We often get asked what we do all day. Last night one of the boys' friends from trampolining was asking if they were allowed to sleep in until 9am (picture eyes as wide as saucers) and I said no, but 9:01am was fine with a cheeky smile. Then they were asked how much school work they do and I replied at least 3 or 4 minutes a day. His jaw hit the ground at this point until I told him I was only kidding - sort of. Schooling at home is so radically different to school as people know it that it is often hard to define what we do all day and how learning takes place.
So today I will list what we have done so far - it is still only 1pm so there is much more that we do that won't be recorded.
K (5) wakes up at about 7:30am and snuggles then watches television while having breakfast. I put a load of washing on, make a green smoothie and make a pile of the books and resources we will be using today. N (13) and M (15) venture out at about 8:3am, drink their smoothie, have breakfast and do the usual things - dressed, make beds, teeth, hair. While they are having breakfast I read First Language Lessons to N - a basic grammar book. Then I read The Success Principles for Teens to them. I like to read it aloud as we have discussions as we go.
K is drawing in her diary, a book that she dictates to me, I write it in pencil and she traces over it. She also gets out her own "schoolwork", quite a few books from The Critical Thinking Company which cover logic, writing, mathematical concepts and drawing conclusions (which sounds very fancy but is very in line with what I want to help my kids learn - to think for themselves, find solutions, think outside the square and to stretch their minds) but I have to sit with her to do these as she is not quite reading yet. Instead she draws a beautiful snail all over one of the pages and very carefully decorates it with lace. Her fine motor skills have taken a great leap over the last couple of months. She plays with her doctor's kit which we bought a couple of days ago. I figure that can be instead of having to pay for her school uniform. She takes her puppies temperatures, puts bandaids on them and takes their blood pressure, keeping up a running commentary as she goes. We make ice blocks out of orange juice and freeze them and make some scones because Nanna and Grandfather are coming to visit for D's birthday (17). She also gets out our chemistry set, complete with test tubes and makes up potions out of match sticks, little furry craft balls and paperclips, mixing all the while.
K also has a list of chores which she is willingly doing each day. I have written the words and drawn little pictures next to them so she can "read" it herself. It includes make bed, have breakfast, get dressed, clean teeth, brush hair, tidy room, check the clock (learning the time) and adjust the calendar with the new day, date, weather, season, etc. She loves going through her list each day and seems to feel a sense of accomplishment when these jobs are completed.
N and M work through a daily list of subjects. N reads for 20 minutes a day (Ranger's Apprentice series)and we compare the similarities between the British and European maps with those fictional ones in the book, writes in a Gratitude journal 5 things he is thankful for, does latin Word Roots from The Critical Thinking Company, is doing revision in maths using Excel and Life Of Fred, reviews a memorization of a speech from Shakespeare's Macbeth and reads aloud to me from Scientriffic magazine. We discuss a trip to Lightning Ridge to mine for opals as sparked by an article in the magazine and I show him my opal earrings and the way they change colour according to the light.
A couple of days a week N works on science in a book from The Critical Thinking Company, I read aloud from a novel and we watch on DVD Physics and Biology lectures from The Teaching Company. We are also watching the entire James Bond series as a family and writing down every country he visits to see how much of the world he covers in his travels. He also has chores - recycling, cleaning the mirrors/computer screens, etc and helps with groceries, washing, dishes, etc.
M is pretty much self-directed. He chooses to study Italian through Rosetta Stone, does Social Studies, Science and Latin Word Roots from The Critical Learning Company, Maths Online, colours an Anatomy colouring book (learning the basics as he may study fitness/personal training/body therapies or something that correlates with his trampolining goals), reads and writes in his Gratitude journal, plus of course, those things we do together with N. He jumps on the trampoline on a very regular basis and helps out a LOT around the house. He cleans the kitchen every Monday, does dishes, waters all of the plants, helps with washing, takes the garbages in and out and goes to the bank, post office and grocery store on nearly a daily basis. He also is our number one babysitter for K when urgently required.
On other days we might do science experiments, watch DVDs, visit the community gardens, bike ride, socialise with other home edders, study history with another family or go on organised excursions like an upcoming swimming carnival that is being organised.
Nanna and Grandfather arrive and the discussion ranges from Mac vs Microsoft computers - pros and cons, iPhones, internet connections, cost of phone plans compared to what is being paid now and working out whether usage amount now is worth paying the extra for the Iphone, plans vs prepaid, etc. Also Grandfather needs some shading for his orchids and the sheet comes in a certain width and length so there is much working out done to try and get the exact amount required to the exact width with minimal left over. The conversation flows over army cadets, getting P's licence, costs of running a car, borrowing money, trampoline schedule for this year - interstate and local competitions and travel plans for my parents. Throw in some hairy questions and brainstorming by Kate on where we are going to live when she blows up the house in a science experiment and many more topics are covered.
D (17) has officially finished his schooling according to the Board of Studies but he has done Maths Online this morning, worked out internet connection/modem problems, enjoyed the company of his grandparents and is now reading some of the top 25 books on an application I downloaded onto my iPhone, a free reading app with 22000books on it - the inaugural speech by Barrack Obama and The Art of War.
While taking the recycling out N discovered some lizards which he tried to catch in a box to show K (the recycling often makes its way back into the house!) but it escaped so a trap has now been laid. He then gets on the drums and works up a sweat for about half an hour while K watches one of The Land Before Time DVDs.
Who knows what the afternoon will bring? Probably a lot more conversation, eating the ice blocks that were made this morning, jumping on the tramp, playing computer games, Nintendo DS, games on the iPhone, riding the ripsticks, texting friends and a date with James Bond when K goes to bed tonight.
Phew, I'm exhausted, I didn't realise we were so busy and this is a quiet day!
Update: The four kids are all in one bedroom of our rather large house. K is playing a gameboy (new life for old technology - she thinks they are wonderful), N is playing Bookworm on my iPhone, M is reading Jurassic Park and after I had discussed seeing a careers advisor with D as he has NO idea which direction to take, M quipped, "What does a career advisor advise? (deep voice) 'For those who don't know what you want to become, become a career adivsor'." It was very funny.
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