Monday, March 30, 2020

Week 1 of Homeschooling

Homeschooling went surprisingly smooth during our first week. I went about homeschooling as I do daycare: take a cue from the kids. We studied what they wanted to learn, I played on their interests with YouTube How To vidoes, and plenty of outside time. The weather (mostly) cooperated for everything we had planned, the kids followed our daily schedule without complaints, and they even got in some of their regular extracurricular activities thanks to virtual dance classes! The only ones discouraged in all of this are the cats, who are truly put out by us being around them all day every day! They thought they had a few more months until summer!

Obligatory first day of free school pictures for the minis and myself:

The art mural was a hit. We used sidewalk chalk, but next time we'll probably use paint.

Social Studies quickly became their favorite. It mostly involves them coloring maps, me standing at the world map on our wall, and quizzing them over continents, oceans, countries, etc. They LOVE it. We threw in things like equator, hemispheres, longitude, latitude, and Arctic cirlce. The only hiccup in the morning was when the oldest decided to slide out of his chair and chase the left me asking, "why? Just....why?"

Still get those looks when they see me taking pictures of them.

One thing I love is how quickly we can get through the "school" day. We begin our day around 10:00 a.m. and are completely done by 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. with plenty of breaks during that time. During the weekdays I have free time activities: an art kit, watching a documentry, doing research for their travel projects, drawing or coloring, Lego building, or playing outside. On this day I let them have 30 minutes of Nintendo. There's also plenty of relaxing time in the mornings and evenings.

My new nighttime rituals include reading, free writing, having a drink (or two), and watching the news. I've always loved watching the news, but now it's imperitive for my business to keep up with what changes are made (daily at this point).

Our dry erase board is everything for all of us. It really helps keep me and the kids on track and we seem to accomplish so much more in our days. I may even adopt this practice for daycare too.

The minis got numerous science and art kits for Christmas (and even for their birthday's last year!). I typically put them aside after they've opened them and pull them out throughout the year. I am sooooo happy I have this practice because our kits have come in handy the last two weeks. On day 2 of free schooling, the minis did a crystal growing kit and were able to see the crystals growing before their eyes. Super cool! 

More social studies and more coffee. 

The kids each do 30 minutes of reading, followed by writing a book report on what they read, 30 minutes of math (all math is done online through websites they use at school), and journaling. Through their journals they tell me what they liked or didn't like about our day, how they're feeling, things they miss, and things they wish they could do. I have the minis read their daily entry to me and I can get a good feel on what things we should be learning (like punctuation and complete sentences). It winds up being a good hour and a half of our day. It's also the quietest.

The middle mini asked to learn karate, so we did. YouTube can be an amazing tool when used safely and properly.

I will be so incredibly disappointed if the two youngest don't get to have their final dance recital in June. Both have worked so hard this year and have learned so much. For now, they get to do virtual dance class. Their instructors recorded themselves doing the recital dances and gave instructions on how to practice at home. Every Wednesday for the next month will be spent in dance class at home. I love their studio! I know the minis don't understand how lucky they are to still have opportunities, but at home during this time. I've never been more thankful for technology than I have in the last two weeks.

Meanwhile, the oldest uses Wednesday evenings to practice violin and write music.

We began our third day a bit earlier so we could walk along the bike trail and do an ABC scavenger hunt (read about this here). We walked over a mile, waved at friends along the way, explored the creek, and left our painted rocks along the trail for others to find.

More maps, gymnastics from YouTube, and, this is key, voluntarily working excitedly on their travel projects. Their overall goal in social studies is to plan a vacation, visiting each continent we learn about. They were so excited to get started that they did it before we even got into our continents unit. This is how the kids now choose to spend 85% of their free time: researching places they want to visit, flight and car prices, hotels to stay at, activities and entertainment, how much food costs in each place. I've been very impressed with their research skills.

Buying a Chromebook at the beginning of the school year was one of our smartest investments! It got so much use the past week that we're thinking of buying another.

My treat at the end of the "school" day: a jitterbug from Twisted Bean Coffee. Yummy! We're trying so hard to support local businesses as much as possible during this time.

The kids have eaten a ridiculous amount lately. My joke is "of course my children would choose to go through growth spurts during a pandemic." But in all honesty, they do this at the beginning of the summer too. They spend so much time playing, using their brains, being outside that they burn so much energy and calories. It's gotta be replaced! I make sure to add extra protein to snacks and meals, add in a bedtime snack (they usually don't have one during the school year), and that seems to help the hungries. On this night we got a family meal from Barn Town Brewing in Clive, Iowa. It came with 2 lbs. of chicken strips, french fries, mac and cheese, root beer, and beer (for the adults). The kids polished most of it off themselves.

The one thing I wasn't impressed with: they brought Kinectic sand out in the living room to show a friend we were on a Skype call with. They got the sand all over the living room and couches. Sigh. I shouldn't be surprised.

The kids were so immersed in their social studies travel projects that they chose to skip the marshmallow building and keep researching.

An afternoon of stretching, yoga, and gymnastics.

My favorite thing from the week was Friday night, when they got their folders of work from the week and proudly showed their dad everything we had worked on. 

Week 1 went so unbelievably well that I'm holding my breath for week 2. I want to say, for all of those who are working full time from home (or not even from home) and homeschooling, hats off to you! The only reason I am able to focus so much on my children and do free schooling is because my job IS kids. I would not be able to do both successfully.