I called in sick to work today, which means that I was granted the rare opportunity to experience a day of homeschool with my family. I wanted to report on what I saw there.
My wife Kyrie has been homeschooling the kids for a few years now. She has been switching things up as she goes, as new and better ideas come to her. Kyrie is trained as a Montessori teacher, and taught for several years in both Montessori and public preschool. She recently attended a weeklong Waldorf homeschooling conference in Portland. And now she is integrating elements of the Charlotte Mason curriculum. Honestly, I don’t know how she does it. But what she’s doing now is what she has determined is best for the needs of each child (remember, we have four girls, aged 4, 6, 8 and ten).
We got up and made breakfast (pancakes) and the girls worked on their chores, got dressed and made their beds. School started promptly at 9:00. Kyrie had everything on a timer, so each subject or activity went on for the scheduled time and then we switched to the next. My times are approximate, as they are from memory. Be patient with me.
9:00 Circle time; greetings, prayer and Scripture reading.
9:20 Math for the 8 and ten-year old; worksheets at different levels with Kyrie available to help. The 6 year-old took this time to draw while I helped the 4 year-old occupy herself in the play kitchen in her bedroom.
9:35 Read Aloud. Kyrie read from Mary Pope Osborne’s retellings of American Tall Tales: today was Davy Crocket, and all the kids found this highly amusing.
10:00 Copywork. Girls took out their notebooks, whose pages have space for both drawing and handwriting. They copied out a short passage and illustrated it.
10:15 Morning Tea. Tea with milk and honey, and cookies!
10:30 Play time. We’re big on play time.
10:50 Nursery Rhymes. Kyrie read some assorted nursery rhymes and we ran outside to play “London Bridges.”
11:00 History. I was recruited to read from Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire’s illustrated biography of Benjamin Franklin. It was a hit.
11:50 Science. Kyrie read the excellent children’s book Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies. Girls did an exercise in which they took a sheet of paper and cut it into increasingly smaller pieces to simulate the rapid division of microbes. We discussed the importance of air and sunlight in keeping microbes at bay.
This ended the school day proper. After lunch girls have “rest time,” which usually consists of dividing into older and younger pairs and playing or drawing while listening to an audiobook. On special days they watch a movie.
In the afternoon they took a trip to the library in Corvallis, and played at Central Park.
It was a breakneck day! I was surprised by a couple of things. One was how engaged all the kids were in each activity. Kyrie reports that keeping everything to the timer helps to prevent burnout. They packed up whatever they were doing when it was time to move on to the next thing (that was the other thing that surprised me).
So, that’s what I’ve been missing out on. I kind of wish I could be going to homeschool every day. But I’m glad to let Kyrie run it.