Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Real Study Day

   So as I sat down this morning and pulled up my Facebook page, I realized I misinterpreted our 50 state post card exchange and the 6 states we studied this month are really the states we are SENDING our cards and not the states we are receiving our cards from.  I was kind of mad at myself for not realizing it sooner and briefly debated about quickly gathering materials for the states that we are receiving our post cards from this month.  That idea was dismissed immediately because covering 10 states in one month would just be too much.  I decided I'll just have to explain to the boys that these are the places our cards are going and we can use the post cards we receive as a good reference point for when we do study those states.  Just another reason why I am soon realizing I can not, for the life of me, plan a homeschool curriculum!  I have given up on mapping out our year, month, week, & day.  As much as we swing back and forth from being a more traditional "school at home" type of homeschooling family to being unschoolers and everything in between, I continually find that planning doesn't work for us.  I have broad ideas of topics to cover from year to year and we seem to naturally stumble into a routine those days we are home but we have so many last minute life changes that happen within our schedule so our days are always changing.  I debated about saying no more often to all the "other" things we give up our schoolwork to do but quickly realized that it would defeat a huge part of the reason we homeschool.  I don't want to say no to life so we can spend more time with books.  That's just not us! 
    Knowing we were going to be home for the day today, I tried pretty hard to stick to our "home" schedule.  I let the boys watch TV and play video games until 9 while I exercised, cleaned and got myself ready for the day.  I reminded them that they have to BE READY at 9 and that means eating and brushing teeth before 9.  They grumbled a bit louder when I asked them to turn off the screens today and I reminded them that if they're going to start giving me a hard time or forgetting to be ready when our day is set to start then we aren't going to be able to have any screens at all in the morning.  They quickly quieted right down.  They each picked a bathroom and cleaned the toilets, sinks, and floors with me going back and forth acting as supervisor.  It was so nice to see shiny, clean bathrooms! I look forward to the day that they can do the job without me by their sides too. 

    I pulled Evan aside to work in his Verbal Math book and sent the two older boys upstairs to practice their division facts for the three's.  Once Evan and I were done with his lesson, the two older boys took their math minute test and each got 14 of the 16 questions right.  I was really impressed for the first day with these facts!  I was going to work with Ian in his Verbal math book next and Alec started arguing it wasn't fair.  He then asked me what he could do while I was working with Ian.  I had nothing planned and figured him and Evan would just play but seeing that they wanted an assignment I offered to pull out their spelling words from last week and told them they could write them on the windows with dry erase markers.  Evan thought that sounded like fun too and asked if he could do that with his words also.  I found dry erase markers and pulled out all the spelling word lists.  Ian and I started on book 2, lesson one and did 4 mini lessons.  I came out to see Alec and Evan playing with the markers- they had finished their words. 

    Alec had erased all his words so I didn't get to see them. I picked up his list and started quizzing him; imagine my surprise when he got them all right!  Working on momentum, I picked up Evan's list and asked him his words-- he got them all right too!  Ian wanted to try and write his words while I worked with Alec on the same Verbal math lessons I used with Ian.  I quizzed Ian when I was done with Alec and he only got 4 wrong so I printed out all the next lists for each of the boys.  I can't believe they learned these spelling words so fast.  Perhaps they just needed a review of spelling rules. 
     Ian has kept himself busy between lessons today trying to make a starburst loom bracelet.  He usually doesn't like to use the loom because he gets so frustrated but he decided to give it another try.  The first bracelet fell apart when we took it off the loom but I was proud that he didn't give up.  He re-loomed the bands and started over.  He did ask for quite a bit of help along the way and I gave him help whenever I could.  Somehow we messed up somewhere along the way and the second bracelet fell apart too.  This time I couldn't blame him when he quit; I would have too!  He did tell me he would try again tomorrow. 
    I really wanted to finish the bulk of our schoolwork by lunch since we enjoy our lazy afternoons and so I pulled Evan aside for a mini reading lesson today.  I asked the older to boys to read silently in their rooms for a bit while I worked with Evan.  Alec read his mythology book and Ian argued that he read two books at bedtime last night and promised he'd read another book tonight.  I asked him to tell me about one of the books he read last night and he had such a detailed re-telling that I let it slide for today. 
    Evan and I worked on the second half of his first reading lesson in The Reading Lesson book.  He did great sounding out chunks of words and remembered all of the four sounds we learned last week.  He then read the book Kites to me.  With simple words & a review of color words, Evan had little trouble reading the book to me.  He's gaining in confidence and fluency too.
    After reading the boys played outside for a bit and then we settled down for some lunch.  I read the next chapter in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Alec finished reading the last chapter after lunch.  The boys were thrilled to finish the story and asked if we could start the next one in the series.  I told them that if they still wanted to listen to stories I could read our New York books. 

    Alec pulled out the coloring page for New York and colored in the state flower; which is a rose.  We studied the state flag when we got to that page in E is for Empire.  The boys were getting antsy and loud and I was getting frustrated that no one was really listening.  I passed the book to Ian (who had not yet read today and who was not working on a New York coloring sheet) and told him to read out loud to his brothers while I went and did some laundry and chores around the house.  I warned them that if this continues when I read they're going to start reading on their own and writing book reports and things more often.  They promised to sit and listen when I came back into the room so I finished up the book and we read A Walk in New York too. 
     We finished up our day with a quick writing assignment.  In preparing for our post card swap I found blank printable postcards for the boys to practice writing what they wanted to say to each of the families we're exchanging postcards with this month.  I let Evan dictate his sentences to me and I wrote them out for him but the older two boys worked hard on writing their own with correct spelling and punctuation.  I can't say they loved this writing assignment but I think seeing such a small box to write in helped them cooperate and get it done fairly quickly.  Before they started writing we brainstormed all sorts of facts about Connecticut that they could use in their writing and hopefully that helped too.  I'm sure by the time we get to the end of this post card exchange they'll be writing postcards in their sleep. 
    By the time we finished up my great mood about our morning had soured a bit.  Our afternoon was LOOOOONG and stressful.  We need to revamp our schedule a bit since it seems to be this way a lot when we're home now.  I think we're trying to cover too many subjects a day or else the materials I'm presenting aren't interesting enough to hold their attention.  Our mornings go great and we're all happy and flying through our work until lunch and then it's as if the clock speeds up or else we hit a wall.  I feel like we're missing a lot of our playtime/ fun time in our day.  I'm not sure how else to shorten up our day or make it go more smoothly but we'll keep playing around with it until we're happy.   The schedule we had today would be perfect for the winter when we're trapped inside but I was chafing at the thought of being stuck inside all day on such a beautiful, sunny day.  We didn't even make time for our daily walk! 
    I asked the boys to pack their own lunches for Alec's soccer practice and warned Ian and Evan that I was planning to walk the track around the field for the hour that Alec was practicing.  I told them they didn't have to walk with me but should bring a football or soccer ball or other outside toy to play with to keep them occupied.  Ian chose to walk with me for most of the practice but Evan sat in a chair and watched the practice.  He had fun hanging from the extra goal and trying to walk on the reused telephone poles that are in the parking lot for curbs.  He pretended they were balance beams and even tried jumping from one to another.  
    We cleaned up the house after they made their lunches and headed outside for some fresh air until it was time to leave for soccer practice.  My mother in law took the boys for jet ski rides and the boys played in the sand and on the swing set until it was time to leave.  I was proud of the boys and all they accomplished today but a full day of school sure does make me tired!  Especially with our nightly exercises added in before bed but I'm so proud that I can now do 50 pushups and sit ups without stopping.  I see huge improvements in the boys abilities too. 
  

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