Monday, August 16, 2010

Home Sweet Homeschool

I've been so busy trying to "tweek" our daily schedules lately. If there's one thing I've learned after 8 years of homeschooling, it's that it is 10% instruction and 90% structure, especially when you have several students. The way it happens in larger families, is that you gradually add and adjust to new students as you go. For us, however,with my boys being so close in age , I went from 2 students to 4 students, with 1 lively baby in the background to add to the fun! It has certainly been a challenge, but then...I love a challenge!

Seth and Bubbie could not be more different in personalities, and I've always conducted what Gregg Harris calls "delight directed" study. I've never followed a particular curriculum, but taken the eclectic approach, tailoring it to whatever interests my children have at the time. The boys do much of their study together, and I'm finding it quite difficult to teach (in a fun, contagious way) to a scientist and a cowboy at the same time. (and did I mention that we have a lively baby in the background??) Most people have no clue as to the skills it requires to be a homeschool mom!

One thing I've been working on is to make sure that the boys get the same experiences of music and reading and art that Caleb and Madelyn had (back when I had more time to devote to fun school stuff). I've compiled them an assortment of history and science encyclopedias, animal picture books, and art books, and of and cowboy books, that they may choose from in the mornings after they finish lessons. I've gathered photos of famous composers that I display and let them sit and listen to music from that one particular composer for an hour each day (one composer per week). They are not allowed to talk (for boys that age, talking = play fighting). I've been delighted at how much they've enjoyed this time, and they've already learned a lot. Bub actually recognized Tchaikovsky in the store the other day. It has helped keep down the chaos while I do harder subjects with the big kids, and the boys are learning the skill of concentration as well.

In the afternoons, while I finish up with the big kids and Summer naps, the boys get to do art. Now, I HATE CRAFTS (bad homeschool mom!), and I'm not going to sit and glue popsicle sticks and fuzz balls all afternoon, but I do have a little tolerance for art and creativity. Here's my rule: If you can clean it up yourself, you can do it. So, they have paint, markers, drawing paper, clay, as well as magnet sets and other constructive toys that they can play with QUIETLY during this time. I also made them some play-doh, and I'll share a recipe below.

I'm going to post their school schedules soon, just simply because as a hs mom, I always enjoy seeing how other people do things and getting new ideas for our family. Hope everyone is getting geared up and ready for a new calender school year. Don't get bogged down with the daily grind, and just remember what a privilege and responsibility it is to mold and shape little hearts and minds.

Here's a cool twist to the usual play-doh recipe. You don't have to take time to try and color the play-doh with dye, the Jell-O colors the play-doh, and it's also scented! Fun! It takes under 10 minutes to make this.

Jell-O Playdoh

1 c. flour

1/2 c. salt

2 Tbsp. cream of tartar

3 oz. box jell-o, any flavor

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 c. warm water

Combine dry ingredients in a skillet. Whisk in oil and water. Cook over medium to high heat with a spatula until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and knead on wax paper until smooth. Wrap in wax paper to cool. Store in airtight container or ziploc bag.

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