In reading how other homeschoolers spend their days, I notice that some are extremely structured, and others less so. Having one boy from kindergarten, and another from pre school, I feel that at this stage, learning through play is more important than set timelines. A school year will contain 200 days with five contact hours each. As long as we get through our thousand hours by the end of the year, and cover everything we wanted, I am not too fussed about when it happens.
Still, we generally have a rhythm to our days. A number of key stable points, tied together with semi formed plans, random events, and captured opportunities.
With nothing too extraordinary happening yesterday, this is how we spent it.
Our eldest boy woke us up uncomfortably early, and dragged us into the kitchen. It seemed he had gotten up about half an hour previously, and found some writing worksheets sitting on the table.
He is normally quite resistant to doing worksheets. They are boring. I am a bit surprised to find that in our absence, he has filled them out perfectly. In fact, he has been having such a good time doing them, that he asks for some more to do while we organise breakfast.
He does these for about an hour while his brother wakes up, his mum goes to work, and the coffee weaves its magic.
Because both the boys have a bit of a cold, I actually planned for them to take the day off. Consequently, I am letting them largely amuse themselves, when about 10:00, I find him climbing the bookcase, trying to raid the stuff which is hidden out of reach at the top.
In answer to my rhetorical ‘What are you doing?’ he replies, ‘I’m getting the chessboard.’
An obvious lie, but one I am prepared to let go in order to use it to my own advantage.
‘You want to play chess? Great! Let’s do it.’
He sets up the board and we play. This involves us getting through some opening moves, taking a few of each other’s pieces to make it fun, and then suggesting options to him that will lead me into checkmate. It’s an unusual sort of challenge, playing with the objective to be an exciting defeat.
We play for about an hour. His brother, encouraged by the board game theme, takes down the go set, and makes patterns with the stones.
It’s morning tea time, so we make popcorn. This is a perennial favourite, with the best part, of course, being watching it pop. ‘It makes us laugh,’ they tell me. They make me laugh. The boys make origami paper cups to eat it from. It’s all part of the experience.
By 11:30, I am fooling around with sheets of cardboard, making a better box to put our chess pieces in. While I am doing that, the big one shows the little one how to draw different letters, and what they sound like.
It is very cute to watch. Following the idea that if you teach something, you learn it twice, I let them go for as long as they can maintain it. They manage a full hour. I am impressed indeed.
After a long break, which involves lunch, movies and wrestling, we have a little play with Cuisenaire rods. I spent countless hours playing with these in my own childhood. I only introduced them here about a week ago. I get flashbacks to my own boyhood.
We only get about half an hour in, and then we have to race off to gymnastics. I like the gymnastics class for a number of reasons. Not only is it all about balancing power, speed, and proprioception, but it also teaches him to follow instructions. This is not something we typically get a great deal of in our negotiation style education.
I particularly like this gym teacher. I often see sports instructors just barking commands at the group, with the aim being to do what they say as an end in itself. In this gym, however, each exercise is explained with a rationale of why they are doing it, and a demonstration of where it can take them. It has a context, and I think that’s important.
They still have to toe the line, though. I think that’s important too.
By this time, it’s getting on to evening, and we are all tired. It’s time for the dinner and bed show. This is a set clock piece, which finishes at 7:30 regardless of whether stories have been read or not – a powerful incentive for the boys not to drag it out. Sometimes we read for 45 minutes, sometimes not at all. Usually it’s somewhere in the middle.
So that’s how we spent one day. What can I say? I love my job.