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Not Back To School

September 2, 2010 4 comments

It seems that this week that the last of the schools have begun!  And me?

Today I took the kids to a Not Back to School picnic with the co-op (secular) that I’m joining this year.   Most of the kids had a great time but dd14 was bored most of the time and ds11 was bored after the boy he was playing catch with had to leave.  It really isn’t interesting when you don’t know anyone and are waiting around for your mother to finish shmoozing.  After eight years of homeschooling in this area, I’ve bumped into a number of moms in various venues over the years so I had a chance to get reaquainted.

We’ve never been part of a co-op before but one thing that is constant about home education is that nothing stays the same!  Kids get older, have different needs, interests, abilities, and what was appropriate in the past needs to adapt.  That’s what home education is about, isn’t it?  Personalizing according to what your children need.

The co-op meets once a week and there’s an option to take as few as one or as many as four classes on that day.  ‘Classes’ sounds formal and academic, but there’s quite a variety of classes – everything from dancing, sewing, and baking to more traditional type classes, with close to 40 different options for kids ranging from 2.5 through high school.  The classes are given by other homeschooling parents so while the approach varies from parent to parent, in general they seem to be more hands on and concerned about enjoyable and engaging learning.

I’ve signed all the kids up for last two classes of the day, which will allow us to spend the morning at home and hopefully give ds1 a chance to take a nap before we leave.  My goal in choosing classes was to find something that I didn’t do much of at home or that the kids showed a special interest in.  It took a bit of finessing to figure out the schedule for everyone, but I’m happy with it and mostly confident that all the kids will enjoy it.

Here’s what I’m doing:  in the first time slot, the littles will all take a music class, “a lively, fun class involving rhythm games, singing, dancing and exploring musical instruments”.  While they’re doing that (I’ll be with them), ds8 will be taking a multi-sensory language arts class (this is for beginning readers and he’s definitely beyond that, but I think it will be fun and encouraging for him to see how easy it is for him and the other language arts class at that time is more formal, with a grammar focus – not my thing), dd9 and ds11 are signed up for improv and drama games (though ds told me he doesn’t think he’ll want to participate, so he might end up bringing a book to read if he makes that choice), and dd14 will be doing a class based on the Trisms curriculum, a cross curricular exploration of early history that is heavily research and writing based.   This is a two period class so it’s the only class she’ll be taking; she wants to work more intensively on her writing skills rather than do a ‘fun’ class and this was the option that seemed most suited to her.

Then for the second slot, ds4 will be doing an art class for 4-6 year olds, ds8 will be doing an art class for 7 -9 year olds, and dd9 and ds11 will be doing ‘Mapping the world with Art’, a geography class that integrates history and art.   I wanted to put dd9 and ds11 into a botany class with lots of hands on activities instead of geography, since they already will be participating twice a month in geography club (this will be their third year in geography club, but in the past it was only once a month) and I thought they’d enjoy the science as something interesting and different.  But the botany class was full and the geography one was the only other choice for their age during that time.  I didn’t have to sign them up for anything but I thought they’d enjoy it – it will be different than the geography they do with their club, so I don’t anticipate much overlap.  (I’ll be with ds1 and ds3 in the nursery during this time.)

It’s been five years since my schedule was so full of homeschool activities out of the house.  In the past I found it was very easy to schedule lots of activities but that being out so often left me feeling like I wanted to homeschool – but I wasn’t home enough.  It was at that point that I chose to simplify by saying ‘no’ to a lot of things and I think that was a great choice; it kept our life sane and balanced, and we still had plenty of trips and activities.

While this year will have more regular outside activities than in the past, I’ve been careful not to schedule anything until after lunch (with one exception), to allow us to keep our routine in place.  That way, the activities will be supplementing our home life, not replacing it.

The exception that I referenced is a 30 week history class for everyone in the family ages 8 and up that I’ve literally been waiting three years for, given by an incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining historian.  The class is 2.5 hours long, with 30 minutes at the beginning is actually a viewing period since he brings in period weapons, artifacts, tools, etc to look at and explore, and supposedly he keeps even kids of all ages riveted.  It will mean an hour drive in each direction every Tuesday morning, but I feel it will be worth it.  My only regret is that I couldn’t do this class when dd15 and ds17 were still homeschooling – four years ago I wanted to register when my oldest was in eighth grade, but a friend suggested I wait until the following year so ds could use it as a high school credit.  I took that advice but the opportunity didn’t come around again until now!  I’m hoping my inlaws will watch the littles each week at this time, since I really would like to sit in on the class, too.  Otherwise, I’ll keep them occupied during the class, something I’ve spent many hours doing in the past with my middles when they were little and my olders were at the class taking stage, but it’s not something I especially find relaxing.  The littles will be much happier with their grandparents, too!

Wednesday will remain our day for activities with our local homeschool support group.  Two of these are geography club for ds8, dd9, and ds11 – one meeting is going to be more information based, the second meeting will be a trip related to the learning they did.  Two years ago in geography club they learned about the world, then last year they did the US, and this year they’ll be doing our state.  The kids really enjoy doing this with a long term home educating mom who enjoys it and makes it lots of fun for the kids.  They have friends in the group, too, so that also adds to the enjoyment.  Since these are close by, it doesn’t mean much of my time, only 10 minutes to drop off and then another 10 when it’s pick up time.  I’ll probably be accompanying them on trips, though, when it works for our schedule.

Then another Weds. is our monthly homeschool gathering, and the final Weds. will be a Lamed Tes melachos (39 categories of work) class for ds4, with projects relating to three of the melachos at each meeting.  All of these will be in the afternoons, so again, they won’t supplant our regular schedule.  I do usually do my monthly shopping on Wednesday, and I’ll have to decide how to handle that if I need to be in this area mid day on those days – with Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays spoken for, it doesn’t leave me a lot of options!

Dd14 has had a number of steady babysitting job requests in the last couple of weeks for the coming year but has only accepted two jobs – one for 5 hours every Tuesday afternoon (so she’ll babysit very soon after we return from our history class), and one for the mornings from 7:15- 8:30.  She likes this because she finds it breaks up the flow of her day to babysit for a couple of hours midday, and she likes to go to sleep early and get up early so late night jobs are hard for her.  She’ll be home in time for breakfast, and it will allow her to continue with her regular schedule undisturbed.  I think she’ll also be tutoring some younger homeschooled girls in Judaics on Monday mornings, but she’s waiting to finalize that.  She also practices piano for 1 – 1.5 hours a day (the other three kids don’t practice more than 30 minutes daily), so her schedule is comfortably full right now, and she’s feeling very good about how it’s come together.

I was considering registering dd14 for a college class but made the decision to include the co-op classes for everyone instead.  I told her I’ll consider it again for the spring semester, but I don’t like squeezing a schedule too tight and neither does she, so we’ll see how we’re feeling about things at that point.  I reminded her that she can go together in the coming year to college classes with dd15, which I think that will be the best option.

So these are some of the plans I’ve been busy organizing recently, in addition to sending off ds17 to yeshiva and dd15 to Israel.  (I always do my planning for the coming year before the year begins, and then only have to make minor adjustments during the year.)  I’ve also been thinking about how to approach different areas of Jewish learning with various children, as well as making plans for ds3 and ds4, who are both ready and desirous of having something ‘big’ (ie official) to do.  I don’t have it all decided on – the biggest remaining question is about ds11, who was learning daily with ds17 and would like more learning time than just with my dh.  All of this has taken a lot of time and brain space, and it’s definitely been expensive, with the fees for all of these classes coming due right now, the same time as the expenses to get the older two kids taken care of.  It helps to remind myself how lucky I am to be able to afford these opportunities.

We’re gradually easing out of our summer schedule towards our ‘school’ year schedule.  With Rosh Hashana just a week away, I don’t anticipate doing very much outside of getting ready for the holidays.  We’ll start a bit of official stuff in the coming week, along with beginning new read alouds with the middles at that time.  The real focus will on Rosh Hashana (started baking yesterday), with plans to start academic type work in earnest at the beginning of October.  That’s one wonderful thing about homeschooling – you can do what works for you, regardless of what everyone else is doing!

I always enjoy seeing everything coming together,  and I’m looking forward to another wonderful year of learning with our family!

Avivah

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Categories: Sample schedules

Advising teen children towards long term choices

December 23, 2009 12 comments

Recently I’ve begun researching various colleges for my dd15, and yesterday after taking ds16 to have his wisdom teeth out, I stopped at the community college office to ask some questions.  I’ll have to go back with my kids and get an appointment with an advisor for each of them.

Right now I’m feeling conflicted about some issues on the horizon regarding my kids and college.  Dd15 is strongly leaning towards a profession that would be a very good fit for her and I’m very supportive of it.  It also is academically vigorous and will require 7 – 8 years of college.  There are only about 16 colleges that teach this field in the US – and none of them are anywhere close to the state we live in, which necessitates living away from home and raises the bill by about another $10,000 yearly.  Each year of schooling costs about $25 – 30,000 before living expenses, and there is very little financial aid available except for student loans.  Dd can get started within a year and could theoretically be finished as early as when she’s 22.  In the broad scheme of things, that’s pretty young, and she would have a career that could be balanced with raising a family and do something she enjoys and finds satisfying.

I have several views about life/family that aren’t easily reconciled when looking at this particular career path (similar though different issues with ds16), and I’m grappling with how to best guide my children.   I’m not telling them what to do or how to do it- that isn’t my role – but not to give them some direction when they’re requesting support would be wrong.  I’ve raised my children with the perspectives below, so these are currently views they share (which obviously might change with time).  1) If a couple is old enough to get married, they’re old enough to support themselves.  2) When someone is emotionally mature and ready for marriage  and finds the right person, that’s the time to get married – regardless if numerically that seems young or old to others.  3) Children are a blessing and a newly married couple shouldn’t  purposely put them on hold to complete academic requirements.  4) The responsibility for supporting the family is on the husband, not the wife.  5) Debt can become a huge albatross around the neck that can force people to make choices they don’t want to make.

Add in to this mix the desire of dd15 to spend a year in Israel, the desire of ds16 to spend several years in yeshiva once he’s 18 (ie, both potentially ‘time outs’ on the career path), and the reality that larger families generally require more financial resources.  So guiding them means considering a number of factors with both the long term and short term in mind.

I was telling all this to a good friend last night, and she told me I’m once again going to have to blaze my own trail.  And I told her, I’m tired of blazing my own trail for every single thing – I want to find someone who has similar values who has successfully navigated this, and just do whatever they did.  I don’t want to have to think, research, and reflect so much.  😆 But as I know very well, a meaningful life of joy doesn’t come from following the crowd unless that’s where my heart is.

So here’s where I’m at with all of this: sometimes I get too uptight and have to step back to regain perspective!  I have to remind myself that H-shem created a world where doing His will is the goal, and whatever we’re doing, it’s with the desire to serve Him and to be responsible stewards in this world of the resources we’re entrusted with.  I have to let go of trying to figure all of this out in advance, and do the best I can one day at a time, and trust that the partner that I’ve had raising my children all these years – H-shem – will continue to support us all and help us make the right choices.

Practically speaking I don’t know what that will look like, but I’ll share it with you when we figure it out!

Avivah

Chore chart 2009-10

November 30, 2009 14 comments

Here’s this year’s chore chart!  There aren’t many chores on my chart – I try to keep it to the basics.  This year’s chart is similar to last year, but with a couple of notable changes.

  • Laundry – done for a month at a time – A
  • Bathrooms – done for a month at a time – B
  • Breakfast preparation and wash dishes after Shabbos – done for 2 weeks C/D
  • Dinner preparation – done for 2 weeks at a time – D/C

I put an initial next to each chore to represent a child.  These four chores are rotated between the oldest four kids, currently ages 10, 13, 15, and 16.  It’s set up so each child has one chore for a month, and they complete each rotation every three months.  The breakfast and dinner preparation rotates after two weeks, so that the kids who are doing these jobs reverse with one another mid month.

We go through the complete cycle three times a year, meaning that each child has laundry and bathrooms three times, and meal prep for each of the two meals six times.

I used to say the bathrooms had to be done every 2 – 3 days, but now it’s daily since I saw that it was getting stretched to every 4 or even 5 days when someone missed their chore.  It’s quick when done daily and the bathrooms don’t have a chance to get very messy, even if the person in charge misses a day.  I now recommend to the person in charge of laundry that they do at least 1 – 2 loads daily, but it’s up to them.  As long as everyone has clean clothes when they need them, they can do what they want.

  • clear table after every meal – E
  • sweep floor after every meal, thorough sweep of entire main floor once daily – F

These two chores are rotated between ds7 and dd9.  (In addition I sweep the kitchen a couple of times a day, because with all of the food prep once a day isn’t enough.)  They rotate every two weeks.  They also are each responsible to take down the laundry from their rooms and one other location in the house, and between them take down everything.  Again, this used to be done every 2 – 3 days and now I ask them to do it daily.

This year, I’m on duty for dishes and lunch preparation.  The kids were all very happy when I offered them this option, since they dislike dishes.  Dishes are honestly a challenge since there are three meals being prepared a day, along with three large loads of dishes/pots.  It’s easy for them to get discouraged since the sink isn’t empty for long before it’s getting filled up again, but I don’t mind it.  I get my break once a week, since on Motzei Shabbos one of the kids do the dishes, and this lets them remember how lucky they are it’s only once a week. :))  When I do dishes, I also wipe down the stove and counters every night.

That’s it for the scheduled stuff.  We do quick daily clean ups, and big clean ups for Shabbos, but we do it as a team and there aren’t fixed jobs.  At those times, when I see something that needs to be done, I ask someone to do it.  Sometimes, like yesterday, I’ll set the timer for 5 or 15 minutes, and tell everyone to do pick something to do in a given area, anything they want, and do it before it goes off.  Seven people (kids ages 7 and up and me) can get a lot done in fifteen minutes, by working together! Yesterday in the living room we got walls washed, blinds wiped down, bookshelves straightened up, all the surfaces cleared, and the floor swept in the living room. It’s fun to do together, and there’s no pressure – I don’t question the job someone picks, expect them to work at a certain pace, or check how they’ve done it.

The kids are responsible for cleaning their rooms daily, but their idea of cleaning and mine aren’t always the same.  🙂  Still, something gets done!

There are a number of other miscellaneous chores that I do a little bit at a time.  Not quite daily, but it probably averages to every day and a half.  You know, all those jobs that seem too small to schedule but if not done leave your home looking only half clean?  That includes the regular schedule of re-organizing various areas of the house, like the linen closet, basement, storage room, etc.  The natural state of things is to come undone, not stay done.  🙂

Five of the older children also have a daily job with the littles.  Dd9 puts ds2 in for a nap, ds10 puts ds3 in for a nap. Sometimes this includes reading them a book, usually not.  Dd15 puts  ds2 to bed at night, ds16 puts in ds3 at night.  Dd13 gets up very early (she likes to finish all of her work for the day before breakfast) so she dresses the two of them and luckily for them, she enjoys taking them out for a morning walk; that’s why she’s not on the naptime/bedtime schedule.  (I wouldn’t ask her to dress them or take them for a walk, only to give them a drink or fruit to hold them over until breakfast.)  Putting a child in to bed is a very fast job; I made it official this year so I don’t have to worry who I asked to do what – I try to keep things fair and this ensures I’m not asking the same person every day to do all of the work.

I find that this keeps things running smoothly, without any one person feeling overwhelmed by his jobs or the expectations of him.

Avivah

My postpartum homeschooling schedule

July 3, 2009 7 comments

Someone asked me to write about how I handled homeschooling with a newborn in the immediate postpartum period.  At this stage in our lives, homeschooling postpartum is pretty much the same as any other time. 

When the kids were younger, I’d designate time after birth as ‘vacation’.  That was more to reduce everyone’s expectations than for anything else.  Now I don’t take a break; my kids continued pretty much with their regular schedule right away.  The baby was born Thursday night, and our official homeschooling days are Mon – Thurs, between breakfast and lunch.  By Monday morning I was back to being downstairs where I could supervise them.  Before you start mistakenly crediting me with being supermom, I’ll explain how I structure our academic time.  (This is basically the gist of the talk I gave at the conference on teaching the multi-age family.)

>>In terms of how you teach- how do you do it? Do you have text books and the kids teach themselves if they’re old enough and come to you for help? Do you teach a lesson a day? Do you have a set aside time for schoolwork?  Do you make assignments for your kids to do? Reports? Essays? Tests?<<

I don’t see my role as a teacher of academics, but rather as a facilitator for the learning in our home, to guide each of our children according to their needs and abilities.  I believe that independent learning skills are very important, and for the last three years have consciously taught the kids how to learn independently, each at their own level.  I’ve thought about what I feel the basics I want them to have are, and have summed them up as reading and writing in English and Hebrew, and math.  Reading is obviously done independently, except for my dd8 and ds7, who both sometimes read Hebrew out loud to me from their readers.  Ds7 sometimes reads his English books to me, too.  That was more in the beginning of the year than now; as their skills get stronger, they naturally need me less and less.  For writing, until age ten they do copywork; I’ve explained what that is already.  The older three use different writing programs (ds likes Writing Strands, but the girls really dislike it), and sometimes ask to do independent writing instead. 

For math, I use Singapore for the elementary age kids, which uses what is called a concrete pictorial approach that is very user friendly.  It’s meant to be taught to a child, but I’ve found the kids are able to use it for the most part without my help.  Right now dd8 and ds10 are using this, and come to me once in a while for help when they don’t understand something.  For the older three, they are all now using Videotext Algebra.  It covers pre-algebra, algebra 1, and algebra 2, so it’s like a 2 – 3 year math program.  It’s a very solid program – I started off a couple of years ago with ds using Teaching Textbooks, but I initially liked but then felt it wasn’t vigorous enough and switched to this.  It’s a video based math program; the lesson is on screen, and they can rewind parts where they have questions and watch it again and again until it makes sense to them. They can also ask a sibling who is further along for help, all except for dd14, since she’s the furthest.  (Ds15 really would be the furthest along, but the detour in school last year caused him to lose time and I asked him to start at the beginning of algebra 1 again this year so that he could systematically learn algebra without gaps using this program instead of the other two he used.)  This is wonderful because it’s very empowering for them to know they can learn higher level math without their mother’s help; it builds their confidence in their own learning skills. 

Everyone does their work at the same time, though the older kids obviously take much longer because they have more work.  Ds7 doesn’t yet have much official work, just some writing and reading with me, so he finished fast.  While they are all working, I start the day by sitting with my ds3 and ds22 months and read something with them, or sometimes play something with them.  I find it much better to right away give them my time and attention than keep them waiting for it for hours. 

As soon as ds7 finishes, I read out loud to him (now we’re half way through Dr. Dolittle).  This is honestly a bit distracting to the older kids because they find it so interesting that they end up listening while I read, too, but they don’t mind.  (They do their ‘seat work’ in the dining room, but we have an open layout on our main floor, so the couch in the living room where we read is just a few steps from the dining room where they’re working.)  Usually I wait for dd8 to finish before I read with him, or tell her to take a break from her work and to finish up after our reading time.  I take advantage of when things are quiet with the youngers, and that’s the main factor that determines what point in the morning we do our reading together.  Then I read dd8’s read aloud with her.  When there’s a break in between, I sit either at the table with the kids, doing my planning or writing type work, or do what basic computer stuff, like quick emails or online bill paying.  I don’t like to do things like writing here at that time, researching, or anything that takes a solid amount of time and mental focus, because my time until lunch is for the kids, and if the kids were to ask me something in the middle of being very focused on my computer work, I might get annoyed or brush them off.  That wouldn’t be fair to them.  But if they need any help, they need to ask me before lunch; I’m not responsive to any requests for academic help after that time. 

I don’t use tests; that seems to me pointless since I can assess what they’re doing and what they know pretty easily by virtue of being there while they work every morning and talking with them about what they’re learning.  Their writing assignments sometimes include essays; I’ve never assigned a report.  A report would naturally be done if someone had valuable information to share with others; to have them prepare something for no purpose but me to mark it is to undermine what a report is about. 

Of course, there is a lot of learning that goes on outside of the above.  My ds15 and ds10 learn mishnayos together every morning.  Ds15 spends another three hours every afternoon learning at a local shul.  Dd12 and dd14 both have Torah topics that they independently have chosen to pursue and do that in the evenings after dinner.  Then there are the many, many things that are integrated into our daily lives, and these things are probably the most meaningful kind of learning that there is.

So now that you understand how I structure our academic time, you can also understand how I can continue our same routine right after birth. 🙂

Avivah

Our daily homeschooling schedule

September 11, 2008 4 comments

Here’s our homeschooling schedule that most of you are probably interested in, as this addresses the younger kids in the family.

  • 7:30 am – wake up, get dressed, clean room
  • 8  – prayers
  • 8:30 – breakfast
  • 9:00 – chores
  • 9:30 – academic time

For the six year old, this means: daily handwriting (D’nealian), Hebrew writing (print lettering, copies one letter between ten – 20 times), math (Miquon orange book, just because I have it around, not because I especially recommend it), reads to me from a book (5 – 10 min), and does some beginning Hebrew reading with me.  That’s it.  My younger kids have adopted academics as part of their day because they see their older siblings doing it, but I wouldn’t insist on a daily math workbook for a child this age.  The times I gave for him are approximate because I don’t pay much attention to it; he determines how much he wants to do.  He finishes before anyone else, so he then plays with the toddler, reads something with me, or finds something else to occupy himself. 

7.5 year old – daily math (Singapore 2B), copywork, sometimes reads something to me (today was The Emperor’s New Clothes, by Hans Christian Andersen – it’s in the Jamestown Heritage reader that I aquired free from someone- but she liked it so much that she kept reading to herself after she finished reading to me – oh, the troubles of homeschooling :)), Hebrew reading practice a couple of times a week, and independent reading (she chooses what she wants to read, though I did get the Billy and Blaze series by CW Anderson for her that she’s enjoying because it has challenging words but doesn’t look intimidating, and it’s a very nice series).

9 year old – daily math (Singapore 5A), copywork, an hour of reading (currently Treasure Island), learns chumash/mishnayos sometime in day with older brother, Hebrew handwriting. 

While they are all doing their handwriting, they don’t need me to help them with anything.  With math, they usually need minimal help – an explanation of a concept and help with one or two examples, then they’re good to go on their own.  They come to me if they have a question.  While they’re doing this, I’m with the baby and toddler, sometimes reading something to the toddler (he loves books – I think it’s genetic :)) while the baby crawls around and pulls everything out of everywhere that he can, making an unbelievable mess in about two minutes.  I’m sure none of you can relate.  But he’s happy, so it’s fine, and I just accept that this stage of life is about having regular pick up times and a floor that isn’t clear long enough to enjoy the clean feeling.  🙂

The six year old is usually finished very quickly, in time to listen to me read to the toddler, and I usually tell them both to choose a book from the library shelf that they want to hear.  These are mostly books that I’ve chosen, most recently from those I saw recommended in Under The Chinaberry Tree. 

Yesterday’s books included Autumn Story and Summer Story, from the Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem.  Today they chose Once There Was a Tree, by Natalia Romanova, about all the various forms of life that live in a tree stump, and Malian’s Song, based on the true story of the attack on the Abenaki native community in 1759.  I don’t try to qualify and categorize every single thing we do into little academic compartments.  So though these books would easily be science and history, it just happens to be what they chose.  Having good quality books around means that whatever book they choose has value. 

Sometime mid morning, I do a read aloud with the 6, 7, and 9 year olds that is separate from our evening read aloud for the entire family.  Right now we’re in the third book of the Little House on the Prairie series, Farmer Boy.  Again, the book chosen for this is one that is well written and content rich.  We do 2 – 4 chapters each day, depending on the length and what time it is by then.  That’s fun history.

I try to coordinate the naptime for the baby and toddler, which usually means I put the toddler in an hour or so after the baby, since he doesn’t sleep as long.  If I don’t consciously do this, the toddler ends up falling asleep right before the baby wakes up.   Usually I put the toddler in sometime around 11 am or so, and he’s then sleeping when I do the longer read aloud. 

The 9 year old practices piano sometime in the morning (and usually again in the afternoon), my 12 year old decided this week that she wants to teach the 7 year old piano, so she’s spending time with her on that.  We eat lunch at 1:30 until 2 pm, and then they have the rest of the day until dinner at 6:30 to do with as they want. 

The 7 and 9 year olds almost always spend time together in the afternoon listening to a long and complicated audio book.  That’s fun literature.  They both have similar interests in literature and have high comprehension levels, so they easily listen to books geared towards kids aged 12 and older.  They could sit there for hours listening if I let them.  They choose those books, but I approve them, so they aren’t fluff books.  They play inside and outside, work on projects (the 7 yo started a science project with her 12 yo sister a couple of days ago, growing crystals), ride bikes or scooters, play with friends (though I limit this a lot), and somehow manage to productively pass the afternoon.  (You know what productive means for little kids? Having fun and being able to relax.)  

Beginning this past Monday, they’re all enrolled in a new Junior Rangers series, which  goes for three weeks, for two hours each time.  They learned about insects this time, and the next two sessions will be on flatlands and grasslands.  That’s what we call fun science.  This group was one that several homeschooling families in our area are doing together so the kids enjoyed being with their friends while enjoying the activity.  What’s nice is how easy and natural it is for them to pick up a lot of information in an environment like this.

If there’s something that I didn’t cover that you’d like me to give more info on, just ask.

Avivah

Schedule for my 10th grade son

September 10, 2008 Leave a comment

Okeydoke, here’s the schedule my 15 year old son set up for himself for this year (I’ll put translations in parenthesis but can’t avoid using certain terms):

  • 5:40 am – wake up
  • 6:20 – amud shiur (Talmud lecture), followed by shacharis (morning prayers)
  • 8:30 – breakfast with family
  • 9:00 – chores
  • 9:30 – math
  • 10:25 – check something on computer
  • 10:30 – mishnayos/chumash, alternating days, except Friday- parsha (portion of the week) 
  • 11:15 – break

Until this point, the schedule is the same Sunday through Friday.  After this, Sunday is free time, and Friday is helping get ready for Shabbos (Sabbath).

  • 11:30 – language arts (currently using Learning Language Arts Through Literature)
  • 12:30 pm – science/history, alternating days
  • 1:00 – nap
  • 1:30 – lunch
  • 2:00 – options
  • 2:45 – learn mishnayos with 9 yo brother
  • 3:00 – learn chumash (Bible) with 9 yo brother
  • 3:20 – 4:15 – free
  • 4:15 – walk to meet learning partner (unless I’m available to drive him, in which case he doesn’t have to leave until 4:40)
  • 4:45 – gemara chavrusa -maseches kiddushin (one on one Talmud study))
  • 5:45 – mincha (afternoon prayers), walk home (half hour walk)
  • 6:30 -dinner
  • 7:15 – family readaloud
  • 8 pm – free, additional time reviewing learning
  • 9:30 – bedtime

This schedule is going to change soon, since he’ll be starting to work a couple of times a week, probably.  He doesn’t yet know what time slots are going to be available there, and hopes that he can start working right after his afternoon chavrusa (study partner) so that it will minimally affect his schedule.

Avivah

Homeschooling schedule for my 9th grade daughter

September 9, 2008 Leave a comment

I said that I’d share our homeschooling schedule with you, but with so many people doing different things simultaneously, there are several schedules.  It might be hard for you to mentally put them all together, but I’m going to list the schedules for my oldest three kids over the next few days, as well as the schedule for everyone else. 

This year, my 12 and 13 year old daughters asked me if they could plan their own curriculum.  Of course I said, yes – that’s the ideal, when your kids are motivated in their learning and have their own ideas about what they want to learn and how they want to learn it.  I showed her whatever curriculum type materials I have around and told her to feel free to use anything that struck her fancy, or not use any of it, as she liked. 

 Here is my 9th grade daughter’s schedule (we officially homeschool Mon – Thurs, Fri is preparations for Shabbos/Sabbath, and Sunday is for whatever they want to do):

  • 7 am – wake up
  • 7:30 – 8:30  – morning prayers
  • 8:30 – 9 am – breakfast
  • 9 – 9:30 – chores
  • 9:30 – 10 – chumash/Bible
  • 10 – 10:20 – Hebrew language and Hebrew writing, on alternate days
  • 10:20 – 11:20 – math (Video Text Algebra – super excellent program but very, very expensive)
  • 11:20 – 11:45 – piano practice (she put this in between her most intensive work on purpose, to give herself a mental break)
  • 11:45 – 12:30 – writing – once a week using Writing Strands, twice a week using Critical Thinking Press materials, once a week spelling
  • 12:30 – 1:30 – reading (this includes history, science, and literature)
  • 1:30 – 2 pm – lunch

 She also wanted to know if she could design a curriculum for our 6 yr old in the afternoons, so I agreed to that, too.  He’ll feel special to spend that time with her.

  • 2 – 2:20 – History/Hebrew on alternating days with 6 yo brother
  • 2:20 – 3 pm – science with 6 yo (this is a big block of time for when she plans a project with him)
  • 6:30 – dinner

As far as science and history with the 6 year old, this is a new thing and we’ll see how it plays out.  She’s spoken to him about that things interest him, and taken out books from the library for him on those topics a few days ago.  She told me today she needs to find more activities and projects for him so it will be something that is fun and interesting for him.

At the end of last week, a local mom hired her to come in from 2 – 5:30 pm on alternate days (that’s the max I was willing to allow her out) to help her out in her home.  It looks as if it will be a long term position, so now it’s likely that she’ll just work with the 6 yo on the afternoons that she’s home.  She’s also still thinking about her schedule and there will be tweaking for all of us to our schedules that we start out with.  She said she and the 12 year old have been talking about learning halacha/Jewish law and Navi/Prophets together on a daily basis (until now that’s been informal, which is my preference), but hasn’t yet decided about that. 

Some of you might think this schedule looks very rigid, and others might be thinking that she’s not spending enough time learning.   🙂  If it’s the latter, it’s probably because you’re comparing it to school (and you’re making the false assumption that time spent in school equals time spent learning), and if it’s the former, you’re probably unschoolers with young kids.  :)) We have a lot of flow through our days, and I’ve found the schedules helping everyone to stay relaxed and get what they feel is important accomplished.   It makes a big difference when something is externally imposed, and when someone chooses it for themselves.  When our kids are doing their academic work, they’re pretty focused, and you can see how a motivated high schooler can easily finish everything by lunch time and have the rest of the day to spend as they want. 

Avivah