Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Back to School

I started last spring researching curriculum and trying to plan for this school year. I'm kind of a nerd that way. I really enjoy researching. I like knowing all my options so that when I choose something, I know that I know that I made the best choice. However, I was so wrapped up in choosing just the right stuff for my school girls, that I didn't take into account the big game changers - Bodie and Sadie. I knew having a baby would change things, but I just assumed she would nap much of the morning. And I certainly didn't know my sweet little boy was going to change from a toddler into a full grown all out BOY over the summer. Complete with the sweet sweaty stinkiness that I wouldn't change for anything.

So we've spent much of the first month of school tweaking things and figuring out what works. We've gone on a lot of walks in the middle of the morning because that is the only way to regain my sanity. We call it exercise. We've dropped some of my well-researched "best choices" and opted for some simpler things that aren't as amazing, but they get done. We have very full days - our school day lasts much longer than previous years - but it's been good for me to slow down and meet the needs of the little ones and not worry so much about getting done by noon.

Our typical day starts around 8am. I eat before they get up, so while they are eating breakfast, I read a Bible story. Right now we are reading through The Child's Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos. It's a little over Bodie's head, but it's just right for the girls.

Since Laney is in Kindergarten this year, I wanted her to do a calendar activity each day so she can learn days of the week, months of the year, count up to 100 Day, etc. It turns out her big sisters really wanted to do it too, so I made a Daily Learning Notebook for each of them. They all like this and while they are busy figuring out the time, weather, date, etc, I can usually clean up breakfast or take care of Sadie's needs.

While we're all still at the breakfast table, we pull out either science or history and we all do a lesson together. I've been trying to do science on Tuesdays and Thursdays and to do history on M/W/F.

For science this year we are using Science in the Beginning by Jay Wile. So far I am thrilled with how easy it is to use. It is geared toward Kindergarten - 6th grade, so I can easily use the same lessons for everyone. There is an experiment with every lesson, so every time we do science we also do an experiment. So far, all the experiments have been easy, using things I already have around the house and they all WORK! The girls each have a notebook that they write or draw a picture in each day about what they learned. I don't dread science now and that is saying something!

For history we are using TruthQuest American History II for Young Students. This is our second year to use this curriculum and I can't say enough good about it. I love history and this approach allows me to tailor our lessons according to our interests. If the kids show a lot of interest in a topic (i.e. Sacagawea), we can spend 2 weeks learning about her. If they aren't so much into a topic (i.e. The Stamp Act), we read one quick story about it and move on to something else. This curriculum does require frequent trips to the library to get lots of books about history topics, but that is a good thing in my opinion and the kids enjoy seeing our library bag filled with new books every couple weeks.

That is the part of the school day we do together. After that, we usually have a break to do chores, take a walk, take Bodie to Mother's Day Out on T/Th, go to the grocery store or library, or whatever.

Then around 10-11am, we start our individual subjects. Everyone has their own math, language arts (reading for Laney) and thinking skills. This part of the day has been a challenge for me because I feel stretched in so many directions. I think that is part of the reason why I feel like my brain is going to explode some days. I try to teach them to not interrupt when I'm working with someone else, but the sweet little stinky boy doesn't get it. That is why we signed up for Mother's Day Out, even though this mother is having her days in.

So the girls have a schedule or list of what needs to be done each day and they work through it at their own pace, putting a check on each thing as they get it done. It includes piano practice, time with Bodie or Sadie, exercise, chores and school work.

In the afternoon, we have lunch, rest time, reading time and whoever isn't finished with school finishes. The rest of the afternoon is free time. And that is our typical day of school.
Laney's First Day of Kindergarten

I can't believe my little Laney is a Kindergartener. She is so ready and so eager to learn. She is the only one who asks for more when I tell her she's done for the day. Just today I noticed she was walking around pouting and I asked her why. She said it was because she wanted more school to do. Normally her day includes math, reading, handwriting and thinking skills. Her front tooth next to the tooth she busted out last summer is very loose. I can't wait to see her sweet little toothless smile.

Tatum's first day
of 2nd grade

Tatum is growing so fast right now. Sometimes I look at her and I can't believe how  tall and independent she has become. She wakes up in the morning ready for the day. She is tender hearted and hilarious. Her day includes math, piano, reading, language, phonics and thinking skills. She is also a big help with Bodie. She loves her time with him and he loves it too.

Avery's first day of 4th grade

I am really thankful for the total change I've seen in Avery so far. She seems to really enjoy her independence this year. She is taking math and spelling on my laptop, which has been such a blessing to both of us! She also has language, piano, geography, Psalms study and thinking skills. She loves to sit Sadie in her lap while she's doing her school and talk her through each problem. She is a wonderful help to me.

Bodie's first day of Mother's Day Out

I am so crazy about this little guy. He is rough and tough, but has such a tender heart. He loves big hugs and his trains and cars. He is a sweet big bro to Sadie and loves to get her swing going really fast. He likes to sing "Let it go" with his sisters and he still really enjoys wearing princess dress-ups. He also likes his new Spiderman costume. He fills my days with laughter.

I work in the nursery at church and this is my "work shirt." Sadie got a matching onesie from our church in her newborn goodie bag, so the girls made sure we matched one Sunday.

Sadie is 6 months old already. Since this photo was taken, she is now sitting up all by herself. She has two teeth on the bottom and I can feel two more on top about to pop through. Ouch! She has a dimple just like Tatum, eyes like mine, hair like Laney, fingers and toes like Avery, a forehead like Brian and a smile like Bodie. It has taken awhile, but she is finally sleeping through the night from about 8pm - 6am, give or take an hour. Her morning nap is not too predictable yet, but she naps in the afternoon around the same time as Bodie. She has just started eating solid foods the past few weeks. So far she loves carrots, zucchini and refried beans. She tolerates sweet potatoes. She does not like applesauce. She strains her neck to see where her brother and sisters are. She adores them. She is so loved.


Rick and Beth said...

Melanie, thanks for blogging. It's a blessing to me to see you at work. He is using you!

Kathy S said...

I am so glad you're back to blogging. It helps me to know we're going through the same things... and I get new ideas, too! I just might have to "steal" your schedule of mid-morning individual activities and I'd like to try your science and history curriculums. We do a similar calendar notebook and E&R also wanted to do what James was doing. Thanks for taking the time to share...