Oy, I’m terrible at posting lately! And why I’m choosing this moment to begin a blog entry I do not know. I am sitting here listening to my four older children tidy the living room (at least I hope that’s what they’re doing since I told them to) and my baby flushing the toilet (she’s recently learned this skill, and while it is somewhat annoying to hear a thousand flushes a day, it’s better than if she was sticking her hands in the toilet!) We’re a few weeks into school for this year, and as we’ve worked out a few bugs and are pretty happy with how school is going, I thought I’d post what we actually ended up doing, at least thus far, for the year.
We have about two or two and a half hours of school each day, four days a week. The first half hour is always circle time, which is kind of our little "Bible School" time. It’s always tempting for me to start with phonics or something that feels more "schoolish", but if we live by God’s Word, I would prefer to send the message to my girls that it is the most important part of our school day, and therefore we start with that. I actually think circle time is my favorite part in many ways, and we’re able to fit quite a lot in thirty minutes. This is when Alyssa is still awake, so she practices sitting nicely on my lap. We start with practicing our chruch liturgy – every other day we practice the songs we sing each week (I love to sing with the girls!), and every other day we practice all of the spoken liturgy. It’s been a joy to see the girls learn our liturgy so they can enjoy being more involved during service – and they can memorize it so quickly! Next we read our memory verses – right now we’re learning I Cor. 13 and Eph. 6:1-3. Then we read a passage of either Proverbs or Romans and talk a bit about it. We practice the children’s catechism – which I think is always the girls’ favorite! We look over our Doorposts charts to help them apply Bible truths and they love these colorful charts. Then we finish up with a story from Elsie Egermeier’s story Bible. Then baby is off to bed, and we’re on to table time.
Table time is usually about an hour. Naomi and Juli sit at the table and play with the toy of the day: play foam (much less messy than play dough!), lacing beads, little chalk boards, or paper and markers – I try to rotate this so they don’t get bored. If they aren’t quiet at the table, they can go play in the living room, but they prefer to stay at the table with us, so they’re usually pretty good. This is when I work on phonics and a bit of math with Isabelle and Hannah. We are trying a new phonics program which we are really enjoying. I print out an alphabet for Hannah to trace each day since she’s still learning to write letters, and Isabelle does some copywork from Queen Homeschool Supplies’ Copywork For Little Ones series – I really like it! It’s a great way for her to learn some grammer principles and practice making beautiful letters. Isabelle and Hannah are very opposite in what kind of students they are, so it’s interesting working with their little personalities! We go over letter sounds, reading rules, etc – I usually have each girl review seperately while the other works on writing, so I can make sure they are both learning well. They each get a turn to read aloud to me a bit at their level (Hannah can do Bob Books, Isabelle pretty much anything I give her). I also try to work on some number counting charts with them, so they can learn to recognize large numbers – we count by 2s, 5s, 10s and 1s. After we finish the big girls’ work, they take over the little girls toy and the little girls get their "preschool" time. I save this for last because they are so excited that it helps them remember to be good for phonics time. It’s funny, we just say the letters of the alpabet, or look at pretty flashcards, or practice colors and such, but they just love "their" time. We also work on speech therapy together. Oh, I must mention table time is when I enjoy my coffee!
We finish up with couch time, which is when I read aloud to the girls. Some days I let them play with quiet school game toys on the floor, other days we just all snuggle on the couch while I read. I was reading Story Of The World, but after finishing the first volume, I became frustrated with the feeling that the author was trying to make history "neutral". History just isn’t neutral – God’s Hand works in all of it, and I grew weary of trying to reword the stories so they taught that. So now I have been reserving books at the library which tell different stories throughout history – biographies and stories about important countries or events. I glean ideas from the tanglewood school website for good books for 1st grade. It’s been really enjoyable to just enjoy these "living" picture books with the girls – so far we’ve learned about Abe Lincoln, Pompeii, Gilgamesh, the Great Wall, the tulip craze, and lots of other things. Isabelle usally sneaks the book away to read before we get to it, so she always tries to hold it in and not tell us what’s coming. I plan to make a nice long timeline and put on there things the girls would recognize – especially Bible stories – then mark on the timeline each time we read a book like this – so they can see what else was going on and to help tie it together a bit. We also read science stories – we have the StoryBook of Science, which I LOVE, but I will admit the old fashioned language makes it harder for the girls to understand, and also a Christian Liberty science reader. And we read stories and poems – A Child’s Garden Of Verses, Now We Are Six, Milly-Molly-Mandy (LOVE these stories!), Elsa Beskow books are some of our favorites. I wish couch time were longer, but it’s usually about 30 minutes. We try to read aloud later in the day, too.
After this it’s lunch time. The older two girls have some workbook pages they do. Hannah does a Kumon workbook where she traces and reads words, and sometimes a number page. Isabelle does a couple pages of Rod and Staff 1st grade math. One of them works on her pages, while the other plays a computer game like Bella Sara or Quarter Mile Math, then they switch. The little girls usually play or watch a singing movie here.
In theory I have a half hour with just the two older girls before nap to work on music, art, french or math manipulatives, but I don’t often get to this to be honest. I don’t worry, though, as I am quite happy with what we get done in circle, table and couch time!