for hot chocolate instead and then took a nap.  Which means today we took down the decorations and brought order to the school room and peace to my mind.

You might not need a slow start.  If you have older children, who are quite capable of managing their work, and no little ones to call out for snacks and books and people to play with them, than I bet you can hit the week running.

But if you’re life this past week, minus school, has already felt full with working through sibling fights, accepting the fate of the grocery store, looking around at potential chores in every room, and finding one quiet moment to kiss your husband, and you’re wondering how in the world your going to start schooling multiple children in multiple grades, then consider the slow method.

And when you do start, start with the most important thing, the thing your kids(and you) need more than anything else, start with the Word of God, first thing in the morning, right at the table with your pancakes and cereal.  Then you’ve tasted success before you’ve even finished breakfast.