Monday, January 12, 2009

The New Plan and Week in Review

How winter playtime often looks

We have a new plan. This is the plan that I hope will integrate Rhubarb's need for structure, Eggplant's love of chaos, and my need to teach the basics in some measurable manner (by measurable, I certainly don't mean graded -- I simply need some way to stay on top of what the kids are learning and how).

Each weekend, I pull up some worksheets and other activities that cover the basics. By basics, I mean those things that each child has requested to learn, is ready to learn, or needs to learn in order to pursue a particular interest. The kids and I work together to choose these worksheets. Fortunately, both kids currently really like worksheets. We then separate the worksheets into daily work and place all of this into their individual folders. Each morning, they complete their daily work. The day is then left free for play, activities, reading, classes, electives (those topics they have requested), etc.

The very interesting thing is that they typically finish their daily work by 8:30 in the morning. By mutual decision, they are not doing a paltry amount of work either. Today, for example, both kids did some addition puzzles, cursive (Eggplant working on letters and Rhubarb on words), and spelling. Rhubarb also read a biography of Barack Obama and answered reading comprehension questions about it and identified some nouns in sentences (I am not sure why, but she thinks the parts of speech are fun -- I never did and I LOVE to write). Having started this last week, I have been astounded at how quickly they complete the work. There is so much wasted time in school. This is not the fault of the teachers, but the fault of the system. When a teacher needs to stand in front of a class and explain how each bit of work is to be done, answer questions from those who don't understand, then go around the room helping those who still need help, and review the work afterwards, a lot of time is eaten. Add into this bathroom breaks, recess, lunch, announcements, roll, etc. etc. and it is no wonder the typical public school day goes from morning until afternoon. I bet this frustrates teachers to no end.

Now that our morning work is complete, the rest of our day will look something like the following:
1. We'll go to my gym where the kids will spend their time in the kids' gym. Typically, while there, they have a story time (Rhubarb is often asked to read to the little kids as well), art time, and physical activity time (It's a very organized kids' gym time).
2. We'll have lunch.
3. We'll meet up with other homeschoolers at a local park to go sledding (taking advantage of our snow).
4. Rhubarb will practice violin while Eggplant and Blueberry do learning games on the computer.
5. Rhubarb will do some learning games on the computer.
6. We'll all read together or each child will read on their own (this always happens naturally after a big physical activity like sledding).
7. We'll have dinner.
8. HotNerd and the kids will do some math time (their Monday evening activity).
9. We'll read before bed and then the kids will sleep.

It's amazing to look at that list and realize that all that can happen AFTER the basics are completed because the basics take so little time when completed at the kitchen table.

Week in Review (1/5-1/11):
HotNerd worked with the kids on double digit addition with no carries. We learned about the planets. The kids did their daily work: addition, subtraction, spelling, cursive, printing (Eggplant), nouns and verbs (Rhubarb). Rhubarb did violin. We went to the Homeschool gym. All had karate, Blueberry for the first time. Rhubarb, HotNerd, and Eggplant went wall climbing. All shoveled a lot of snow and we helped several cars get unstuck (Eggplant's favorite activity). Rhubarb successfully went stir-crazy from being indoors. Clotilde came for Kreyol. Eggplant, Blueberry, and I did Progresive Phonics. Rhubarb and I read Little House in the Big Woods. Blueberry and I read her medical books. There were forts galore and a ton of art!

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