Sunday, August 12, 2007

Finished our first week. Homeschooling with a toddler.

This post will give you a good look inside my house during school time. PLEASE be kind! I know I am not perfect and I don't do things the correct way. I am just a very pregnant Mom trying to homeschool my son and occupy my daughter at the same time. I am very tired all the time now and my youngest is very active. My son loves school so that is a huge help. OH! I should tell you I DON'T pick out our school books. My husband is the principal of our school and he picks all the books out. My job is to find fun ways for my children to learn what is in the books. My hubby decided years ago to give our children a Classical Education. He uses the Well Trained Mind to pick out the books we use. Yes my son is only 7 but this is his 4th year of using the books listed in the Well Trained Mind. He does well with it and enjoys school time. I am sharing a real look at my school days in hopes that someone might get an idea to help them (with what or what not to try) and maybe Moms who have a better system than I do will take pictures and show me how make my school days go better!

I am happy to say we didn't have any problems with our first week of school. I am shocked! I thought for sure a 7 year old boy and a 2 year old girl homeschooling in the same room would be UGLY! Do you remember last year? D. tossing blocks at her brother, writing all over his pages, and screaming so T. couldn't hear what I was saying? It looks like homeschooling with a 2 year old "might" be a bit easier than homeschooling with a 18 month old. I did get a little busy so I didn't get pictures of all of our school but I did try to take enough pictures that might give you some idea how we do it. I don't think my way of homeschooling is the right way! I don't think it will work for everyone but I am going to post it so if a mom of a school age child and a toddler is struggling with getting school done you can "see" how someone else does it. I have ALWAYS wondered HOW other people get school done with a toddler I feel that if someone wrote it all out and took lots of pictures I could learn so much and then I could make our school days better. I am going to once again show the good, bad, and often very ugly parts of our homeschooling adventures.

WARNING !!!! Some pictures below are very messy and ugly!!

My son starts school with handwriting . Handwriting has always been harder for him than other subjects so I like to give it to him first so it is done and over for the day. He only ever does one page in the book or copies a poem or a verse I give him. When I had him do handwriting pages later in the day he would complain and sit and fuss for a long time. He often wouldn't even write on his page. I know most homeschooling books I read says to do Math and Reading first but my son has always loved math and reading so we do them much later in the day. We use Zaner-Bloser for our handwriting. He is on book 5 this year. Because my 2 year old is so ACTIVE in the mornings I had to find something VERY fun for her to do so her brother could work on his handwriting and I could wash dishes and start laundry. I had her paint. She LOVES to paint. I often put a bib or an old shirt on her to paint but in and when I do that I only give her a tiny amount of paint. That works well at giving her a few minutes of fun and keeping the mess down. That wouldn't work for today. I knew my son had a LOT of writing to do today and I needed to have her paint for 15-30 minutes. I knew she would need a LOT of paint and for me to refill her paints and paper supply over and over again. This is the only way I have found to keep my very bouncy 2 year old in a chair and happy so today I had her paint without a top on because washing a ton of paint off a bib, smock or old shirt would have just given me a lot more work to clean up (Yes no shirt! I am not looking for a wonderful mom award I am just trying to get a school day done). She painted papers, her arm, her face, her hair, her hands, and her tray. Very messy and lots of paint and paper (I give her 1/2 sheets of paper because they fit better on her tray). T. did get to do his writing and I got my morning dishes done and laundry started so to me washing some paint off a tray and a child was no big deal. I took a damp washcloth to wipe off most of the paint and I ran her tray under some water to rinse most of it off (I didn't have time to scrub the tray school had to keep moving).

Below is T.'s writing page. You can see he didn't keep up with his handwriting practice over summer break. I am happy it is as neat as it is! I don't mind taking small steps back. OH! YES! That is a spot of yellow paint on his page! I think HE got it on his page after he gave his sister some more paint one of the times she asked for it. I guess you can tell by the yellow paint that I am not looking for a school teacher of the year award! LOL! I don't think a spot of paint on a writing page is anything to get upset about I know someday my children will be older and nobody will be painting during handwriting class. I am just happy he gave his sister more yellow paint. It kept her busy for a bit longer.

Next T. worked on spelling. D. played in foam soap and tub paints in her chair. I know most people keep tub stuff in the bathroom. We keep a bunch of it on my refrigerator for school time. I do this often after her paint time because it helps get some of the tempra paint stains off the tray (and off her skin).

I do a few things with spelling for my son. This year I started giving pretest. Until this year I haven't had to do that. Travis has only ever not known how to spell a couple words in his last 3 years of spelling classes. This year I told him we would try a pretest and if he got them all right we wouldn't do any pretest until the words got hard for him (this is the same deal we have had in past years but he never missed spelling words before). This year he missed words on the pretest. I had him do one page a day in his workbook for spelling class and write his words on paper. Then I had him go upstairs in his bedroom and write the words he missed on the pretest several times on his wall each day. I think taking a marker up to his room and writing words on a wall made it more fun for him. Plus he could look at the words on his wall when he plays in his room or lays down in his bed.

Below he is writing his words.

Workbook page.Writing on wall. I didn't think to take pictures off all of this when it was happening That is why my son isn't in the picture. OH! I KNOW my sons printing is not NEAT! Most of the time I can't even read it. He does a lot better with cursive. I didn't care if he used cursive or print to write his words. I just wanted him to learn to spell the words he didn't know. I am happy we decided to teach him cursive a few years ago. He never got the hang of print and it was not fun for any of us. I do encourage neat writing for the test! He got 100% on his spelling test this week so this system seems to be working.

Both of the papers on the wall we used for spelling words this week. I hope you can see by having the bed in the picture how large the paper is. The small paper in the middle is a copy of the list words for him to look at and study.

I put D. in the tub to wash off the paint left in her hair, face and arms when T. was busy writing his words on the wall in his room. I then got her dressed for the day. Then D. went off to play with her toys. I gave T. his math lesson. We are using Saxon Math 5/4 this year. We started it on Tuesday and the only problem we have had was T. fussed a bit when he found out he had to do the work on a blank page. With Saxon 1,2 and 3. He had worksheets with lots of room to do the work and he could put answers right next to the questions. The idea of having a non-consumable textbook and having to write answers on lined blank pages with math is new to him (he has done this with other subjects just not math). He quickly adjusted and things are going well. I bribed him to give it a try. He earned a few lifesavers by giving it a try. He quickly saw that it wasn't harder to write them on paper (yes, I gave him candy at 9 or 10 am I am not looking for any good mom awards).

He loves the drills (one hundred simple math facts on a page to do in under 5 minutes). After I did the lesson with him I left him at the table to do the problems at the end of the lesson. At that time I did D.'s schooling with her. I read her stories, we acted out the Bible story Johna, did coloring pages, and such. She asked to color with markers. After that we took a break and the children went off to play, have lunch, and run around outside for a little bit.

Rob does history with T. most of the time. This year is our 4th year using The Story of the World. We all enjoy using this program. We are learning about The Modern Age this year. This week they read about Britain's Empire (Victoria's England). They got to build a Crystal Palace. I think you might notice during the year that I will go months and not write at all about history then I will post a lot about it. The reason why is when my husband teaches History I don't think to snap pictures or write down what they do. When he can't find the time to teach History I fill in and that is often when I snap pictures or write about it. I spent time with D. when they did this. Below is the Crystal Palace they built.

Reading for T. this week was he read some lessons from one of our Mc Guffey's readers, he read a book on Thomas Edison outside or in his room alone. and he read in his Bible.

D.'s reading was mostly read a loud stories from picture books. We all take turns reading to her everyday. She asks for stories all day long.

T.'s Science this year is physics (at an elementary level). We are using 2 books for most of it. One book is The New Way Things Work . The other book is Physics Experiments For Children. This week we read about inclined planes. The first book had a silly story about how people wanted to capture woolly mammoths for pets. The story goes on to explain how an inclined plane worked better than a tower to catch the woolly mammoth. I have to say I am VERY surprised that my husband ordered this book. It looks more like a school book I would pick. My hubby is very formal in his decision on what to use for educating our children. He isn't the kind of person who I think would use a book that talks of pet woolly mammoths. It is working well for us so far but I am AFRAID to ask my friend if she got the book. I had a friend ask me last month what books we plan to use for Science this year. I told her but I never checked into what the book was! I think she has the same view of teaching school my hubby has (very formal not a silly teaching style like I have). I am so afraid that she might not have read what this book was and ordered it and she could be upset with this right now. I will have to get a hold of her tomorrow to explain. I hope she isn't mad. I don't think it is the type book she would have picked to teach her son with. I like the book it is full of facts. My son laughed at the thought of trying to get a pet woolly mammoth it seemed to keep his attention. He didn't want to stop reading it. Anyway, back to our school day. I think D. was taking a nap or spending a little time with Daddy when T. and I did Science. Next week we will have D. do it with us if Daddy is at work when we do Science class. After reading about inclined planes we did an experiment with inclined planes that was in the other book. We set up 2 ramps the book said use rulers and books but we thought it would be more fun using boards and a table outside. We used the stretch of a rubber band to measure force it took to lift the car.

First ramp was the long one and the stretch on the rubber band was 4 inches.

Then the second ramp was the shorter ramp and the same car and rubber band and the stretch was 4 1/2 inches.

Last we lifted the car up to the height of the top of the ramps (height of table the ramps are on) and the stretch on the rubber band was 6 inches.

Here is some of D.'s school work.

Making pictures with markers.

I made her up a sheet to take the whale over to swallow Jonah . I think she did very well for a child that is only 25 months old.

This is her puzzle person. Her brother helped her color it in. It doesn't look like her to me but D. and T. both think it does. LOL!
She glued squares.

She did a lot more but this message is so long I can't keep going. We didn't get to all the subjects. We will keep trying to add 1 subject a day until we get them all in.

Below is the picture of the most popular school thing we have in our house. LOL!!! A new set of beanbags I made up and put in a bucket from the dollar store! I have made my children so many beanbags in the past. I know I even posted pictures of some nicer ones on this blog before. This set was just plain and it was part of D.'s school to toss bags into a bucket. I made them square because she was learning about squares this week. I was very surprised how 5 new handmade beanbags with an old bucket could be so popular in my house! I have to make up a few more sets because I now see that 5 bags are not enough.

That shows a lot of a real school day at my house. We didn't do all subjects I only add 1 subject a day when we start school so nobody complains about getting lots of work. We try to keep things fun but focus on education. I know the pictures are not the neat and tidy ones I see on other homeschoolers blogs. This is the REAL us! I was not busy baking something delicious to eat after dinner during our school day. I didn't have a roast cooking in the oven. I made pizza for dinner and we had ice-cream for desert (no not homemade). My table was covered with school papers I still needed to correct and file at dinner time. My daughters chair still had spots of paint on it. I was so tired at the end of the day we ate pizza in the living room and I went to bed about the same time as the children. I am pregnant and I feel I did do my best trying to get stuff done. I know many people could do a lot better. I wish they would show me how! I hope someday to have beautiful pictures of our school day but for now this is how it looks. I am so happy to say we had no complaining, grumbling, fighting, screams or such. The only arguments was over who's turn it was to have the beanbags and how T. didn't like the idea of writing math on a blank page. I call that a happy peaceful school week! Not perfect but I doubt my family will ever look perfect! If I tell the truth I will have to say that I even like the yellow finger print on the writing page! I will think about how much my sons writing improves as I look back at this page in the next few months and I will think about how kind my son is by giving his sister more paint when he was doing that writing page. It might not be perfect to others but it is for me right now. I know I will not always look at stuff this way but for now I am just trying to do the best I know how.

I had to go back and edit this I saw a picture was in the wrong place. I hope my writing and other pictures are all good. Feel free to ask or let me know if something looks wrong! My prego brain isn't working well.


The Koch Family said...

Not only do my twins(29m)paint in just a diaper- most of the time they eat that way too.

Fun Mommy of 2 said...

We are doing squares tooo!!!!!I found a great link with songs and stuff

Kate in NJ said...

LOL, As I wrote in my e-mail to you, thee is nothing ugly about the way
you homeschool! Your son is turning into such a fine young man, you must all be very proud of him!
It amazes me how much you do with your children when you are so very close to having your next!
((hugs)) you rock!