Things to Start, Things to Keep, and One Thing to Stop with Homeschooling

christmas-eve-dinner

Our homeschool routine started back up for the new semester. I took three glorious weeks off before that! It was a fabulous Christmas holiday with our big kids home from college. Oh it was so glorious!!! I miss their scholarly and creative examples so much.Of course we also miss their brother who is on a mission in Argentina. We got to hear from him twice though, on Christmas Day and then two days later from the airport on his way to Argentina. Then a random person texted me a picture of him from the Atlanta airport. It’s so amazing how technology can bring us together! Apparently the person was a Latter-day Saint who recognized the missionaries, all 21 of them flying to Argentina (!), and took the time to ask my son for my phone number so she could text me the picture.

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The week after Christmas we had a lot of family time, going to the temple, playing games, and watching movies. My firstborn made French fries for all his younger siblings with his new deep fat fryer gift so he was a hit. We had rainy weather the week of Christmas and now everything is sunny again. Much as it was fun to stay up late watching movies and sleeping in, it feels good to be getting back into our responsible rhythm.

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My 21 daughter sewed this creature/pillow thing as a Christmas gift for her little brother. Apparently it is a sloth so my son calls it “Sleuth the Sloth.” So cute!

I have been homeschooling now over for over 18 years so I find that sometimes it is challenging to find the zest and joy that I used to find in it so easily. I forget that what I told the older kids hasn’t dribbled down to the younger ones through osmosis, so I have to repeat myself. I know this is just part and parcel of having a wide spread of ages and lots of kids. So I have been wondering about what I can do to bring some joy back into my homeschooling life. These are things I have done off and on over the years but I want to do a lot more of and really create a habit of them with the younger ones! So here are three things to do a lot more of:

  1. Play more music. I have all these CDs of songs to learn basic facts like the  times tables, capital cities, other geography facts, the bones of the body, etc. Sometimes I think my kids have learned them all and then some random moment comes when I find out they don’t. So time to get these out again and play while the kids are going through their  morning routine. I also have lots of big band music CDs, musical CDs and classical music CDs so I want to play those too. I think the key will be to delegate to the kids the task of actually getting the CD into the player and playing it.

 

2. Have cocoa and books. I read about some blogger having “coffee and books” time during the winter. This is basically where you sit and drink coffee and read picture books to your kids as part of breakfast. I’m not a coffee drinker so I think we will start doing “cocoa and books” to gently ease us into the routine of homeschool mornings.

3.Require my kids do some piano every day. We got the Hoffman Academy membership as a Christmas gift from the grandparents. This is my latest incarnation of how to get my kids learning piano. I want to also play more of it myself  to inspire them. I was asked to accompany a men’s trio singing Emmaneal for our church Christmas Day program. Even though it was slightly terrifying to play Sally Deford at her finest, I  left out a lot of notes but still followed along, playing when I could, and enjoyed the thrill of creating beautiful music. I want my kids to enjoy creating music on the piano too so it’s time for me to require a bit.

4. Play more games as part of our homeschool. I have a ton of learning games for math, language arts skills, science, and history facts. I keep waiting for the kids to play them on their own but it never happens. It’s time for me to actually sit down with the game and invite people to play, maybe with a few treats to help bribe them to play what at first they claim is a “boring game” with mom. I used to play games with my older kids and I got out of the habit.  I read this post here that inspired me.

 

Some things to keep:

1 Requiring 4 pages of mathusee every day. I have used mathusee since my 23 year old was 5. I’ve seen the results of not requiring math with his younger sibling and requiring it with the 23 year old and their sister, age 21. The two kids that I required math to be done every day without a break got higher ACT scores than the one who I didn’t. Math worksheets (in the form of pages in a mathusee books) are just one of those things that we do every day in our homeschool.

2. Requiring a few more things in addition to math before free play. These two other things are a page of handwriting and an hour of reading silently on one’s own, or listening to a book on CD for an hour. Then for my youngest guy who is not a fluent reader yet I will keep requiring that we read one page of him reading aloud alone so he can continue to bone up on his phonics decoding skills. So for this guy who is working on becoming a fluent reader I like to get him books on CD like The Tale of Desperaux or The Saturdays from the public library.

3.Reading aloud during dishes time. I read aloud from a book of my choice while the kids do the dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is a great way for me to keep tabs on who is doing what in the kitchen, instead of me leaving the room to do some other task and hoping for the best. It also allows us to bond over literature and I get time to sit and rest! I do sometimes have to stop reading so they can talk to each other about who is doing what. I also have them inspect each other’s work. Right now we are reading Laddie by Gene Stratton-Porter. It’s also on youtube so at least for this book I can pull it up on youtube when I need a break from reading aloud.

 

4. Keep singing! I have renewed my love for singing. I went for years not involving singing in our homeschool because I felt I was too busy or depressed to sing. I realize more and more that singing helps me feel more empowered to control my time and not get depressed! After the breakfast dishes are done I love to gather the kids around the piano and sing. It has been a tradition for years that the first song we sing is “Let Us All Sing” by Dr. Seuss. One year for Christmas I picked up the Dr. Seuss songbook at the thrift store and this is the first song in the book. It warmed my heart when I was talking about the power of singing when the big kids were here over Christmas. I said something like, “Singing is so good for you…” and then they spontaneously broke out into singing that song from their childhood. I am so thrilled that they still remember it! We also sing a hymn, some Disney songs, and then songs from the LDS Church magazines or my old Joy School books from Richard and Linda Eyre.

 

Something to drop:

Me getting on the Internet before lunch dishes are over. I get too distracted.

So that’s my list. What are things you want to start, drop, and keep?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some things to stop:

 

 

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